Cycle Touring Trip 1 - North Sydney to Halifax: Day 2
Port Hastings to Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia (Map)
157 km (97.7 mi)
I was surprised with how spry I felt in the morning. I was certainly sore, but I only felt 40 or 45 years old, not 80 like I was expecting.
The causeway traffic was minimal this morning & there was enough daylight for the few vehicles to see me.
I covered the day's first 3 kilometers casually, until I encountered the hill on the other side of the causeway. This is where I discovered the wear & fatigue in my legs.
Thankfully the hill was small & the backside sent me barrelling through the town of Mulgrave (along the way waving to the smiling pastor, who was opening his church this Sunday).
Mulgrave was surprisingly large for a place I'd never heard of.
Leaving Mulgrave, the traffic stayed light & I found myself enjoying the change in scenery from the trees of Cape Breton to the farmland of Guysborough County.
It still wasn't easy going though. After covering about 30km for the day, I came to a particularly tiring uphill & decided I needed a break at a roadside church. Sitting there in the cool wind, I had some more pistachios & thought about it all. I still had more than 100 kilometres (60mi) to cover this day to make it to Sherbrooke, and here I was having this much trouble at 10 a.m.
I wasn't sure if I could do this...I wasn't sure if I wanted to do this! I felt very tired & bummed out at that church in Saint Francis Harbour. I felt defeated. I very much wanted to simply lay down & recover. I very much just wanted to be at my destination. I wanted to nap. I wasn't sure what I wanted.
Although I was uncertain about a lot of things, I was also pretty sure I didn't want to tackle this hill in Saint Francis Harbour.
Laying on the steps in Saint Francis Harbour wasn't going to solve anything though. The only thing I needed to do, was to get back on the bike and push forward. Sure I still had 100+km to cover today, but I also had 9 or 10 hours to do it.
(I had to cover 130km today to get to Sherbrooke, where there was a hotel room to watch the Bruins/Habs. There were no other accommodations after Guysborough.)
Pushing forward brought me to the end of Highway 344 (woot! rode her all!) and onto Highway 16 towards Guysborough. As I reached Guysborough, I had now covered 65km for the day & decided to partake in spaghetti lunch before trying to conquer the rest of the kilometres. In addition, Guysborough would be the last sizable town I would see until Sherbrooke.
I was really looking forward to exploring the old buildings of Guysborough on this trip, but after discovering how hilly the town was, I wasn't much in the mood for cycling up & down the streets.
I admired the post office & hit the black top east.
The black top quickly ended.
Leaving Guysborough, I took what I guessed to be the right road. After the forest started to grow around said road, and I even passed a small church that reminded me of the American South, I figured that I couldn't be on the road I actually wanted.
There was no way in hell that I was cycling back to Guysborough & making negative progress though, so I continued once the pavement ended & I found myself on forest access roads. My GPS showed that these roads eventually connected with the highway I wanted, so I needn't worry.
I rode back in the woods for approximately 10 kilometres & loved it. I was really sour upon leaving Guysborough, but as I rode through these unpopulated vistas & over these backwater bridges, I was back to being a happy camper.
My backwoods expedition ended with a hairy, heavily-rutted track leading from my forest road down to the main highway. It was an exhilarating adventure on the heavily loaded touring bike.
The next 35 kilometres were on the fairly uneventful Silver Lake Road. I was supposed to switch roads in Salmon River Lake, but Salmon River Lake came & went without any noteworthy street veering off to the left.
Missing that road added an additional 13 kilometres to my day. In hindsight, 5 minutes of looking for roads in Salmon River Lake would have been better than an additional hour of riding.
The eastern terminus of Silver Lake Road lifted my spirits, as I carved onto Highway 316 and rode downhill to the south. Following the signs pointing towards towns like Goshen & Goldboro, the houses were older & had more character than those I found along Silver Lake Road.
I was over 100km for the day & still enjoying my surroundings.
Unfortunately my satisfactory mood would soon deflate.
Knowing I had to keep right to avoid the highway going towards Goldboro, I inexplicably took a right turn onto some gravel road ('West Side River Road'), and then followed it for a while thinking it was the correct road. This road was somewhat easy because it was flat, but it was also quite drafty as it was downwind of a small lake.
It wasn't until I reached the bridge at Loch Katrine & found a decision to be made, that I pulled out my map & realized all of the posted towns were north of where I wanted to be.
I'm not normally this boobish when it comes to navigating (hence the name), so let's chalk it up to fatigue. I rode the 7.5km back to the highway, making this a 15km side trip to Loch Katrine.
At least Loch Katrine had a nice bridge?
Once I returned to the 316, I quickly found Highway 7 which would take me right to Sherbrooke.
The rough part was that within seconds of being on Highway 7, there was a sign which informed me that I had 31km left to bike today. I had rode more than 120km at this point & was pretty damn tired & ready to call 'er a day.
There is a Newfoundland song which goes "I wish I was in Sherbrooke now" - a song which I dejectedly sang for about 10km, until a car of youths rode by & yelled at me for their own amusement.
Next came the most difficult part of the trip. As I had next to nothing left inside, continual up slopes weren't very welcome. It wasn't as if there was one big hill which I needed to conquer, it seemed that it was 85% uphill for the next 10 kilometres. As it kept going & going, I wondered if there was going to be a cliff drop into this Sherbrooke, as I couldn't understand how I hadn't yet reached the top of whatever I was climbing.
The night was falling & I was nearing defeat. I turned on the light attached to my pannier & deeply considered giving up by trying to hitch a ride in a passing truck. They wouldn't have sympathy for me though, as I was the dumbass who was trying this, I was the pampered Upper Canadian who needed to watch his Bruins tonight.
I mention the fact that I considered hitchhiking to give my friends a good idea of how tired I was. Most people who know me, know that I hate asking for help. Especially when it's my doing that gets me into the tough situation.
It was beautiful when I eventually passed over the foothill & raced down into the St. Mary's River Valley towards Sherbrooke.
The funniest thing about it all, is that after riding 157km today in order to be able to watch the Bruins/Habs playoff game, I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion after watching all of 10 minutes.
I woke up & they were in overtime, but I still couldn't stay awake.
I ended up checking the score around 3a.m. and discovered the Bruins had won.
Onto Day 3.
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