Keeping the great trail safe
If something happens on the Confederation Trail, chances are Charles Easter is among the first to know.
The Island’s longest serving trail volunteer, Easter has been pedaling the trail – keeping close eyes and ears on all the happenings - since he retired a decade ago.
Clad in a neon yellow bicycle jersey, Easter is ready to help anyone he comes across with a cell phone, camera, snacks, tire pump and trail maps. He reports downed trees, illegal ATVs and trail conditions, helps lost tourists and can even replace your blown tire tube or put your chain back on.
“If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty it’s pretty easy to do,” the 79-year-old retired auto mechanic said.
Easter loved his bicycle as a young boy, but didn’t rediscover the passion until 1992 when a group of friends started running. “Running wasn’t for me so I thought, I will start biking. My first goal was to get 1,000 kilometers a season, then I worked up to 3,000 then 5,000.”
Now Easter is averaging 6,000 kilometers on the trail every season. This summer he rode the entire trail and all of its branches - twice.
“They give you a jersey to wear and you get lots of free exercise out of it,” he said of his motivations. "You’re out in the fresh air, it’s good exercise, the trail is safe away from traffic and you never know who you’re going to meet.”
Easter just completed a 60 km ride last week – from his Cornwall home to Sherwood Road where he met his Monday cycling group, then to Colville Road and back. In his black tights, cycling shorts, sneakers, gloves and a helmet, he moves with such speed and agility it’s hard to believe he’s almost 80.
He says depending on who he’s riding with, he averages a speed of about 18 km per hour on the trail.
He dresses for any kind of weather. He’s got lights on the front and back of his giant hybrid but prefers riding in daylight so he can see the beauty around him.
“It’s solitary, relaxing, and the scenery changes with the seasons,” he said.
His son gave him a Garmin watch with GPS and a goPro camera which he uses to film footage for his blog - www.pedalingpei.blogspot.com. Easter says between 400 and 500 cycling enthusiasts from around the world read his blog each day.
With beautiful rolling hill scenery, quaint villages and broad bay seascapes, The Confederation Trail is Prince Edward Islands portion of the the Great Trail formerly called the Trans Canada Trail. The 435 kilometres of rolled stone dust trail has gentle gradients which never exceed 2 per cent (up or down). This Island wide exploration corridor is ideal for visitors of all fitness levels.
“Tourists are always amazed by it,” Easter said. “They don’t realize it’s a provincial park.”
The Confederation Trail is a real gift for the Island, he said. “It’s gravel, there are no hills, it’s sheltered by wooded areas, so it’s ideal for recreational cyclists. The wind could be blowing 50 or 60 kms and you wouldn’t mind it on the trail.”
The wind is kept at bay and so are bad moods, he said. “I never met anyone on the trail who wasn’t pleasant.