11 August 2010
DAY 3: Amherst Shore to PEI National Park, 107 kmMichael and Nicole: always planning!
DAY 4: PEI National Park to New Glasgow, 117 km
DAY 5: New Glasgow to Mabou, 170 km
DAY 6: Mabou to Inverness, 21 km + (much needed!!) rest
As you can see, we've covered a lot of ground since my last blog entry. I've discovered that Mike and Nicole are insane: all they want to do is cycling and other high-energy activities! When Dan and I did our cross-Canada bike trip, we did a lot of cycling (see older blog posts), but we always took the time to relax. We'd try to finish riding early to make a tasty dinner, and we'd take a day off every few days. We'd often take two-hour long lunch breaks, we'd sometimes have a few beers or some wine in the evenings and we'd spend time just chillin'. Mike and Nicole are quite the opposite. Every day is packed with miles and miles of cycling with stops for site-seeing. Lunch breaks are functional; they are for refueling, not resting, not relaxing. We ride late into the day and have to hurry to set up camp when we arrive. Cooking doesn't happen: we live on a hearty diet made up largely of peanut butter and banana and honey sandwiches, cereal (made with powdered milk), fruit, nuts and candy. It's just quicker that way, and besides, all eating is functional: it's just the intake of calories that we need for cycling. In fact, everything we do that isn't cycling or site-seeing is functional. So today I decided that I needed a day off—with or without Mike and Nicole—to recover. Let me fill you in on what led me to this decision.
Swimming here after our eight-hour, 170-km day. Amazing!
I went swimming in this little bay. We camped up here :)
We left the cottage at Amherst Shore in good spirits, crossing into New Brunswick and then taking the Confederation Bridge across to PEI. After an uncharacteristically long lunch break,* we cycled north to Cavendish. We saw the house that was the inspiration for L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables (my favourite ever book) and the surrounding area and then continued cycling to the north shore of PEI. Around sunset, we found a beautiful spot to camp. Michael and Nicole set up the tent while I went swimming. This was definitely the highlight of my day. A long day, but so far, so good.
The next day, however, got a bit tougher. Because we were crammed together in our "three-person" tent, and it was very windy at night making the tent flap noisily, I got maybe two hours of unsettled sleep over the course of the night. And the morning started with rain—always miserable. Fortunately, though, the rain cleared in the evening and we made it to Charlottetown with relative ease. There, we saw Province House, a meeting place for the provincial legislature and the location of the conference at which the idea of Confederation was first discussed. After that, we continued cycling towards the ferry to NS. This was, for me, a tough ride. The roads weren't the greatest and the hills were the annoying kind, where the downhill ride never gives you enough momentum for the next uphill. And my body was already tired from the previous day's ride.
The ferry ride was relaxing—hooray for built-in, mandatory relaxation!—but we arrived in NS when the sun was about to set. Nicole and Michael wanted to reach Mabou the next day to see some live Celtic music at a pub owned by some of the Rankin sisters, but we were still some 200 km away. So in order to avoid a 200-km day, we decided to cycle on to New Glasgow, where we would stay in a cheap motel to get some good sleep for the big day ahead. And that we did—but in order to do so, we had to cycle at night, which I find absolutely terrifying. It turned out that New Glasgow only had big hotel chains, so we took the cheapest of the three and stayed there. I must say, sleeping in a hotel is AMAZING after all of this cycling. My body was so tired! There was nothing better than a warm shower and a clean, dry bed :)
The next morning, we got up and had a fantastic breakfast at the hotel: eggs, sausage, cinnamon buns, coffee... yum! Michael easily ate four times as much as I did (I'm not exaggerating), and Nicole was not far behind. You can tell those two have been cycling for three months! They know how to eat! And then our long day began. We cycled non-stop for two hours, had a quick break, then cycled for another three or so, for a total of 110 km. All this before lunch! We ate as soon as we crossed the causeway onto Cape Breton Island, and then continued cycling. We finally arrived in Mabou at around 7pm. We cycled a total of eight hours that day. EIGHT HOURS! And that doesn't include breaks. Needless to say, my body was dead. We went for a swim in a nearby inlet and then had tasty food and beers at the Red Shoe, the Rankin sisters' pub. We camped outside a house that was being renovated.
The plan for today was to begin the Cabot Trail. Again, we started in the rain. The hills were already getting crazy, and at one point a truck with a trailer came too close for comfort as I was speeding down at 57 km/h. And my body hurt SO MUCH from the previous days' rides. When we reached Inverness, I started talking to Nicole about how I didn't think my body could handle the intensity of the Ross twins' (did I mention that Mike and Nicole are twins?) schedule. I badly needed a day off! We decided that I would hitch a ride to Pleasant Bay and meet up with Mike and Nicole the next day. I thought it would be easy enough to find some friendly tourists with a truck, but I was wrong. And the young man staffing the info centre was completely useless: he didn't even tell us that there was a shuttle heading there (we asked, but found out only later from a local that such a thing existed). Fortunately, though, we met Shirley and Candace, a mother and daughter with a small rental car who kindly offered to take me to Peasant Bay, since they were also heading there. It was a tight squeeze, but we took apart my bike and I sat with it in the back seat of their car, for the one-and-a-half hour drive to the Bay. I'm SO GLAD they took me. We're staying in a nice little hostel here. I did laundry, and am enjoying my day off. But tomorrow, it's back to the grind with the Ross twins.
*We were distracted by a lone cross-Canada cyclist who was trying to latch onto our group. He and Michael shared geeky interests and a background in engineering. Nicole and I were irritated. We managed to get rid of him, but it wasn't easy.