Be Your Own Jeannie

Cabot Trail Biking
Cabot Trail Biking

This is dedicated to all who dare to venture, the hearts who sing praises of their wondrous bodies and to those who have yet to unravel their mystical powers, now is the time to step out and explore.

Test Drive

Prior to transatlantic flights, night after night, I would lose much sleep tossing and turning. My mind would work overtime weaving stories. Whether preoccupied and lost in thought, befuddled with calendar dates, no time to pack or passport left behind, I always managed to miss my flight. In an effort to thwart my anxiety, I made every effort to begin packing weeks ahead of time. These visions would NOT take on a life of their own…

At times even I am bewildered by the depth of my audacity. I can’t for the life of me figure out how I had the courage to commit to a biking adventure of 300+ kilometers?! Could it be that this time around I tarried, packing at the last possible moment, in an attempt to deny the harsh reality awaiting me in a remote Canadian frontier?

Cape Breton Bike Route
Cape Breton Bike Route

This was a trip which I barely prepared for. Oh, I put aside energy bars and other biking aids but I only began packing in earnest hours before my flight.

Adventure, I love discovering new places, flavors and scenery. If because of Hubby’s business we were destined to vacation yet again in North America, I was determined to try something new. As always, I harnessed the wisdom of the illustrious Dr Google and promptly discovered the worldwide biking trips led by Freewheeling Adventures. Amazingly enough, Hubby too was intrigued by the Nova Scotia Adventure I chose and undeterred by both the road bikes and the group.

Of course I had my misgivings. Oddly enough, more then I questioned whether or not I had the stamina to bike distances of 70-80 km/day, I wondered whether I would be able to find what to eat. My diet certainly is out of the ordinary. While I lean towards a whole food plant based diet, it is limited because of oxalate issues. Many of the popular “healthy” foods are very problematic for me. As part of the registration process we were given a number of questionnaires. When I got to the part asking about dietary restrictions/preferences I froze. Quite simply I just did not know where to begin. For starters, I wrote that my diet was problematic and would forward detailed information later on. In all honestly, I was embarrassed to begin to list all of the foods that I needed to avoid… Afterwards, when Jeanne, kitchen manager at Freewheeling Adventures, contacted me, I could not believe my good fortune.

So began an intense flurry of communications between us. I was blown away by her candid efforts to dig deep, asking many additional questions regarding certain ingredients. When I mentioned an excellent brand of Canadian pasta which I use, it immediately found its way onto her shopping list. Certainly the crème de la crème was the blender and the ice chest which led my way from hotel to hotel.  

It was one thing to covertly jump ship and become a “roadie” (I usually mountain bike) for a spell, but to go without my daily green smoothie?


Blender On The Go
Blender On The Go

And so it was that the day before the beginning of our trek I found myself at the farmer’s market in Halifax, Nova Scotia buying organic fruit and greens for my smoothies. I was game for action!

Halifax Mural
Halifax Mural

Hubby and I sat on the porch of our hotel awaiting our transfer to Cape Breton. We eyeballed another couple nearby, “roadies”. Everything about them caught our attention: their attire, their bikes and their physique. Fearsome, suddenly we questioned our ability for the task ahead. Fortunately they were very down to earth and amiable and we settled into a cozy round of bike talk. When the van arrived we suddenly became aware of a couple of “grandmothers” hoovering nearby. Although they had been there on the hotel porch with us all along, never in a million years would we have guessed that they too were “Freewheeling” bound…

Five hours later we arrived at our first destination. After removing our gear and checking in we met our playmates for dinner and introductions. We first tasted the delights of the land which would become our home for the next six nights. One of the first (of many) pleasant surprises to greet us was a carte blanche invitation or free rein of the menu (with the exception of alcoholic beverages). I find it hard to believe that many of the bikers abuse or even take advantage of this munificent offer. True, the marginal cost to the company is minor but heck it sure is a powerful message. We were impressed by the generous gesture. Our guides told stories of teen aged boys who had taken advantage of this offer and ate more than one main course in a sitting, but I can surely verify the voracity of a teenage boy’s appetite …). I did allow myself two deserts at one meal after I discovered a favorite desert masquerading under another an alias …

It was an unforgettable adventure. We were an eclectic group of 11 bikers with two terrific guides. Each rode at his own pace and a number of subgroups formed. After breakfast every morning there was a briefing regarding the day’s route, a large detailed map and, of course, fruit, nuts, chocolate and energy bars (hip hip hooray for the delectable homemade ones) for packing. At lunchtime we would gather together for an amazing feast and every evening we would discover the next hotel/inn/bed and breakfast which was almost always “one up” on the previous day’s. Memorable, sensational and indulgent times they were, even when the climbs went on and on and the odometer reached new unfamiliar heights.

Gourmet Picnic Lunch
Gourmet Picnic Lunch

The Older We Get the Better We Are

Once in our travels I bought a great baseball cap for hubby. It read: Old Guys Rule – The Older I Get the Better I was. Old guys rule? YES! But they got it all wrong. The older we get the better we are!

At summer camp we frequently awarded medals for the best of any number of activities and titles. I would like to officially award Myrna (73) and Fern (78) with a tie for the esteemed diamond medal: “You Rock!” Age is surely no barrier for these two superstars. Myrna and Fern worked together at the same school. When Fern retired from her job as principle she received (as per her unusual request) a mountain bike and a kayak. I spoke at length with Fern. She told me that in the near future when she turns 80 she plans on cutting down on her mountain biking and putting her main emphasis on kayaking. This is her plan to stay put near her home base  and spend more time with her grandchildren. In the meantime Myrna and Fern, BFF, continue to bike frequently and adventure far and wide together.

Hail to the new generation of active young grandparents!!!

Life At 78
Life At 78

Heartfelt praise to Kaitlyn and Mike our guides, their constant support and attentiveness smoothed any question or problem along the way. There was always a healthy and low oxalate choice nearby. There were multiple nutritious options and all left a taste for more. Surprisingly, we had great fun parading as “roadies”. There is something quite magical and intoxicating about speeding along a scenic roadway (at least with minimal traffic) against a breathtaking background.

While my first true love will remain mountain biking, I will definitely come back for more. I’ve already eyeballed a couple of trips which have perked my interest.

Who knows, perhaps next time around I will dress up and actually ride a bike which will look the part?!

Relaxing After a Long Day's Biking
Relaxing After a Long Day’s Biking

Be Your Own Jeannie – 7 Ways to Stay Healthy on your Travels

1, Do your homework.

Call on your trusty pal Dr. Google and map out all of the health food stores along your route. Seek out the best salad bar in the area. Don’t forget to frequent farmers’ markets. They are a wonderful source for fresh local produce in all its splendor. It can also be a great spot to discover delightful homemade energy bars and snacks.

2. Take advantage of the mini bar.

Most lodging options come with a mini bar or a small refrigerator. Often if there is no mini bar one may be obtained through housekeeping or maintenance.  It never hurts to ask…

3. Pack what you cannot do without.

Weigh carefully what can be purchased along the way and what must be packed with you. One can utilize small jars and bottles to pack liquids, supplements and smoothie add ins. Dry fruits and vegetables, energy bars and others can be purchased or prepared ahead of time. Find good substitutes for your regular “cannot go withouts” (for example substitute dried spirulina for frozen or protein powder for fresh fruit and vegetables).

4. Pack creatively.

I purchased a carry on bag which doubles as a cooler. It keeps my food colder than a “regular” one and it seems bottomless…

5. Tote.

Always carry a healthy snack with you. Don’t allow yourself to be fair game temptations.

6. Ask!

Often the restaurant will not have any suitable choice. Request the waiter’s help in preparing an alternate option using ingredients already listed on the menu; usually it is not a problem to add or to subtract. You will never know if you never ask…

7. Relax!

Does “orthorexia nervosa” ring a bell? Don’t be obsessive about your food. Just do your best.

If you have not yet read about the rocky part of my journey, you can read it here.‎

I would like to thank you for your patience in reading this post to its end.‎

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