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Aug 21

Last Stop on the Mainland

by in Nova Scotia

Distance: 101km
Time: 4:18:32

Well, it is official, I am leaving mainland Canada. I have traversed upwards of 6600km and look behind me and see a majestic country that has both amazed me and challenged me. So it was fitting that today as I rode along Cape Breton Island I was both amazed and challenged.

The amazement comes from sweeping beauty and a feeling of serene coastal living. There was a distinct call to nature with signs to the Cabot Trail and the visions of sailboats in the harbour. It was challenging as I faced a nice crosswind the whole day, climbed my “final” mountain pass up Kelly’s mountain and traversed a panic-inducing bridge.

The mountain pass was a solid six kilometers of climbing at a 4-5% grade. It didn’t rival the mountain passes of early July but it definitely has been awhile since continued climbing like that. It was cute when an old couple who had pulled over at a lookout near the top shouted, “Woohoo! You’re almost there! You are winning the race.” I wondered how they knew. The decent was pretty sweet too.

Could this be my final mountain pass? Although the elevation is not huge, the legs and lungs were burning on the climb.

Could this be my final mountain pass? Although the elevation is not huge, the legs and lungs were burning on the climb.

I have always had a little bridge phobia, however over the course of this trip and all the bridges I’ve crossed, I thought I had beat it. Nope. With a strong crosswind, no shoulder and steady traffic I couldn’t help but picture me going over the side. Luckily, didn’t happen. It even got to the point where I unclipped my shoe thinking it might help me survive.

But alas, I made the easy distance today and have been waiting to disembark on my seafaring journey. Newfoundland awaits in the morning. Tonight I sleep on the Blue Puttees. A 7 hour crossing, which has been made here for over 200 years. In fact, this crossing was a key piece of the negotiations that brought Newfoundland into the Canadian fold in 1949. Canada had to agree to run this connection in perpetuity.

Better than a thermarest on the ground for sure.

Better than a thermarest on the ground for sure.

To top it all off, finally, cyclists are given special treatment and treated like royalty. As cars and trucks sat and waited for entry, I biked onto the ferry. The first one allowed on, giving me the pick of the ship when it comes to seats. Sweet!

Treated like royalty, just for riding a bike.

Treated like royalty, just for riding a bike.

Tonight I sail. Tomorrow I bus. Then, after some deliberation, I bike. One more day, probably 140km or so to Cape Spear and then St. John’s harbour where I put this epic adventure in the books.

Ride on.

P.S. In a follow-up to a previous post, apparently in Nova Scotia the moose wear fur shawls and stand majestically eyeballing the taffic as it rolls past. You’ve been warned.

It must get chilly in these parts, even the moose wear fur shawls.

It must get chilly in these parts, even the moose wear fur shawls.

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