Group of Pictou County cyclists take in parts of three provinces, by way of a couple of ferry crossings
When he decided he wanted to participate in a cycling trip to the Magdalen Islands, Lowell Jenkins hadn’t biked in many years. In fact, he didn’t even own a bike.
“I bought a new bicycle in the spring and spent the summer training,” said the 74-year-old Abercrombie resident.
He had heard some of his fellow curlers talking at the Bluenose Curling Club about a cycling trip they were taking, and thought it sounded like fun.
So he and two others “invited ourselves along.”
The trip involved sailing across the Northumberland Strait, biking from the Wood Islands ferry terminal to Souris and then taking the five-hour ride on the MV Madeleine to the Magdalen Islands, where they would bike around the islands for two days and then make their way back home.
Jenkins and his five fellow cyclists recently returned from their excursion, cycling more than 300 km during the five-day trip.
“I thought it sounded interesting and a bit of a challenge. This became my Canada 150 project,” he said, adding that he spent the summer training “to keep up with the youngsters. The other guys are 15 to 20 years younger than I am.”
When he told his wife what he was planning, he said she was supportive, but “insisted I needed my doctor’s permission.” Luckily for him, his doctor is also a cyclist and he received the physician’s blessing.
Jenkins has had both hips replaced and had also suffered a serious heart attack. But after the hip surgery, he was able to return to normal activities such as curling and playing golf. He also does wood turning as a hobby.
Jenkins said 15 to 20 years ago he cycled to Charlottetown to visit friends, “but did very little bicycling in between.”
To prepare for the Magdalen Islands trip, he biked two to three times a week, travelling as far as a 50-km loop.
“My concerns were that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the guys and be a drag on their trip. In the end, I don’t think I was.”
He said he enjoys the solitude of biking, but also liked being with the group. “Just the camaraderie with the guys. It was a very interesting experience – lovely scenery. It’s quite flat, quite windy.”
The trip’s originators — Danny Roy of Thorburn, Chris Higdon of New Glasgow and Marc Essiambre of Stellarton — went on their first long-distance cycling tour last year. The 326-km trip involved cycling in the three Maritime provinces.
This year’s version, which included Jenkins, Ian Gammon and Alan Graham, began on Sept. 6. After crossing the Northumberland Strait by ferry, they biked to Brudenell River and spent the night. The next day they encountered heavy rain and winds while making their way to Souris, where they would catch the ferry to the Magdalen Islands.
“It was rather nasty,” said Jenkins.
They stayed the night at Parc de Gros-Cap in Cap-aux-Meules, and then toured the southern part of the islands in windy but warm weather. “Ile de Harve Aubert was very interesting with artisan shops and restaurants. Apparently this is a world famous destination for kite surfing, but we didn’t give it a try,” he said.
On Saturday, they toured Gross-Isle — a long, flat ride on a narrow