- Day 15 North Sydney to Iona 63 kms 590 m
- Day 16 Iona to Port Hood 74kms 600 m
- Day 17 Port Hood to Antigonish 104 kms 600 m
- Day 18 Antigonish to Woodburn 82 kms 300 m
- Day 19 Woodburn to Montague PEI 96 kms 185 m
- TOTAL JOYRIDE DEUX 1493 kms 7096 m
We had lots of ”epic” and even some ”epic-er” in NF. Now we needed some “Awesome!”. And we got it in Nova Scotia – the promised land of gravel bikers. We staggered off the massive Newfoundland ferry in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to sunshine and warmth; still mostly damp, slightly hypothermic and very much wind blown in our NL long underwear and rain gear. There we were assaulted with too many route options for us to process, having gotten use to the NF one road, one rail trail system. We deliberated each and every turn, often changing our minds at the next corner. First off, we passed on the Cabot Trail. Although stunningly beautiful, we have both done it (Jay twice), and we are still in Newfoundland recovery mode and didn’t exactly crave for the extra 1600 m of elevation. Or the Cabot Trail traffic.
We had good intel from Sue S’s friend Karla who lives in the area. And we remain determined to stay off all main roads. So straight off the start we took a gravel route – clearly less traveled; though we hesitated, still scarred from Newfoundland gravel, but we were rewarded with a day of pristine, heavenly, downhill both ways, type of gravel biking. Our bikes were made for this. It’s like we almost forgot it could be this good. Lucky for Navigation Guy….
Next day the TCT offered another sensational day on the Ceilidh Trail, observing nary a soul nor sage fly. In the 1800’s 50,000 or so Scottish Highlanders immigrated to Cape Breton and the Gaelic language is still prominent on every road sign in the area and Céilidhs with music and dancing are very common on this Musical Coast. We got into the spirit by drinking at the Frolic and Folk pub. Gear Guy, now Gaelic Guy, impressed no one with his vocals.
There are cozy, ocean side cottages and inns a plenty and ne’r too far off route. Sea food markets are attached to beer stores – this is just how bike packing should be. And we haven’t donned a jacket, rain gear or long undees since we got off the Ferry.
At times we felt like we were dreaming: ”I wish I had a snooze stop with a hammock” “I need a lunch stop on the ocean with a historical Scottish cairn”
Sunshine lasted for 3 days until Odette arrived. Yet another tropical storm. Gear Guy, now Hurricane Guy, rated the storm as ”Relatively unimpressive.” having experience now with Ida and Larry. But still, we used the threat to enjoy a day off, wandering around Antigonish, a town of 4364 people. The University of St FX has 5127 students on a spectacular campus that we explored with the sole goal of finding the only coffee shop open on a Sunday.
We stayed at the Maritime Inn in Antigonish where the management did our laundry, offered to loan us their car and kept saying, ”You are family now, it is the least we can do.”; stopping short of adding, ”When you look and smell like you do…..” Next time you are in Antigonish stay at the Maritime Inn!
And then, back on a ferry and over to PEI – our 10th province. We are nigh to closing the gap in our cross Canada JoyRide. Hard to believe. We loved NS. It was an awesome gravel bike paradise but (already) PEI is awesome-er.