Saturday, June 24, 2017

Day 35 - Sydney to North Sydney

24.6 km - Total so far 2,259.70 km 

Relive: Not available yet

This morning we had a late departure as we waited for the rain to stop/slow down for a while. We had but a short ride of 20 kilometres to North Sidney, to the ferry terminal.

Hélène crossing a narrow Bailey Bridge with a wooden deck as it is too
slippery to ride.

If you are going to build a base to put an artillery piece on it make
sure it is really big
 As we neared North Sidney, we came across Munro Park and Helene signaled to stop after she spotted a small plane atop a poll. Turns out the airplane was quarter size replica of a Canso PBY-5A airplane. We had seen a CBC news segment on this type of airplane about a week ago. An interesting coincidence I thought. It gets better.

This morning I was reading the "What happened this day (24 June) in history" in the local newspaper. There was a story about Flight Lieutenant David Hornell who was awarded a Victoria Cross for sinking a submarine on 24 June 1944. Coming across the same information at Munro Park on 24 June 2017 was an even more interesting coincidence. We thought this would be a short and boring ride.

The write-up on Flight Lieutenant David Hornell at Munro Park

A painting depicting the action on 24 June 1944, you an see the right
engine on fire

Quarter size replica of a Canso PBY-5A airplane

This motley crew was found in a parking lot on the edge of downtown
North Sidney. We think the bird in white has identity issues.
With not much to do until the ferry loads at 9:30 pm, we decided to spend time exploring the tiny downtown. We went into the North Sydney Heritage Museum. This little museum is a jewel. We found out loads about some famous North Sydney residents, such as Flora MacDonald, and Annette Verschuren (former president of Home Depot Canada and Asia) just to name a few. We learned about transatlantic telegraph cables, bootlegging in the 1920s', merchant navy convoys in WW II, etc. This place is full of interesting information about North Sydney as well as Sydney. Well worth a visit and too boot, it is free.   

Map showing name and location where Allied ships were sunk
near Canada. Also shows the German submarines that were sunk by the Allies

Not as nice as the fire truck in Charlottetown but a bit older (1918)
After our museum visit, we pedaled to McDonald's to have coffee and see another part of town. We ran into a gentleman from Philadelphia who was touring Cape Breton on a motorcycle. He mentioned that we were very fortunate to be able to tour on bicycle as a couple as this is not seen often. We could not agree more.

Daniel and the bicycles checking in at the Marine Atlantic Ferry Terminal
Our wheels to Newfoundland
Tonight we sail to Newfoundland leaving North Sydney at 11:45 pm. We have reserved seats and hope to be able to get a reasonable amount of sleep. When we get off the ferry in the morning, the plan is to take the Tourist Information by surprise and then pedal 40 kilometres to the campsiste.

Week 5 is now over, below is a weekly video.

15.29 miles - Total so far 1,404.11 miles

Friday, June 23, 2017

Day 34 - Sydney Forks to Sydney

16.3 km - Total so far 2,235.10 km 


Today our destination was Sydney, a grueling ten kilometers away. The plan was to visit the information centre and then head to our hotel. At the information centre, we discovered that the tourist season in Cape Breton starts on July 01st (and 30 minutes earlier in Newfoundland). Apparently most museums and such places are open on Thursday's or when there is a cruise ship anchored. Today was Friday and no cruise ship to be seen.

Some of our neighbours at the cottage yesterday

We found the Jost House to be opened. The house (circa 1786) is one of the oldest occupied house in Sydney. We had one guide to show us around the basement (where servants lived), another guide for the main floor and we got to visit the top floor on our own. Our main floor guide was a lady (an Acadian with a most charming accent) from Chéticamp, Cape Breton.

You can clearly see over the door that the house has settled a
bit in 230 years
With our tourist map in hand, we did the prescribed walking tour. It took us about 30 minutes given that downtown Sydney is not very big. We did find some interesting things as shown below.

There is a designated bike lane on George St. It is well marked
and when it "ENDS" all concerned are well informed. Would be nice
 if all cities and towns in Canada did the same.

Hélène enjoying an Ethiopian coffee on a terrace. To the right is
the hotel we stayed in when we were last here in 2012

The new YMCA on Charlotte Street. The only striking new building
that really stands out. We had a quick look inside and it was pretty impressive.

Difficult to resist going into a store with a display like that.
Note the multicoloured tan on the lady in the sandals

Always strive to have a message that is well expressed and easy
to understand, and check the spelling once in a while

Two of the merchant seamen from the Merchant Mariner monument in Sydney Harbour. When you look at the seaman in the water you can feel the fear in his eyes and the relief at being pulled onto the raft.

The girl, the sailboat and the fiddle

The artist that built the fiddle referred to the scroll (the very top of the instrument) as being the toughest part to build. The fiddle weighs ten tons, yet just appears to float

This is what happens when you use the timer on the camera and not the remote control you carried for 2,200 + kilometres but left at the hotel

Lighthouse in the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion where you
can view a 15 minute video on fiddling 

Laying of the hands did not fix our radio so we are now trying to
dry it using rice as suggested by our friend André. We will keep you posted

We made a good decision to spend the day in Sydney and wait for tomorrow evening to sail to Newfoundland. This was confirmed when we had a look at the weather forecast for Port-aux-Basques, Nfld for tomorrow. See below:

Sat, 24 JunRain at times heavy. Fog patches. Amount 30 mm except
50 mm in areas of heaviest rain. Wind south 30 km/h gusting
to 50 except gusting to 80 in the Wreckhouse area in the
morning. High 12 except 17 north of Cape Ray.
NightRain changing to drizzle in the evening.
Fog patches. Amount 2 to 4 mm.
Wind southwest 30 km/h gusting to 50
becoming west 20 gusting to 40 near midnight. Low 10
Tomorrow we head to Sydney North to catch the ferry that sails at 23:45 and we should be at Port-aux-Basques by 8:30 Sunday morning.

10.13 miles - Total so far 1,388.82 miles

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day 33 - St. Peter's to Sydney Forks

73.40 km - Total so far 2,218.80 km


Today's destination, Garden Court Cabins in Sydney Forks, 73 kilometers away. It was a difficult start as we had to deal with about 5 kilometers of road construction. We did the uphill climbs slowly but the descents were even slower as we were in gravel. It will be pretty nice to ride that section by end of summer. We took Route #4 because a good portion of the route is on Bras d'Or lake. 

Very easy to find your way in Cape Breton as most signs are bilingual

Look at the view from this old house

This selfie includes our two bikes, seen over my right shoulder

Look at that view of Bras d'Or Lake

There is no free ride in Cape Breton, you want spectacular views, you have to pay the price
This is where you pay for the view, going up on of these hills
 (seen on the right in the picture before)

It was a very nice ride. Sure we had to work making our way uphill but we got to just coast down on the other side. On the flat, with the wind to our back, we often reached over 30 kph. 

A view of Bras d'Or Lake and a nice garden of lupines by
the side of the road.
On the way, we had to pass Big Pond the birth place of Rita MacNeil. I knew that she had operated a tea room and that we absolutely had to stop. The parking lot was empty and we almost had the place to ourselves. There is no doubt you are in Rita's Tea Room. The walls are covered with Rita memorabilia ranging from all kinds of music awards and a picture of her receiving the Order of Canada. It is very tastefully done and as you sit there, you can feel her presence. Only after enjoying a lovely meal, did we learn that "... Rita herself rests peacefully in the room, atop the mantle in her teapot. As was her wish following cremation, to be placed in a tea pot or two if required!" This place is a must stop!!!!!!! 

It is a good thing that we got to the Tea Room today. The tourist season starts tomorrow and there is a full bus load of tourists that have reserved for lunch. We would have had to wait and we are on a tight schedule. 

As we left the Tea Room we turned right (towards Sydney) and just rolled downhill for a good two kilometers. How great is that!

Enjoying desert at Rita's Tea Room. Hélène enjoyed a Chocolate Mousse
and I a delicious lemon meringue pie 
If you look closely at my hair in the picture above, you will see what appears to be ridges in my hair. My new bike helmet gives me this fancy hairdo each and every day. 

Rita's Tea Room

These RV owners wanted water front and that is exactly what
they got. A forceful breeze will bring the waves right to their living
room and interrupt their watching Netflix

Our home for tonight, the little cottage on the right.
We are spending the night in a small cottage close to Gillis Lake. Our cottage is located closer to the lake than all of the others and we feel as if we are alone by the lakefront. We had ten ducks come up the lawn right close too our place. We have decided to spend a rest day in Sydney tomorrow and visit some of the places that were closed when we were last here with Vélo Quebec in 2012. We will take the ferry to Newfoundland late on Saturday evening.

45.61 miles - Total so far 1,378.70 miles

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day 32 - Antigonish to St. Peter's

121.9 km - Total so far 2,145.40 km 


We had an early start this morning as we planned to pedal 100 + km to the other side of St-Peter's on Cape Breton Island. Once again, the winds were to our advantage and often we were able to reach 30+ km/h on the flats. After many many days of Edwin, you can't possibly imagine how much fun that was.

It was so much fun that we made a wrong turn and got to visit a lot more of Pomquet than we had originally planned. We realized somewhat quickly our mistake and were able to get back on track (It looks really good on Relive). The scenery was mesmerizing which did not help. As usual we had a a good laugh, turned around and pedaled into the wind back to where we made the mistake. 

Hélène using every pot and pan we have on our Trangia alcohol
single burner stove (Supper last night)

The contents of the pots, on the top "rice, cheddar and broccoli Sidedish"
and a broccoli slaw in the bottom pot. Served with cooked chicken
strips made for a tasty and filling meal

You know you might have made a mistake when you hit a
T-junction with a graveled road and the road you are on has lots of
weeds growing in the cracks in the asphalt

Here is proof that we are not the only people doing this.
Peter is travelling from St-John's, Nfld home to Vancouver
(this makes him a Westie)

How awesome is this. Just past Pomquet, a small and from
what we observed a very proud Acadian village

We have seen a lot of these big flower bushes but this is the
first time the view  is not obstructed by something

These have to be the wildest blueberries we have ever seen

Our first glimpse of Cape Breton Island 
There was construction at the Canso Causeway heading from the mainland to Cape Breton Island, so we had to squeeze in among the traffic to get across on the bridge. We got in ahead of large 18 wheeler truck as they are much more considerate to us than people in cars or pick-up trucks. The truck drove slowly behind us and as soon as we could, we got onto the shoulder to let it by.

It was not our first time on the island, but our first time in Port-Hawkesbury. We stopped for pizza and discussed how we would get to St-Peter's, our destination for the day. We decided that we would take the shortest route, Hwy 104, and get off at L'Isle Madame exit. One of the things that makes Cape Breton Island, other than the scenery, is hills, hills and steeper hills. Hwy 104 is less steep that a county road such as the #4, but there is more and faster moving traffic. So we opted for Hwy 104 for 20 km or so and the rest we would do on the quieter but hilly Road #4. All those ups and downs are great training for Newfoundland.

We are 100 km away from the ferry in North Sydney and tonight we will have to sort out the plan to get us there. It is pretty hilly between here and the ferry so that will be a big factor in our decision, moreover we have to consider the departure times and the sail time of 8 hours. 

Tomorrow, you will find out what we decided.

My new tire is working out just fine. While it still hums a bit due to a somewhat aggressive thread pattern, it is much quieter than the tire I had on before. It still can't coast as well as Hélène on her bicycle, but that might have to do more with me that the tires.
75.75 miles - Total so far 1,333.09 miles

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Day 31 - New Glasgow to Antigonish

70.70 km - Total so far 2,023.50 km


After a good night sleep and a hearty breakfast, we headed off to Antigonish to go meet a guy about a tire. It was overcast and very humid this morning. It would have been brutal had it been sunny. It took a while getting out of New Glasgow because we had difficulty following the signs for Highway 4. Misinformation by one of the locals did not help either. We took Highway 4 instead of Highway 104 as we felt it would be much quieter. We were not disappointed. As you can see in RWGPS or Relive, Highway 4 is a winding road with lots of uphills and downhills and we had a ball. Today, the strong wind was to our advantage most of the time. It was not strictly speaking a tail wind but pretty darn close. At times, it was a strong cross wind and we had to remain alert so as not to get blown sideways. The road itself was in great shape, no shoulder but with little traffic it did not matter.

Highway 104 on the left and Highway 4 on the right. 
Instead of using an old freezer to keep the garbage by the road
for pick up, this person uses recycled and decorated oil tanks

We also ran into another cyclist, Serge, from Longueuil, Quebec who is on his first major bike trip. Just like us, he is heading to St-John's, Newfoundland but he is not heading home just yet from there. He is flying to Vancouver and cycling home to Longueuil. We did not ask him, but we do hope that he will cycle the route North of Lake Superior. Although more challenging than the Southern route through the United States, the vistas are incredible. It is hard to beat the descent towards Old Woman's Bay on Lake Superior. 

This we believe is where all of the "Germaine" are trained and
dispatched around the world to grip things and make
things right in accordance with the Germaine code 

They just love their roundabouts in Nova Scotia

Once we got to Antigonish, we headed straight for the bike shop to pick up the tire. We had been to Antigonish before on our second trip to Cape Breton, so we did a little bit of reminiscing. We did a little bit of a walkabout in the downtown to have a look at the murals and some of the colourful older homes.

I was in the bike shop when Hélène took this picture

Looking over a bloody expensive tire. So glad I ride a bicycle
and not a tricycle

That mural takes away from the touring bicycle

Hélène had to encourage the paramedics that were parked to leave, in order to get the picture. Apparently this is one of a few places they can park without having to pay

While waiting for Hélène at the grocery store, I got to listen to this talented performer. When Hélène got back, we asked him to sing "Hello darkness my old friend". Such a great song. Look for this fellow in our summary of the week video!
After the grocery and beer store, we once again headed down Highway 4 to our campsite for the night. I could not wait to get the new tire on. After the tire, I changed the front brakes on my bicycle and did some needed bicycle chain maintenance on the two bikes.

Trying to fix our radio (Eton FRX4). We have fallen asleep listening to it since
our first bicycle trip in 2015. Watch for a soon to be made request to
find us another one.

A commercial campground. Note how close everything is for cyclists. Shelter next to tent and the showers/washroom building. What more can one ask for other than perhaps a working portable radio
It is cool and windy tonight with a bit of rain. We should be able to managed another good night sleep in our merino wool. A tad warm for the tuque however.

43.93 miles - Total so far 1,257.34 miles