Dan and Hannah: Days before Biking the Confederation Trail in PEI (part 1 of 2)

Just a year after visiting Prince Edward Island, Canada, Hannah and I have decided we would return to bike the 273 kilometre (169 mile) island-long Confederation Trail over the course of three days.  This onetime former railroad track of crushed gravel goes from Tignish in the west to Elmira in the east.  We’ll stop at Summerside the first night and Mt. Stewart the second.

PEI mapWe are making it a fund raiser for our friend, Amy Paquette and her family.  Once a student of mine in teacher education at the University of New England, she is currently recovering from a brain aneurysm.  

Our dreaminess of biking the trail for the past year is now coming face-to-face with the reality of actually biking those many miles.  We can talk a big game.  Can we deliver?

Confederation Trail

Confederation Trail

Nine Days Before We Bike the Confederation Trail and Seven Days Before We Leave for Canada:

I check the weather all the time on our laptop.  Many times per day in fact.  The Weather Channel forecasts ten days out and today it is not making me a happy camper.  You see, it predicts a 60% chance of rain with a high of 62F for the first day of our ride across PEI.  The temperature is fine; cool but not cold will conserve our energy over the 6 to 9 hours of biking we’ll do each day.  It’s the H2O from above that’s not good news; but really, predictions of rain nine days away are so unreliable.  Still I am bummed.

Here in Maine heavy rain has fallen over the last few days; and there is no way on God’s good green earth that we will ride in such weather.  We have emotionally (in theory) accepted that our ride could take four days, even five.  We do have ponchos.

Bring on the rain!

Bring on the rain!

Interesting, as D-Day (departure) approaches, I am more and more certain will do what it takes to make this trek (trek is a bit of hyperbole since we are staying in B and Bs each night).  Until the ride becomes real by putting feet to pedal and hands to handlebars, it all seems so hypothetical.  I’m looking forward to seeing if we are up for it.

Eight Days Before: First thing in the morning, I turn on the computer to get the early June PEI forecast.  My spirits soar when I see that forecast for rain on Day 1 of our trip has gone down from 60 to 30% chance of rain.  (I am so easily manipulated.)  And now Day 2 has zero per cent chance of rain.  These little numbers lift my spirits.  Though quite confident on the outside, we wonder if we can really do this?

Hannah and I went out on our final training ride of 24 miles.  Listen to the names of the country roads we bike on: Chases Pond, Greenleaf Parsons, Josiah Norton, Ogunquit, and Emery Bridge.   On this Memorial Day in the States these backroads are quiet; Hannah and I can ride side by side as we will eight days hence on the Confederation Trail.

weather channel logo

Seven Days Before:  My morning 5A weather check is not good news.  A week from today, rain is now forecasted with 60% certainty.  Day 2 at 30% and Day 1 at 10% are just fine.  I’ll not fill Hannah in on these numbers as we still have 168 hours before we pedal our 21 speeds on the Confederation Trail.  She does not need to bear the brunt of my weather forecast obsessiveness.  Fact is, if I told her, she’d scoff and dismiss it is as so far away as to be meaningless information.  I hang on the Weather Channel’s every word while she pooh poohs it.  Clearly one of us has our act together.

Let’s get real about these hocus pocus weather numbers.  In fact, 60% precipitation means rain showers.  If they meant rain rain, they’d say 90 to 100%.  30% means clouds.  Why do they bother saying 10% chance of rain?  That just covers the back sides of meteorologists if they screw up.

Truth be told, we haven’t packed for the trip.  Like the ride itself, packing is still theoretical and sometime in the future.  Though we must squeeze everything into panniers, we remain confident it will all fit.  It’s not blind faith at all.  It’s an intuitive sense it will all work out based on…well, not experience…just a gut feeling.

And I’ll live with my gut instincts any day of the week.

Panniers make the Man

Panniers make the Man

Online I request a 7A breakfast time on the first morning we set out from Murphy’s Tourist Home and Cottages in Tignish, PEI.  That means we’ll be biking by 8A which gives us 13 hours to complete the first day’s 70 miles before sunset at 9P.  We can do that?

Six Days Before: It rains again in York today.  We will not bike on such a day in PEI.  Sprinkles maybe.  Rain no.  The updated three day predictions for our hike from the Weather Channel are :  Day 1 just won’t budge off 60% chance of showers.  Day 2 is 20%, which means no rain.   Day 3 is 10% which is even less.   There is plenty of time for the forecast to change.  Two out of three ain’t bad, so sayeth the Meatloaf.

rainFive Days Before:  The Weather Channel won’t budge off their 60% prediction of rain on our Day 1.  It does have five days to come to its senses.  Day 2 at 20% and Day 3 at 30% are just fine.

Four Days Before: After days predicting 60% chance of rain, the meteorologists at the Weather Channel have discounted that number to 30% for our first day on the Confederation Trail.  Days 2 and 3 are locked in at 20%.  Sweet.

With temperatures hitting 90 today in Maine, we are thankful the predicted day time highs in PEI on Day 1 and 2 are in the mid-60s and Day 3 at 59 degrees.  Ideal biking weather.

We hear from Amy Paquette wishing us well for our trip.   Will has made “Paquette” dry–fit shirts for our ride.   The planets are aligning.

Hannah, Dan, and Will

Hannah, Dan, and Will

Hannah and I continue not to be stressed with the prospect of biking such long distances.  We have been training all winter at the gym.  And by the way, we still haven’t packed.

To give you an idea of approximately 169 miles,

it is more than the 166 miles going along the coast of Maine from York to Bucksport near the entrance to Acadia National Park.

it is more than the 154 miles from our one time home in Tempe, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ.  True that is a climb of 6000 feet.  On the other hand it’s all downhill coming home.

it is more than the 151 miles of the commute from York to Willimantic, CT I made for four years while teaching at Eastern Connecticut State University.

We just have faith.

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