Easter Weekend snuck up on us quickly and promised some unseasonably warm temperatures, so naturally ‘My Other Brother’ Derryl was all set to do the coast of Maine. We had been discussing this trip for a while, but I felt it was still too early for that trip. I wanted to make sure we’d see some green and possibly blooms on our ride and late April just wasn’t late enough in my view. So Derryl curbed his enthusiasm and agreed to leave Maine for a later date. Besides, overnight rides are a tricky prospect with unfamiliar riding buddies. Ok, maybe Derryl wasn’t unfamiliar, but a day ride is different from an overnighter. Those little quirks you see as endearing on a day ride may very well inspire violence on your fellow rider on an extended trip. I needn’t have worried though, as we were well matched for temperament, riding pace and, most importantly, pee breaks. The latter being one of those ‘quirks’ that can strain any good riding relationship. Luckily, we’re both middle-aged coffee lovers and have similar habits. In other word, we seem to have perfectly timed pee breaks. But I digress… We discussed where to go and settled on heading to Cape Breton and back. Since both of us had recently ridden the Cabot Trail, we decided to ride around Bras d’Or Lake and home again avoiding major highways. We agreed to head out reasonably early on Good Friday, overnight in Baddeck and return home on Saturday evening. I prefer to make a loose plan and kind of ‘go with the flow’ on rides and Derryl turned out to be the same. To me, over-planning just leads to disappointment and not living in the moment. I’m sure everyone has a different take.
After reaching Windsor by way of Hwy 14, we headed across Hants County on Hwy 236 on our way to Truro. Then the inevitable happened and my low fuel light came on warning me I was about to run out of gas, and here we were in the middle of nowhere Easter Friday with little chance to find a station open. In Kennetcook a cab driver (WTF?! – there are cabs in the middle of nowhere) at a Tim’s drive-through kindly let us know there was a station open 5 minutes up the road (Tim’s are everywhere and always open, so maybe they should start serving gas as well). It wasn’t on our planned route, but not far and we could easily backtrack. But when we arrived and gassed up the inevitable happened. Because we were on bikes the attendant struck up a friendly chat and was exited to tell us that a better ride awaited us if we continued north to the Minas Basin and headed to Truro along the freshly paved 215 coastal route (this never happens to me in a car). She wasn’t kidding, smooth pavement, fantastic views and an extremely twisty road with no traffic. We were in heaven.
Once past Truro our next stop was Tatamagouche and we lucked out that a Café geared toward cyclists was open and sufficiently clogged our aging arteries with a true homemade breakfast. You know, the kind of place where the eggs taste like they were fresh from their own hens that morning. From there it was along the Northumberland Strait on our way to Antigonish. The ride was so breathtaking along all the coastal routes that I forgot to take pictures of the scenery and the ice buildup in the Strait. After that it was a mind-numbingly boring super-slab blast to the causeway and Cape Breton.
Once across and on Cape Breton the air was distinctly colder and snow could be seen along the road’s edge. The landscape was beautiful even without spring colours and Bras d’Or Lake provided the perfect backdrop to our ride. Finally as evening approached and the risk of critters on the road grew significantly, we made it to Baddeck. Baddeck is normally a bustling tourist area, but at this time of year we struggled to find a hotel open. One appeared to be in the process of opening, but the heavily lace laden Victorian décor scared us off fearing our manhood was at stake. We eventually found one that appeared to be bustling with a lot of pickups with box trailers in the parking lot. We found out why when the front desk clerk asked us if there was enough show on the trails. Confused, we told her we were on bikes. She delightedly informed us that this was the first time they had an overlap of bikers and snowmobilers. We went to bed contently impressed with ourselves.
The morning greeted us with a bright clear cool but sunny day, the perfect riding weather. The roads around the lake were sufficiently twisty and the added benefit of no leaves made for better than anticipated views. It was the perfect morning to test my new 50th Birthday present from SWMBO, the Handpresso (http://www.handpresso.com/en/espresso-machines/manual-espresso-machines/handpresso-pump-black/). Being a coffee and specifically espresso lover, this is an ideal gift. The Handpresso is a handheld espresso maker and a rest stop with a majestic view was the perfect place to test it. The problem, in my haste to leave for the trip and got lazy and didn’t grind the beans, but just grabbed a pre-ground bag. Big mistake, as it was a drip grind which I found out does not make a great espresso – I know better. No matter, the actual process seemed to work well, just the finished product was a little weak. Lesson learned.
After circling the lake and crossing back over the causeway we headed to the Eastern Shore over the No. 7 Highway from Antigonish and it turned out to be a gem. No traffic with sweeping turns through bucolic landscape was a recipe for motorcycle nirvana. And the best part, knowing that it continued along the Eastern Shore once you hit the coast heading back to Halifax. Late in the day we picked our way through city traffic to head home through familiar territory. By that point we were tired and hungry and looking to get home as soon as possible. Another great ride with ‘My Other Brother Derryl’ with plans for a May long weekend ride along the coast of Maine.