Day 87 – Grand Falls to Gander – 99 kilometers

Tuesday August 28th

Pathetic ride but still a ride.

I had a bit of a late start since I slept in and had to do laundry on the other side of town. I think it was after 11 by the time I checked out which meant no big day today but I figured I could at least make it to Gander which was 100 kilometers away. For the first 20 kilometers I had a bit of a wind which helped me but it wasn’t long before I had a headwind. I had no energy, there wasn’t a lot to see and my legs were sapped for strength. I eventually made it and checked into a motel. I simply didn’t feel like camping and there was nothing near town.
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Day 85 – Crabbs River to Deer Lake – 185 kilometers

Sunday August 26th

Map a ride had some wind working for me today!

What a coincidence that I rode 185 kilometers today and Ironman Canada is also today. It is no coincidence that Derek Leung is riding his heart out in his first Ironman which took months and months of training and discipline: I should know I finish 2 of them and failed to finish my first . This is not the case for Derek though, he finished his first Ironman today, way to go!!!!
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Day 84 – NEWFOUNDLAND!!!!!! Port-aux-Basques to Crabbs River – 100 kilometers

Saturday August 25th

Map my little ride!

Sorry but more ranting. It is suggested you arrive 2 hours before the ferry leaves which it states on the ticket and also the person who did reservation said the same thing. Since the ferry sailed at 7:30 that meant being up just before 5am and riding to the ferry in the dark. This is one of the few times I felt unsafe because I have no lights and there are no street lamps. It was hard to see when there were no cars around. Eventually I get to the ferry and there is no line up and I ride up to the section designated for motorcycles. One of the guys there had to wait 5 days to get on but still a bicycle had to wait an extra day. One thing I noted right away is how incredibly slow and seemingly disorganized the loading process was. The bikers and I finally got the go ahead around 7:30 but we didn’t leave the dock until an hour later. They had no hot chocolate and when I went for breakfast no one was working the till. Okay I am done ranting but the service and treatment of passengers is crap.
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Okay the exciting bit, I made it to Newfoundland!!!! Pulling up to “The Rock” was very exciting and I took a lot of pictures. You are not allowed on the car decks until after the boat is docked which is another oddity. This meant I didn’t have any water for the ride but that was quickly remedied. As expected the coastline is rugged with grey granite rock with houses speckled along the ridges hanging on for dear life. The were all very tidy and newly painted giving a very cute and clean little postcard. There was hardly a tree until you looked very closely.
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As soon as I got off the ferry I went to Bob’s Chicken which is right off the highway when you turn off for Port-aux-Basque. There was a Tim Hortons but I wanted support a local shop instead of a franchise. I ordered and ate 3 burgers before heading off down the road. I smarty pulled into the Tourist information building where I got a detailed map of the area showing campgrounds and small towns. Google maps doesn’t show any of these so it was a critical stop for me. They also had a small print out they made for the first 300 kilometers of highway listing campgrounds and restaurants and the distances from here to there and also between the listings. It was just what I needed and finally I got a free pin. The beauty of Newfoundland showed herself with a view of the Tabletop Mountains which are literally taking up the view North and are covered with lush green forests of decidious and evergreen. The “Twin Hills” though poorly named were another breathtaking sight.
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Newfoundland is surprisingly beautiful already and I just started. Passing Wreckhouse I was reminded of the stories of big rigs being blown off the highway. Though very windy in Port-aux-Basque it was not bad here and as I progressed through the day the wind wasn’t much of an issue.
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I rode a little bit into dusk but I am behind, the road is excellent and there is virtually no traffic. I would say one car every 20 minutes at the most. I am so happy to be here and look forward to tomorrow which will be my first big ride on the island.

Day 83 – North Sydney – stranded by Marine Atlantic

I’ll keep the rant to a minimum but when I arrived Thursday I called to make a reservation with the ferry just in case. The other cyclist I met did say it was filling up which didn’t make sense to me. Anyway when I called the best they could do is put me on the Saturday morning ferry. The guys at the bar had a good laugh over this one and had suggested I ust throw my bike in someones pickup. Instead I stayed in town and cuaght up with blogs. North Sydney is really tiny but also a little picturesque.
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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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Day 81 – Cheticamp to Ingonish (Cabot Trail Provincial Park) – 117 kilometers

Wednesday August 22nd

Check out the hills on this baby!

This morning I had a show down with the chipmunks of Cheticamp. It started because while getting ready to go I had unloaded everything, including food, from the tent. I had gone to brush my teeth and when I came back I saw Tricia had come over and was trying to shoo something away. Low and behold there he was with butterscotch chip cookie bag in his mouth trying to drag it off the table. He didn’t want to give it up and when the bulk of it fell over the side of the picnic table he couldn’t hold on and it crashed to the ground. I jumped in with the quickness of a cat and grabbed my cookies! While I was gone they had also chewed through my bagel bag and did a little nibbling on not just the top one but a couple of them. I through those to the ground and they started coming back for the scraps. One tried to take a full bagel a d could barely move it so I went to grab it and he held on to the last minute before scurrying away. I broke that piece into small pieces and within a minute another was back but head chipmunk chased him away, it is fierce in the wilderness.

The day started right into a climb of the biggest mountain here which is named French Mountain. It is only around 500 meters high but the ride is a pretty good one and I felt like I was back in BC. The view was of course incredible and it was a nice and cool overcast day with the wind blowing from the North. This made for great riding even though it was hard. Even the cars and trucks were having a little trouble. I wonder what they think when they see me. At the top of the climb is Skyline trail which Amanda and Pictou had suggested that if I do any trail to do this one. I have to thank her since this is a spectacular trail once you get out to the edge of the ridge. You see the park on your left when you are heading up the road which you can see in the pictures I post. For those that do it, skip the loop and just go straight to the Western lookout. I met two Aussie girls who did the trail with me which was nice since 5 kilometers of it had little or no view. I can’t do the views justice with my pathetic writing skills so have a look below:

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The Skyline trail runs along the top of this ridge.


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Skyline loop


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Looking back at the highway where I took the earlier picture.


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On the way back I saw my first moose! She was small but very close to the trail so I waited until she relaxed and came close to the trail to capture some video. It was pretty cool to see a big animal so close and with little danger since I don’t think the females are aggressive which is unlike Albatrosses with their dangerous flight patterns but I digress.
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The top of the hill was just a little further and then you are on a very large plateau which has at least one lake, brown grassy areas and some smaller old twisted trees. I suspect the wind can get horrendous up here but it was all blue skies now since the wind had pushed the clouds away. It was only hot when the wind stopped so I kind of liked the wind. The road wound back toward the sea for another spectacular view of a little beach where a fishing village used to exist. You can hike down the 8 kilometers but I had already hiked 9 kilometers today and need to ride 100 or so more kilometers so I continued along the road.
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There is a massive windy downhill into Pleasant Bay that without a weighted down bike and the blowing wind would be an incredible descent. It was still pretty awesome and no traffic could keep up to me, not even close. I stopped at a little restaurant around the bottom before the the bay and had a lobster wrap. It was good but I guess I am not a seafood person because I never really enjoy it so much I want more. Out of Pleasant Bay comes some unpleasantness as you hit North Mountain which has a 13% grade for about 4 kilometers. Now this was a hard ride and ranked up there with some of the climbs in BC with some really steep parts. Part way a couple who were riding with a tour company were stopped waiting for the van. I didn’t stop but asked if they were okay to which the man retorted “it is too hard”. Further up a lady was walking up and she simply yelled “impressive” which made me feel good. The tour van passed me slow enough to yell out some encouragement as well. Knowing it was only 4 kilometers I got pretty stubborn and just cranked it as hard as I could without stopping. It had a kind of gradual crest and seeing the tour van parked beside the road I started ratcheting up the gears until I passed them doing about 30 km/hr at the crest and then I put the hammer down and blew by some cyclists who had gotten the free ride doing about 50km/hr. The road then dipped really steeply into about 10 small switchbacks with speed warnings of 30km/hr. The wind was howling in every direction but I was smoking down the hill and didn’t stop for pictures. I was cutting the corners massively and accelerating out of them to about 65km/hr when I dared to look down at the odometer. I blew by a cyclist who had stopped at a lookup and just held the corner enough to make it around but by then I decided I had played the game for enough now and stopped at the next look out. The lady whom I had just passed couldn’t believe how fast I came down. She was from Texas and the tour group had said this was a moderate ride. I would say it was far from moderate and would not recommend North Mtn. except for experienced cyclists.
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There was a nice long ride out before it went into rolling hills. The road continued to remain shoulder less and there seemed to be a bit more traffic. It was still a ways away from the coast but I just kept riding for as long as I could with taking as few stops as possible. Eventually you come out of the forest to the Southern coastline which is much more scenic than the North in my opinion. The ocean thrashes the large rocky coast line into rounded stone of pinkish colour. I love the crashing sound, it reminds me of Hawaii near Sunny Beach. I stopped at one of the lookouts that had a great view of Black Brook Cove (I think)) with its large sand beach and break waters about 500 meters from the shore. I rode a little father to the next stop and climbed out onto the rocks to get a little closer to the action.
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I eventually made it to Ingonish campground and setup for the night. I had my final night of noodles since I planned to ditch my pot and stove in the morning. A very hard day of riding but the great views on the Cabot trail made it worth it.

Day 80 – Port Hanson to Cabot Trail Provincial park (Cheticamp)- 155 kilometers

Tuesday August 21st

Map my ride a little hilly!

Today started a little overcast which was nice because it was cooler. I ate a protein bar that Heather had gave me the day before since I didn’t know when I would get breakfast and I certainly wasn’t going to AW. About 30 kilometers in near Judique I ran into a group from Ontario travelling bar car. The asked if I wanted some snack bars and I humbly accepted.
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Seeing me put that away in a couple of bites, I think the comment was “oh my gosh he’s eating them right now!” they offered a banana and an apple as well. I talked about my trip so far and they told me about theirs. They had driven from Lake Ontario South through New York state, Maine and I think New Hampshire before visiting Nova Scotia. They were very nice and wished me on my way.

The road was pretty rough but there was some nice ocean views and barely the semblance of a town anywhere so you cyclists out there should bring food. I was getting pretty hungry when I came across Sandeannies Bakery just outside of Port Hood which serves breakfast all day. The nice ladies in there gave me $10 in donations and were very friendly. I also picked up their butterscotch chip cookies which are incredibly good.
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The riding between Port Hood and Inverness isn’t too scenic since you head inland off the coast but I did pass through Glenville which is where all the little Glen’ s come from. I stopped in Inverness next which sits way up above the ocean but has roads down to the harbour and beach. I didn’t bother but I did have a hot turkey sandwhich in the middle of summer on a hot day cooled down by a chocolate milkshake. My eating habits are that of a pregnant lady I think.
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Up the highway it goes back inland so I took a small coastal road hoping for some views that only a cyclist would get but there was literally nothing until the last kilometer. Maybe it was worth it, you decide:
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Eventually I was on the actual Cabot trail and there is a nice little town and beach area here at Margaree Harbour. I would say it is even scenic but now there is a lot of traffic. Also the road is horrible and though the hills don’t look big it seems to slow you down quite a bit so it is slow going. This is also another little Acadia and there is a very small town just outside of Cheticamp that has a sign “Welcome cyclists”. From
here the road is excellent with a full shoulder until you get to Cheticamp which is where it kind of goes crappy again but no matter Cheticamp is very charming and worth a visit. There is puffin tours and of course whale watching but I think the puffins have more of a stoic air to them.
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I didn’t really stop as I wanted to get the campground and wouldn’t you know it my folks called me to check on how I was doing. It is always great to hear a voice from home and made me a little less weary. There were a few cyclists in camp including a French man who has done a lot biking and Tricia from New Hampshire who camped next to me. The French man and I spoke for quite a while about previous trips including the Rockies and tours in France which he said was really easy to get away and do from his home but he wanted to see this coast line and agreed it was challenging. After dinner I chatted with Tricia for quite a while about rides and US politics. I am meeting a lot of Americans that are unhappy with the way the country is heading and seem to despise the alternative which is the Republicans. I really think a viable very left leaning third party would be good for the US but I can’t see it ever happening. All in all a long day but it ended well and the Cabot Trail park is quite beautiful and full of lush green forest.
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Day 79 – Pictou to Port Hanson – 135 kilometers

Monday August 20th

My ride is here.

Thanks again to Phil and Heather for taking care of me in Pictou. There was some heavy rain last night and a little in the morning but thankfully I was able to miss it although I did start a little late. It was okay though since the ride was a little shorter than normal. I took the trans Canada which was a little busy and had crappy shoulders when there was a passing lane but overall it is a pretty smooth ride. There are lots of evergreen here and there are big rolling hills all of the way to Cape Breton Island. The only unfortunate thing I failed to mention over the last week is the number porcupine road kill. Since New Brunswick I have seen about five a day flattened on the ground. I wonder if they spray their needles in the last moments of their life. Anyway it is too bad and the smell is horrible.

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Pictou


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Day 78 – Charlottetown to Pictou – 68 kilometers

Sunday August 19th

Map my ride shows more because it was on for the ferry ride!

I woke up to another great breakfast at the Goddards. I can’t thank them enough and now it is time to finish the journey. Basically I am not planning on stopping until I get to St. Johns if I can help it since I will come back explore and take my time after. The road was quiet and in excellent condition along the trans Canada except for the last 20 kilometers which I took a country road which was good but hilly.
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