Dan and Hannah with a Prince Edward Island Fundraising Update

PEI map 2

In June of 2013, Hannah and I biked the 175 mile Confederation Trail across Prince Edward Island in Canada from Tignish to Elmira.  We were raising money for our friend Amy Paquette and her family to go to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  Amy, a top-of-the-class student of mine at the University of New England, was struck by a disabling brain aneurysm in early 2013.

Hannah, Amy, and Dan

Hannah, Amy, and Dan

Some 50 of our family and friends donated over $1600 for the Family Paquette for their trip to Disney World.

I am pleased to report that in August of 2014, Amy was healthy enough to drive with her husband Mike and their three young boys to Orlando, Florida.

Dan, Hannah, Donna, George, and Becky

Dan, Hannah, Donna, George, and Becky

On Saturday, September 13, 2014, Hannah and I with our sister-in-law Becky and good friends Donna and George Ellis participated in the 6th Annual KAT Walk for Brain Aneurysm Awareness fundraiser in Portland, Maine.  Amy as our captain led more than 50 of us on her “A Team” around the Back Bay in Portland, Maine on a blustery, fall-is-in-the-air, mid-September afternoon.

If you are in the Portland, Maine area in September 2015 consider walking with us to raise money to fight this debilitating disease.

 

Dan and Hannah on the Confederation Trail (Afternoon of Day 1 of 3)

After we put in the new tube after lunch, we find that in a little over an hour later Hannah’s back tire is flat again.  It’s 230P now and we’ve biked 71 kilometers, but we have 39 more to go to arrive at our B and B for the night.  Seated by the side of the road in Ellerslie, we wonder what is next as we finish off another energy bar.  Though her spare tube is flat, on the bright side, we did make it 15 kilometres on it.  Could we just pump up her tire every few kilometres and make it to Summerside, PEI by the evening?

39 kilometres from Summerside, PEI with the Rite Shop in the distance

39 kilometres from Summerside, PEI with the Rite Shop in the distance

If not, we could hitchhike?   Before I went into the Rite Shop convenience store, I saw a pickup truck that could easily hold our two bikes.   As I left off in the last blog, Don, the meat guy at the Rite Shop, is finishing filling our water bottles.  As I wait, I mention that we have a flat tire.  A flat tire? he responds.  Just go down to Dennis Motors, it’s about a mile down the road and they’ll fix you up.   Without me asking, Don calls Dennis Motors, then turns to me and says, They are ready for you.  Who knew a car dealer patches bike tubes?  Who knew they’d do it immediately?

I rush back to Hannah, pump up her back tire, and direct her to Dennis Motors, just a mile up the Ellerslie Road.  As Hannah pedals purposefully ahead, I pack my panniers and follow soon after.

We wait at Dennis Motors

We wait at Dennis Motors

Andrew of Dennis Motors steps out and immediately takes Hannah’s bike into the garage.  In ten minutes he returns with a thread of wire not a quarter inch long that he pulled from the tire itself.  Voila!  He found the source of our trouble!  That explains the slow leak.

Andrew repairs one tire, pumps it to 65 PSI, and patches the other one so we have a spare for our trip.  And get this!   For 45 minutes of work and two patch kits, he charges us $23.  You got to love Canadians.  At Dennis Motors, they call ahead to the Summerside Bike Shop and we learn it closes today at 4P.  It’s now 330P, which means there is no sense rushing to Summerside to try to beat an evening closing time at the bike shop.

Our hero Andrew with Hannah

Our hero Andrew with Hannah

Beyond pleased by this fortuitous turn of events, we can’t believe our good fortune.  What would we have done if Dennis Motors didn’t just happen to be down the road?  That’s right, we would have done my first hitchhiking since 1971 when, as a 23 year old with shoulder length hair, I ended up in the Knoxville, Tennessee city jail for hitchhiking on my way from Atlanta to Ohio.  (That’s another story.)

On the red crushed Confederation Trail, we bike toward Wellington (population 382) 19 kilometres away.  Though we’ve been on the trail for more than seven hours, we have nearly three more hours of bicycling still ahead of us.  Thankfully, the prevailing winds continue to push us east to Summerside.

Just 19 kilometres from Summerside, PEI

Just 19 kilometres from Summerside, PEI

As we pedal this afternoon, there are more quiet times as we ride.  I think how fortunate I am to have found Hannah, who wants to bike all these miles and is athletically able and fit enough at 65 to do so.   We met on the tennis courts at the College of Wooster in Ohio; she a physical education major.  I had no idea we’d be so well-matched.

Leaving Wellington (which is again a crossroads town with no services visible in either direction), we take a break with some buffalo right off the Confederation Trail.

Trailside Buffalo

Trailside Buffalo

Smelling victory just 15 little kilometres ahead, we have cool temperatures and level terrain.  Weary, but not wasted, we have visions of the Willow Green Farm B and B dancing in our heads.

The straight arrow Confederation Trail

The straight arrow Confederation Trail

Again the wind has been our friend.  As we approach Summerside, route two is to our left and the increased number of houses tells us we are close.  But Hannah knows something I don’t know.  We stop for a picture at kilometre 100 and I don’t have a clue.

100 kilometres down, 173 to go

100 kilometres down, 173 to go

Unbeknownst to me, Hannah is again struggling as she pedals.  If you know her, you know she is almost always cheery and upbeat; she marshals on when hurdles appear.  As we approach town, she says “Don’t look now.”  She hasn’t complained at all for the last three hours since Ellerslie, but for the last ten kilometers, Hannah has been riding with a mushy rear tire, feeling every bump.  Again the patched tire has not held up.

Disbelieving , we stop within the Summerside city limits for pictures and stare down at another flat tire.

Triumphantly in Summerside, PEI

Triumphantly in Summerside, PEI

Since Ellerslie, she biked 38 kilometres over more than two and half hours on a tire ever so slowly deflating, that is now as flat as a soufflé after the kitchen door slams.  Even so, we know we are quite fortunate, for we are only a half mile from our B and B.  We could crawl if we had to.  And we would have!

Still we are thankful for Don giving us to the idea to go to Dennis Motors and Andrew for patching the tire to get us to Summerside 39 kilometres away.  Throughout the day we’ve had blue skies and temperatures in the upper 50s.  No rain, no energy sapping summer humidity.  We are going to make it!

Tomorrow when it opens, we’ll go to the Summerside Bike Shop to buy a new tire and an extra replacement tube.   I pump up Hannah’s back tire again and we ride the last few kilometres to the Willow Green Farm B and B, spent and ready to kick back.

First night's B and B

First night’s B and B

After parking our bikes, unhooking our panniers, we knock on the B and B front door. Met by our innkeeper Laura, we learn that the room she had told us was to be ours has been taken  by a woman who is renting it for a week (the same room we were in last year when we hatched this Confederation Trail ride adventure).

She then adds with a smile, I’ve upgraded you to a suite with a king size bed and a hot tub!

We'd reserved the first room on the left.

We’d reserved the first room on the left.

With seventy miles in the books, we take long showers and relax triumphantly into the cushy chairs at Willow Green Farm.

1 Hannah at WGF

Upgraded bed at Wilow Green Farm B and B

Upgraded bed at Wilow Green Farm B and B

We toast our good fortune and the good people that have come our way.  We had left Tignish at 815A and now are settled in at Willow Green Farm at 625P.  Life is good.

Then a soak.

1 H in WGF hot tub

We learn that Summerside Bike Works is less than a half a mile away.  We’ll breakfast early at 7A and be at SBW when the shop opens at 8A.  We have 70 miles down, and tomorrow’s 60 to Mount Stewart, PEI will seem like a breeze, …

…that’s right, a west to east tailwind breeze.

1 CT (10)

Dan and Hannah Prep to Bike Prince Edward Island

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined.              – Henry David Thoreau

We start in Tignish.  First night in Summerside.  Second night in Mount Stewart.  We end at Elmira.

We start in Tignish. First night in Summerside.   Second night in Mount Stewart. We end at Elmira.

Dan and Hannah hear voices.

Really?  Are you two serious about biking the 273 kilometres (about 175 miles) of the Confederation Trail from one end of Prince Edward Island, Canada to the other in three days?  Though you biked 24 and 22 miles last weekend, do you have any idea what it means to bike 70 miles one day, 60 the next, and finish with 45 more?  

The answers are yes, yes, and no.  But it’s a dream of ours and we think we’re ready.  We won’t know until we try, will we?

Bicycle Sweethearts

Bicycle Sweethearts

I like your sassiness and your optimism.   Let me tell you I’m pulling for you kids!

Confederation Trail

Confederation Trail

So faithful readers, we are told that it’s our butts more than our knees that will feel the pain from such long distance biking.  A local bike shop owner clued us into the healing qualities of Bag Balm.  We will apply it before, during, and after our ride to relieve any chafing and soreness.

Bag Balm

A cross country ski instructor has his skiers lay down, legs extended, for 20 minutes every few hours to recharge their bodies.   We can do that.  We have all day to do 70 miles.  The cliché is true, it’s about the journey.   There is no rush to get to that night’s B and B.  After breakfast, we have 12 hours of daylight to complete our daily goal since, in June, the sun sets after 9P on Prince Edward Island .  We want this ride to be more than chalking up miles; we want it to be about the people of PEI we meet.

All winter, we’ve been working out at the Coastal Fitness gym in Kittery, Maine three to five times per week.  We elevate our heart rates and build endurance on recumbents, treadmills, and ellipticals.  Will that be enough?  We shall see.

I’ve learned from a Confederation Trail blogger that there are no hills on the trail.  It is a former railway bed so there is no grade above 2%.  That sounds very doable.

Hannah on the Trail

Hannah on the Trail

So some questions that remain:

You two are not backpackers, you wouldn’t sleep in a tent unless you lost a bet, and you would never share close quarters with others at a hostel, shelter, or lean-to.  So where are you staying?

True, true, and true.  Truth be told, we are soft.  We have no interest in roughing it.   Picture this.  Each night after a day on the trail, we will have a warm shower followed by a fine red to toast this day and the next.  That night we slumber in a queen bed.  Come morning, breakfast will be served before another day in the saddle.

How will you have a car waiting for you at the end of your ride?

Our friend Bill from New Brunswick, Canada will follow us in his car to the east end of the island (East Point).    We will park our car there; then load our bikes on his car and drive with him to the other end of the island (North Cape).

What if it rains? 

It rains.  We suck it up and deal with it.  Heavy rain?  We pause.  Light rain we pedal and thank our lucky stars we have the health, the time, the wherewithal, and each other to make this trip.  Ponchos will be our fashion statement.

Bring on the rain!

Bring on the rain!

How will you take all your gear?

We have panniers, saddle bags for our bikes; we’ll wear no backpacks.  We’ll line the panniers with plastic in case of rain.  Dressed in bike shorts, dry-fit shirts, and bike shoes, we’ll have light clothes to change into each evening.  It’s only three days.

Panniers make the Man

Panniers make the Man

What will you do for food?

Breakfasts will be at the B and B each morning.  We plan to stop each noon in a pub to be served a recreational beverage and a tasty sandwich.  Evenings we’ll order take out (Hannah’s partial to Chinese while I love anything with tomato sauce), and just chill at the B and B.

Will you take your laptop to record the days’ events for the over60hiker blog?

My phone will be my entire photo-journalism toolkit.  I’ll use the Siri and voice recognition software on my iPhone to record my impressions and observations and take still pictures and videos throughout the day.

How is Hannah’s leg?

She says she’s 96% of normal.  Of course, normal for Hannah is off the charts for most others eligible for Medicare.   Walking downstairs is a little slow going, but all in all, she’s been exercising all winter and recently biking our country roads with no pain.

Hannah is ready for action!

Hannah is ready for action!

What have you done to prepare your bicycles?

Each bike has been tuned up and a new chain installed.  We have spare tubes and extra water bottles.  We’ve purchased a dual bike pump for our tires.

In the end we are interested to see just how resourceful we are.  We’ll rely on our problem-solving and people-meeting skills to deal with any issues.

Can’t wait.

We learn the ropes of life by untying its knots.
Jean Toomer

I’ve never made a mistake. I’ve only learned from experience.
Thomas A. Edison

PEI map 2

Dan and Hannah Seek your Support as we Bike across Prince Edward Island (Canada)

PEI mapSince Hannah and I will never be “thru hikers” of the Appalachian Trail ( those hiking 2000+ plus miles), we look for other shorter “end to end”  experiences.  A trip to Prince Edward Island last June got us thinking about biking the 273 kilometres of the Confederation Trail in Prince Edward Island from North Cape to East Point (Tignish to Elmira).

Especially for me, one major downside of hiking the AT is the overnight sleeping arrangements.  Either we would be squeezed in a shelter with six to twenty others, a number of who would be locomotive snorers; or we’d camp in a tent and sleep on the ground.  Daniel Boone I am not.

The beauty of this trans-PEI trip is that we’ll be in a bed each night.  The AT is a four to six month commitment; the CF in PEI is a three day commitment.  Do I hear any Amen?

PStarting in the town of Tignish in the western part of the island, we’ll spend the night before we head East at Murphy’s Tourist Home.  In the 1950s, when our family would travel from New Jersey to my grandparent’s home in St. Petersburg, FLA, we would stay, rather than in a motel, in someone’s house, which was called a tourist home.

PEI trail 2Our first day ride is the big one as we will bike 109 kilometres (about 70 miles) to Summerside, PEI.  That night we’ll stay at the Willow Green Farm B and B, where we stayed last year.  As a one-time railroad track, the Confederation Trail is level, wide enough to ride side by side, and with only the occasional crossroad that requires our full attention.

Hannah biking on the Confederation Trail

Hannah biking on the Confederation Trail near Summerside

 

Our second day we’ll travel 95 kilometres (about 60 miles) to Mount Stewart and stay at the Water’s Edge B and B.  Where we stay each night depends on where there are accommodations.

PEI trail 3

On our last day we’ll have but 68 kilometers (about 40 miles) left to reach our destination.  We’ll soak our feet in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Points East Beach Motel in North Lake.

North Lake PEI

North Lake PEI

At least that is our plan.

Why we are seeking your financial support is that we are riding to raise money for a dear friend of ours and her family.  See our fundraising letter below.

Hannah and I would like you to consider donating to support our ride across Prince Edward Island this coming June. 

With Hannah’s left leg healed from her water skiing accident last summer, we are going to bike the entire 273 kilometres of the Confederation Trail in PEI.  We are raising money for our friend, Amy Paquette, and her family (husband Mike and three boys, age five, seven, and ten).  Amy was a student teacher of mine during her teacher education at the University of New England and currently is a third grade teacher in Kennebunk, Maine.  In January, Amy suffered a leaking brain aneurysm and had successful emergency surgery in Boston. Three months later, she is home recovering and participating in regular physical therapy.  Hannah and others have made meals for the Paquette family, but we’d like to do a little more for them.

Hannah and I would invite you to support our fundraiser for the Paquette family by donating five cents per kilometre ($13.65 total) for our bike ride across PEI.  This money would go directly to the Paquette Family for a family adventure, necessary expenses (extra, added, unforeseen), or anything they choose to do with the money.

If you would like to donate to our ride, please send us a check made out to the “Paquette Family” at our address below.  Please consider sending the check by April 20th.  

THANKS!!!!

Dan and Hannah Rothermel

162 Chases Pond Road

York, Maine  03909

So if donating is in your budget, we’d love you to support us and the Paquettes as we ride across Prince Edward Island.

PEI trail 4 sign