Bike

ACADIAN DRIFTWOOD

“I THOUGHT YOU GUYS WERE FIT?” MCKEOWN TAUNTS US.
“The war was over and the spirit was broken. The hills were smokin’ as the men withdrew. We stood on the cliffs, oh and watched the ships, slowly sinking to their rendezvous.”
—FROM THE SONG “ACADIAN DRIFTWOOD” BY THE BAND

It’s September 26, and the northern tip of the Appalachian Mountains is sweltering. Pushing 93-degrees Fahrenheit with 100-percent humidity, it feels more like Tennessee or Georgia than it does New Brunswick, some 1,350 miles north in a near identical landscape. The distinguishing maple trees still have a strong inner glow of electric green while shades of auburn tinge their outer canopy. The forest is desperately trying to fall asleep before winter, but Atlantic hurricanes are preventing this, pushing hot, damp air up the East Coast.

Photographer Bruno Long and I pant like dying hamsters as we follow 47-year-old Brian McKeown over the packed, black soils of Best Bitter, onto Wilson’s Loop, Bunkerama and then Boldenweiser in the Marysville Place (MVP) trail network outside the capital city of Fredericton. The humidity feels like being bundled in Saran Wrap. It isn’t the ass-kicking we were expecting, having traveled from the temperate wilds of British Columbia to a quiet and rolling province where a nascent riding culture is supposedly only now taking shape.

“I thought you guys were fit?” McKeown taunts us, spinning effortlessly over the smattering of loose stones and thin roots. “We are,” Long answers. “You’re just ridiculous.”

McKeown, it turns out, is the 2012 Canadian masters class cross-country champion.

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