Take the rail trail out of Halifax toward Hubbards, N.S. At the halfway point, roughly 28 km, you’ll come to a train station that was built in 1904. One-third of the old station is a bike shop, the other two-thirds, a café. There’s also an old caboose that belongs to the Train Station Bike & Bean owner, Dana Gallant. A third of the caboose sits on land belonging to the Ministry of Natural Resources, which added an interesting bureaucratic requirement when Gallant bought the property six years ago. “I had to get a letter of comfort from the government before I could finalize the purchase. I didn’t know they were capable of writing such letters,” joked Gallant.
Gallant’s café is an excellent spot for cyclists coming from Halifax who need to refuel. There are Italian sodas, homemade soups, sandwiches and other essentials. “Beer, ice cream and coffee – those are the three things cyclists want,” Gallant said. The shop carries necessities for the riders and their machines: clothes, tubes and locks. There are bikes for sale too. Gallant’s fleet caters to the cottagers in the area, who are mostly after hybrid-style bikes.
The café and shop is an outgrowth of Gallant’s other business, Pedal and Sea Adventures. It started in the early ’90s when he bought six bikes, rented a spot at a Halifax youth hostel and rented his wheels. By his third day, he didn’t have enough bikes, so he borrowed from friends. His clients would ask him for advice on where to ride. Eventually, he stopped telling them. Instead he started taking them on tours. One day, some former clients asked him if he could arrange a trip to Tuscany. He said, “Of course.”
And what did he know about touring Tuscany at the time? “Absolutely nothing,” Gallant said. He went over three weeks ahead of the group, did the necessary research and then led the tour. Now his company does one to four Tuscany trips a year. His company also has trips to Norway, Ireland, Greece and Croatia. Six years ago, the company grew so much that Gallant wasn’t able to guide every trip. He still does Croatia and Greece.
“When I started the tour company, I said to my friends, ‘I’m going to work long hours for six months and then I’m going to go play for six months,'” said Gallant, who often spends his off-season in Australia. His friends told him that it didn’t work like that. You work 50 weeks and get two weeks off. His response was a paraphrase of a line by Pierre Trudeau, “You watch me.”
Gallant’s soup recipe is just the thing to restore you after a brisk spring ride.
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium butternut squash, chopped
1 cup of carrots, chopped
1 cup of celery, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
- In a medium-size soup pot, heat up the butter. Sauté the onions until translucent.
- Add the carrots and celery and continue to sauté for another five minutes.
- Add the squash and heat for five minutes, stirring often.
- Cover the vegetables with chicken stock and simmer until the vegetables are cooked.
- Transfer the vegetables and stock to a food processor. Blend until the soup is smooth. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
- Add a teaspoon of fresh cream and a splash of sherry into each serving.
For one serving:
Carbs 18 g
Saturated Fat 4 g
Fibre 3 g
Protein 6 g