Nova Scotia!

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July 11th, New Glasgow to Port Hawkesbury, 74 miles

The day with three flat tires. As I was leaving, thought my rear tire was a bit squishy, but "nah, probably not going flat". After half a mile, "ok, really going flat". Noticed a long crack across the tread and decided to swap out the entire tire and tube. Down to two spare inner tubes.

After a short delay, underway again. Beautiful sunny weather with a slight tailwind. I took the main road #104, part of the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH). On this trip and others, I've found Nova Scotia's primary highways to be cycle friendly with generally wide shoulders. They are a bit more direct and nicely graded than the scenic routes. However, many go through forests, so I try taking the scenic routes if they don't go much out of the way. Sign at right is even a caution specific to bicycles. Nova Scotia and Alberta win my prizes for most cycle-friendly provinces (so far).

Route went over several hills before settling into a tree-lined valley. Smooth riding all the way until mile #37 in Antigonish where I stopped for breakfast. Nova Scotia is derived from "New Scotland". There are occasional tartans and other souvenirs along the way. I've heard bagpipes several times now.

Ten miles further down the road, I met briefly with folks I'd met on the Confederation Ferry boat (the O'Tooles). Shortly thereafter I also met two other cyclists. One touring for a month from North Carolina and back, the other, Dieter from Hamburg Germany, touring Nova Scotia and Newfoundland for three weeks. We had a brief cyclist convention/conversation right beside the road.

After stopping, I headed out on the scenic route, #4, towards Afton. Within half a mile, heard a rhythmic "scrape, scrape, scrape,...". Uh, oh. Quickly stopped the bike, but was too slow to stop my front tire from popping off the rim. A loud bang! as the front inner tube exploded. Oops, perhaps over inflated at the bike store. A short delay and I was underway with one spare inner tube left.

I caught up with Dieter as we were both photographing this church in Tracadie. We cycled together and stopped for a late lunch in Havre Boucher. The route was pretty with occasional views of the bay and farm country.

After lunch, cycled up over the last hill and then along the Canso Sound. This waterway separates Cape Breton, the northern island from the rest of Nova Scotia. Just after rejoining #104, I went over some gravel and then noticed my rear tire going flat. Sigh. Snake bite on the side. A short delay and I was underway with no spare inner tubes.

Tourist info center indicated these were the last motels for a while. Decided to stop for now. Unsuccessful at finding a bike store with inner tubes in this town. Was able to patch up the first flat from this morning, but not the snake bite. One spare inner tube and one spare tire left. Will try to find a bike store before taking off for Newfoundland.

July 12th, Port Hawkesbury to Sydney, 82 miles

No flat tires today :-). Beautiful morning for cycling, clear skies, slight tailwind. Also a pretty sunrise. Cycled through Port Hawkesbury and then decided to take #104. This was the main expressway, but it was still early. Nice shoulder and smooth pavement as I cycled through mostly forest. Some hills, but nothing too bad. Fairly quickly I was in St. Peter's for breakfast.

At St. Peter's the road becomes more narrow and goes right along the Bras d'Or Lake. This large saltwater inlet has virtually no tides and freezes over during the winter. The road along the lake is scenic with many short hills and pretty views. There were no shoulders, but traffic was light and polite. The local stores along the way actually had a petition asking for the road to be improved between St. Peters and East Bay. If this road was worthy of a petition, then perhaps half the roads in Ontario would deserve the same.

Stopped at several of the little inlets and coves along the way. Also stopped on the backside of many hills. Johnstown had a nice community centre and church; Big Pond had a Rita MacNeil tea shop where I had lunch. Traffic picked up a little as I came to the end of the lake at East Bay.

At East Bay the road got a shoulder, but traffic also became heavier. Cycled the last 12 miles into town. Found a bicycle store and bought three inner tubes. Four spare inner tubes, one outer tube, one spare wheel. That should last through Newfoundland. Stopped in Sydney for the night and made reservations for tomorrow's ferry to Newfoundland.

Only two full days in Nova Scotia. I am also missing the "Cabot Trail" on this trip, a very scenic, but hilly ride. Save something for a future trip.

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