Leigh & Toma: Cross-Canada Bicycle Tour 2005 travel blog

TS riding to Cape Breton

Welcome to Cape Breton

The Motel Clause was invoked...

Well, it was fairly windy and drizzly but not the monsoon we had feared overnight. Leigh and I packed up a nevertheless damp tent and hit the road unaccompanied.

I requested that we take it easy today and it was Leigh's pleasure. We purposely dawdled up hills, keeping our heart rates squarely in the aerobic zone to stave off the possibility of even more lactic acid in our thighs. The road was quiet and smooth, and we pedaled alongside each other, having rare conversation about the future at home...we need more space, should we move out of the condo? What about the wedding? Where would our next bike tour be? We miss the cats.

Throughout our travels this summer, we have continually asked each other if we would live in the area we're currently pedaling through. We reached consensus that aside from Vancouver, we would definitely consider living in the Ottawa area, and perhaps also the Quebec City area. The Left Coast is a pretty tough act to follow, but these two spots were very appealing to us. We would also live in Hawaii. So would you. Anyway.

The roads were wet virtually all day: weather ranged from drizzly to torrential. Oddly, the temperature stayed anchored in the mid-twenties and it was extremely muggy. This left us riding in the rain in our t-shirts and shorts, lest we perspire to death in our rain gear.

First stop of the day was the coffee-joint-named-after-that-dead-hockey-player in the town of Antigonish. We had three observations here: the town seemed conspicuously upper-income (nice cars rolling through the drive-through and parkade); there was an unprecedented incidence of smokers, putting even the Quebecois to shame; and we captivated the locals here unlike in any other town. More than a dozen folks gathered at the side of the restaurant, puffing and staring at our bikes in astonishment. "Skinny tires, eh?" The rest of them sat inside, interviewing us like Barbara Walters.

Our next segment for the day was another 50km or so, with conditions much like the morning. We stopped for break #2 in Canso Causeway, an area where several of the province's northeastern highway's seem to converge at a massive roundabout. We caught up to Mart, Michel and Barry in the Subway and mowed back a foot while laughing at Barry's massive blowout flat. He came in from repairing it, holding a shredded inner tube in his hand. "Anybody got a patch kit?" he deadpanned. Michel had just been giggling about how loudly Barry's tire had exploded just yards from the restaurant. A freak flat.

Well, 50 clicks to go and it's still raining. Leigh and I elected to invoke the Motel Clause upon our arrival. We tucked into camp to grab some overnight items and front-crawled another mile up the road to a cozy little hotel where some other riders had already checked in. Today, our friend Carol was treated to the delight of her husband Stu's company. Stu had flown into Halifax, rented a car and driven up to surprise her. The four of us, Mart, Michel and Neil all wound up in a little restaurant down the road for dinner. My first salmon in almost three months. Our laundered bike gear hung drying in our rooms. A shower. A bed. Beautiful.

Not so beautiful was the television. I sat in astonishment, witnessing the destruction Hurricane Katrina had inflicted upon New Orleans. Just terrible, our hearts go out to those people. Remember the Tragically Hip Song? "New Orleans is sinking / And I don't wanna swim." I don't think they'll be playing that one anytime soon. Goodnight.

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