Riding Off Kilter by the Ocean in Saint Andrews
We met a man in a kilt yesterday–and he made us put on kilts too! After all, we were in St Andrews, and many Scots settled here back in the day. Kurt Gumushel runs Off Kilter Bike Tours, and grew up in this small town of just 1500, so he knows everyone, and they all know him. After we pinned our kilts closed we set off on a bike tour of this pretty seaside village, with another couple who were also from Massachusetts.
I always enjoy riding on bike paths and Kurt had this covered–we headed for the Saint Andrews Van Horne trail, which was just completed this summer. Kurt said that local people had helped plant hundreds of evergreen trees along the route, and the grass was still coming up on the last leg, which took us out to the water and a view of Minister’s Island. Too bad the trail ends rather abruptly, but the landowners didn’t want to let it keep going.
Kurt is a physical education teacher and runs marathons, and his family history reaches back to Turkey, where his dad was a tailor. He was able to emigrate to Canada when they needed a tailor, and he opened his own shop. Today, at 80, Kurt’s dad is in demand for another reason. He speaks Arabic and translates for the recently arrived refugees that have come to New Brunswick and other parts of Canada.
Our bike trip took us up and around near the Algonquin Hotel, where we learned about a certain Mrs. Beaverbrook–an English high society woman who married two billionaires, and who has given a fire station, an ice arena and a high school to her adopted summer home. Then we rode to the edge of the shore and pedaled all the way down onto the rocks and seaweed that’s normally covered by the ocean.
We topped it off with fish cakes and an incredible seafood chowder at the Niger Reef Tea House, overlooking the water. The restaurant was named after the reef where a British ship once ran aground, and is a hazard for boats and ships to this day.
What a perfect way to discover the town and enjoy local seafood in great company!