Local Motion - New Brunswick

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July 16, 2009

Ride to the Headwaters - mini Birthday Challenge

Biking the backroads of Southern New Brunswick

Looking across the Saint John - Petitcodiac Watershed Divide in Corn Hill

This afternoon, for my mini Birthday Challenge (the real deal is the Fundy Trek), I'm bicycling from my house at the Mouth of the Saint John River to the Headwaters of one of it major tributaries, the Kennebecasis River. I grew up in Corn Hill which forms the watershed divide between two of New Brunswick's famous rivers- the Saint John and the Petitcodiac. A good birthday challenge should provide some reflection. As a kid I was obsessed with the creeks near our house, the puddles in our driveway, and even a good rainstorm. So for my 24th birthdday it's fitting to retrace my path through the river network back to Corn Hill.

Since I'm dedicating my ride to water I thought I'd start by tracing the taps from my house back to their source at Loch Lomond in East Saint John. Beyond this I'll continue through Barnesville, Upham, and Hillsdale following the beautiful Hammond River Valley (http://www.hraa.ca/). Near the community of Hammondvale I'll part with this river and head towards Sussex Corner, joining Trout Creek shortly, before I leave Sussex and begin to follow Smiths Creek to Corn Hill.

While watersheds collect and concentrate the rain, our backroads reflect century old carriage paths that took people and their goods from farm to village to town and city. From the hinterlands of the Kennebecasis Watershed, people for thousands of years have walked and floated downstream to Saint John. These age old paths are now paved and impersonal but they can be tamed once again on foot or bike.

I love hearing the old stories of farmboys from Corn Hill biking the 25 km into Sussex for a Friday night dance then biking home again in the wee hours of the night. Although I doubt it would be much fun to ride a single speed bike on those bumpy old dirt roads, the idea of riding my bike get somewhere is very appealing. Biking home today is about more than just a physical challenge, I frankly need to get home. Its my Dad's big 60th birthday party on Saturday and I have a whole day of work to our place ready for it!

As my friend Ross often reminds me, human bodies evolved for motion. We can walk and run more efficiently than any other land animal. And the invention of the bike in the early 1800's increased the efficiency of our human potential once again. Last night I got a lesson on bike mechanics from my friend Lucas, the bike mechanic, as he fixed up my old Nishiki road bike on his backdeck. It's been a couple years since I pedalled 100km. I'll see how it feels to be an efficient human...probably painful :)
graham waugh, local motion, biking, bicycling, cycling, birthday challenge, corn hill, sussex, saint john, kennebecasis, hammond river,

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Anonymous said...

Hope the wind was at your tail the whole way so you had a chance to look at the beauty of the landscape you were passing through.

Herb Farm said...

What beautiful country side. In doing a search for information on my maternal ancestors from Corn Hill I found your blog.