September 7: Ingonish to North Sydney, 107 km and a night ferry to Channel-Port aux Basque
I decided to have a second cup of coffee when I saw the down-pour outside. Maybe it will pass – I was hopeful. It rained last night but the morning looked ok. I wondered when I will have an opportunity to dry the tent fly. I am often thinking about the tent. Not seeing a change in weather, I decided to leave by 9 am. So It Rained. Sometimes hard. Sometimes just a drizzle. Every once in a while there would be a short break. Clouds were low and if there were any views to be enjoyed, I certainly didn’t see them. I was soaked all the way through but figured that I wouldn’t get cold as long as I kept moving. So I cycled.
No pictures were taken until around 1 pm. I took my gloves off to give my wrinkled hands a break just before a gusty stretch to my little “short-cut” ferry. I watched the waves, kept both hands on the handlebars and was barely moving.
This was the scariest little ferry boat ride; I had a good grip on a door handle as waves splashed over the deck and the ferry attendant casually carried on conversation. He advised me that “5 km into the wind and then you have a mountain to climb” on the other side.
It stopped to rain briefly by the time I reached “the mountain” and I was delighted with my first sign for the Newfoundland ferry. A steep down the mountain on the other side and few more climbs to the ferry terminal in North Sydney.
I took a picture of a cool bridge in the distance but when I finally got close, I was concerned how to get across. No signs of bikes not being allowed, in fact a “share the road” sign but no shoulder or bike lane and the wind blew so hard, that I pushed my bike across the bridge. Every time a car came by, I leaned into the railing. This was not a fun adventure.
The ferry terminal in North Sydney is new and fancy and the town has all the expected amenities. I managed to sneak into the laundromat, before they closed, to dry my wet clothes. Grocery shopping complete and leftover pizza packed, I biked back to the terminal only to get soaked again.
Sleeper cabins were all sold out so I paid $20 extra for a recliner in a quiet area. Curled up in my sleeping bag, earplugs in, it was like an oversized airplane seat with leg support.
107 km wet and windy
A Giant grave
End of the Trans Canada Highway
One enormous ferry and no good place for a bicycle. The loading started over two hours prior to departure.
Wet shoes drying
September 6: Cheticamp to Ingonish via the Cabot Trail, 120 km / 75 mi
Every mile and every view was earned today. This has been by far the hardest day with its epic steep climbs and scary descends. But it was worth it! This scenic highway lived up to its reputation in all aspects.
I came across a campground in the Cape Breton National Park, about 10 km before my planned destination. Wiped, I called it quits for the day. My average speed was low which left me with an hour of daylight. I cooked, got cleaned up and by 9:15 pm, I was asleep in my tiny tent.
120 km / 75 mi – these road grades should be illegal
French Mountain – 6 km at 11% grade; North Mountain – 3 km at 13% grade; to name a couple that actually had signage
Glory and a recumbent loaded in the back of a pick up truck – A ride from the “follow me” car through a 2.5 km road construction zone. I reluctantly accepted and was releaved when I saw the road mess as we drove through.
Drenched in sweat all day
Sweat dripping down my face
September 5: Linwood to Cheticamp, 162 km / 101 mi
400 km across Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island to reach the ferry to Newfoundland and I have changed my plans three times. In the end, I have decided to ride the world famous Cabot Trail. It will mean couple extra long days before the ferry and one less day on Newfoundland.
The Cabot Trail – “Rising from the sea and clinging to mountains, the Cabot Trail is a winding staircase that will take you from majestic ocean vistas to quiet fishing villages.” A scenic highway!
The friendly ladies at the Cape Breton visitor center convinced me to ride the hard-packed gravel and dirt trail on the west side of the island since it’s closer to the water than the coast road and the views are better. They were right and that wasn’t even a section of the Cabot Trail.
I met Bea at my mid-day stop at the convenience stop for some coke and Gatorade. We chatted for a while and when I came out of the washroom, she had a goodie bag of nuts and bars ready for me. Love these random acts of kindness.
Here are some pics from today.
I saw my riding companion, David, on and off during the day and he caught up with me, after grocery shopping, at camp. Another night of good company.
162 km / 101 mi today … over 7000 km / 4300 mi since June
Cape Breton Island! Woohoo!!
Canso Causeway connecting Cape Breton with Nova Scotia
September 4: Brookfield to Linwood, 167 km / 104 mi
The muffled sound of earplugs is effective for preventing being kept awake by your partner’s snoring but not effective for karaoke or rain and wind storm. There was not much sleep in tent site #10 last night.
The morning rain made for a quick pack job and more sorting and organizing occurred under a covered shelter. Being alone for a day, I welcomed the chit chat with the usual Tim Hortons retiree crowd. Labor Day weekend made for quiet roads and puddles disappeared mid-day.
I startled a cyclist resting on the side of the road but we were both obviously delighted to see each other. He immediately offered me a sweet wafery biscuit and we exchanged plans for the day and trip. We rode together to Tim Horton’s for an afternoon coffee break.
David, my new riding partner, is on a recumbent bike but he might as well be a celebrity. People flocked to him as we came into Timmys in Antigonish. Turns out, with a recumbent bike its like that everywhere and especially in China. This is his second trip across Canada, over a decade apart, and he has done many adventurous cycle tours.
The trees danced in the wind and the weather continued to improve throughout the day. Nice tailwind at the end of the day.
Beers and vegetable soup shared at camp. It’s nice to have company!
167 km / 104 mi might be my longest day yet
Closed grocery store on Labor Day
September 3: Halifax to Brookfield, 92 km
This story has 10 provinces and only 9 have been completed so far. There is still 1300 km of road to be cycled; a day and a half of back-tracking across Nova Scotia; Cape Breton Island (not its own province); 7 hour ferry boat ride; many more sights and smells to enjoy and stories to collect. This road ends in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
On the road again, solo
Two more weeks of camping – the tent is going to feel huge (and quiet) without Jess
The Bad Tan Lines Project may be finished since I am sitting at the picnic table in my down jacket and it feels like the season has changed
92 km / 57 mi
The same road, cycled twice, once in each direction
First Campground with karaoke
August 30: Meadowville rest day, 0 km
A woman in my book club had some wise words about friendships: Friends may be with you for a season or a reason or a life time. My friend Alanna falls in the latter category. We had a day to catch up on the last decade of our lives and enjoyed recapping some old Victoria stories and fun memories. I hope we don’t count our reunions by the decades.
From Pictou to Tatamagoush to New Glasgow, we really are still in Canada, it’s just that Nova Scotia means New Scotland. We used all five of the ginormous rotary (aka round about) exits as Alanna gave us a tour of the area and taught us about the local life.
August 28: Cavendish to Charlottetown, 51 km (Prince Edward Island)
Patti said that PEI is a special place and she was right. We crisscrossed this lovely and hilly island! Somehow we thought it was flat but don’t be fooled that is not the case. The red beach on the Cavendish north shore was stunning. Seafood is delicious and the island is rich in farming. And of course we didn’t pass on Cow Ice Cream.
On Patti’s recommendation we went to the Water Prince Corner Shop for dinner. The waitress looked stunned when we told her we didn’t have a reservation and unless we were willing to sit at the kitchen bar, she’d get us in at 10 pm. We took her bar offer and returned an hour later.
The restaurant played the Final Countdown as she prepared us for lobster with bibs around our necks. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect finish to PEI.
51 km (41 km of endless hills and 10 km of Confederation trail)
A French toast bake for breakfast from fellow campers, Patti & George, from Boston. Wicked!
Lobster roll for lunch
Whole lobster for dinner
Bed and towels at Charlottetown hostel