Wednesday, 2 August 2017

On a tough day on the Cabot Trail

I started relatively early, just after cocks' crow, or at least a cock's crow. The owner of place I was staying at keeps chickens. Also, the cocks don't work like clockwork so in fact I woke up around 7, had breakfast and left about 8.

Despite the cool of the morning, I quickly broke out in a sweat as I climbed up Cape Smokey. I stopped a few times to catch my breath and to change into a sleeveless jersey. I noticed a Pepsi delivery truck going by, proudly bearing the logo "Made in Cape Breton". Someone yelled something at me from a passing SUV that I chose to think of as an encouragement. At the top, there was a view point complete with said SUV and its occupants. They were impressed at my performance, etc. They also told me that people signed the nearby guardrail with a felt tip pen left for the purpose. So I signed.

At that point, my average speed was about 10.7 kph. It was a long downhill into the extensive selection of Ingonishes. By the time, I reached sea level, my average speed was up to 16.6 kph! I rounded an arm of the sea and as I began to climb again, I saw two bald eagles attempting to catch a small brown water bird, possibly something in the merganser line. The eagles were more or less wading and weren't at their best. I got the impression the small bird escaped but with the bushes, I can't be sure.

The Ingonishes (Ingonish Ferry, Ingonish Harbour, Ingonish Beach, etc. ad nauseum) were intermixed with the Western entry point into Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Signs in English and Gaelic were replaced by ones in English and French. The cynic in me would love to know just what deal making went into determining the exact and remarkably complex borders of the Park.

Three different people, two of them cyclists and one of the latter being local, suggested that because of construction, I should take the older road via Neil's Harbour and White Point to get to the town of Cape North. So I did. The route was more scenic with some spectacular cliffs to ride above. In the process, I saw the Pepsi truck making deliveries.

In Cape North, I had a bowl of chowder at a bistro that operated in blissful ignorance that the word "bistro" is Russian for "quick".

I am encountering a fair number of cyclists in these parts. Anyone might think the Cabot Trail was well known. ;-) Some are day cyclists. Others strike me as van supported. Some are campers and others not unlike me. I was impressed by one party of German cyclists with good looking bags. However, when I talked to one of them, it turned out the bikes themselves were rented!

Leaving Cape North, I re-entered the Park. Construction began anew as I climbed a long hill along the Aspy Valley. There were several traffic control points along the way which pulsed traffic making it easier to cope. Easier, not easy. The climb was in the sun which made it feel very hot, though in the shade it was cool. I stopped several times to drink, "admire the view"* and talk with people. At one point, I stopped to exchange information with a pair of cyclists going the other way. They were two months out of Vancouver, heading for St-John's via Argentia. After they headed down the hill, I began to push Leonardo up as I was getting very tired. At the next control point, I was very tempted to simply wait through a cycle.

The road levelled out on the plateau before all to soon descending to the sea. The pavement had been ripped off the road making for a jolting ride. I blessed my disc brakes as I went down secure in the knowledge I wasn't going to overheat my rims.

The day ended in Pleasant Bay at the HI Hostel. I had booked ahead several weeks ago the only remaining accommodation, a family room. As I checked in, I chatted with the friendly "landlady" or whatever her title is. Somehow it came up that I didn't mind sharing my room so she "changed" the room for the night into a small dorm. Within about thirty minutes, the other two beds in the room were booked! My good deed for the day.

A good day, but I am tired. I am happy to being doing the Cabot Trail, but I don't think I will do it again. More accurately, I really don't want to do it again at least by bike.

One more thing, I was asked a Parks Canada ranger at some point if this was my first visit to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. I said "No, I was here in 1986." He asked if the biking was better than before. I laughed and said that in 1986, I had been driven by my parents, mostly by Pappy who in his unarticulated desire to get to Sandy Cove drove like a crazy person resulting in a significant speeding ticket in the Park.

* a.k.a. stopping to rest


Margo and Chris said...

Disc brakes? Have you got a new bike?

Bikemoose said...

The disc brakes are something I had retrofitted recently. There was always provision for them.