Saturday, August 9, 2014

Antigonish has a Farmer's Market on Saturday, so a very nice visit there is how we started our day.  Just outside the main entrance was a pizza pie man with a home-made brick oven trailer on his truck.  The oven worked at 1,000 degrees and made pies with his home-made whole wheat dough in 5min.  As we were on our bikes he made our lunch pizza in pockets (he folded over and crimped the edge before baking it).  That pie travelled to New Glasgow with us, where we augmented it with a beautiful salad & cup of mushroom soup fom "BaKED food cafe" (do not miss if you are through New Glasgow!). Some of our ride was on highway today (smooth sailing).  We re-connected with secondary road about 20K before New Glasgow.  It was so beautiful and we were drifting along thinking, "yes, this is so quiet and lovely, and this is why to miss the highway", when clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-wuf-wuf-wuf-wuf-wuf a ferocious dog came sprinting out of a property on the pavement in hot pursuit of Y's heels (should have brought that waffle iron!).  B saw it happening as the dog lept (well, he didn't see that, but Y reported that, and with a swift peddle on the right, kicked up her left heel off the peddle out of harms way) and then the call, "Princess! Priiinnncesss! Prin-cessss!", at which point Princess turned off her pursuit of Y only to startle at seeing B baring down on her, so she darted back to safety with her people.  Happily that was on the downhill before a steep uphill. (Nuf said.)  The final Ks into Pictou were interesting and amazing, with osprey, deer, a very swift retreating tide & hundreds of cormorant on the beach and perched next to their nests on a series of old bridge pylons.  In the evening we went for a nice walk all around town.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Flash, crack, goosh - this afternoon we worked on the blog at the Antigonish public library while waiting out a particularly torrential thundercloud downpour. Happily not a day of riding. We had an 8:00 AM sleep-in, a very nice continental breakfast with home-baking, and an industrious morning of laundry; bike care, including checking tires for glass and stones, wipe-down, chain lube, adjust gears and seats, brake check; sewing torn rain gear; and a stroll into town for yummy lunch (best seafood chowder thus far!).  After the heaviest part of the showers, we walked about to see some shops with hand-made local crafts as well as an art gallery.  Antigonish is a very pretty town!  At coffee this afternoon, we saw the people who we met at breakfast at Colby House in Sydney - they were surprised to see us and we might see them again, as they are headed to PEI!  After a bit more time blogging at the Antigonish public library, we headed to our 8:00PM dinner booking at Gabrieau's (yes, the same place as last night - the menu was so fantastic we wanted to try some more of their plates).  Our rides in the next two days are not so long as the past two, and then we have two nights (Sunday & Monday) in Charlottetown (today we booked a safety check of our bikes at a Charlottetown bike shop on Monday).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The morning in St. Peter's started with lightening, thunder, heavy rain & wind.  We headed out regardless, after a nice breakfast at the MacDonald Inn.  The rain was lighter by then and we took Highway 104 as the wider shoulder seemed safer in the foul weather.  We lost about 10K of Garmin recordings due to some satellite interference/glitch :-)   This turned out to be our favourite stretch of riding so far - not such a good stretch for raccoon or porcupines (and some kind of furry ermine-y thing) to choose to live - squish.  We stopped for a long break at Port Hawkesbury SUBWAY for lunch - one of our favourite, predictable places to lunch.  Not too many coffee stops on the highway (well, none), but nice railings to sit on for our breaks. After the initial wet start, occasional showers, and 107K ride to Antigonish today, 9:00 AM - 6:15 PM, we were thrilled to see our wonderful accommodations at the Evergreen Inn - excellent, 8 rooms.  We took a taxi ride to town for a beautiful dinner at Gabrieau's - excellent! Cab ride 5-6$ - anywhere in town.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

After a beautiful, healthy and delicious breakfast and fresh baked muffins for the road from Bev & Gordon, we rode today from Sydney to St. Peter's on secondary highway (narrow, broken shoulders; steeper ups and downs; nice rest stops, including the Rita MacNeil Teahouse and Me & the Mrs cafe; residential property with big, barky, charging dogs not on leash that happily did not leave their property line; kids and moms waving as we went by), 9:00 AM - 5:15 PM.  Late morning we had coffee at The Lakes Golf Club in Ben Eoin; met Ann, who gave us her phone number in case we needed to call; and talked to a fellow, who had seen us leaving Sydney that morning. After checking in at the MacDonald Inn to a gorgeous suite upstairs, we went to MacBouce for dinner (best scallop dinner so far!). As Y had "first dibs", while B was getting ready for dinner, Y walked down to the Marina to hear some music - the main singer coincidentally sat at the table next to us at dinner time! By the end of the evening the dining room had been transformed to a "Silver Threads" type event, as the local elders met for their bi-weekly games night - so nice to see them all out together - speaking Gaelic!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

After a good night's sleep, we sailed (oops, "motored" :-) into North Sydney on the Marine Atlantic Ferry "Atlantic Vision" and disembarked by about 10:00 AM.  It was garbage/recycle day in North Sydney - nice to see they have a good recycle program!  Nice views too, of the bay as we cycled along the shore line. One of the first shops in Sydney was a Telus shop, and the employee gave us directions to the bike shop in town, which was about 3K from the B&B we were to stay at.  We stopped first to say "hello!" to Bev and Gordon at Colby House B&B and then cycled down to the "Frame Works" bike shop.  B purchased a new tire and inner tube (to put in reserve) and changed the tire again without using tire irons (we do have them but we learned a trick or two from Dave and Francis).  The new tire is 32mm rather than 35mm but it was all they had in a sizable 700 that was of any quality.  One of the bike mechanics was curious about the tire boot. From the bike shop, we walked about down by the wharf, where Y bought hand-knitting at the artisan's hall.  There was a cruise ship in, and B found a hand painted celtic knot silk scarf on the ground.  B gave the scarf to Pam, who managed to then re-united the scarf with it's owner, which resulted in Pam coming out to us by the giant fiddle to thank us for uplifting her day with our bike story and the scarf.  We enjoyed lunch at Lou Ann's Cafe and then checked in to the Colby House B&B.  We got ready, went to the wharf "Flavor" restaurant for appys and then to a wonderful evening at St. Patrick’s Museum, Esplanade.  We enjoyed Cape Breton style fiddling, highland piping, Celtic and Gaelic singing, Celtic Flute, piano, and step dancers (hosted by the Cape Breton Gaelic Society) - a fund-raiser that happens once per month with funds going to Gaelic lessons.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Oh what a rough ride today, but a nice downhill whiz finish by 2:00 PM, as our deadline for arrival at the Ferry was 3:00 PM for the 5:00 PM sailing. In the morning at breakfast we were chatting with guests who told us that a bridge was out so we would need to take a detour.  Our breakfast server (from Port Alberni!) helped us get sandwiches packed for the road and then came out to the front of the lodge to wish us well on our ride as we left.  Our plan for the day did not seem to be much impacted by the detour, as it only added 3K to our ride, as the detour road took us up North to the Ferry rather than on the South loop and then the bridge over to the North side.  Well, the original plan also included 20K of gravel road, mostly uphill.  By the time we had done the detour, which was also a gravel road, up and over a hill, we had done 30K of gravel road.  When we arrived at the first gravel road stretch, we found it to be pretty rough, but there were not many vehicles at all, so we could swerve along between pointy exposed rock, loose road base, patterns of pot holes, and washboard sections (canoe skill maneuvers on rivers came in handy!). However, on the detour, everyone else was anxiously rushing along in bumper-to-bumpy convoys.  Most drivers, seeing us, were so gracious, and some even stopped until we went by. The occasional speedster kicked up such a cloud of dust as to blanket us and make us hold our breath for a while. Oops, we have bandanas and face masks along for such instances, but did not bring them out :-(. The most challenging bit was the downhill after the steep climb.  In particular, the washboard was unsettling, as the vibration and rattle made it difficult to control the bikes, and blurred our vision, and there was really no where to turn, with convoys on one side and loose gravel and a steep slope on the other.  Needless to say, we were happy to reach the highway! A hilly, but smooth final 13K landed us at the Ferry in a timely way.  We ate the very nice sandwiches - lucky us as the bridge-being-out-detour meant not going through Placentia where there were food services and the ferry terminal for some reason had the cafeteria closed. We also wiped the dust off our bikes and felt very impressed that the repair on the bike tire with the boot had held up on the rough road. We were asked to board the Ferry and because we were on our bikes we were the first of three upstairs. Our accommodations were great and we slept really well after a nice very dinner in the fine-dining room called "Flowers".

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Yeah! Off we go, first day of riding and first of two days across the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland.  We started with a detour to Mile O, which is the start place of  Terry Fox's run - there is a statue there commemorating this.  We were not able to dip our toe in the Atlantic, as the waterfront for as far as we could see each way was fenced-off, due to industry and Government facilities. On our way up out of town, we saw rows and rows of "Jelly Bean" painted houses on hilly streets. Into the ride, we found the road edges sketchy for most of the day, with the white line painted over broken and cracked pavement, which frequently had us on soft shoulder or out into the road to avoid getting in a rut.  Very nice stop at SUBWAY in Conception Bay for sandwiches (no egg salad or tuna salad at this one).  We always find a good choice of fresh food, hygienically prepared, by very friendly people at SUBWAY - we plan to stop at them a lot as we are not really prepared to pick up and safely store supplies for lunch and dinner, though we do have a "lunch kit" along, with pic-nic tools.  Oh no, oh well, back tire found a rusty spike on one of our off-the-road-on-the-road maneuvers around a rut/pothole. Oh yeah! Dr. Gadget had everything we needed - inner tube patch / tire boot (to line the inside of the tire tear so the inner tube wouldn't ooze out). Our road-side repair lesson from Francis at Fairfield bikes made the mishap a minor inconvenience and we were happily on the road shortly again.  We finally got to dip our toe in the Atlantic at Hollyrood Beach - a very beautiful bay with nice looking amenities.  The Filzer Zippy Glueless inner-tube patch didn't last, so we put in a new tube later in the afternoon - likely because the hole was so extensive and gravel and dust was getting in somehow.  We arrived at The Wilds golf resort in time to shower and dress nice for dinner.  It was a beautiful evening and the staff were so friendly - a great start to our stays in the Maritimes!