Stinking Bag of Spanners Part 2
["Things went south just north of Earltown"]
["I won't forget the day's events... ever. I rode 518 km.
after estimating the ride to be about 450 km."]
At 10:30 in the morning the sky was gray and threatening more rain, the detour I was taking was absolutely treacherous, especially for a motorcyclist, and I felt as nervous - even as frightened - as a caged rabbit in a butcher's shop. One reason was the mud and jagged rock under my bike tires, another was I wasn't a totally fit rider on that day in mid-June.
I had only been on the bike for a handful of spring rides, after an almost three-year-long hiatus from motorcycling, before making the decision to ride to the East Coast of Canada. Call me hasty or fool-hardy. (I would agree to some extent). As well, spring weather had been wet and cool, not the best motorcycling weather for one wanting to bond with his bike and get his legs under him and sharpen up his riding skills.
["Last stop for photos before encountering the detour signs"]
That being said, surely almost anyone in the world heading uphill on grimy roads toward Tatamagouche Mountain would have felt the same as me... rattled, like a nervous Nellie. Somehow I survived the uphill battle without being tossed into a ditch, and the downhill was unbelievably worse. I massaged the brakes, however, kept the speed to a bare minimum, cursed and prayed - often in the same breath - like a sailor on rough seas, and was utterly relieved when I saw one last orange sign that simply read, 'End'. I didn't have the strength to smile or the wit to say, "Almost, but not quite, you Beggar."
In spite of lack of signage directing me back to the main road, Highway 131, I eventually found it. But only after stopping in at two farmhouses to ask for directions (unfortunately, or maybe not, both were empty; one had a fiercesome German Shepherd guarding the lane), and getting thrown off track by a lone, very old road sign that was located at an intersection and positioned at an awkward 45-degree angle.
"Is it telling me to go left or keep straight?" I said. "Left or straight? Left or straight?"
I got off the bike and caught my breath. I decided to go straight because it sounded more positive. I made the right choice. Left would not have been right.
I arrived in Tatamagouche shortly thereafter and stopped to fill up with gas. While jotting down my mileage in a notebook another rider stopped to chat.
"Good ride?" he said.
"Very good so far, except for that stinking detour to the top of Tatamagouche Mountain," I said.
"Oh, you didn't have to take that detour. It's for locals only."
I shook my head, saw red, felt my blood start to boil.
"How was I supposed to know it was just for locals?"
"Did you see the tree-trimming trucks?" he said.
"Yes, back at Earltown," I said.
["Off the bike. Weather starting to cool down. Me too"]
["Tatamagouche is an hour or more behind me, over my shoulder"]
["I was very happy to find a familiar gas station under blue skies"]
["I was happy to see Mr. Turner but he didn't remember me from 2010"]
["All's well that ends well": Photo at 150 King St., Frederiction]
"Well, those guys put out detour signs so the locals don't slow them down. You didn't need to go around them. You could have kept right on going."
After I heard that I felt I wanted - for sure - to find the municipal office and shake things up a bit. Thrown some furniture. Heave some spanners. Big spanners. Pointy spanners. But I didn't have the strength for it.
I simply looked at all the mud on my bike's tires, motor and muffler, threw my leg over the seat and soldiered on down the road to Amherst, then to my day's destination, Fredericton. Time was a-wastin'.
While eating supper in Fredericton I emailed the following message to my family (time stamp, 7:48):
Long ride today, including stupid stupid detour. Bad signage by Tatamagouche
road work guys. I was directed off a perfectly good road, killed an hour (I tried
to knock on doors for an assist but nobody lives in the houses I checked) and almost
tipped the bike on muddy wet rocky dirty roads atop Tatamagouche Mountain. I
was told at later gas station the detour was meant for locals only. WTHeck!?!
That being said, I know how to make up for lost time, stayed on the main highway,
Steady Eddie at the throttle, and got to Fredericton before six. Am now in a lovely
pub w more choices for food and drink than I will be able to handle in a month
of pub nights.
Later in the evening I calmed down a bit - after, mentally, running out of spanners - and by bedtime I was right with the world again. Such is life.
Link to Part 1 at Halifax and Another Hard Promise
Photos by GH