There are only two ways of getting to P.E.I with a vehicle. The 11 km long Confederation Bridge bridge that spans the Northumberland Straights or take a ferry to Nova Scotia. We took the bridge to P.E.I and now we were taking the ferry off the Island. On board we were surprised to meet up with the other group of riders we were going to meet later that day in Cape Breton. NS. They had pulled up at the last minute and were able to squeeze on the ferry. Though the story went that we talked to the Captain and had him wait for them, so they owed us a big one 😉
The ride across was spectacular. The day was warm but there was a cool breeze blowing off the calm smooth seas. I love water, especially the ocean. It awakens something deep inside of me. The other guys were busy chatting away and catching while I was more taken by the environment that I was in at the moment Then I noticed something ” bobbing” in the water at some distance. I noticed this a few times before someone pointed out that they were probably porpoises. Pretty cool. Every few minutes up would pop a head then go back down. Sadly no photos since it was a pretty random occurrence. Though still excited the crap out of me. I love how, at a moments like this, I can still feel like I did as a child about to open a new gift at Christmas. It made my day to be able to see such marvelous mammals in their natural environment I’ve seen most sea mammals before in man made environments but nothing beats the randomness of seeing any type of animal in its natural home. I was truly in my element. Then not far off from main land NS one of them jumped out of the water. It wasn’t a full breach but to me it was mesmerizing. It did it three times. I was told that it was a dolphin and not a porpoise. You could tell by the fin. I was giddy with excitement. I do not consider myself superstitious. I step on cracks, and walk under ladders, not to mention I have broken many mirrors in my life with no consequences other than having to pick up broken glass. However, to see a dolphin break the water was what I considered a ” blessing” and a good omen of things to come. :-). At that moment I was so full of honor of being able to see such a small but spectacular random event. I felt the “gods” were shining down on me.
We made land and the bikes were unloaded. We didn’t stick with the other group. The three of us were on adventure bikes and we had seen far too much tarmac, so we were itching for a little off road fun for that day. The other guys were all on big heavy street cruisers and as fun as it would have been to have led them ” astray” we didn’t feel like sticking around while they polished them up at every stop.
Off we went. We did manage to find a few beaches that looked like a lot of fun but the sand was far too loose. We could barely walk in it. So instead of choosing to stop every so often to dig our rear wheels out of loose sand we opted to find something better.
Pulling into Cape Breton we did manage to end the days ride with a great 47 km ride on a re purposed rail line. It was fairly straight and not overly difficult but got us off tarmac. I think it just fed our hunger for more.
We made good time to the Cornerstone Motel that is situated literally meters away from the beginning of the Cabot Trail. The new owners were from Ottawa and are in the middle of completely renovating this Motel. They are both part of the Canadian Motorcycle Club ( CMC) and friends with both Jeff and Joe. I would highly recommend this place to anyone especially bikers. It is very quiet, clean and well priced. This would be our staging point for the next few days. They are also just minutes away from great food and entertainment. Below is a link to a little entertainment we had with our dinner. I learned a valuable lesson that evening. When going to a seafood restaurant DON”T order chicken. Had to have been the worse food I eaten at a restaurant in years.
The next day we hit the trail. We wanted to do the Cabot Trail and enjoy all the scenery that the paved trail has to offer. But we also wanted to find as much unpaved roads and trails so we could to see Cape Breton from another vantage point. The first 11 km’s of the Cabot Trail are a bikers dream. We did it four times. The first time to get a feel for it. Second was to hit the corners at peg scraping speeds and get the thrill of the sharp corners, third was to do the same but the opposite direction and finally on the last run I did it like grandpa out for a Sunday ride to really see the spectacular scenery, and it was spectacular. I’ve added an unedited part of the ride below to give a small sense of the road.
We made our way up to Meat Cove. We were in search of some very technical off road riding to an old light house at the tip of Meat Cove. The main road up was all dirt and sand roads with lots of nice little twisties. When we made it to the end of the main road we started to climb up more of an ” ATV” trail. About 1/2 km up everything stopped and we were faced with a daunting hill with very very loose rock and shale. We hemmed and hawed about doing it. Personally I was ready to back out and not even try it. I’ve done a lot of crazy shit on my bike and always want to push myself, To me this just didn’t look doable. Just then a local lady came over and started talking to us. She kindly informed us that last year another group of riders, that had bikes that looked like ours tried it and were unsuccessful. Not to mention the light house had been torn down so there was no “pot of gold at the end of this rainbow”. Phew, I was sort of relieved. Though that said, Joe wanted to show me how it was done. He hit the first part of the trail and made it about half way up before deciding to turn around. I was impressed with Joe. I also saw how it was done and that, in fact, it was doable so the very next time we had a chance I found myself climbing steep rocky hills over and over…in fact I became addicted and the ” game was on” of playing king of the mountain. It didn’t matter if there was paths or not. It was straight up. I was the first to lay down my bike. However we all had our turns of laying our bikes down. That is all part of the fun of adventure riding. The trick is to know when you are going down and to get off it safely. First rule. Learn to fall. I don’t pamper my bike or worry about bumps and bruises or dings and dents. Fact is a clean Adventure bike is just WRONG on so many levels. It is an awesome piece of machinery that gets you places most bikes could never get you.
A highlight of the Cabot Trail was on the final day. We learned from a local that most people know the Cabot Trail from the road system that basically runs around the entire outside of Cape Breton. However, there are 1000’s of km’s of ATV trails that cut across the interior known as the Highlands. These trails could go on for days and days and bring you to some of the coolest area’s of Cape Breton. There was one particular trail he pointed out to us. The trail was a good 50 ride with about a 5 km stretch up a mountain and very steep. The trail would lead us to a mountain top with a spectacular view. We were told once you start up the mountain don’t stop or you won’t get going again. hummm. It was worth a shot. So we found the mouth of the trail and in we headed. At first it was very rocky but wide enough to get a ATV or even a four wheeler in. It progressively became more and more narrow with cliffs on both sides of the trail. This was getting fun. We probably made it in a good 20 km at a slow pace when we hit that hill. We started up the first part of the hill. We soon found out why we should not stop. Joe went down on his bike so Jeff and I hiked back down the hill to help him out. After much deliberation we decided ” maybe this was not for us”. We would have a had a great time but from out vantage point we could only see steeper and steeper climbs ahead. One thing about climbing mountains is going up is the easy part. Coming back down is the challenge. WE decided to turn around.
On our way out the I was following behind when I noticed the guys stopped ahead. ” What’s up” I asked. ” A moose just jumped in front of us on the path”. OMG. I am sure I giggled with excitement. I quickly passed Joe and Jeff even though there was barely enough room for one bike. The moose had no where to go. There was a cliff to both sides and three bikers behind her. We followed her, keeping about 100-150 feet between her and our bikes. This went on for about 30 minutes. At one point she stopped and turned. We had a feeling she was going to charge. So we dismounted our bikes and put them between her and us. Thankfully she didn’t charge. She just circled the path up ahead for about ten minutes. She then started moving on again. We ended up following her all the way back to the highway. She finally found an opening just before the highway to take off. Having never seen a moose in my life even though I live and have traveled extensively in areas where moose are common. This was an amazing way of encountering such a majestic animal for the first time.
Rest of the day we spent doing the entire Cabot trail. We had about 11 hours to kill before our ferry left at 11:30 p.m for a 7 hour ride to Newfoundland. We spent some time along the beaches taking some knee high dips.
At one point we stopped in a nice cool shaded gravel parking lot with lots of grass, railroad ties, and lots of open space so Joe and I decided to brush up on our log jumping skills by getting out bikes over the rail road ties. A handy skill to have when you are on the trail and cross a fallen tree. Instead of stopping you just slowly approach it ” jump” your front wheel over it and the back will follow. Takes a bit of skill with the clutch and gas to give it just enough to take the weight off the front wheel. First couple of times I tried it was more like smashing into into the railroad tie. So on the third try I decided a little more gas was in order. Wow. I really did not know a V Strom could fly. I hit it at just the right angle with way too much gas and it sent my entire bike into the air. I immediately knew it. I have to admit it was sort of fun, and the landing was impeccable. Sadly no cameras where out but I have two guys that will attest to it. Though we did say “if it isn’t on film then it didn’t happen”.
Next time. Exotic butterflies at sea, cod tongues, and ” I think I saw Frodo Baggins.
Below is a long video of the moose encounter. Sadly no zoom on my camera so it is very hard to see. It is basically a little black spot in front of me. She can be seen clearly when the bush open up at one point.