I booked a tour through Atlantic Canada Cycling (www.atlanticcanadacycling.com) who, for the princely sum of $105.00 (early bird special) provide 2 dinners, 2 breakfasts, support vehicles and baggage transportation, and a t-shirt. Most people (total 95) camped – I, and two other wimps, took motels.
Day 1 (90K)
Leaving Baddeck (home of Alexander Graham Bell) our first stop after 30 km was the Englishtown ferry crossing of about 100 m (free for bikes) across St-Ann’s Gut (a Gut is like a cove – but smaller).
Lunch/breakfast was taken at the Clucking Hen Cafe who advised that persons in a fowl mood would not be served.
The first and only serious climb this day – at about 70 k – was Cape Smokey, which climbs 270 m in 2.5 k, which I calculate to be an average grade of 10-11%, which was certainly a lot steeper than the compensating descent into Ingonish. Although I had a 12-23 on a 26, 39, 48 triple, I soon realized that it would not be enough for day 2.
Day 2 (110K)
With much needed fuel breaks, this beast of a stage included two mountain climbs and took me 8.5 hrs and vast quantities of liquid to cope with the amazingly warm temperatures (low 20’s).
The coast road is subject to abrupt changes in elevation and leaving the quaint fishing village of Neil’s Harbour, one such transition had me struggling to find the granny gear only to lock the chain with my feet at 3:00/9:00 o’clock. The consequence was inevitable – a DST (dead slow topple) – fortunately no one saw me – not even the sleepy villagers.
After 60 k came the big climb of the day – North Mountain – 445 m high and most of it in a 6 k straight-up grind including some sections of 14-15%. I needed 2 rest/ viewpoint stops – but no walking!
This was followed 20 k later by another 300 m climb up the switchbacks of McKenzie Mountain and then the spectacular 400 m descent of French Mountain into the town of Cheticamp – right on the edge of the gulf of St-Lawrence and in brilliant late afternoon – a memorable experience, indeed.
Day 3 (99K)
Leaving Cheticamp and following the coast road and the Margaree Valley, there was nothing particularly difficult this day and fortunately, the rain held off until about 30 k from journey’s end back at Baddeck.
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The first two days were long and uphill, and after that it was mild riding, even the 80 mile day in the rain. We chose to do a combination of camping and B&Bs, which seemed to be a nice way to go, although there were many who camped each night. Getting food became easier as the trip went on, and cooperative cooking of meals increased as the trip developed. All of this adding richly to the experience. We had a great time and would certainly go an another Atlantic Canada Cycling Ride again.
Good cycling routes that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to find myself, information about what there is to see along the way, and nice places to stay at night, as well as en route support.
It was everything I had hoped it would be.
Many thanks, PEI is truly a beautiful province.
Just wanted to let you know what a great time I had cycling with you in PEI. This was the first time I’d gone on an organized tour. I really liked how well you thought out the itinerary, and provided us maps so we could set our own pace and alternate the route if we liked. I found some gravel roads that put my mountain bike to good use.
I like to provide somewhat for myself, so the chance to cook and camp without having to carry all my gear solo was nice. It was easy to make friends, yet have as much time alone as we wanted.
If you ever need a local recommendation Maine, Id be glad to talk with anyone about the PEI tour. Hope I will be able to go on the Newfoundland tour someday.