To Campbellton

Today was going to be a simple 110km ride downhill, and I was going to coast into New Brunswick early and then relax. Not so!
I made my way into Amqui this morning where I was told there was a bike shop. Thank goodness that the one person I had asked about this bike shop was right. It’s like I’ve never heard of fact checking. I was a bit nervous when the bike shop turned out to be a multi purpose sports store – I’m always afraid that the staff will be really knowledgeable about hockey equipment but have no idea how to grease a bike chain. Fortunately, they had a bike repair section at the back of the store.
The bike repair section was manned by a 15 year old kid. I guess “manned” is not the right word. As it turns out, he knows his stuff. He couldn’t see the broken spoke immediately (it didn’t appear broken until you touched it) so I felt less bad about not having noticed it right away. He fixed the spoke and gave my bike a quick look over while I had coffee. Good life.
In Amqui there was a road bike race so there were lanes of traffic shut down. When I first saw the orange diamond sign that said “sport” I assumed they had run out of construction signs. I kid you not. In Ontario, I swear someone put up a sign warning of an upcoming 18% downhill grade, in lieu of a sign warning of a stoplight coming up.
It was really cool to watch the bike race – it seems there were multiple race groups going around the circular route, so I got to see them go by a few times. One of the race marshals who had seen me ride by asked me if I was racing this afternoon. Apparently, anyone on a bicycle, regardless of what type of bike and how much gear they’re carrying, looks like they could qualify for this speed race. I politely explained that I would not be racing this afternoon. But it sure would have been funny to watch all those fast cyclists getting mad at me as they were forced to pass me again.
With my fixed spoke I set out from Amqui, downhill and with a killer tailwind.
Snap.
No.
No.
No.
Yes. I had snapped another spoke on my rear wheel. Because I had been riding so long on the broken spoke, the tension on the other spokes had been strained, and another one had broken. I was only 7km or so from the bike shop, so I rode back to Amqui. Uphill and with a killer headwind. There’s nothing I love more than backtracking. Wait, what’s the opposite of love?
I decided to have lunch, and beer, while I waited to have the second spoke fixed. There’s a microbrewery in Amqui that served food, and it’s right down the street from the bike shop and has a view of the bike race. So, that was pretty awesome.
By the time I started again, I had to ride about 95km, and it was 1pm. This would be totally possible, especially going downhill and with a headwind. But, it would be tight, as the sun is starting to set much earlier, and the clouds today make it seem that much darker that much earlier.
The conditions were not as I wanted, though. The wind could not figure out whether it was coming or going. One second it was a tailwind and the next second it was a headwind. And no, I had not gotten myself turned around. And yes, I double checked. It made for a brutal day of riding, and a pleasant day, all mixed into one. (Brutal in a headwind, pleasant in a tailwind.) The super duty crosswind did nothing to help. There were a couple of times when a gust of crosswind made me pull over, for fear I would be knocked from my bike or blown into traffic. It was that bad.
I just kept pedalling and eventually saw signs for New Brunswick. Instead of taking the bridge that would have led me to my intended campground, I took the second bridge to New Brunswick, which led me to Campbellton. I would rather not say whether that was accidental or deliberate.
The second bridge was kind of a beast, but only because of the wind. The bridge is quite long and exposed because it’s over water (obviously). The wind was coming in very strong from the side, and was pushing me to the left. Fortunately, it was a pretty steady, if ridiculously strong wind, and there were very few gusts. I can lean into a steady crosswind, but gusts are killer. The cars were all quite good and gave me extra room, as I needed about two feet on my left in case the wind pushed me there.
I decided to find a hostel for the night (as finding the campground would have forced me to backtrack), and take a day off tomorrow. Physically, I could keep riding tomorrow. Mentally, I think I need a break. I feel like all I’ve been doing for the last few days is screwing up, missing directions, breaking stuff, and having to course correct over harsh terrain. So yes, I will be taking a break. Oh, and the hostel just happens to be an old lighthouse and is full of English speaking people. I’ve missed English.

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