Montreal man cycling cross-country calls N.S. roads 'dangerous'

A Montreal DJ who's cycling across Canada on a fixed-gear bike says he thinks Nova Scotia would be a beautiful part of the country — if he could stop paying attention to the poor quality of its roads long enough to see it.

Montreal DJ JaBig is travelling 15,000 kilometres on a fixed-gear bicycle

JaBig stopped off by the RCMP in Digby, N.S. to learn the best way to get to Wolfville on a fixed-gear bike. In other words, no steep hills. (JaBig/Instagram)

A Montreal DJ who's cycling across Canada on a fixed-gear bike says he thinks Nova Scotia would be a beautiful part of the country — if he could stop paying attention to the poor quality of its roads long enough to see it.

JaBig said that road conditions and drivers who are inexperienced sharing the road with cyclists have made the Nova Scotia leg of his journey a difficult experience. 

"It is legal to ride on major highways [in Nova Scotia] but it is dangerous. The roads here are not bicycle friendly," he said. "It's a pity because it's a really beautiful province, but I can't even enjoy it."

JaBig aims to cycle 15,000 kilometres and set a Guinness World Record. 

Rough situation

JaBig said he's experienced issues with the lack of paved shoulders on provincial highways. 

He said a cyclist is an unfamiliar sight on these routes and drivers unused to cyclists have often passed him too close, forcing him to jump off his bike to avoid riding onto the gravel shoulder. 

With slippery winter conditions, riding onto the gravel could cause his bike to overturn or damage his tires. 

Despite his criticisms of the conditions in Nova Scotia, JaBig isn't trying to avoid difficulty. In fact, seeking out a challenge is the purpose of his entire trip.

JaBig, in Montreal, on his first day of his journey. (JaBig/Facebook)

Tackling 'every hard challenge'

Before this year, JaBig actively avoided winter — for the duration of the season, he stuck close to home — and if his friends wanted to see him, he said, "they knew where I lived."

But when his successful DJ career left him looking for the next challenge, he turned to two things for which he's not usually known: long-distance cycling and an appreciation for winter.

"I said to myself fixed-gear is difficult, riding across Canada in the winter is difficult. If I'm going to set a challenge, I might as well set a very hard challenge."

JaBig left from Montreal in January, and plans to travel to all three Canadian coasts before finishing at the Arctic ocean in December.

It's a daunting task, and by comparison, JaBig says the solution to Nova Scotia's cycling woes is an easy one: paving highway shoulders, and educating drivers.

Jabig says he can't really appreciate the sights of Nova Scotia because of the quality of its roads and drivers. (JaBig/Instagram)

Niceness smooths the rough ride

He said while drivers might be inexperienced, they're not rude, and his encounters with Nova Scotians have shown them to be the opposite of impolite.

"Everyone is so nice. At first I thought it was because people knew me for my music, but then I realized no, they're just friendly."

JaBig arrived in Halifax on Wednesday and will be prolonging his stay in the city for at least another week.

Now that he knows what to expect on Nova Scotia highways, he said he has to give himself more time to prepare for challenging road conditions on his trip to Sydney.

But the delay has a happy byproduct.

JaBig — who grew up in Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa before moving to Montreal — is able to visit a friend from Kenya who has since moved to Halifax, and hopes to spend time connecting with parts of the city's history that had been unknown to him, especially the region's historic African Nova Scotian communities.

He also hopes to play a DJ set in Halifax next Friday.

"First and foremost it's a DJ tour by bicycle," he said. "It's just that I chose one of the world's biggest countries to do it."

About the Author

Moira Donovan

Associate Producer

Moira Donovan is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. She's worked in Lyon, London and now reports from Halifax. She can be found on Twitter @MoiraDonovan

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