Cycling the Cabot Trail

Juli and I made it and survived the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada :-). Wondering what this is? Well, Alexander Graham Bell described it perfectly:

I have travelled the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all.

The Cabot Trail

The Cabot Trail is a highway and scenic roadway in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, located in northern Victoria County and Inverness County on Cape Breton Island. The route measures 298 km in length and completes a loop around the northern tip of the island.

It is passing along and through the scenic Cape Breton Highlands: the northern section of the Cabot Trail passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the western and eastern sections follow the rugged coastline, providing spectacular views of the ocean and the southwestern section passes through the Margaree River valley before passing along Bras d'Or Lake.

Clockwise or counterclockwise? Counterclockwise!

Since neither Juli nor I have had any experience with cycling before, we split our tour into 5 days having a 6th day as a fallback. But even for me, as living mostly from coffee & cigarettes for years now :-(, 5 days worked out perfect  - and we still had lots of time to do stops in between, check some smaller hiking trails, do whale watching or simply enjoy the landscape (which you should really, really do).

If you are planning something similar, check Brian Hedney's page on "Cycling the Cabot Trail" which was of great help to us upfront! The following links consist of my mini diary, some GPS info (yes, I like my gadgets ;-)) plus pictures, pictures and even more pictures.

Last but not least: Some places special to us...

Although friendliness and feeling welcome was the main tenor for all places & people in Cape Breton, some places I will remember a tiny little bit more. Can't really say why, but here they are:

Restaurant "Flavor": Actually not on the Cabot Trail but in Sydney where I rented my bike for the tour. Gordon and Bev from the Colby House B&B recommended it and I can only agree: We had a very delicious dinner at the Flavor!

The Maven Gypsy B&B: This was our first evening out on the road after cycling, we were not sure what we could expect. But Christine & Devin made our day! If you are ever around Wreck Cove make sure you stay (at least) a night  and enjoy their hospitality.

Restaurant "Rusty Anchor": Having left North Mountain behind us on Day 3, we arrived in Pleasant Bay and really needed dinner. Elizabeth, our host at The Poplar B&B, recommended it and we enjoyed a scenic sunset as well as fresh seafood in all kind of variations.

"The Red Shoe Pub": On our last day back to Antigonish we drove by Mabou late in the evening. Not only serving delicious food and good beer...Monday night also spontaneous fiddling by people from Mabou as we coincidently learned. If you go there, try Monday night!

Day 1 on Cabot Trail: Baddeck – Wreck Cove

61,54km distance, Altitude difference 101m, Duration 4:13h (incl. stops)

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First cycling day started out with a perfect breakfast at the Colby House B&B in Sydney. Yes, sounds weird, but I have never eaten rhubarb muffins before but they tasted like charm. So, after having fresh fruits, ham and eggs, Juli and I started off to Framework Cycle around 9:30 to get my bike for the tour.

Think they were really laughing at those German strangers that wanted to do the Cabot Trail without any real preparation. Best thing was their comment about me having at least the right bike now, but Juli "being dead" with her bike. That's a start ;-).

After putting both bikes on back of Juli's famous Pontiac, we drove back to Baddeck and arrived at the Visitors Information Centre around lunch time. Nice thing was that they have parking space on the back as well as public washrooms. So we changed clothes and finally started...

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englishtown ferry, arrived maven bb 1655, cool nice place, Maven gypsies bb, delicious dinner, aperitif, dinner, dessert...lived 5 years in Grenada, just opened, beautiful farm, smokey the Labrador, small cottage, so quiet, breakfast as delicious as dinner


Day 3 on Cabot Trail: South Harbour – Pleasant Bay

xx,xxkm distance, Altitude difference 460m, Duration x:xxh (incl. stops)

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Just leave this place and get coffee in cape north, breakfast after first small climb, then north mountain ahead, 13%, 7km, 457m, last 1km really bad, pain, real pain,

then downhill almost 10km nice ride but now knowing what good brakes are for, beautiful, some hiking as break, finally in pleasant bay, went to whale interpretative center

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April moved to June, but still: Cabot Trail!

So, after Eyjafjallajökull decided to calm down and my boss accepting my shift of holiday to beginning of June, it will finally happen: Just received my tickets this weekend :-). But still no chance to get my biycle with me. Damn, these people of Lufthansa almost drove me crazy. Air Canada transfers bikes for 50$ in total but Lufthansa has an extra fee of 150€ per route (!)...although I booked via Air Canada flight, the first transfer will go from HAM to LHR via Lufthansa, and they force you to pay their extra fee at check-in.

Ende April...Cabot Trail!

Updated, yeah, here it is: Our cycling trip on Cabot Trail (yes, I survived ;-))... ---

Ok, Juli will's wissen und fordert mich heraus (oder bin ich das doch selbst? *grübel*). Besser: "Wie eine weinselige, nächtliche Idee zu einer echten Herausforderung wird". Die Idee war simpel: Ich habe Urlaub. Ich muß hier raus. Ich habe Juli lange nicht gesehen. Juli hat mich lange nicht gesehen. Juli ist nicht mehr lange in Kanada. Juli hat angeboten, daß ich sie besuchen könne...Als Juli dann eher beiläufig den Cabot Trail erwähnte und fragte, ob eher Wandern oder Fahrrad, wußte ich nicht wirklich worauf ich mich einlasse. Das ist mir allerdings dieses Wochenende schlagartig klar geworden. Wenn ich das überstehe, dann habe ich dieses Jahr echt was geschafft - auch wenn ich noch keine Ahnung habe, wie ich das überstehe ohne mir die Blöße zu geben und ggf. diversen Kreislaufkollapsen :-).

Ok, Flüge sind bestätigt: 25.4. geht's los :-), Halifax ich komme. Wäre eigentlich nett, wenn ich meine Meilen für ein Upgrade nutzen könnte. Aber Air Canada will meine Meilen nicht :-(.

Und langsam kommen wir auch dem Radl näher. Auch wenn Juli versucht mir vor Ort ein Radl aufzutreiben, ist das natürlich ein perfekter Anlaß, um zu stöbern und mir das notwendige Spaßmobil auch für daheim zu organisieren. Aktueller Favorit ist das Staiger Luxe 27.8 Deore LX, daß sowohl in Testberichten als auch eingängigen Foren als solide Wahl empfohlen wird. Jetzt muß ich nur noch einen Händler in der Gegend finden...

...finally I got it *yeah*. Raederwerk in Plön is the only official  Staiger dealer around and unfortunately they did not have the Shimano LX version available on-site, but after waiting some more days I tested (and bought) it yesterday. We are getting there :-).

So, next challenge: How to get my new bike via Air Canada to Halifax. Und wenn gar nichts mehr geht, würde ich das via Lufthansa Sperrgepäck auch nach Kanada transportiert bekommen.

Und die derzeitigen Detailplanungen:

1.Tag (Monday): Die erste Tagestour ist die Zweitlaengste: laut Google ca. 70 km, aber die Strecke ist eben (laut Aussage Juli). Ziel ist Wreck Cove, dort gibt es die Wilderness Cabins, die auch im Winter offen haben.

2.Tag (Tuesday): Von Wreck Cove geht es 52km ueber Cape Smokey (der erste Berg) nach Ingonish und dahinter irgendwann runter (weg vom Cabot Trail) nach Neils Harbour. Wir sollten die Nacht im Seymour Harbour View verbringen.

3.Tag (Wednesday): An diesem Tag fahren wir 47km durch die Berge bis nach Pleasant Bay. Dort gibt es ein Bed and Breakfast namens Scottish Hillside B&B, das offen hat.

4.Tag (Thursday): Eine 50 km Tour ueber zwei Berge: Mackenzie Mountain und French Mountain, in schwierigem Gelaende. Plan sieht vor, in den Cranton Cottages im Chetticamp Outfitters B&B zu uebernachten. Einziges Problem: es ist knapp 50 km von Pleasant Bay entfernt (ist aber auch eine heftige Strecke mit zwei Bergen, u.a. dem hoechsten Berg des Cabot Trail)

5.Tag (Friday): Nur noch ein kleiner Huegel (Hunters Mountain) und 62 km wir muessten am letzten Tag 83 km fahren und sind zurueck in Baddeck. Immerhin ist die Strecke relativ eben (bis auf einen Berg). Ab ins Auto und die Nacht zu Hause in Antigonish verbringen.

Und noch ein paar useful links:

And some more temporary links: