Day 82 – Ingonish to North Sydney – 94 kilometers

Thursday August 23rd

Big Smokey eh!

Last night I had briefly spoke with another cyclist from Cape Breton. His name is Jimmy Cambell who is a teacher in Sydney. He has only been riding 5 -7 years but he has done the Cabot Trail many times. I would put him in his 60’s but he is in solid shape. He is currently promoting riding in Nova Scotia so please check it out:

www.velocapebreton.ca

He left earlier and we played tag a bit since we had different stops but we would catch up to each other later in the day. After Ingonish you sweep into a long bay and then head up Cape Smokey which is not too bad a climb in this direction but heading counter clockwise on the Cabot Trail would present a challenge. The view is not bad at the main pull out but I found a little outcropping just down the road that you can not get to if you have a car because there is no where to pull over. I had pulled over because the cars are going to slow on the steep downhill.
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The ride from there was a windy long downhill which I flew down but going the other way would suck as I mentioned because there is no shoulder plus you would be going very slow up the mountain. After that there wasn’t much to see since there were houses and forest between the road and the sea shore. Once and a while you would get a glimpse but pretty boring riding if you ask me. Finally you come out of there to very large inlet with a causeway and a ferry to the other side. The ferry only goes about 50 meters and it has a tether due to the strong current. After about 6 kilometers you join back up with the Trans Canada where I met some cyclists near the top of the hill. They had left 2 days after me from Victoria but they rode almost every day which I think is very tough to do. They had a lot a of gear and even a fiddle!!!! They were going to the Rollies Wharf in North Sydney for a fiddle jam. Not too long after Jimmy Cambell pulled up and we chatted for a good half hour before I pressed on.
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There was a another big downhill all the way to the bridge to Seal Island. The bridge has no shoulder and gusty winds. Not for the faint of heart or inexperienced cyclists. You are not allowed to cross on foot because it is so narrow and dangerous. Up the other side I pulled into a service station for some chocolate and fluids since I had run out about an hour ago. I saw Jimmy ride by so I hopped on the bike and tracked him down. We rode for a little ways but I had a little more energy up the hill and the other side was a huge downhill with a tailwind. I hadn’t been in the big rim on a slight downhill for a while and I didn’t wait up since there were big rollers too. I really kept my speed over most of them making the climbs easy. It was nice to finish the day like that as I saw the campground not too far after.
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I booked in and then called the ferry service to Newfoundland. Bad News :( The next reservation is for Saturday, can’t fit little me on the ferry I guess! I showered, did laundry then went for dinner at a local pub. There was hardly anyone in there so I chatted with the bartender (he actually came to my table and sat with me) for while. Nice guy who was into kayaking. Jobs are pretty scarce around here but he ran the pub so he was okay. After having the second best burger on the trip I went back to camp discover that my tent had fallen in on itself. This was a first. When I set it back up I noticed something had gnawed through the back and had gotten to all of my bagels, what is it with bagels??? All things considered I have been pretty lucky animals but those pesky Scottish Chipmunks!!!!

I took a cab to Rolliee’s Wharf to catch the fiddle off. There was a good 7 or 8 fiddlers, a piano player and at times small wind instruments. It was pretty good but the songs are long and I sensed that not all the participants know them or the lead is simply extending the song on and on. Other than having to wait an extra day things are good. Please note there are only 8 more days to donate. People have been very generous so far and we are closing in on $12,000 so I am very happy.
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