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Cycling PEI: A Solo Trip 

by Mallory Brennan

Last spring I booked a number of flights for work and, as a result, started getting targeted ads for all the airline sales. So when a tremendous deal popped up for flights to Charlottetown (PEI) I booked flights for September, put the dates in my calendar and promptly forgot about it. 

Then summertime arrived. That’s when I work at Rainbow Camp, an overnight camp for 2SLGBTQ+ youth. This year was our first summer back in person since 2019, as well as our first time running a full summer of camp. This was also my first summer as co-director (shoutout to my amazing co-director Cal!). September was the last thing on my mind.

All of a sudden, my trip was three days away and all I had planned was my flights. No accommodations booked, no routes planned, no rental bicycle booked, no meal plans, no list of things I wanted to do, none of the stuff I would usually prepare in advance. Then all of a sudden it was the day before my flight and still nothing… The night before I left I hastily booked a rental bicycle and booked accommodations, picking places that seemed like a reasonable distance apart. Everything else I could make up as I went along, right?

Five Random Observations Post Trip:

  1. I’d forgotten how much I love the freedom of multiple day solo trips. I could wake up whenever I felt like it, stop for rests whenever I felt like it, spend hours reading, eat when I felt like it and basically do whatever I felt like. (It helped that I “planned” my route conservatively so I was never in a huge rush to get to my destination!)
  2. Rail Trails are not all flat. I knew this in advance but somehow forgot. Cue several hours of slogging along the trail, feeling like you aren’t going anywhere until you see a cyclist going the other way with a grin on their face and you realize you’ve been slowly going uphill for the past several hours.
  3. The roads in PEI are excellent for cycling. I did about ⅔ of my trip on the Confederation Trail and the rest on minor highways. Things I noticed about the roads:
    1. There were large paved shoulders on most roads
    2. Cars were clearly used to seeing cyclists and gave me lots of space
    3. There was signage for cyclists as well as for motorists 
  4. I much prefer my own bicycle over my rental bicycle. While I considered bringing my bicycle, I opted to rent a bicycle and panniers for the week instead. While it was a perfectly serviceable bicycle, I prefer mine. (I own a fancy touring bicycle that was a graduation gift the first time I graduated university so to be fair, the bar is high.)
  5. I enjoy having a baseline level of fitness (and possibly youth on my side) that allows me to pick up a rental bicycle, carry all of my stuff (including camping equipment!) and spend five days riding without any training. While I didn’t do any super long distances (my longest day was 70km), I also did absolutely ZERO training and in fact, hadn’t ridden a bicycle at all in the 12 months prior to this trip. 

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