It's about 5:30 now, the light is just starting to fill the sky, trees are rustling and the house is silent. Our day yesterday was big, ambitious and very satisfying. On Tuesday night we planned our bike route, and settled on a ride from Hunter River to Charlottetown. We were out early -- by 9:30 and by 10:30 we were ready to go (after a fair amount of time loaded, rearranging and unloading the bikes, making the necessary adjustments at a building that turned out to be a sad nursing home where we used the bathroom. Soon we hit the trail. A gorgeous segment, though farms of corn and potatoes and few other cyclists. We saw more road maintenance crew than anyone else (hats off to them, by the way, for the job they do keeping up the trail.) We rode about 21 miles of mild but long uphill. It took us about 2 hours to reach our destination -- Charlottetown, and Ellen suggested Flex Mussels for lunch.
Nice place, great atmosphere right on the water. Not many mussels were actually ordered; Howard had a serving but the rest of us went with salads and sandwiches, toasting ourselves with Diet Pepsi on having ridden so well. Lots of talking, this time more focused on food and nutrition (many rapid subject changes characterize our conversation; there's often a pinball machine quality to our talk where we zing from thing to thing, sometimes completing a thought or story, sometimes abandoning it midway. We also talked about Howard and Joanne's upcoming wedding, where we insisted on detail.
It was a great place to stop and recharge for the return trip; right on the water in Charlottetown's beautiful harbor. After lunch and a brief stop where Pam could get some sweets we returned to the road. Howard told Nick not to wait for them when we reached the end, and we lost sight of them early. The ride back was challenging -- there was a much longer ascent than we'd anticipated, and we struggled a bit but with good cheer. Pam did great -- better than last year. Nick stayed a little back because he takes the incline slowly; easier for him with that honking big mountain bike. Ellen, Pam and I rode much of it together, and our anticipation for the long final descent grew as we approached it. It wasn't as long or sweet a descent as we'd expected; Nick told us it would be a 6-mile downhill. Not so much. More like the last 4 km, and though Ellen was let down the rest of us enjoyed every inch.
It was four hours biking all in, and when we met at the car Howard pulled up to let us know Joanne wasn't up to the return trip and had waiting for him in Charlottetown. He took the car to collect her, and we hung around a few minutes congratulating ourselves on this challenging but oh-so-fulfilling 42-mile ride (the map called this route "moderate.")