The RIDE TO CONQUER CRPS has begun! This page will
be updated daily with new RIDE information.
Show your support by donating
to the RIDE!
DR DAVID SHULMAN MD
FCFP CCFP DAAPM:
PRE-DEPARTURE: JULY 18 WITH OUR RIDE
YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE RIDE
TO CONQUER CRPS!
To view Dr Shulman's route map from Marathon ON
to St John's NL,
HERE or view cities below.
LIST OF CITIES
Updates on the route will appear as they
Every effort will be made to adhere to the
may change the dates.
If the RIDE route changes, items will be
posted in GREEN
as soon as possible.
Route change at Van Buren
NB: the RIDE now travels to Newcastle and Chatham, then along the
coast to Shediac. New cities are listed in GREEN,
As the RIDE reaches
each city, the city will turn BLUE.
(east of Thunder Bay)
Arrive July 19
Depart July 20: 9AM at Marathon
||July 20: Marathon to
Wawa 185 km
|Sault Ste Marie
||July 21: Wawa to Sault
Ste. Marie 225 km
|Iron Bridge, Elliot Lake, Massey
||July 22: Sault Ste. Marie
to Massey 210 km
|Espanola, Sudbury (by pass)
||July 23: Massey to North
Bay 225 km
||July 24: North
||July 24: to
|Portage du fort
|Ottawa, (bridge to Hull)
|| July 25
|Montebello, St Eustache
| Montreal: PIT STOP
||July 28 (Montreal General Hospital
|Terrebonne, Trois Rivieres, Quebec City
|St Michel, Montmagny
|St Jean Port Joli
|Riviere du Loup
|Edmundston, NEW BRUNSWICK
|Van Buren NB
|Grand Falls, NB
|Plaster Rock, NB
|TransCanada to Calhoun, NB
|Port Howe, NS
|River John, NS
|New Glasgow NS
|Port Hawkesbury, NS
|Baddeck, NS (Cape Breton)
|N Sydney, NS
||Estimated date of arrival
in North Sydney: Aug 3 late aftenoon early evening : for update
please call 902 794 2369 after 3 PM Aug 3 only
|Ferry to NL
|Port aux Basques, NL
Aug 4 rain delay due to winds
and gale in Port. Unable to ride to Corner Brook today.
Will start off again Tuesday Aug 5th for Corner Brook NL.
ETA estimate Aug 9 (delayed due to heavy rain in Newfoundland
and New Brunswick)
|TOTAL estimated days
|TOTAL number of hours:
|TOTAL number of minutes:
|Total number of seconds:
|Spotlight on CRPS
SHULMAN'S RIDE BLOG
July 18: Dr & Mrs Shulman prior
The RIDE BLOG is updated in the evenings.
Thanks to our sponsors:
JULY 18-19: Dr. and Mrs.
Shulman leave Thornhill to travel to Marathon, Ontario(1,088 km)
to begin the RIDE TO CONQUER CRPS.
We thank Mrs Shulman who drives the support SUV. Stay safe!
JULY 20: THE RIDE TO
CONQUER CRPS 2008 begins! At
9 AM the RIDE departs from the Marathon, Ontario town sign(see
The ride has started. Ahouva and I were delighted to start our
ride from Marathon today. We even had a little sunshine for the
pictures and I set off across the Canadian shield into the land
of granite and jack pines. The Trans Canada highway was under construction
and presented some problems. After 54 kilometers I had my first
flat of the ride. As I stopped to replace the tire I was eaten alive
by black flies. I met Ahouva for lunch at White River. Then the
rain started and was with me for the rest of the day. At one point
there was a downpour with hail and high winds. Luckily I was able
to find some shelter and wait it out. From there on it was a wet
ride but great fun. I arrived in Wawa at 6 pm after a ride of 185
km. This is a bit longer than the Tour de France stage 15 that ran
today at 183 kilometers. They may have finished their stage a little
faster than I did.
I was able to overcome some obstacles and reach my objective.
Obstacles are not new to people living with chronic pain
and they also know how to persevere and overcome these. I am inspired
by their perseverance and will continue this ride for them.
Wawa is named after the Ojibway word for wild goose. To emphasize
this and prove that the town was not named by a toddler, the town
has at least three gigantic goose statues. It is the jumping off
point for trips to the “world’s largest game preserve”
the Chapleau Crown Game Preserve. Just south of Wawa is an impressive
waterfall where the Magpie River, 38 meters across, falls 23 meters
before emptying into Lake Superior. Worth a visit.
Tomorrow we will ride to Sault Ste. Marie, 225 kilometers by Hwy
17. We considered riding down Hwy 129, but this turned out to be
a ‘haunted highway’. More about that later.
| MARATHON SIGN | OUR
JULY 21:DAY 2
I set out from Wawa in the rain and rode into the Lake Superior
Provincial Park, one of the most impressive parks in our province.
The road winds near the shoreline with craggy granite outcroppings
on the left and on the right Lake Superior, dark and brooding under
the rainclouds. The road repeatedly ascends to great heights and
then descends rapidly directly towards the Lake. At the last minute
the road veers away to drivers’ great relief. This brinkmanship
is decidedly more worrisome to the rider of a bicycle hurtling downwards,
in the rain. I am happy to report that I made it around every corner
without mishap. This roller coaster continued on from Wawa
to Sault Ste. Marie 225 kilometers. This was one of my
more memorable days. Ahouva in the van played leap frog with me
and was always there to help out. Ahouva was able to explore and
even went looking for petroglyphs. We stopped 2 hours for breaks
and lunch over our 11 hours on the road.
I was in the saddle for almost 9 hours, and this works out
to an average speed of 25 km/hour, and maximum speed was 65.5 km/hour
in one barely controlled descent.
It has taken Ahouva and I four days to ride the entire route around
Lake Superior (two days this year and 2 days last year). I find
North of Superior to be spectacularly beautiful, but unforgiving.
Ahouva was afraid to wander far away from the highway in her search
for petroglyphs. I also had the impression that a misstep here could
be disastrous. Perhaps this is due to the appearance of Lake Superior.
Cold and uninviting. The lake was formed in a rift valley, the mid-continent
rift, when the North American continent was riven as part of continental
drift. The bottom of the lake is the lowest point in North America.
There was volcanic activity at its depths, and many basaltic formations
are seen protruding from below. I could easily see these from the
shore. These are a hazard to navigation and, along with the severe
winter storms, are responsible for many shipwrecks. The most famous
shipwreck is the SS Edmund Fitzgerald that sank in 1975. The legend
that Superior never gives up its dead is probably true. It is clear
to me that humankind inhabits this area at the indulgence of Mother
It is with mixed feelings that we leave this area and head eastward
to tamer geography. We will ride towards Sudbury and
see how far we get. I estimate another 200 plus kilometer day, putting
us near Massey.
SHULMAN ROAD WARRIOR DAY 2
JULY 22: DAY 3
After the roller coaster ride yesterday I was stiff and sore all
over. It’s difficult to sleep with muscle pains. I know what
you’re thinking, “He’s just finding this out
now?” I did sleep in a bit and had a late start. The
skies were overcast but it was quite pleasant.
As I rode east of Sault Ste. Marie I passed a dilapidated shed
overgrown with weeds. On the side of the shed was a very good reproduction
of a Group of Seven painting, (see photo below) reminding
me that this is Algoma where the G of 7 produced some of their best
landscapes. I was delighted to find the reproduction in this odd
setting but couldn’t appreciate it for long since the mosquitoes
were appreciating me. The road east was flat and very pleasant,
reminding me of the prairies. There were Mennonites in their horse
drawn carts and bales of wheat in the fields.
In Bruce Mines I caught up with two riders who turned out to be
Renato D’Alessandro and his friend Brian who were riding from
Vancouver to Halifax to raise funds for the Canadian Paraplegic
Association. I knew that they were doing this ride but I didn’t
expect to see them on the trail. We all had a snack with Ahouva
at Iron Bridge. Later I caught up with yet another rider, Ramesh
Ferris who is hand cycling across Canada to raise funds for Rotary
International’s polio eradication program.
"What are the chances of all four of us nutbars, oops,
I mean visionaries meeting all on the same day? "
So in one day we had good weather, beautiful scenery, wonderful
support and good companionship. Could I ask for anything more? I
rode on until Massey, 210 kilometers from the Soo.
All of these cross Canada expeditions require on the road support.
Renato and Brian have a friend in Renato’s RV leapfrogging
them. Ramesh has 3 staff and two camper vans following him for the
seven months of his odyssey. I have a most remarkable supporter,
my wife Ahouva, who is constantly attentive and helpful. I could
not do this trip without her. All the accompanying members of all
our teams worry for us about the food and lodgings, gear transport
and storage, navigation and communications. All our support vehicles
have some sort of sign on the back warning drivers of a cyclist
ahead. This leaves us free to ride the distances necessary to get
to wherever we are going. This is a team effort.
I am profoundly grateful to Ahouva for all her efforts to support
my ride. I am also impressed with my friends from PARC. Helen Small
has been supporting the ride in her energetic and dedicated way.
She has taken on this project from its conception almost a year
ago and has produced remarkable results with her imaginative approach
to communication and fund raising. She knows how to get the message
out that people with CRPS require the same support, advocacy and
research that people with higher profile diseases seem to have.
Helen is the voice of CRPS in Canada. My thanks also to her dedicated
volunteer staff including Deanna, Willy, Rose and Violette. I have
enjoyed working with you over this last year.
Tomorrow I am back on the road to North Bay, with a quick look at
Sudbury over my left shoulder as I pass by.
DRIVER: MRS SHULMAN
JULY 23: DAY 4
Another beautiful day here in the near north. Clear blue skies
and moderate temperature, but somehow it managed to rain while the
sun was shining. I had a very good ride from Massey to North
Bay with a stop in Sudbury for lunch and a short stop at
Sturgeon Falls to see the falls. Ahouva followed in the van and
handed out PARC pamphlets. Her listeners began to open their wallets
but she told them they should donate through the web site. We rode/drove
225 km from Massey to North Bay, where we watched
the sun set over Lake Nipissing. Could there ever be a better vacation?
The north shore of Lake Huron, called the North Channel has a large
First Nation population. The people are descended from the Ojibwa
nation and comprise many communities, the Pic, Mississauga, Serpent
River and the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nations to name a few. The
communities seem basic but have all the necessities, and the people
are very pleasant. They appear as if they’ve seen many moons.
I spoke to one old fellow from the Sagamok who looked about 80 years
old. He said to me, “You are awfully old to be doing this
aren’t you? I’m 57 and you are even older than I am.”
I tried not to look surprised. He was right, of course.
Tomorrow we leave for the Ottawa Valley and should reach Pembroke.
Once there I can set in motion Plan B. Now this is just between
you and me and should not be revealed to anyone else. I intend to
throw the bike onto a big tire and then push it into the Ottawa
River and jump on. Then I can nibble fresh Ottawa Valley apples
and get a tan while I drift down to Ottawa. Can you keep this a
FALLS | NORTHERN REFLECTIONS
JULY 24: DAY 5
Plan B was a complete failure. Who could believe there are so many
rocks in the Ottawa River? And white water. It’s a good thing
I had on my helmet. So it’s back to the road on the bike.
Today was another stormy day with rain on and off, and thunder
and lightning in the distance. As I rode through Mattawa it became
quite cold and I looked forward to climbing the monster hill south
of the town just to warm up. Eventually the rain stopped and we
continued on through Deep River, then Chaulk River, then Petawawa
and finally stopped for the night in Pembroke. The distance for
this soggy ride was 211 km.
In Petawawa we visited the Canadian Forces Base which has been
training our “warriors” since 1905.It is also the site
of the first military plane flight, the Silver Dart, in 1909. I
wanted to visit the base since it was here that my father trained
with the Royal Canadian Engineers and then was sent overseas to
fight in the Italian and European campaigns in WW II. He was wounded
in action and then decorated. My mother also worked at CFB Petawawa
as a civilian during the war. I try to imagine what it must have
been like at the camp with infantry and artillery training side
by side. The engineers learned how to construct bridges quickly
so the troops could ford the rivers as they chased the retreating
Axis forces. Also training there were the soldiers of the Special
Service Force, a combined American and Canadian Unit. At any given
time during WW II 20,000 soldiers were training at CFB Petawawa.
Also on the base were POW’s from 30 different countries but
mostly German and Italian. The base must have been chaotic, the
parade ground always full with sweaty, dusty recruits following
orders barked at them from bad tempered sergeants. Somehow the troops
trained and then went overseas and got the job done. These men and
women, my parents included, are Canadian heroes.
Tomorrow it is a short ride on the Trans Canada Highway and then
we will cross over to the Quebec side of the river. This is our
last full day in Ontario. Time to sum up.
Days riding from Marathon to Pembroke
Distance covered 1056
Days without rain 1
Falls off the bike
Most bicycle friendly truck drivers
Least bicycle friendly Sudbury streets
Unforgettable experiences countless
JULY 25: DAY 6
always, the ride today started in the rain. I would be surprised
by anything else. The skies quickly cleared and we had a hot, sunny
day as our last day in Ontario. We rode/drove over the bridge at
Portage-du-for a tiny Quebec village with a huge church. Just being
in la belle province cheered us up. The road now continued southwards
through farmland between the Ottawa River and the Laurentians. The
air was clear and dry with the scents of the farm. Quebec is charming
with its small villages each dominated by its church, and the good
humour of the locals. We had lunch at Quyon where the ferry crosses
the river, usually empty. We went through Aylmer, Hull and Gatineau
with a short break at the Museum of Civilization. South of Hull
there is a bike path that alternates between the riverside and by
Highway 148 as a marked bike path which is paved and broad. Ideal.
We went as far as Montebello, for a total of 225 kilometers. A perfect
is a town of 1039 but it has a reputation that far exceeds small
towns. It was first settled by Louis Joseph Papineau and his Manoir
is now a national historical site. Montebello is better known for
the Château Montebello resort, the largest log structure ever
built. It is quite impressive and I photographed it to the obvious
displeasure of the staff. It has been the meeting place of world
leaders. The resort was the host for the 1983 NATO Nuclear Planning
Group, the 1981 G7 Economic Summit, and the meeting of the George
W. Bush, Stephen Harper, and the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón
one year ago. I think all this notoriety has gone to their heads.
As expected the price of lodging is exorbitant. The people we met
in Montebello are pretentious and haughty. Now that is so much in
character that it almost has a charm of its own. Part of a trip
to Quebec includes being snubbed. Without it the trip is not complete.
After all, if I want good service I can get it in Toronto.
Tomorrow we move on eastward and will try to keep as far north of
Montreal as we can. As you can see, I try to avoid big cities. If
all goes well we will be in Trois Rivieres tomorrow night.
JULY 26: DAY 7
We started out from Montebello without rain, but that was soon
to change. Within an hour the rain started and was off and on all
day. There were lightning bolts and thunder to the north, but far
enough away that we did not stop. The road rose gently into the
foothills of the Laurentians but never gained much elevation and
was not a roller coaster. We passed through the villages of Lachute,
Saint Jerome, Saint Lin Laurentides, where Sir Wilfred Laurier was
born and grew up, Joliette, and Louisville and arrived at Trois-Rivières
near dark when the rain was getting serious. After we were safely
indoors, the lightning and thunder started again, much closer this
time and we were fortunate to be inside. The trip from Montebello
to Trois-Rivières was on beautiful paved shoulders for the
227 kilometers. I did an extra 8 or so kilometers for fun. OK, I
admit it. I lost the highway. At least Ahouva can’t laugh
at me. She was lost also.
Quebec is a cyclist’s paradise. The route from Hull to here
is about 300 km of bicycle lane. The highways 138, 148 and 158 are
beautiful, flat and well suited to biking. There are lots of trails
to follow off road leading north from these highways. Many of the
hotels advertise “cyclists welcome” and many B &
B’s offer use of their bicycles to guests. Je vais retourner.
Trois-Rivières is a pleasant city that is the second oldest
in the province, founded in 1634 as a fort and fur trading center.
The three rivers are actually three tributaries of the St Maurice
River. Before flowing toward Trois-Rivières, the St. Lawrence
River widens out to Lac St. Pierre which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
It is an important stopping point for hundreds of thousands of migrating
waterfowl including herons. I didn’t see any herons nesting,
but there were dozens of kite surfers on the lake.
The 1500 km or so of the trip so far have been rough on the wheels.
I have to constantly clean and oil the bike. Just before Trois-Rivières
the cassette came loose and I could only ride in low gear. I arrived
at the city tired and haggard, soaking wet, and pedaling at about
140 per minute, appearing decidedly demonic to passersby. The cassette
is now perfect and we are ready to set off for the next stop, Quebec
City. This will be a short day since I have to prepare for the conference
tomorrow in Montreal.
JULY 27: DAY 8
was our second day without rain and it was a beautiful day.
The riverside route is the Chemin Roy, the King’s Highway.
It passes through many picturesque towns with breathtaking
views of the Saint Lawrence. We passed through Champlain,
and Batiscan and had lunch on the banks of the Ste. Anne River,
which brings clear, cold water down from Mt. Ste. Anne. The
road then took us through the villages of St. Charles-des-Grondines,
Deschambault and Cap-Sante. At Donnaconna a detour from the
highway led us to rolling farmland and then down to the Rivière
Jacques Cartier cascading through a high walled gorge. The
climb up out of the gorge on the bike was challenging and
then we rejoined the highway for the last few kilometers into
Quebec City. This was a short day with only 142 kilometers
from Trois Rivières to Quebec City. We finished early
enough to stroll through the old city of Quebec.
Quebec City celebrated its 400th year since its founding
by Samuel de Champlain on July 3, 1608 and the celebration
is still in full swing. The old city is alive with bright
banners and flags draped over the stone buildings and crossing
high over the cobblestone streets. There are buskers and street
artists everywhere, caricaturists, face painters and horse-drawn
carts. It’s a lively scene. On both sides of the kilometer
long Grand Allee sit hundreds of people in dozens of cafes
sipping whatever it is they sip, watching the passing parade.
There are bicycles everywhere with sometimes two or three
riding on one bike. You cannot be here without feeling relaxed
and having fun.
Old Quebec City is surrounded by stone walls and fortifications,
reminding us that it was a town in need of defense. Despite
its position on the banks of the Saint Lawrence and despite
its walls and ramparts it was captured quickly by British
General James Wolfe in 1759 when his troops scaled the hill
behind the walls and surprised the French troops under General
Louis-Joseph Montcalm. The battle took only 20 minutes and
Quebec City has been part of the British colonies and then
the Canadian federation since. Despite this history that has
fed separatist feelings, we saw no sign that the Quebecoise
consider this a humiliation. In fact they use this history
as an attraction, daily re-enacting the battle in full battle
dress on the Plains of Abraham for the enjoyment of tourists.
They call this Just ‘Plain’ Fun. This is a remarkable
example of national reconciliation that should be of interest
to other cities with internal divisions, such as Beirut, which
is a sister city to Quebec City.
The bike lane has continued now for over 340 km from Hull
to Quebec City. Today it was crowded with bikes and riders
were smiling and waving at each other. I have a feeling that
it will not continue to the south shore of the Saint Lawrence
where we will ride on Tuesday towards Rivière du Loup.
This may be a challenging ride into a sparsely settled area.
That will be day 10 since day 9 will be the conference day.
Click here to learn how
to donate to PARC
JULY 28: DAY 9: MONTREAL GENERAL
Dr Shulman will give a lecture on the
"Clinical Picture of CRPS ."
JULY 29: DAY 10
I was wrong. Highway 132 from Quebec City to Rivière du Loup
is excellent for the most part and this area is full of activity.
We departed Quebec City and had a beautiful view of the old city
and especially the Chateau Frontenac from the ferry to Levis. The
road is flat and pleasant with sweeping views of the Saint Lawrence
on the left and fields of corn and wheat on the right. Artisans’
shops appear on both sides of the road near the villages and beautiful
wooden sculptures outside the shops announce the shops’ contents.
We rode/drove through the villages of Berthier-sur-mer, Montmagny,
Cap-St-Ignace, L’Islet and St. Jean-Port-Joli and were impressed
with the numbers of shoppers and the carnival atmosphere. In L’Islet
lapstrake wooden fishing boats are produced in the traditional way.
North of these villages the road becomes poor in places and the
farming settlements are farther apart. Finally we arrived at Kamouraska
which is legendary in French Canadian culture. It has been the backdrop
to at least three Canadian feature films, the best known of which
is the 1973 film ‘Kamouraska’ and starring Geneviève
Bujold based on a novel by Anne
Hébert and translated into seven languages. The other
two films shot here are ‘Cormoran’ and ‘La Petite
Seduction’. All three films were shot on location in houses
that are still standing. The name Kamouraska means, “Where
the rushes grow on the edge of the water”, and has also been
used as a label for a brand of guitars and a vodka. It is my impression
that much of Quebec culture is centered in small villages. We continued
on to Rivière-du-Loup for our last night in Quebec. Our distance
today was 216km in alternating bright sunshine and heavy rain.
is a pleasant city with a charming old town. The Saint Lawrence
here widens considerably and is tidal, with large mud flats exposed
at low tide. Where tributaries flow into the Saint Lawrence such
as the Rivière-du-Loup there are abundant krill and other
whale snacks and whale watching is popular. Whales from the small
beluga to the enormous blue whales can be seen. We didn't take
time to see them this trip.
I was honoured to be one of the speakers at a conference organized
by Dr. Gary Bennett who is a professor and Canada Senior Research
Chair at McGill University and is studying CRPS. Also speaking were
Dr. Bennett, Dr. Terence J. Coderre, and Dr. Magali Millecamps.
I believe that we are fortunate to have such gifted researchers
with an interest in CRPS. Although progress is slow, there are some
new and exciting developments in CRPS research that may ultimately
result in better treatment. For this reason Helen Small and PARC
have decided to give some of the donations from this ride to McGIll
University to fund continuing research. If you suffer from CRPS,
please feel confident that there are many talented people trying
to help you. You are not alone.
This is our last day in Quebec and therefore the time has come
to sum up.
New Brunswick, can you match that?
Distance Pembroke to Rivière-du-Loup
Days riding 3½
Rest days ½
Most bike-friendly All of Quebec
Least bike-friendly There are no
nominations in this category.
JULY 30: DAY 11
third rainless day of the trip and it was beautiful weather. I set
out late from Rivière-du-Loup and made good time despite
the rolling hills all the way to the New Brunswick border. We passed
many hillside villages including Whitworth, Cabano, Notre-Dame-du-Lac
and Saint-Louis-de-Ha!-Ha! I did not make this up. We ate lunch
in Edmunston, New Brunswick four hours after setting out. Here the
Madawaska River flows into the St. Johns River forming a self-satisfied
river that is not in any hurry to go anywhere. Here we left the
Trans Canada Highway for the pleasant Highway 144 that accompanies
the lazy St. Johns. In Grand Falls everything changes. The river
becomes a torrent, throwing itself at a succession of rocks as if
angry to be disturbed. It falls 75 feet over the horseshoe shaped
cataract to the canyon below where it bubbles between high canyon
walls. Then it widens out, calms down and resumes its limpid way
as if nothing happened. Grand Falls does more than just irritate
the river. It has a large McCain’s frozen food plant which
produces 10 tons of French fries each hour. We arrived in Grand
Falls with much energy but realized that we lost an hour at the
border and it was now evening. Rather than try to squeeze out a
few more kilometers before dark, we decided to just watch the falls,
photograph each other and have an early dinner. Our day was disappointing
with 186 km from Rivière-du-Loup to Grand Falls. We will
try to put in a longer day tomorrow.
would like to thank all of you who have written emails of support
to us. We read these daily and we do take great courage from your
messages. Unfortunately I have not had time to answer anyone. Please
don’t feel slighted. I will answer all emails when we return
home. One message was interesting and I repeat it here. “By
the way, you probably knew that 'Snow Cake' (the movie) was recently
filmed in Wawa. Sigourney Weaver played in this movie. Sigourney
plays an autistic adult who lives in Wawa. Interesting movie.”
I didn’t know that. I should have spent more time there.
Tomorrow we will try to reach Miramichi via Highway 108. It is
a deserted highway running through lands owned by Irving, the oil
baron. The two commodities that seem to run New Brunswick are McCain’s
fries and Irving Oil. I wonder if there is a connection.
As I departed Grand Falls there was thick fog, reminding us that
we are in the Maritimes. Fortunately the fog burned off and we even
had a peak at the sun. But only a peak. Within two hours it clouded
over. We took the back road to Plaster Rock and then took Highway
108 towards Miramichi. Can a highway be haunted? Malicious? As soon
as we started to ride our cell phones lost service. Not to worry,
we have walkie-talkies. There were no side roads, no houses and
no signs. Only New Brunswick forest. Then my GPS beeped that it
could not get a lock on satellites. Creepy. We noticed there were
very few cars going by, despite the well paved highway. Did I say
well paved? That ended at 85 km and the road turned to gravel. Then
the rain started sometimes quite heavy. The gravel became mush.
As I was trying to get through the mush the road popped my rear
tire. You’d think the renegade road was trying to make me
turn back. At that moment, Ahouva appeared. The road relented. The
rain stopped briefly and we changed the rear wheel, got over the
mush to the paved section and rode to the end of the defeated but
still perilous path. As a parting shot 108 sent a thunder and lightning
storm to soak me and ruin all my electronics. But we made it to
Miramichi and here we are drying out. Grand Falls to Miramichi,
206 wet kilometers on the haunted highway.
If you need more evidence of the peculiarity of the Highway 108
area, let me point out that this is a seismically unstable area.
On January 9, 1982 a double earthquake of magnitude 5.7 and 5.1
was felt with the epicenter just north of the roadway in question.
The shocks were felt as far away as New York City and Ottawa. Aftershocks
continued daily for three months. Earthquakes also occurred in this
area in February 1855, October 1869, March 1904 and July 1922. I
guess we were lucky to get out with our lives.
This area is part of the original Acadia, settled by French families
in the 17th century. They were friends with the M’kmaq Indians
and remained neutral in the conflicts between the French and the
English. When the area was ceded by the French to the English in
1713, the British demanded the Acadians pledge allegiance to Britain
but they refused, preferring to remain neutral. In 1754 the British
governor expelled the Acadians (le Grand Dérangement)
and they dispersed, some to Louisiana where they became known as
the Cajuns. Many Acadians returned to New Brunswick, settling in
the north-west, above Grand Falls since the British ships could
not pass the falls to search for them. Contemporary Acadians adopted
French culture and do not seem to have much in common with the Cajuns,
preferring poutine to jumbalaya. July 28 each year is the day of
commemoration of le Grand Dérangement.
Today there are storm warnings for this area but this intrepid
expedition will set out. We will try to get to Amherst or vicinity.
Let’s see how this goes.
AUGUST 1: DAY 13
awoke to rain storms in Miramichi and a weather warning that there
would be heavy rainfall to the west. We set out with some trepidation,
but as we cycled/drove east the skies cleared. This reminds me of
Farley Mowat’s The Boat That Wouldn’t Float. Every
time he headed his boat westward there were storms but when he turned
her eastward the skies cleared. We had a beautiful day and the brisk
east wind brought the scent of the beach and salt water. This easterly
was a head wind which was more work for me. At Kouchibouguac we
first saw the Northumberland Strait and P.E.I. We left Highway 11
and went down the side roads to visit St. Louis de Kent, Richibucto,
Rexton, Buctouche and Cocagne. In these Acadian towns every house
and business had the Acadian flag flying. Trucks went down the streets
loaded with lobster traps, and there were signs on restaurants and
kiosks advertising clams and chips, fresh scallops and lobster rolls.
There were tents set up in every village square in preparation for
the festivities on Acadia Day on August 15. I participated in my
small way by putting the Acadian flag on my bike. We stopped for
lunch at Shediac, the “Lobster Capital of the World”.
Lobster stocks have dwindled in the Northumberland Strait and eating
a lobster in Shediac does not ensure that it was trapped near here.
After leaving Shediac we followed side roads to Cap Pelee and Port
Elgin and then crossed over into Nova Scotia to the “Sunrise
Trail”. A Short drive down this road brought us to Tidnish,
population 250. We are here in a very pleasant B&B for the night.
The distance from Miramichi to Tidnish by the van’s odometer
was 210 km.
are usually prepared for the table by dropping the live animal in
boiling water. This practice is acceptable to those who maintain
that crustaceans cannot feel pain since their nervous system is
primitive. However the lobster shows a violent reaction to the boiling
water and others interpret this as a reaction to pain. In fact lobsters
have opiate receptors just as do vertebrates. Chronic pain patients
know that the opiate receptor is the site of action of Morphine
on nerves. It is also the site of action of our body’s natural
Morphine-like substances, the endogenous opioids. Having opiate
receptors implies that the animal has its own endogenous opioids
to relieve pain, and therefore the animal must feel pain. Furthermore
giving crustaceans Morphine modifies their response to painful stimuli
depending on the dose, and use of Naloxone will cancel out this
effect, just as it does in vertebrates. All these observations put
together suggest that lobsters do feel pain, and feeling pain has
survival value for the individual and for the species. We should
be looking at more humane ways to kill lobsters.
Tomorrow we will continue on the Sunrise Trail to the area of
New Glasgow. We are in Scottish country now and better get used
to lots of names that end in “nish” and “borough”.
2: DAY 14
We awoke to a brisk east wind blowing in from the Atlantic. As
if the strong headwind wasn’t enough, the rain started shortly
after getting underway, and lasted all day. At some times it became
severe with rain pelting my face. I had a flat tire which I was
able to repair in the Wallace Museum.
We passed through Pugwash, Port Howe, Tatamagouch, River John
and Caribou River all on the “Sunrise Trail”. I have
to admit I didn’t see much of any of them due to the rain
and mist and the struggle against the wind. Ahouva and finally
met and had a break at Pictou.
We then went on through New Glasgow including a stop at a bicycle
shop where I had some repairs done. We then rejoined the Trans
Canada for a hilly and chilly ride to Antigonish where we are
staying for the night. This was a slow day and in my 9 ½
hours in the saddle I only covered 194 km or
20 km per hour. We reached our destination and that is all that
matters. People here do not forget their roots. This is a Scottish
town as we quickly learned from the giant statue of a kilted Scot
wielding an axe at the entrance to the city. Many of the signs
are in English and Gaelic, such as the sign for the James River
reading “Bahrain Sheumais”. I hope I got that right.
The dairy supplier here is Scotsburn. Bumper stickers tell us
to “Honk if you’re Scottish”.
Everything here is Scottish except the soap. It’s Irish
Spring. Tomorrow we are on to North Sydney. I hope the weather
AUGUST 3: DAY 15
(left to right) Velda, Helen, Jennifer, Dr Pollett, Lynette,
Wendy (below) Helen with Northside General Pain Clinic Staff
who gave a grand welcome on Dr Shulman's arrival Aug 3.
Dr Shulman arrived at 7 PM in North Sydney NS, riding up the hill
to the hospital after a 12 hour day of riding. He was greeted enthusiastically
by Dr Pollett and ushered inside. On the fifth floor, he was escorted
down the hall to Dr Pollett's clinic by several waiting CRPS patients
to the tune of "THEME FROM ROCKY". DADADAA Tatataa Tata
TAA tatata...At first he could not be seen, but the seas suddenly
parted and Dr Shulman, gave a ROCKY salute and a big smile!!!! Applause!!!!
Everyone cheered as he guided his bike down the hall! He toured
the clinic with Dr Pollett who introduced his staff, (see photo)
explained his clinic treatments and showed thermograms of a recent
patient who had photon treatment and was doing well. Patients asked
him questions and gave him a warm Cape Breton welcome!
My personal warmest thanks to the staff at Northside for all their
efforts, their fine hospitality and unwavering support! You people
He and Mrs Shulman boarded the ferry to Port aux Basques abut 10:30
PM for a 5.5 hour ride to Port Aux Basques. Gravol included...
Today he is on the way to Corner Brook taking care to check
the wind speeds at Wreck House, where it is the highest average
wind velocity in the world, which can blow trains off tracks.
See you in NFLD Dr Shulman! helen will be in St John's for a rousing
reception on Aug 8.
4: DAY 16
first day in Newfoundland was not very successful. We took the overnight
ferry, the MV Caribou, from North Sydney to Port-aux-Basques and
on getting off the ferry we realized there is a serious storm here.
The winds are gale force from the north-east and the rain is horizontal.
The sea is in turmoil. Each wave batters the bare rocks of the shore
with a roar. Walking near the shore the rain tastes salty, mixed
with spray whipped off the crest of the waves. The winds predicted
for the Wreck House are 70 to 100 kph. Somehow this is appropriate
for Newfoundland. People here are taking this in their stride, shopping,
walking around, visiting. One toothless fellow said to me, “Nice
day”, and I think he meant it.
I haven’t pedaled at all today and we will look at the conditions
tomorrow. We have had a chance to see Port-aux-Basques and it is
a rugged outport with population of 4600 hearty souls. It was described
as a good harbour by Samuel de Champlain in 1612. Basque, French
and Mi’kmaq fisherman and whalers used it as a safe, ice-free
port even before 1700. Captain James Cook also explored and charted
Port-aux-Basques. The fishery and the ferry service employ the residents
since Newfoundland became Canada’s 10th province in 1949.
Even after the collapse of the cod fishery, fishers catch perch,
herring , mackerel and capelin and the Seafreez plant here processes
appreciation for Newfoundlanders has grown since coming here. They
showed patience and good humour on the ferry trip across the Cabot
Strait. Reservations for the ferry are full months ahead of each
sailing, and last minute trips to or from “the rock”
are possible only by arriving well ahead of the sailing and waiting
for a cancellation in a long line of vehicles. The MV Caribou itself
is pleasant enough if you come prepared with pillow, blankets and
food. Everyone lay down to sleep after turning off the lights by
unscrewing the bulbs. In the morning all 1200 passengers left the
ship and headed straight to the one coffee shop open at that hour,
Timmies on the Trans Canada, and waited patiently.
The ferries carry most of the goods needed by Newfoundlanders
and also most of the exports from the island. One of the largest,
the MV Caribou was named after its predecessor, the SS Caribou which
provided this service for decades. However at 2:40 am on October
14, 1942 as she was 60 km out of Port-aux-Basques the German submarine
U-69 torpedoed and sunk her with the loss of almost all on board.
It’s easy to see why Newfoundlanders are so patient and respectful
of their ferry service.
Tomorrow we will set out for Cornerbrook if at all possible. Wish
5: DAY 17
We left Port-aux-Basques with a headwind of 30 kph. Strangely,
the wind seemed to decrease in the Wreck House to 15 kph. We didn’t
see any rail cars blown over. I guess this was our lucky day, or
else the legend of the Wreck House is a bit exaggerated. The day
was spent riding against a moderate headwind with constant rain
falling from very dark clouds. Newfoundland is considerably colder
than the mainland and I was wearing three layers and was still cold.
The road was hilly and became mountainous and it was a long ride
to Corner Brook. I rode 11 hours and it was almost dark when I reached
Corner Brook, 218 km from Port-aux-Basques. I didn’t see any
of the communities along the way due to the mist and rain and could
not take photographs.
Corner Brook is located in the Long Range Mountains, which are
a continuation of the Appalachian Mountain belt. The high climbs,
mountain passes and frightening descents continue north to Deer
Lake where I will be riding tomorrow. These mountains are a challenge
to cyclists and as a result numerous international competitions
are scheduled here including the International Triathlon Union World
Cup events almost yearly. I expect a shorter but more difficult
day to Springate.
AUGUST 6: DAY 18
was also a rainy day off and on but between rain squalls the sky
looked brighter and the pavement dried off. It has been some time
since I rode on dry pavement. The ride went well despite the head
winds blowing down the Humber Valley. We could appreciate the scenery
and there were many beautiful views of the Humber Arm, Deer Lake,
Sandy Lake, Birchy Lake, Halls Bay and Crooked Lake. The area is
hilly but not mountainous as it was before Corner Brook. In the
last 60 km I was riding south so the headwinds became tailwinds
and I was able to ride more quickly. We arrived at Badger (20 km
west of Grand Falls-Windsor) at sunset after riding 230 km in 11
¼ hours. This puts us within 450 km of St. John’s.
Today we passed by the road to Baie Verte, an outport on the north
shore. When I was a medical student I did my elective in Baie Verte
Hospital. At that time there was no road and all movement of people
and goods was by coastal ferry. It’s too bad that I don’t
have time to visit and see how the road has changed Baie Verte.
are presently staying at a charming B&B which is a converted
nunnery in Badger and we also ate supper here. We had cod with all
the trimmings and for dessert partridgeberries. I find Newfoundlanders
prefer cod to salmon. Some of the best salmon rivers are in the
Badger area, including the Badger, Red Indian and Exploits Rivers,
and the Humber Arm. Salmon is a tastier and healthier fish and can
be prepared in many ways. Cod is served fried since it is otherwise
very bland. Then why is cod preferred by the locals? The cod fishery
was the stimulus to settle Newfoundland in the early 1500’s
and many outports were founded as sites for cod salting and drying
on drying racks or flakes. The inshore fishery developed the technology
to fish for cod such as handlining, longlining and jigging, the
trawl and the cod trap. Cod was featured on the stamps of Newfoundland
since 1880. At that time over 90% of the adult male population of
Newfoundland was occupied in the cod fishery. It was a devastating
blow to the island when in 1992 John C. Crosbie, Minister of Fisheries
and Oceans, announced a 2 year moratorium on cod fishing and this
was extended indefinitely in 1994. Locally cod is plentiful despite
the moratorium since Newfoundlanders are allowed to fish for personal
use. I think preference for cod over salmon is cultural and traditional.
Tomorrow we set out for the area of the Terra Nova National Park.
I’m not sure of our exact destination which depends, as always,
on the weather.
7: DAY 19
started our day with a very big B&B breakfast including Partridgeberry
jam. This berry grows only in Newfoundland and inSweden and is sweet
and delicious. Also a specialty of Newfoundland is the bake apple
or cloud berry and its jam has a subtle apricot flavour. Once again
the ride started this am with rain and contrary winds. I was delayed
further by a side trip to the “Bike Doctor”, a bike
mechanic who sold me some parts, in Grand Falls-Windsor. His was
the only bike shop in the town. He operates out of his garage which
is a warehouse of used bicycle parts piled up with no obvious system.
He pulled the required parts out of the confusion and this was all
I needed. This highlights the lack of bicycle services in Newfoundland.
There are no bike paths in the cities I have gone through and no
bike lanes. The only interurban road is the Trans Canada which has
paved shoulders but is not a pleasant place to ride. I have not
seen any other cyclists in Newfoundland, although this could also
be due to the stormy weather of the last week. Perhaps St. John’s
has better services for cyclists. I rode the hilly and challenging
route from Badger to the visitor center of Terra Nova National Park,
201 km in 10 hours. Near the end of this trip I attempted to enjoy
the sweeping views of Bonavista Bay but was greatly hindered by
the heavy rain.
The most welcome event of the day was the arrival of my daughter,
Adi, who met us at Gander. Adi and Ahouva toured to Twillingate
as Adi describes below:
with most sites in Newfoundland, we had to travel quite a fair distance
from the highway before we encountered some semblance of “urban”
life. While the scenery here is truly breathtaking – crystal
blue water and rich green foliage – the distances between
towns made me reflect on this vastly different lifestyle foregoing
both the conveniences and the complexities of city life. Finally,
however, after two hours of driving north from Gander we arrived
at the magnificently breathtaking seaside town Twillingate. Perched
atop a hillside overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the quaint houses
and brightly coloured fishing boats immediately captivated my attention.
Driving up through the town and high onto Crow Head overlook we
parked our car and headed out on our mission to see a whale and
an iceberg or two. A tip from Notre Dame Junction Information Centre
brought us to this spot with high hopes of getting a truly unique
glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean. Based on plentiful food in the area
this time of year, the odds of whale sightings were promising. As
well, icebergs, traveling for many years with the currents from
Greenland to Newfoundland are often spotted from this very site.
As we stood at the overlook, gazing out onto the vastness of this
glorious ocean we soon realized the true charm of this site did
not lie in its ability to produce whale and iceberg sightings, but
rather in its promise to open our eyes to the true beauty of Newfoundland,
be it in its people, its lifestyle, or in nature’s inherent
beauty (in fact, inexplicably, the sun even came out and the skies
cleared seemingly just for us). While our iceberg sighting proved
to be nothing more than a boat, and our whale sighting proved to
be far off in the distance and hardly distinguishable, Twillingate
managed to capture my heart with its awesome and humbling beauty;
a truly worthwhile visit despite the long drive and minimal sightings.
Nevertheless we came to Newfoundland on a greater mission, and so
we headed back to our car and on towards our next stop, Port Blandford
some 3 hours away. Once again we found ourselves back on the scenic
and sparsely populated drive of the Trans-Canada Highway and the
rain it brought with it. Tomorrow promises to bring sunny skies
and warm weather…we’ll see…
8: DAY 20
was our best day of this tour with sunshine, magnificent scenery
and more of the legendary Newfoundland charm. I started my ride
at the spot on the TCH in the Terra Nova National Park where I stopped
yesterday. The park is hilly enough to be interesting and there
were frequent views of Clode Sound on the left. Salmon rivers bubbled
and gurgled under the highway on their way to Clode Sound and some
had fences spanning their width to prevent salmon from going farther
upstream. I’m told this is a conservation measure. After the
Park the highway remaining hilly, with an exceptionally big hill
as the TCH entered the Avalon Peninsula. As I paused to catch my
breath at the top of the hill, I caught the impressive vista of
Conception Bay and I imagined I could see all the way to St John’s.
Exhilarated, I knew this was the high point of land and it would
be downhill to the sea. As I rode to our B&B cars and trucks
gave me a short honk and a wave as they have throughout this province.
Our immaculate B&B by the sea is in Avondale, about 40 km from
St. John’s. The motto of our hostess is, “no one should
leave this table hungry”. Terra Nova to Avondale is a ride
of 208 km in 10 ¼ hours. Here’s Adi.
the first time, in my adult life, I had made my way out to Canada’s
Maritime Provinces; with my arrival I set two goals for myself: enjoy
a traditional lobster dinner, and catch an elusive glimpse of the
majestic whale in its natural habitat. With St. John’s in our
reach I knew the lobster dinner was not far off; however, the fabled
whale sighting proved a more difficult challenge. And so, today we
set off on day two of our mission to see a whale. Clarenville Information
Centre provided us with the boost we needed, pointing us in the direction
of Bay Bulls, a seaside town along the eastern coast of the Avalon
Peninsula. Far larger and more economically developed than Twillingate,
Bay Bulls offered organized boat tours of the area with expert guides
to highlight the area’s featured sites. With no designated lookout,
we were forced to pay for tickets aboard the Gatherall II for the
opportunity to catch a glimpse of these grand mammals. Hearing that
previous tours that day had had tremendous luck with sightings, and
knowing that there were dozens of whales in the area feeding, we eagerly
headed out to sea with high hopes. And, in fact, within 10 minutes
we saw the first sprays of the day. Our extremely knowledgeable staff
took us out past Grand Island and soon we were seeing whale sprays
all around us and it wasn’t long before the first fin whale
surfaced. The excitement on the boat was palpable as we all rushed
to snap photographs hoping to capture a great shot. Within half an
hour, as the boat drifted, we were being circled by one pair of fin
whales and one pair of humpbacks (a rare breed for this area). As
they circled to cull their food we had many opportunities to see these
creatures surface and dive again. Staying down for only about one
minute at a time these large animals certainly made their presence
known – truly the featured attraction. While I could have stayed
out there all day watching them, we were on a schedule and had to
head back to shore. However, our tour was not over without passing
by another remarkably unique site in the area, the ecological reserve
for birds. Comprised of four islands this reserve houses over 5 million
birds, including the iconic Puffin. Standing only 8 inches high,
the Puffins come to these shores annually to mate, using their colourful
bills to attract a mate and then shedding them for the duller gray
bill when they are out at sea. One of the islands of the reserve,
Gull Island, was our final stop on our way back to Bay Bulls as we
watched the thousands of birds covering the shoreline and flying overhead,
a truly magnificent site. But alas our wilderness tour ended back
at Bay Bulls harbour some 90 minutes after it started. Gatherall’s
had provided a truly unique experience which was not only exhilarating
and educational, but entertaining as well, with traditional Newfoundland
songs and lots of laughter. Having completed one of my goals that
day we headed out from Bay Bulls to pick up my dad on the Trans-Canada
Highway, and onto St. John’s for dinner to complete my second….yummy.
9: DAY 21
set out from Avondale in the rain and fog, somehow fitting for Newfoundland.
I took the scenic route. OK, I was lost and wound up in Conception
Bay South. This lengthened the route somewhat but I regained the
highway and headed for St. John’s in the increasing rain.
Ahouva and Adi guided me into St. John’s downtown and to the
start of the Trans Canada Highway, Mile 0. Today’s ride from
Avondale to St. John’s was 53 km. A small crowd was waiting
in the cold drizzle for us at Mile 0 with a banner and balloons.
They were members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Long
Term Pain Association waiting to greet us and they were in
good spirits. The Association’s Educational Co-ordinator,
Carol Stanley, and Helen Small had organized this reception complete
with a snack for one hungry rider. We met each other and photographed
and then went to the Marriott Hotel for a conference. PARC educational
materials were on display for sale and Helen led a seminar about
CRPS essentials. I received a handsome medal from PARC showed a
determined cyclist who looked more serious than I, and my wife and
Carol Stanley were also honoured with medals for their contributions
to the Ride. In the evening we met again for a pleasant meal in
the hotel restaurant which had a good view of the fog-shrouded harbour.
Almost everyone ate pan-fried cod.
From the guests I learned a lot about this province and about chronic
pain treatment here. There is limited access to physicians who treat
chronic pain. Carol knew of only two anesthesiologists who treat
chronic pain part time. There is a long waiting list, lengthened
considerably by summer holidays. Family doctors are attempting to
fill the void. Emergency departments are not sympathetic to chronic
pain patients as a whole. Sound at all familiar?
ends the Ride to Conquer CRPS. I hope this ride has given hope to
CRPS sufferers and improved the visibility of this very serious
disease in the medical community and with the general public. I
wish to thank my wife and daughter for taking care of all the day
to day details of the ride, from navigation to accommodation, from
dehydration to excess precipitation, from good food to cheery mood.
I would like to thank Dr. Pollett and Dr. Bennett for the scientific
presentations on CRPS. Finally I wish to thank Carol Stanley,
Violette and Deanna and especially Helen Small for the educational
and fund-raising aspects of the Ride. We worked well as a team and
I believe the results will justify the enormous energy and time
commitments of all. It has been my pleasure to be part of this team.
Marathon to St. John’s
Weathered in days
Days without rain
Days of gratitude for working
with this team
all of them
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