Friday, 18 December 2009

Proposed Route - Caribou, NS to St. John's

We're approaching the end of my proposed route for my cycle tour across Canada. So what's left? Just a trip along the coastline of Nova Scotia and a crossing of Newfoundland, that's all. Amazingly, that's still another 1,400 km to cycle!

After arriving in Nova Scotia from P.E.I, I'll ride through the towns of Pictou and New Glasgow and pick up the southern half of the Sunrise Trail. This tourist trail follows the scenic shoreline overlooking the Northumberland Strait. After Antigonish, the 'Highland Heart' of Nova Scotia, I'll continue on the Sunrise Trail towards Port Hawkesbury and cross, via the Canso Causeway, onto Cape Breton Island.

The Celtic theme continues when I'll take the Ceilidh Trail to Margaree Harbour, before connecting with the well known Cabot Trail which winds around the rocky splendour of Cape Breton's northern shore. The western and eastern sections closely follow the rugged coastline and should provide testing terrain, rewarded by spectacular views of the coastline and sea.

Elevation Profile

Quite a long ferry ride awaits me in North Sydney as it's a five to six hour trip to the island of Newfoundland. Nevertheless, my boat-trip will be a bit shorter than Giovanni Caboto's voyage which led to the 'discovery' of North America after his (supposed) landing on Newfoundland in 1497. (His name is anglicised to John Cabot, hence the Cabot references in this locale).

My 'landing' will be at Channel-Port aux Basques. From there, there's only one road across the island and fittingly, perhaps, it's the Trans-Canada Highway #1.

I'll take this highway, first heading north to Corner Brook and Deer Lake, from where I'll be able to view the Long Range and Annieopsquotch mountain ranges. After South Brook, Grand-Falls Windsor and Gander the road turns south and I'll pass through Terra Nova National Park and then cross onto the Avalon Peninsula, heading east towards my final destination...

And so, after 8,500 km riding; after admiring the scenery and cursing the terrain; after battling the elements, obviously; after undoubtedly experiencing a number of high-points and low-points and after collecting some memories to take home, I'll hope to finish my 2010 Cycle Tour Across Canada in St. John's, the province capital and oldest English-founded settlement in North America.

Suffice it to say, I'm rather looking forward to this trip now...but the anticipation is mixed with an equal measure of trepidation. Wish me luck!

Placename or POI Dir. Road Highway Name Next POI Total Km
Caribou NW #106 Trans-Canada Hwy 7 7,110

17 7,117

Sunrise Trail

New Glasgow E #4 Sunrise Trail 12 7,134
Sutherlands River NE #245 Shore Rd 41 7,146
Malignant Cove NE #337
18 7,187
Cape George Point

36 7,205
Antigonish E #4
56 7,241

Cape Breton Island

Port Hawkesbury N #19 Ceilidh Trail 93 7,297
Dunvegan N #219 Shore Rd 20 7,390

Cabot Trail

Margaree Harbour NE
Cabot Trail 96 7,410
Cape North

118 7,506
South Haven NE #105 Trans-Canada Hwy 39 7,624
North Sydney


Ferry: North Sydney to Channel-Port aux Basques (6 hrs)

Nova Scotia / Newfoundland & Labrador Province Border

Channel-Port aux Basques NW #1 Trans-Canada Hwy 138 7,663
St George's

80 7,801
Corner Brook

52 7,881
Deer Lake

130 7,933
South Brook

175 8,063

83 8,238
Terra Nova National Park

196 8,321

NE #90
8 8,517
Holyrood NE #60
45 8,525


Proposed Route - Montréal to Wood Islands, P.E.I.

Québec has one of the best cycle-route networks in the world - La Route Verte or 'the Greenway'. The province has over 4,000 kilometres of designated cycle trails developed by Vélo Québec. I'll make handy use of their ready-made and well signed scenic routes during my time in the province. I'm also looking forward to speaking french (inadequately) for a few days!

I'll start by navigating out of Montréal using the Route Verte 5 cycle path which will take me from downtown to the edge of the city. From there, I'll continue along the same 'green route', as far as Québec City, following the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River. (The St. Lawrence connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean).

A lot of this route through the Québécois countryside uses the course of the Chemin-du-Roy or King's Highway. This historic road between Repentigny and Québec City was completed as early as 1737 and at that time was the longest road north of the Rio Grande!

From Québec City, I'll cross over the St. Lawrence and continue up it's southern shore, this time on Route Verte 1, until I take a perpendicular road away and enter New Brunswick. I'm now heading into the Canadian Maritimes, the region of Eastern Canada consisting of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

After visiting Edmundston and Grand Falls, I'll make a remote and lonely looking crossing of the interior of New Brunswick and then ride down part of the east coast of the province, arriving at the spectacular bridge to Prince Edward Island. The Confederation Bridge is a long one at nearly 13 km and was only built in the 1990's. (There was a ferry crossing before that). Unfortunately, cyclists aren't allowed to ride across the bridge, so I'll have to take a shuttle bus to the other side. Shame.

Once on the island, I'll take the Trans-Canada Highway across it, visiting the provincial capital Charlottetown at the half-way pont. The process of Canadian Confederation was started here at a conference in 1864. I'll continue on the Trans-Canada to the south-east corner of the island and take a short ferry ride back to the mainland, landing in my 9th province, Nova Scotia.

Elevation Profile

Placename or POI Dir. Road Highway Name Next POI Total Km
MONTREAL NE RV5 (Route Verte 5) 32 5,911
Repentigny NE #344 Rue Notre Dame 16 5,943
L'Assomption SE #343 (Route Verte 5) 4 5,959
Saint-Sulpice NE #138 (Route Verte 5) 36 5,963

64 5,999

123 6,063
QUEBEC CITY S #175 Boulevard d'Laurier 3 6,186

NE #132 (Route Verte 1) 66 6,189

113 6,255

SE #289 Rue Principalé 94 6,368

Québec / New Brunswick Province Border

SE #120 Rue Centrale 42 6,462
59 6,504
Grand Falls SE #108
39 6,563
Plaster Rock

138 6,602
Renous E #118
16 6,740
Kirkwood E
S Barnaby Rd 9 6,756
Barnaby River SE #126
27 6,765

E #480
33 6,792

SE #134
45 6,825

4 6,870

NE #535
19 6,874
Cocagne SE #530
8 6,893
Shediac Bridge S #134
8 6,901
Shediac E #133
26 6,909

SE #15
12 6,935
Mates Corner E #955
27 6,947
Confederation Bridge NE #16 (Bus, no cycling) 15 6,974

New Brunswick / Prince Edward Island Province Border

Prince Edward Island

SE #1 Trans-Canada Hwy 60 6,989

61 7,049
Wood Islands


Ferry: Wood Islands to Caribou, NS (1¼ hrs)

Prince Edward Island / Nova Scotia Province Border

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Proposed Route - Sault Ste. Marie to Montréal

I'll be making another signficant detour on this leg, heading down through south-western Ontario rather than continuing eastwards. It will be worth it though, as I'll be able to visit the world famous Niagara Falls! I'll continue in a broad U-shape and end back up at what I hope will become one of my favourite cities - Montréal. I've wanted to visit both these places for a long time!

Elevation Profile

From Sault Ste. Marie, I'll follow a small section of the Trans-Canada Highway (route #17 here) of about 200km to Espanola. Fortunately, for some of the time, there are alternative local roads (some unpaved?) that I can take running in the same general direction.

Turning at Espanola, I'll ride south onto Manitoulin Island reaching it via the interesting looking single lane Swing Bridge at Little Current. Incidently, Manitoulin Island, in Lake Huron, is the largest island in a freshwater lake anywhere in the world! At the island's southern tip I'll take a short ferry ride (on the MS Chi-Cheemaun or "Big Canoe") to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsular and continue riding SE to Niagara Falls.

After visiting the falls, I've decided to ride across New York State in the US rather than double back somewhat through Ontario. I'll take the #18 which hugs the lower shore of Lake Ontario and then traverse the Adirondacks, a range of rounded mountains contained within the vast Adirondack Park, the largest park and state-protected area in the US. I'll ride north through the park in what is sure to be a scenic couple of days and eventually cross back into Canada again, this time into the province of Québec. From the Québec border, it's just half a day to the city of Montréal.

Placename or POI Dir. Road Highway Name Next POI Total Km
Sault Ste. Marie, ON NE #17B
27 4,447

E #638
16 4,474

(+ local roads) 50 4,490
Sowerby S
(+ local roads) 26 4,540

SE #17 Trans-Canada Hwy 18 4,566
Blind River

71 4,584
Massey S/E
(+ local roads) 28 4,655
Espanola SE #6
47 4,683

Manitoulin Is.

Little Current

64 4,730
South Baymouth


Ferry: South Baymouth to Tobermory (1¾ hrs)

Tobermory SE #6
77 4,794

11 4,871
Hepworth S #10
55 4,882

21 4,937
Clifford SE #9
23 4,958
Teviotdale SE
Wellington Rd 7 47 4,981

SE #6
13 5,028
Guelph SE
(+ local roads) 36 5,041
Peters Corners SE #52
18 5,077

(+ local roads) 44 5,095
Bismark E #20
32 5,139
Niagara Falls, ON

4 5,172

Ontario / New York (USA) State Border

Niagara Falls, NY N
Robert Moses Pkwy 25 5,176

NE #18 Lake Rd 126 5,201
Irondequoit E
Lake Rd 47 5,327
Sodus SE #104 Ridge Rd 25 5,374

23 5,399
Hannibal E #3 Fulton Rd 12 5,422

10 5,434

SE #49
60 5,444

Adirondack Mountains

Pine NE
(+ local roads) 63 5,504
Whitelake N #28
86 5,567

N #30
52 5,653
Tupper Lake NE #3
34 5,705
Saranac Lake

37 5,739

(+ local roads) 55 5,776

New York / Québec (Canada) Border

NE #209
42 5,831

38 5,873


Saturday, 12 December 2009

Proposed Route - Winnipeg to Sault Ste. Marie

As I've already mentioned, I'm not keen to take the Trans-Canada Highway to the north of Lake Superior as there are effectively only two main roads and all the traffic therefore has to use them. For me, it would mean riding 8-10 days (1,400 km) along the #1 / #11 / #17 to Sault Sainte Mairie via Thunder Bay. All the while I'll be riding on a 'dangerous' road which has considerable traffic and reputedly a poor to non-existent shoulder for cycling. Not my idea of fun...

So instead, I'm going to head south into the United States and ride a rural and often forested route through the northern extremities of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. OK, the purists and pedants would say this then isn't a ride across Canada, but so what? (I'm going to annoy any pedants again a bit later when I ride across the Adirondacks in New York State after visiting Niagara Falls).

My chosen route through the US uses a lot of local 'county roads' that would require a fair amount of map reading and navigating, were it not for the modern wonders of Google Maps, online routing sites like BikeRouteToaster and BikeHike and a GPS!

Elevation Profile

After crossing into the US near Piney, I'll ride south-east to Duluth, MN via Red Lake and the Chippewa National Forest (which has the highest breeding density of bald eagles in the US, apparently). I'll enter Wisconsin after crossing the Bong Bridge between Duluth and Superior and continue SE through several forested state parks. After crossing into Michigan near Iron River, I'll start heading back NE towards Munising, where the #28 follows the shore of Lake Superior and is meant to have fine views.

The #28 then runs due E straight to Sault Ste. Mairie, MI, but I'll make one further detour NE through the Newberry State Forest Area and Tahquamenon Falls State Park to Paradise. Paradise, MI that is! It's a bit out of my way, but I just fancy going to Paradise! Another ½ day spent hugging Lake Superior's coastline will see me to 'the Soo', the twin cities of Sault Ste. Mairie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Mairie, Ontario. I'll cross back into Canada on the 3 km International Bridge.

Placename or POI Dir. Road Highway Name Next POI Total Km
WINNIPEG SE #1 Trans-Canada Hwy 36 2,902
Dufresne SE #207
10 2,938

SE #210 Seine Road 21 2,948
La Broquerie

43 2,969

14 3,012

SE #12
14 3,025
Piney S #89
40 3,040

Manitoba / Minnesota (USA) State Border

Roseau S #89 5th Ave. SW 72 3,079
Gryla E #89
88 3,151
Red Lake E #1
39 3,239

S #72
16 3,278
Blackduck E C#30 (+ local roads) 52 3,294
Jessie Lake

(+ local roads) 70 3,365
Calumet S C#12 (+ local roads) 64 3,440
Floodwood E C#8 (+ local roads) 75 3,504
DULUTH SE #2 Bong Bridge 5 3,578

Minnesota / Wisconsin State Border

Superior SE #53
22 3,583

E #2
14 3,605

26 3,620

S C#H (+ local roads) 59 3,645
Sandborn E #112
5 3,704

SE #13
21 3,709
Mellen E #77 Lake Drive 21 3,731
Upson S
O'Brien Lake Rd 40 3,752
Pine Lake E C#G (+ local roads) 64 3,792
Northern State Highland Forest

53 3,856
Phelps S C#A
24 3,909
Neima NE #55
16 3,933

Wisconsin / Michigan State Border

Iron River E #2 W Adams St 28 3,949
Crystal Falls E #69 Superior Ave. 48 3,977
Felch N C#581 (+ local roads) 108 4,024
Harvey E #28
61 4,132

58 4,193

35 4,251
Newberry N #123 Falls Rd 66 4,286
Paradise S #123
18 4,352

Lake Superior Shore Rd 75 4,370
Sault Ste. Marie, MI NE I-75 International Bridge 3 4,444

Michigan / Ontario (Canada) Border



Monday, 7 December 2009

Proposed Route - Banff to Winnipeg

For my route across the Canadian Prairies to Winnipeg, I'm avoiding the direct, but heavily trafficked, Trans-Canada Highway (Route #1) for obvious reasons. I've decided to track eastwards between the Trans-Canada and the Yellowhead (Route #16), on a near parallel less travelled route that roughly bi-sects these two major roads.

After a short stretch on the #1 from Banff to Canmore, I'll take the Bow Valley Trail (#1A) to Cochrane and then skirt just north of the city of Calgary, before arriving at Drumheller. Drumheller is the self-proclaimed "Dinosaur Capital of the World" (!) in the heart of the Canadian Badlands. Just before Drumheller I'll pass the dramatic geological feature of Horseshoe Canyon. After that excitement, my route continues across the prairies for 1,300 km and doesn't visit a major town or city until Winnipeg!

On this leg of my journey, I'll cross two further province borders (Saskatchewan and Manitoba), travel along plenty of horizon spearing straight roads (the #15 to Nokomis appears straight for over 100km!) and probably experience some ridiculous headwinds (and maybe the occasional tailwind if I'm lucky). I'll also see quite a lot of evidence of farming.

Elevation Profile

Incidently, my route across the prairies is based on the route suggested in a book I have owned for many years - Cycling Canada: Bicycle Touring in Canada (ISBN 0933201702) by John M. Smith. Although this book was published in the mid-90's (and may be somewhat out of date), I'm using the author's broad suggestions for routing away from certain parts of the Trans-Canada Highway both on this leg across the prairies and the next leg, when I'm planning to go south of Lake Superior and spend a few days across the border in the United States.

Placename or POI Dir. Road Highway Name Next POI Total Km
Banff SE #1 Trans Canada Hwy 23 1,418
Canmore SE #1A Bow Valley Trail 73 1,441
Cochrane NE #22 Cowboy Trail 8 1,514

E #567 Big Hill Springs Rd 21 1,523

N #772 Symons Valley Rd 3 1,544

E #567 Airdrie Road 11 1,547

29 1,558

Alberta Highway #9

N #9
12 1,587
Beiseker E #9
63 1,599
Drumheller N #9
77 1,662

53 1,738

31 1,791

58 1,822

Alberta / Saskatchewan Province Border

Alsask NE #7
60 1,880

83 1,940
Rosetown S #4
5 2,023

Saskatchewan Highway #15

E #15
67 2,028

56 2,095

87 2,151
Nokomis S #20
10 2,238

E #15
33 2,248

85 2,281

55 2,366

57 2,421

SE #16 Yellowhead Hwy 24 2,478

32 2,502

Saskatchewan / Manitoba Province Border

Russell E #45
106 2,534
Erickson S #10
39 2,640
Minnedosa E #16 Yellowhead Hwy 128 2,679
Portage la Prairie NE #26
68 2,807
St François Xavier E #1 Trans Canada Hwy 27 2,875