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Published: July 29th 2011
That's Cape Breton Island across the water, and the Canso Causeway in the distance
As should be obvious by now, our plan for the trip was pretty much to have no plan. We knew if we planned too much in advance, it would only take one mis-step to ruin the whole thing anyway, so we went to the other extreme and did everything day by day. While this may have led to a few less-than-ideal situations, it was also a lot of fun, and made the trip feel even more removed from day-to-day life. We had been told repeatedly that we should reserve our spot on the Newfoundland ferry in advance, but since we were only bringing bikes, not cars, we knew there would be no problem getting a spot. So of course we didn't bother to check availability at all until we got into Cape Breton Island.
After yesterday, this morning felt like a dream come true. We had no great rush (or so we thought), so we slept in a little. Then we started with McDonald's breakfast, something we haven't had in a while, but have really been craving. After that we packed up and hit the highway - the Trans-Canada Highway. The first section of the highway was flatter and smoother
A New Milestone
If it's too hard to make out, the sign says "Welcome to Cape Breton Island" (roughly)
than most of yesterday, and we made good time for 20 km. Then we found a sign that pointed us in the direction of Cape Breton along the old Trans-Canada, so we jumped at the opportunity. The old highway was wonderful, with less tall hills, less traffic, and less "nothing". We passed lots of old little towns, saw people at their homes, working in their yards, jogging on the road. We got chased by the occasional dog. Things were good. Neither the complete cloud cover all morning, nor the mountain-like hill right before the Canso Causeway (the road over a land-bridge onto Cape Breton Island) could deter us. Crossing the Causeway itself was a bit of a challenge - there were no shoulders at all, only one lane, and lots of traffic in both directions. We were doing a good 30 km/h, but we still frustrated a few cars behind us. The Causeway wasn't too long, and despite being a bit nervous the whole way, we ultimately got across safe and sound.
After the Causeway, we finally decided it was time to check the ferry schedule out and headed to the information centre just as we entered Cape Breton.
E prepares to ship T and her bike to Sidney
We mostly planned to find out what the daily departure times were for the ferry, though not necessarily book our trip yet, but we were also hoping to ask about the best route to bike to North Sydney where the ferry departs from. We had kept hearing about "Kelly's Mountain" right at the end of the Trans-Canada just before Sydney, and we were dreading anything called a mountain, let alone one that we had already been warned about a few times. We hoped that someone at the information centre might be able to suggest a better route for cyclists that avoided this climb. In this regard we were in luck, as the old Trans-Canada went to North Sydney, and avoided the mountain, and was actually about 30 km shorter than the main highway - it would have been perfect for us. Unfortunately we were not in luck with the ferry.
It turns out that ferries for Argentia only run a few times a week, not every day as we had assumed. We have made good time on this trip, but our timeline is tight enough that we don't have a few days to spend waiting for a ferry (on
Bikes on Bus
We had a whole compartment to ourselves
either side) if we want to enjoy ourselves in St. John's AND have Therese home in time for her flight to BC for Sabrina's wedding. We needed the ferries to work out just right. It turned out that there was one leaving tomorrow at 5 pm. This was good news in the sense that it would get us to Newfoundland with enough time to enjoy ourselves, but bad news in the sense that it would be pretty tight making it the 140 km to North Sydney for 5:00 pm tomorrow, given that it was already 1:30 pm today, and we were tired from the 60 km we had already put in. When we found out that we actually needed to board the ferry at 3:00 pm, we knew we didn't want to risk missing it. So bus it was.
We didn't love the idea of bussing it, as it felt a little like cheating, and was something we hadn't done yet - but we didn't want to take a chance on not getting our fair share of time in St. John's - so we dealt with it and booked our bus and ferry tickets. We still had a bit
More Great Views
Beautiful Sidney Boardwalk
of a ride to the bus stop, and still have another 20 km from Sydney to the North Sydney ferry port tomorrow. On the plus side, it added yet another new experience to our adventure. We needed to take the front wheels off our bikes, pack the bikes into large plastic bags, and store them under the bus for the trip. The bags were huge and kept catching the wind, so we had a fun time with them before the bus arrived; then we loaded up, and headed out.
We each had a little nap on the bus. T's nap was not as little as E's. While on the bus we got to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Cape Breton in a different way than if we had been biking it. It was an especially nice view as the sun was bright and shining - it finally showed itself just minutes before we boarded the bus, the first time we'd seen it since PEI, and stayed out for the rest of the day. After arriving we didn't feel much like doing the last 20 km to North Sydney today, so we found the closest, cheapest accommodations we could, and checked in. Then, knowing tomorrow would be a very relaxed day, we took a short walk on the boardwalk, and had dinner at a nice restaurant. The food was good, but it was very slow, which led to a relaxing, but at times chilly meal as we were out on the balcony.
Departure time: 8:45 am
Arrival time (at Port Hawkesbury bus terminal): 1:45 pm
Arrival time 2 (at hotel in Sydney) 6:45 pm
Total distance travelled (on bike): 67.1 km
Total distance travelled total: ~207 km
Total time on bike: 3h 19m
Average (biking) speed: 20.2 km/h
Trip distance (biking): 2045.84 km
- E and T
Tot: 0.528s; Tpl: 0.056s; cc: 8; qc: 52; dbt: 0.1715s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.3mb