As I tucked into to sleep last night it became evident that I was going to be dealing with a strong headwind and an entire day of rain on my way to North Sydney. This test anybody’s mettle and needs to start with the right attitude. Going into a long day of rain and hard cycling will be hell if you don’t prepare your mind for it. I got out of my tent a bit earlier today with eager anticipation of a challenging day. Heading out at 810am. Headwind cycling I have found you need to obviously lower your expectations, this is easier said then done. Cycling at 80% effort is required; as grinding for more mph is a fouls diminishing return. It reminds me of hitting your driver into a headwind; common error is to overswing. Stay balanced, stay within yourself; possibly try to change some angles for lower ball flight, but don’t try to overpower the wind. It won’t work, same applies to cycling. Then there is the rain; I start with minimal bike gear on so that I could add layers mid ride. Luckily the first two hours was dry, then the rain came as more a mist, then full on rain. About 45km into my day I added leggings and long sleeve compression shirt under my rain jacket. No chance they make a rain jacket to keep you dry in constant rain for 6 hrs…beside you perspire enough to get wet either way! Then the head wind; this is the toughest element. Knowing nature is throwing all it has at you very powerful in itself. The headwind was at minimum 25kph and gusted beyond 50kph when the road opened up to the waterfront.
Then there was the Cape Breton hills, or should I say mountains. Many solid climbs and any incline with rain in your face and a headwind is substantial. Kelly’s mountain is a 7km climb of about 1750ft, roughly a quarter of any of the BC mountain passes, but enough to take me 45min to transcend.
I was very happy to cross paths with Dino. We have been following each others blogs for a couple months now, she using my blog for info on her journey and me reading her wonderful writing. Dino is from across the pond, is twenty something and has dreamed of cycling Canada for 8 years. Unfortunately due to the Ferry running aground near NF she changed her plans to end in St Johns and cycled Cabot Trail and will end in Halifax. She has cycled some of the mountains in France, the Rockies, northern Ontario and says the Cabot Trail was her toughest physical test! Very steep endless climbs…I am intrigued now; maybe best to return with a car? In some way Dino, Paul, Keith, David, Walter, Jesus, the Wye family, and Kate and Sofie have all connected this summer; kind of feels like we are the graduating class of 2013 for X-Canada cycling?
Unfortunately not a lot of photo opportunities as it was raining and the great outlook points on Kelly mountain were surrounded with fog as well. I did enjoy the best seafood chowder at the junction of hwy 105 of the Cabot Trail, also awesome mussels and clam strips at Rollie’s near the Ferry! One horrifying moment was crossing the Seal Island bridge just after Kelly’s mountain, it was a good 200ft above the water, with NO shoulder or bike lane. Thankfully I had little traffic during my 1km trek across this bridge, my healthy fear of heights was not pleased with this moment.
Today was a great day, one I am proud of accomplishing. Reminds me of my 195km trek to Yorktown in honour of Danielle Czudner. Those demanding days that take everything out of you, but you succeed, you find a way to stay positive and break through the pain, the fear, the frustration and get it done.
Can’t tell you how much better the beer taste after a day like today. Thankfully the Ferry terminal has a shower! I got changed into some dry clothes and headed for some food and beer. The Ferry sets sail at 1145 tonight and gets me into Port Aux Basques around 630am Newfie Time. Looking like even stronger winds, possibly 100kph near the coast and rain tomorrow…I am crazy, but not stupid; could be a quick hotel room tomorrow to dry out?
Off to the Ferry…
Daily cycle: 98.3km
Daily cycle time: 6hrs 13min