The last day! 6980 kilometres pedaled. Many rest stops, meals, and people who hosted with meals and accommodations. 53 times the tent was put up and taken down. 55 times mattresses blown up and deflated; 55 times sleeping bags rolled out and rolled up.
Our 2nd rest stop of the day was hosted by Faith Community (CRC) Church in Milford Station. It was a cold morning so the hot delicious soups and buns were much appreciated.
At rest stop 5 we were to wait and gather until all the cyclists had arrived. We were approximately 7 km from the finish! Cyclists waited, enjoying snacks and relaxing on the grass. The last one they were waiting for was 81 year old Jim.
Eagerly, when we knew Jim was nearing the first staging area, a number of people cycled to the Final Staging Area, approx. 3 km from Lawrencetown Beach.
Two RCMP vehicles arrived to escort the group. Billy, on his motorcycle, then the RCMP car, followed by cyclists (Jim taking the lead with Stuart and Gary B) and all the vehicles and the 2nd RCMP car. A long train for 3 kilometres! Cars pulled over on the other side of the road to watch.
We were greeted by people cheering at the Lawrencetown Beach parking lot. Before going to dip tires, we posed for a final group picture, then created a circle for prayer, and recited the Lord’s Prayer one final time.
Then on over the boardwalk to the ocean, where we lined up and dipped our tires in. What a lot of exuberance!! We had finished this long journey!
Today is the 2nd last day of our bike mission. A long bike ride, including a ferry ride from Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia. Prince Edward Island is beautiful. A beautiful morning for meandering along the countryside to get to the ferry on time. All except two rest stop RVs went on the 9:30 am ferry. The two RVs and all the cyclists went on the 11:15am ferry, giving the cyclists time to get to the ferry docks. A photo was taken on the ferry of all of the cyclists in their red Canada jerseys, who were cycling from Vancouver to Halifax.
The main event of the day was the ferry ride.
We also enjoyed a wonderful dinner and evening at the John Calvin CRC in Truro NS. Thank you to our wonderful hosts for the delicious meal and dessert. We slept inside that night so that we would not have to pack up our tent for the last day.
The excitement is palpable. Our last weekend on this bike mission! We headed out on Saturday morning to arrive at the Nature Centre just before the Confederation Bridge which would bring us to PEI. The bridge commission met us with a U-Haul, pickup truck and trailer and a small tour bus, to take all of the bikers across the 13 km bridge. It is too dangerous for cyclists to go across on their own. Cyclists boarded the small bus, the vans and piled into the rest stop campers so we could make it over in one trip.
It was a beautiful morning. Andrew dashed over to the lookout tower to get a picture of the bridge from that vantage point.
Once we crossed over everyone was reunited with their bikes and continued to Charlottetown to our host church; Charlottetown Christian Reformed Church.
Because of the tight schedule and “chaos” when we would arrive at the beach on Tuesday, it was planned that the Charlottetown dinner on Saturday would be our celebratory dinner. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner – mussels and oysters appetizers, roast pork and much more – that evening run by the church and hosted by World Renew.
Tom from World Renew (USA) worldrenew.net and Derek Hoogland from Partners Worldwide (Canada) http://www.partnersworldwide.org/canada/ gave words of support and thanks. Derek reminded us again of the work of Partners Worldwide and the enormous difference small business ownership or employment makes to a person.
Sunday morning we joined the church for their morning church service led by the church and Pastor Peter Slofstra. Afterword we enjoyed the hospitality of the congregation through a delicious array of soups. Twenty or more pans with noodle soups, chili, red beet borscht, meatballs, lentils and more.
Many people in the group, headed out to see the Anne of Green Gables history, the red beaches and Charlottetown. Although we loved the views and peacefulness on the island as we drove and biked through to Charlottetown, Andrew and I decided to remain at the church, do some cleaning up and sorting of our stuff, since we knew the next two days would be hectic. A quiet day fit our schedule better.
Thursday, we continued our trek across the peninsula to get to the bridge to cross over to PEI. We had lots of rolling hills again today, as well the winds, but we also had some beautiful country road to ride on. The one thing we came up against often is bad shoulders to bike on. Today, no exception; for about 4 km, then you really must be careful of the traffic and the potholes around you.
Friday was a ride with sections along the gulf of St Lawrence. What beautiful landscape. As we passed through Richibucto, Teresa was with her van at the side of the road. A gentleman out for a walk, stopped to chat and introduced himself; Roger Doiron, the mayor of the town. He described the Acadian community and the difficulty they had years ago in obtaining an education. His generation of French speaking children who went to school received English text books. Most Acadians at that time quit school by grade 5 or 6. Very few went on to higher education. Roger, also Acadian, had opportunity to go on, and became a principal and in later years the mayor. The current 72 % of the population who are Acadian are completely bilingual. The 28% of Anglophones in the community, mainly are not.
Roger then spoke of what they are doing to support those in poverty in their community. They have a food bank and clothes bank, plus an adult education program with courses such as computer literacy. He also was intrigued by all the cyclists going by and the purpose of supporting World Renew and Partners Worldwide. Jim Beezhold stopped for a photo op, with the mayor.
In the evening we stayed at a campground by St Louis De Kent. Someone at the camp heard we were staying there and brought a cooler of freshly cooked crab for us to eat. It was very delicious.
On Sunday evening, we were told about a ministry that is happening in Rimouski, that is called My Father’s House. An old church that was transformed into a café, and a ministry centre for the locals. They did an excellent job in transforming the building. We had our first rest stop there on Monday so that we could talk to the owner and enjoy the café.
The route was a quick ride with the wind behind us for the first part of the day. It was great to see some more art along the boardwalk along the St Lawrence Sea way. As well we went by a submarine museum and some lighthouses. About halfway through the ride we turned away from St Lawrence to head toward New Brunswick.
It was amazing to see that some of the road shoulders with the bicycle allowance was better kept up than the main road.
Monday night we stayed in Amqui, where the mayor of the city greeted us, and wanted us to participate in a tree planting ceremony. The reason for this was that our group was in town as well a person who was promoting support to help other paralitics in Quebec. He was crossing Quebec in his wheel chair promoting the issue and raising funds. The mayor of Amqui, an exuberant man, is all about promoting charities and befriending people. He gave us a large official city book to sign. He requests this of all the groups that come through town.
On Tuesday we left Quebec to enter into New Brunswick, most of the ride reminded some of us of northern Ontario with rolling hills and rock cliffs on the side of the road. We only biked 8km into New Brunswick today. We ended the day at a Provincial Park called Sugar Loaf, which is camping and mountain biking during the summer, and skiing during the winter.
Wednesday was a fast day of riding, we had the wind on our back for most of the ride, but the terrain was mostly rolling hills. It was great to be biking beside the Nepisiguit Bay for the first half of the ride, then we started to ride more inland, to cross a part of New Brunswick.
Thursday was a very enjoyable day. The mileage was still over 120 km but we had opportunity to stop in Quebec City. Once Teresa was finished making sure all cyclists made it into old Quebec City, we wandered the cobblestone streets and enjoyed a meal and some ice-cream. Then a ferry ride across the St Lawrence River and another 65 km to finish the day.
The group has been enjoying the beautiful Quebec landscape, and the different flavour this province brings to Canada. Nearly everyone in the group does not speak French but through hand signals and the few words we are managing.
It has been windy, and then lovely flatter days of riding along the St Lawrence. The towns and villages scattered along the route show the economic downturn we have had. A number of businesses and homes posting for sale signs. In some ways poverty is never too far from where we are. We only need be observant to see where we can offer help.
One of the bikers stopped in at a dairy/vegetable/berry farm. He felt the spirit nudging him to stop there. He spoke with the farm manager and was given a tour. This farm employed people from Mexico and Guatemala. They also want to lift their staff out of poverty, so have an education program for them, to provide them with a hand up. Our rider then boldly mentioned that the pies they make would sure be a treat for the Sea to Sea bikers and the manager donated enough pies so we could all have dessert! A treat for all of us.
Parc du Bic is a beautiful park with high ridges cutting through the landscape. Our Sunday morning service we also had communion together at our campsite.
What a blessing to fellowship together in the name of Jesus. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us. For safety. For health. This means so much to us.
Blessings, Teresa and Andrew
On Monday we arrived in the province of Quebec by a little taxi boat across the river. To get to the boat we took some amazing trails that wound through our capital city of Ottawa. I was amazed by all the cyclists that you see that are biking to work or elsewhere. It got me thinking again about myself and biking to work, and with Peter Slofstra’s sermon on Sunday about living simpler.
The taxi boat most likely could hold only 6 to 8 cars only, we had to pay $2.00 for ourselves and bike. It took only 5 minutes to get across the river.
I think everybody is happy that we are away from the Ontario hills. The first three days in Quebec have been very flat. We have been blessed with no head wind and just a little bit of rain on Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, it felt like we were back in Holland Marsh with the farm fields of onions, carrots and other vegetables. As well big wooden crates were being used to package the vegetables and were stacked by the barns.
Quebec is known for its Catholic churches. We pass many of them on the route. On Wednesday, many of them were open for people to walk through them. You also see Jesus on the cross or Mary statues on lawns or by fields or even rest stops.
We reflected on the fact that these cathedrals now see more tourists than actual congregational members. Although these churches are beautiful in design, we have constantly been reminded that the Sea to Sea community is a moving church without walls. We hope that we can continue to bring the good news of hope in Jesus to those we meet.
Sunday was a wonderful day of rest, Ottawa had a combined service with the 5 churches in the area and Peter Slofstra preached. His word to us was an invitation to see if we could live more simply then we are at present. A good thing to reflect on over the next 2 weeks.
Cheryl and Dan and the kids, Jayden and Brooke, came down to visit us as well. We spent a few hours at Mooney Beach, having lunch and a swim. Enjoyable to observe how multinational our Canadian capital is. The grandkids enjoyed the water and running around in the sunshine.
Hills and more hills: Way back in the early spring Teresa and I drove part of today’s route in reverse from Tweed to Peterborough. I had no idea what it was going to be like the day before. For a couple of weeks, I have been warning people when we get into Northern Ontario we are going to get a lot of hills, and they are going to be rolling with very little breaks.
Thursday and Friday was a lot of hills and some very steep hills that were over 12% grade. In the mountains, you get into a small gear and you pedal that for the next couple of hours. Here you are always working your gears even to maximize your speed down the hill to get up the next one. A lot of the riders were very tired of Ontario hills after Friday night.
A special treat was meeting up with Felicia and Marian in Godfrey. (Verona) We enjoyed a supper out with them. Thanks for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.
Saturday the route was a little hilly in the beginning, but flattened out quickly. I started the ride with Darren Roorda, the Canadian Executive of the CRC church. We biked together for the first 25 km to the first rest stop.
Around 70 kms I met up with the Corner family in Perth. Great greetings from them to the riders! Nice to take a break and wait for Teresa to arrive. After that it was a hard push to Ottawa.
What busy days as we travel across Ontario. We enjoyed an evening sunset at the campground near Meaford, then traversed through small towns and some bike trails to Orillia. In Collingwood, we met up with dear friends Laurie and Murray at the Collingwood CRC rest stop. Then in Orillia Mom and Dad Ponsen and Gloria and Ed met up with us and enjoyed dinner at camp. Great to connect with friends and family. We have been blessed with meals and rest stops from various churches.
Today, August 10, we had lunch in Lindsay, hosted by Jennings CRC and supper and accommodations at Peterborough Living Hope CRC hosted by Cephas and Living Hope. They shared about a “Cook with Me” program they run in a school nearby, and about a city-wide program in which they have a vision to incorporate the city of 80,000 in making 1 million meals that can be used locally, and overseas. http://www.onemillionmealspeterborough.com/
Free haircuts were available in Orillia and Peterborough. Many availed themselves of this opportunity to freshen up, including Andrew and me.
And a shout out to Dan Ponsen. Hope you had a great birthday today!!
Tomorrow we continue our long trek across Ontario, with an early 6:30am start on the road.