The Bicycle Chronicles Part 1: The Incredible Journey

Posted by Marlinee on Jul 8, 2010 in Travels |

Bicycles have been an important part of my life ever since I finally learned to ride a two-wheeler. Of course, almost every single one I’ve owned has been stolen, but that’s another story. This story is about a bicycle trip I took to PEI that I will never be young enough or foolish enough to repeat.

I moved from Toronto to Saskatoon in the early 1980s (also a different story), and took my stolen-but-miraculously-reclaimed Raleigh road bike (yet another story) with me in the move. Before I left, my friend Karen and I hatched a plan to meet for summer vacation, and decided for some reason that biking around PEI would be a good adventure. Here’s where I should mention that we had never ridden our bikes any considerable distance before and Karen is allergic to shellfish .

Over the winter and spring, we had many consultations to plan our route, figure out where we might be staying, what we would bring and how we would cram two weeks worth of gear in our alarmingly small panniers. The first part of the logistics involved me flying to Toronto, staying at Karen’s overnight, and then flying to Charlottetown the next day.

I thought it would be most logical for me to ride my bike to the Saskatoon airport, then remove the pedals and turn the handlebars of the bike to put it in the box that Air Canada required for bike transport. This almost went off without a hitch, except for several near death experiences riding my bike into the airport. Bike helmets were not standard gear in those days, either. However, I did finally make it safely on the plane and arrived in Toronto.

I don’t remember why, but I had to collect my bike from the Toronto flight and keep it somewhere until the Charlottetown flight. My solution for this was to take it out of the box, and lock it up to a post inside Terminal 1. I imagine this would not go over particularly well today, but back then I got away with it. Never the less, I was very happy to see that the bike was still there when we arrived to check in for the PEI leg of the journey.

We landed in Charlottetown, collected our bikes, put the pedals back on, and readjusted the handlebars. Then we rode from the airport into the city, with several stops to re-adjust the handlebars that hadn’t been properly secured into position and retrieve wayward pedals. And even with already being an airport biking pro, this was not a stress-free event.

From what I recall, the next two weeks more or less went off without a hitch, aside from discovering that PEI is remarkably hilly, the rain and wind always come from the direction you are travelling in, and waterproof is a relative term when it comes to both rain gear and pannier bags. Our friendship survived, Karen survived, and our bikes survived. The panniers still survive to this day, although are not in active duty.

When I got back to Saskatoon, I put my bike in a cab rather than repeat the airport journey, plus by then I was pretty much sick of biking. Later that summer the Raleigh was stolen for good while parked outside the police station.

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