By Sarah Seeley
Sept. 19, 2014
Biking the entire Confederation Trail has always been at the top of Paul and Betty MacPhee’s bucket list.
Their opportunity came during the recent 2014 festivities.
They were flipping through the paper and saw an advertisement for Uncover the Island. It was an event organized by Island Trails to showcase the beauty of the 360-km trail that covers P.E.I. from tip to tip.
The event was a 15-week excursion and every Saturday the group of 30 people biked 20-40 km.
Paul, 62, and Betty, 59, had biked sections of the trail before, but they never attempted the entire route.
“We thought let’s go for it,” Betty said.
The couple’s interest in cycling started three years ago when Paul won a bike in a Tim Horton’s contest.
“That kind of got us into biking. It was our incentive to seriously start doing it,” said Betty.
The trip was even more challenging for Paul. He had knee surgery last winter, but six months later he was ready.
“I started on a stationary bike for therapy, but then switched to a real bike.”
His doctor recommended cycling, said Paul.
“It was hard, but it’s better than walking or running. It’s good exercise.”
On June 21, the group met at the North Cape windmills and started their journey. The scenery was breathtaking, said Betty.
“There are lots of places on the Island that can be seen from a bike. The Island is so varied. There was so much marshland.”
Paul said there were no hills on the trail and it was easier than biking on the road.
Their biggest hurdle was biking through Hurricane Arthur. The group of cyclists braved the storm and travelled 31.6 km from Portage to Wellington.
“There weren’t many people with us that day, but we biked it. We should have been biking the other way because the wind was in our faces and there were branches blowing all over the trail,” said Paul.
After the hurricane, the weather was perfect for the rest of the trip, said Betty.
“We were very fortunate that there was no rain.”
At the end of every stretch, Island Trails gave the weary cyclists transportation back to their cars. Paul was stunned when he considered the distance they travelled.
“I kept thinking how did we bike that? It seemed so long in the car. We amazed ourselves.”
The trip ended in September at the East Point lighthouse.
“We were exhausted, but it was rewarding. I felt tired because it was a challenge,” said Betty.
The MacPhees will continue to bike, but they aren’t sure if they’ll attempt the whole trail again.
“The big thing is that we’ve done it and it was great, but we might do it if the opportunity comes up again,” Betty said.
Paul gained a new appreciation for the trail after he biked it.
“We’re very lucky to have a trail like that. It’s much safer than biking on the road.”
Betty is a tour guide on the trail and she enjoys telling tourists about her adventures.
“I’m always talking about the trail and it is so cool to say that I biked it.”
The next item on their bucket list is a trip to Munich, Germany. They planned a trip in October for cycling and sightseeing. On the Uncover the Island excursion, Paul said they met a couple who will be there at the same time.
“It was great to be with a bunch of people our age who had the same interests and we found more connections.”