Monday, July 23, 2012

Bangor Maine

No, we did not cycle to Bangor.  We only cycled from Ingonish back to our starting point at Baddeck, where we left Joe’s Van.  We left our motel at first light and did not find a place for breakfast until 30 miles into our ride when we stopped at the Wreck Cove General Store.  There the owner entertained us with travel stories and his frustrations with the local travel bureaus. After we left we noticed a strong head wind building and the raising temperatures.   We had only 1 real climb today.  It was up Smoky Mountain.  After our climb to the top we wondered why we were told by other cyclists that the hill was a terrible climb.  Going south our climb was long but relatively gentle. As we started down the other side we realized that they were heading north up the other side of Smokey Mountain.  Going down was like the first drop on a roller coaster.  It would have even been difficult to push a bike up this mountain.

Despite our 70 mile trip we got back to Baddeck by noon and packed the car for the start of our drive home.  We arrived in Bangor by 9 p.m. and crashed.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


  • If we wrote our blog latter in the day we would not have to add another post script.  However…last nights meal was very good.  The Markland has its own restaurant so we had a short walk for a late dinner.  We both had salads, the fresh haddock served with grilled new potatoes and fresh asparagus lightly steamed and desert.  All pastries are made on site and our waitress was also the baker.  She recommended the carrot cake and it was fantastic.  Afterwards we were stuffed and took a walk on the beach before returning to our cabin.  Falling asleep to the waves breaking on the shore was a good way to crash after our steep climbs that day.

Our morning started out with more fresh baked pastries, rolls, and biscuits, fresh fruit, hot hard boiled eggs, and coffee.  Needless to say, we consumed lots of calories and fats for the start of our ride. Leaving our lodging we had the choice of taking the new Cabot Trail with one large climb and then traveling through the forests or the old Cabot Trail with 2 moderate climbs and virtually no traffic and mostly coastline views.  We chose the old trail which is in need of repaving but we did not mind because there was no traffic.  We had 2 hills that were easy except for the 3 short 18 percent grade inclines that we had to contend with.  About 10 miles out of Ingonish we rejoined the main Cabot Trail and had to contend with traffic but we also it had a nice shoulder to cycle on. 

We got to our motel early but were glad to get out of the heat and rest up for tomorrow’s longer ride back to Beddeck.  Our view is spoiling us as we once again look out our front window and see the ocean.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Our breakfast waitress suggested that we see several things before leaving Pleasant Bay,  One of those was a Buddhist Monastery about 5 miles off route. Since we had a short day planned we followed her suggestion and cycled for about 3 miles on paved roads then about 2 miles on a gravel road.  The Monastery was not opened for tours today and we did not fell very spiritual after going 10 miles out of our way to see seaside cabins. 

Our big challenge today was our climb up North Mountain.  While not as long a climb as yesterday’s mountains it was a lot steeper. We felt pretty smug as we cycled past a sign that indicated that the incline was 13 percent.  Shortly thereafter the grade increased to 18 percent and we had to walk our bikes until it went back to a mere 13 percent. At the top we met several road bikers that were also sucking air after their climb.  As we all recovered we shared cycling stories and they offered some suggestion to modify our route.  Just when we thought that North Mountain gave its all and we conquered it, we started down the other side and were shocked by the steep grades.  Thankfully, we had to cycle up the “easy” side but going down this side was no cake walk.

At the bottom we had to cycle another 10 miles to get to our night’s lodging.  We followed the signs that indicated our motel was just 3 miles off route.  Because we were headed away from civilization we became skeptical that we were on the right road.  It was scenic as we cycled out the peninsula and the ocean got closer.  Just as the paved road ended and before the waves hit us we found the Markland Beach Cottages. Our log cabin sits on top of a slopping mowed lawn that leads to the ocean.  As soon as we cleaned up we headed to the beach and stuck our toes in the water.  By far this is the best place for a nights lodging (and the cabin is also very nice).

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pleasant Bay

  • Post script on last night:  We went to a bar in Cheticamp and enjoyed a local female folk singer.  Her music was in both English and Acadian (French).  She was entertaining and got better as the number of beers we consumed increased.  The beers were entirely for medicinal reasons.  We were tired from yesterday’s ride and faced a very difficult ride today and need to assure a good night’s sleep.

We woke up in Cheticamp to strong winds blowing off the ocean.  Once we decided to roll, we headed north on the Cabot Trail fighting side winds before turning inland when we enjoyed a few miles of tail winds. Shortly after that we entered Cape Breton Highlands National Park and met 3 roadies that were also going to Pleasant View.  While our ride would be only 28 miles over the mountains, they planned to return the same day.  The first 10 miles into the park we stayed close to the ocean, enjoying the views but still fighting the winds as we went up several steep climbs. At about the 10 mile mark we started to climb French MountainFrench Mountain is 1,500 feet of climbing over 5 miles.  In it self the climb would not have been bad, but about half way up, the cold rains dumped on us and the winds made progress slow. We only had a relatively short drop before we next had to climb MacKenzie Mountain. Once we finally started down, the sun came out.  We stopped to take pictures and talk to other tourists and started to warm up.  While the strong winds buffeted our downhill ride, we were thawing out and enjoying ourselves as our ride again became scenic as we dropped to the ocean.

Our stay in Pleasant Bay makes Joe homesick.  His hometown is Pleasant Valley and he lives at 2 Mountain View Drive.  We are staying in the Mountain View Motel.  Joe asked for number 2 but that was not available.  When registering the clerk told us that tomorrow’s weather is going to flip from today’s cold rain to hot temperatures and clear skies.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Our day started out with cool temperatures and a warm-up climb of 500 feet. After the climb we had forests and fog for about 20 miles.  Then our day changed for the better; in fact, it was much better.  In the middle of “nowhere” we smelled fresh baked goods and it wasn’t long until we found the Dancing Goat Bakery and CafĂ©.  The wonderful smells drew us there so we had to stop and sample their pastries, which were very good.  We lingered there talking to several employees who were also cyclists before continuing our northwest journey across the island. Soon the forest and fog disappeared as we dropped into a long valley that was populated by an occasional farm. We were rolling along at a good clip when we spotted a bald eagle sitting in a tree.  It was majestic and posed for our pictures by slowing turning its head.  Before we left the motel the buffet manager assured us that we would see eagles, moose, and whales on this trip.  We are now not as skeptical as when she talked to us.

Our ride down the valley dumped us at the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  We could not ask for anything more as we turned north and cycled for about 20 miles along the ocean.  The road was along the water and there were many places to pull off and take pictures or just look at the scenery.  Unfortunately, we did not see any whales but we have several more days of cycling along the coast and our hopes are high.  Our hotel in Cheticamp is located just above the water and a short walk to many restaurants.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Baddeck, Cape Breton Island

We left Wolfville after a very nice breakfast at the B&B.   Victoria’s Historic Inn was the nicest B&B either of us have experienced.  The drive was long but we made a stop in Truro to see the tidal bores.  We saw the river moving in reverse as the tidal bore rushed to our vantage point and raised the water level several feet in about 10 minutes.  While the experience was worth while it was not quite what we hoped for.  The woman at the welcome center told us that the fuller the moon the more dramatic the tidal bore.  Unfortunately, we are currently in the new moon phase.  What was dramatic, however, was the wind.  We could barely stand in one spot it was so strong and it generated dreadful thoughts of tomorrow’s cycling.

Once we left Truro, we experienced a sense of abandonment as we went deeper into the wilderness areas of Canada.  It felt like a drive to the end of the earth.   We could not go any further than the tip of the island.  However, that vanished as we checked into our hotel with its beautiful views. Walking out the front door we saw the mountains and walking out the back door we saw that the motel is situated on a large lake.  Both views generated a big WOW from us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gray Skies but Great Cycling

  • Post script on yesterday’s blog:  For obvious reasons we stopped for dinner at a restaurant called “Joe’s”.  When we sat down our waitress told us that it was spaghetti night and servings were only $2.88 with the purchase of a drink.   Since most of our meals have been expensive on this trip, we thought that we were going to get off cheaply.  So we each ordered spaghetti and a beer.  Only when the bill came did we realize that our beers, at $7.00 each, were more than twice the cost of our meal.
Now on to today’s events were our goal was to witness Fundy Bay’s famous tidal bores. 

o     Tidal bores are the phenomenon in which the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave (or waves) of water that travels up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the river or bay's current.  Some tidal bores have been reported to be as high as several feet and resulting in a high tide that can be 50 above the low tide level.
We asked several people where the best place to witness the tidal bores was and got a different answer each time we asked.  Even our internet search produced more options.  We chose one that could be gotten to by bicycle.  From Wolfville we headed north along the Minas Basin and towards Fundy Bay.  Once again we were under very gray skies (see the second photo in our album).  Just out side of Wolfville, we had a small and gentle climb that gave us a wonderful panoramic view of the valley. The land above the valley was full of apple orchards, grape vineyards, and horse stables and equestrian centers. We cycled gently rolling hills for about 20 miles until we got to our selected spot. However, like Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park, our timing was lousy.  We expected to see the fishing boats viewed on the internet laying in the mud.  Another tourist there shared a picture he had taken earlier with just that shot.  While the boats had some water around them, they were still not floating.  Judging by a ladder off the dock, we witnessed the water rising over 2 feet in one-half hour but saw no surge of water.  The crews of the fishing boats were waiting for the tides to get higher so they could cast off and get to work.  We have a plan B that will hopefully allow us to see the tidal bores tomorrow as we drive to Cape Breton.

On our return trip we stopped at the Blomidon (short for “blow me down”) Winery. There Janet, the Winery’s retail manager offered us samples and told us about the winery. Blomidon Winery is a boutique winery nestled on the shore of the Minas Basin, near the community of Canning. Their first vineyards were planted in 1986. At that time, the owners sold all of the grapes and did not produce any wine. After some tumultuous years of ownership, the property was sold to new owners who were responsible for constructing the winery and extending the vineyard plantings. The Blomidon Estate Winery label was created in 2002. Since then the property has been resold and the current owners have expanded the facilities and increased the production of the winery.
On the way back into town Joe broke his front derailleur cable so we searched out a bike shop for a replacement.  Joe had a spare, but didn’t want to be without one along the Cabot Trail.  We found a place called Valley Stove and Cycle.  That is correct, stove and cycle.  In the bicycle off season they sell wood burning stoves. According to the manager, the store was first opened in 1978 to sell wood stoves. Then, when the first mountain bikes rolled into Nova Scotia in 1980,” they were immediately hooked and realized bicycles were the perfect complement to their stove business.”

We purchased a new cable and fixed Joe’s bike. Once again we are drinking wine as we write. Tonight we are drinking a bottle of Blomidon’s 2011 red wine called Blow Me Down. Finally, the gray skies opened up this evening and it is raining. We are happy since our ride is over and the local residences are happy because they have had a very dry year.