Cape Breton Island Bicycle Tour
July 30 – August 6, 2019
This is the ride everyone dreams of doing: Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island! Spectacular scenery is one reason that it is, by far, the most popular bicycle touring region in Atlantic Canada. Cape Breton must be the luckiest cycling place in the world, with its magnificent seacoast mountains, clean rivers and lakes, ocean breezes, plentiful wildlife, and unique Gaelic culture. The Cape Breton Bicycle Tour is an affordable camping vacation, which will enjoy a carefully selected route around an unforgettable island. It will be a fun and friendly tour, with a great deal of socializing. Along the way, we will learn about Cape Breton’s history, discover its incredible variety, and experience what makes the island distinct. Join us for a tour which will be both enjoyable and memorable.
We’ve planned this trip with average cyclists in mind. To some, the tour will be a challenge, and the satisfaction of it completed. To others, it will be a chance to renew and strengthen friendships, or to make new ones. For still others, it will be the chance to see Cape Breton as no other form of travel can. For everyone, it will be the most inexpensive, not to mention fun, vacation of the island available. We will have 8 days of cycling, with an average 65 km (40 miles) per day. The amounts each day vary, with the days in hillier terrain lower. You can bicycle each day in five hours or less of actual biking, leaving plenty of time for sightseeing and relaxing.
Options will be offered for both shortcuts and for scenic side routes. Terrain on the island is rolling to hilly. The three days in Cape Breton Highlands National Park have several small mountains. These are challenging, even with their much lower daily distances. With a relaxed tour schedule, however, they are feasible, even for casual cyclists. With the assistance of our support vehicle, we can offer a worry-free tour. By Atlantic Canada standards, the terrain is from rolling to hilly. New or casual cyclists will find this tour quite feasible. For more accomplished bicycle tourists, detailed options will be offered for longer daily routes. These will allow for taking in more of the province, while enjoying the event with others.
The tour covers a huge amount of the island. We begin by following the Bras d’Or, perhaps the cleanest inland sea in the world. After a day at the end of the “lake” we enter the Cape Breton Highlands. After several shorter but invigorating days of riding, we reach the Gulf of St. Lawrence side of the island. Our last two days follow a French-speaking Acadian area and the heart of Cape Breton’s Scottish heritage and music. This is one of the most highly rated cycling routes in the world. It is a beautiful special place. We have designed a tour that explores it. At times a little challenging, our tour is “doable” and is a fun event for everyday, casual cyclists. We are looking forward to sharing the island with you.
Tuesday, July 30 – Port Hawkesbury to Whycocomagh
Wednesday, July 31 – Whycocomagh to North Sydney
Thursday, August 1 – North Sydney to Ingonish
Friday, August 2 – Ingonish to Cape North
Saturday, August 3 – Day Ride to Tip of Nova Scotia
Sunday, August 4 – Cape North to Cheticamp
Monday, August 5 – Cheticamp to Inverness
Tuesday, August 6 – Inverness to Port Hawkesbury
Tuesday, July 30 – Port Hawkesbury to Whycocomagh 78 km (49 mi.)
Our first day follows the shore of Lake Bras d’or, an inland sea. We pass through Orangedale, with an old train station now a museum. Whycocomagh is two villages in one. On one side is a community settled by the Scots. On the other is a Mi’kmaq native community, one of several on the island.
Wednesday, July 31 – Whycocomagh to North Sydney 91 km (56 mi.)
Our route today will be a very pleasant run around the Washabuck Peninsula, through the once Gaelic speaking village of Iona and along the shore of grand Narrows part of Lake Bras d’or.
Thursday, August 1 – North Sydney to Ingonish 62/83 km (39/52 mi.)
We are nearing Cape Breton Highlands National Park! Enjoy the spectacular coastal scenery, and the green dense forests. Cape Smokey Mountain stands in our way just before our day’s end, the first major climb of the tour.
Friday, August 2 – Ingonish to Cape North 49 km (30 mi.)
We follow a roller-coaster shoreline. Bay St. Lawrence is home to whales, often sighted while cycling. It is also bird country, including herons and eagles. This is a shorter day but there is a lot to see and do. There is also an extra optional ride out toward the northern tip of Nova Scotia.
Saturday, August 3 – Day Ride to Tip of Nova Scotia 45 km (28 mi.)
We stay based at Beautiful Cape North and ride out as far north in Nova Scotia as one can go. The road follows the spine of what remains of the Appalachians, before they abruptly end at the ocean. Bay St. Lawrence is the suggested stop, an attractive and isolated fishing village. Meat Cove, the furthest one can go in Nova Scotia is a bit further on. It requires sturdier tires than 23 or 25’s. There are also other things to do! There are other short bike rides. There is also hiking. Kayaking is available a short distance from out camp. There is also a nearby beach.
Sunday, August 4 – Cape North to Cheticamp 70 km (43 mi.)
One of the greatest days of cycling you will ever have! We will challenge ourselves on small mountains that rise up along the Atlantic Ocean. The ride down French Mountain is thrilling, a curving road, which looks out over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, one of the most photographed places in North America.
Monday, August 5 – Cheticamp to Inverness 64 km (40 mi.)
We follow the Ceilidh Trail, along the shore of the Gulf. We pass a region of French-speaking Acadian fishing villages, and later, into the heart of Nova Scotia’s rich Gaelic music and culture. This is our last night together- let’s party!
Tuesday, August 6 – Inverness to Port Hawkesbury 89 km (55 mi.)
Our last day. Enjoy this pretty ride along Cape Breton’s rocky west coast. As the Nova Scotia mainland comes into view, you will no doubt think about our trip around this beautiful, rugged island… from our ride around its inland sea, through the highlands, and along its barren coast. You’ve done it! Fantastic!
What We Provide:
–Comprehensive ride guide; all about what you will experience on route, history, culture, trivia -camping facilities -luggage transfer; we will carry your gear, just bike and enjoy the ride! -bike mechanic assistance -sag wagon service –support vehicle available for breakdowns or drives to shorten your day -daily route maps -tour escort; Gary Conrod will be along the route, he has 180,000 kilometres cycling experience, including almost every road on Cape Breton Island.
About Our Tours:
Our tours are different! We run friendly and fun bicycle-camping trips. There are not many groups left like us out there doing this. Running inexpensive tours by camping and not doing inns is now a rarity. We have done it this way since way back in 1987. It gets a little bit harder each year to crawl in and out of tents – we are not getting any younger, but we would still rather be doing it our way – under the stars.
Our events usually have between 18 and 35 people, the majority older adults. Since our camping groups are a bit larger compared to inn to inn tours, there are far greater chances of finding others with the same interests. During a week to 10 day tour everyone gets to know pretty well everyone else. Rather than a tour with just a handful of people, possibly none you have things in common with, our size allows a wide range of personalities, interests, and similar riding speeds. We feel our trips are just the right size for fitting in. Lots of friendships are made on our tours.
We run our tours in prime natural settings in Eastern and Atlantic Canada. Our tours are a bit harder to get to – they will need more planning. Running events in remoter regions with limited options raises costs a bit more than if we did them in busier places. We feel getting away from the heat, humidity, cities, stress, tension, and traffic makes the experiences we offer completely worth it. Our return rate is among the highest of any cycling organization – as high as 90% on some tours, so overall people seem to love what we are doing and value their experiences.
Our trip will be a tent camping adventure, but for some who say their camping days are behind them can join in on our journeys. A limited number of Bed and Breakfasts and motels are along our route. Upon request, a listing of motels and Bed and Breakfasts will be sent with confirmation. Due to the small places we go to, early reservations are strongly recommended.
Each cyclist can have their own choice of dining. Some prepare meals at our campsites. Participants buy food daily at designated spots and we transport it to the end point. We have a large amount of cooking stoves, equipment, and cutlery – no need to bring any of that gear to our tour. Others prefer to enjoy as many restaurants as the route allows. We will provide a list each day of what you will find along our route.
Each morning you will bring your baggage to our truck. You are then free to ride at your own pace. Your bags will be waiting for you upon your arrival at the next campground or indoor selection.
During the ride, our support vehicle will be at your service if you need a lift or other assistance. Maps and information materials will help guide you along the way.
Preparation and Equipment:
We will carry whatever you feel you need to enjoy the tour. You must supply your own bicycle, tent and sleeping bag.
Join Us On Our Tour!
$992 CAD (Canadian Dollars)
Returning Participants Appreciation:
We are proud of having among highest the return rates of all bicycle touring organizations. In appreciation, we wish to offer returning riders $100 off before March 31 and $50 off after.
*Credit Card - (Visa and MasterCard) - We put cards through by phone to avoid sensitive information passing through our web site. Please call us at 888-800-2498; or 902-423-2453. Please also for security reasons, do not send credit card numbers by email or text. American and foreign participants have the Canadian amount converted to their currency at the current exchange rate.
*PayPal - we can send you an email with a link that goes to our PayPal page. American and foreign participants have the Canadian amount converted to their currency at the current exchange rate.
*Personal Cheque or Money Order - Postal mail: PO Box 1555 Stn CRO Halifax NS B3J 2Y3 Canada. Note that the bank rate is different than the "paper" rate. Use this link on the day you send payment Exchange Rates Use the column (Client Sells - Receives Canadian). If the math gets complicated contact us and we will help sort it out. Note that the postage rate to Canada is higher than U.S. domestic rate, ask what it currently is, mail can be turned back.
*E-transfer - Canadians can use email transfer - send payment link to [email protected]
*Wire Transfer - please contact us and we will check if this can set up without unreasonable charge from your area.
Youth and Child Rates:
We have rates for youth and children, please contact us for details.
All taxes are included.
Deposits – Getting on Board:
To secure a spot on one of our trips a $300 deposit is required. Full payment is due 60 days prior to the day of departure. If we do not receive your final balance on time, we will consider your reservation cancelled. We will attempt to remind you as the date nears.
Cancellations and Change to Later Trip Charges:
We understand things happen in life and sometimes you have to cancel or defer your bike tour. A fair amount of work and arrangements are involved with each registration ACC receives and the cancellation timeline outlined below is strictly adhered to. Exceptions will not be made for any reason. This includes weather or personal emergencies. We highly suggest that you purchase travel insurance. There are many companies that offer inexpensive trip insurance, and we recommend you look into it.
Your cancellation fee will be determined based on the day the written notice is received. There is no refund if you arrive late or must leave a tour early.
Change to later Trip Option - Registrations may be forwarded to a future event within 3 years with the timeline outlined below. Moving your tour ahead is a better deal than the costs of cancelling outright.
|Over 60 Days ||refund minus $200
|31-60 Days||refund minus $400
|16-30 Days||50% of trip price
|15 Days or less||no refund
|Change to Later Trip Fee||
|Over 60 Days ||$100 fee; remaining credit may be used within 3 years
|31-60 Days||$200 fee; remaining credit may be used within 3 years
|16-30 Days||$300 fee; remaining credit may be used within 3 years
|15 Days or less||$400 fee; remaining credit may be used within 3 years
Since there are no exceptions to the cancellation policy outlined above, unfortunately including personal emergencies, we highly recommend that each participant have cancellation and travel insurance. This type of insurance covers illness, accident, loss of luggage, or other unforeseen occurrences. In addition, we also recommend travelers health insurance to supplement your own medical insurance. Atlantic Canada Cycling does not provide travel insurance or health/accident insurance. This is strictly the participant’s responsibility.
Cancellation of Event:
Atlantic Canada Cycling has never had a cancelled event in its twenty-seven years. We do, however, reserve the right to cancel any scheduled tour. In this event you will receive a full refund of any money paid (for tour operation only). In this event ACC is not responsible for expenses incurred by individuals in preparation for the trip such as non-refundable airline tickets, medical expenses, equipment etc.
ACC Registration Form:
Our Participant Form is below. It should open in a new page in your browser. If not, try to right click and “save target as”, "file as" or "linked content as", depending on your browser to download. The form requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. It is on most computers but if not you can download from Adobe. If you have problems, please contact us, we can email or fax a form to you. [email protected] Call us at 888-800-2498
ACC Registration Form: Click Here!