GIVEAWAY!

Attention fellow cyclists! We are excited to announce that one of our tours – Iceland Dramatic North Bike – has been elected as an Unordinary Trip of the Month by InfoHub.com, the #1 travel portal on the Internet specialized in the out-of-ordinary vacations.

We are thrilled about this nomination. The Dramatic North tour fits perfectly into the concept of unordinary adventures, with its surreal pseudo craters, waterfalls, glaciers, and river valleys, and we hope to see more people from all around the world joining us for their holidays in Iceland this year!

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Photo credit: Martha A. & James G.

Iceland: Dramatic North Bike

Photo credit: Mike M.

In light of this, we are glad to offer our guests a chance to win a special giveaway prize  from InfoHub’s sister-company GPSmyCity, publisher of travel apps for Apple and Android. The GPSmyCity app features offline city maps, self-guided walking tours, and travel articles for 1,000 cities worldwide, using which you can turn your mobile into a personal tour guide. With this app you can explore any major urban destination in Europe and everywhere else in the world on your own, at your own pace. The GPSmyCity app works offline so there’s no need to worry about roaming charges when traveling abroad.

Anyone who books an Iceland: Dramatic North tour before December 5, 2017 will be entered in a draw for a one-year full membership of the GPSmyCity app, including access to all GPSmyCity content – over 6,500 self-guided city walks and travel articles.

Our Join A Group page is a great resource to view tours already forming, or you can contact us at 1 800 672 0775 to discuss your dates and plans. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Stories and Shorelines

The first of a three-part Freewheeling Adventure, Stories and Shorelines details Doug and Cathy Hull’s experience on the Newfoundland: St. John’s & Trinity Hike.

By Doug and Cathy Hull

A cod-killer is a good thing, while a smatchy brine is not. Newfoundland’s rural fishing villages are long-abandoned, but the stories are not lost. A fisherman born in Kerley’s Harbour, Captain Bruce educates and entertains us with tales of everyday life in the enchanting coastal communities near Trinity, one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s best preserved historic towns.

Learning about Newfoundland’s rich maritime history is a bonus, because hiking is the main focus of this one-week trip.

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We sample nine different hikes on the East Coast Trail and the well-mannered footpaths near Trinity. Icebergs are not in season, and the puffins are flying away to northern seas, but for berry-picking, our late-August timing is perfect.

Blueberries without bears

Where are the bears? Wild blueberries galore! Back home, we would be sharing these ripe berries with grazing black bears, but here on the East Coast Trail it’s just us, our guide Pascal, and thousands of squawking seabirds.

The Cape Spear Path follows the sea edge for eleven kilometres, weaving through woods, heath, and meadows. It’s a misty, moisty day, but we brighten up when Pascal pulls a thermos of coffee and three cute little cups from his day-pack. Mid-afternoon we reach the Cape Spear Lighthouse, Newfoundland’s oldest surviving lighthouse, built in 1836. Another distinction: Cape Spear is now the most easterly point on the Great Trail (formerly called the Trans-Canada Trail), the longest recreational trail in the world.

Wringing rainwater from our socks gives us a second wind, so we head to picturesque Quidi Vidi village (pronounced Kiddy Viddy), a small harbour with fishing stations, a brewery, and flocks of seagulls at the base of a cliff.

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Bogs without boardwalks

It might be a good idea, but we will never know. On a travel blog Cathy notices a 1.5-km inland cart track that, in theory, makes the Brigus Head Path a loop. Loops are so appealing! Pascal proposes a one-way hike (6.5 km) with a taxi shuttle, but being an agreeable young man, he consents to trying the loop.

We lose the trail, or else it is overgrown. After an hour of bushwhacking through thickets and slogging through sock-soaking bogs, we close the loop. “This could be the highlight of the week,” says Doug, proud that his GPS has come in handy. And aren’t we lucky? Our heritage inn apartment has a full kitchen, so we can toast our soggy shoes in the oven.

Talking about cod

When you say fish in Newfoundland, you are talking about cod. As Captain Bruce talks about his childhood, we are transported back to a time when fishing was a process that involved the whole family.

A child’s first contact was at the flake (an outdoor platform on which fish were dried), where they were given a fish to play with. Next, youngsters went to the stage (a platform where fish were landed and processed for salting and drying), where they pronged fish into a box which holds ungutted fish. Men caught and gutted the fish. Women split the fish, a lost art, says Bruce. Often, a woman was the stage boss, standing up to the big men sent by the merchants to grade – or downgrade – the catch.

During our three-hour Rugged Beauty Boat Tour, Bruce helps us explore the now-quiet harbours once occupied by the bustling communities of Kerley’s Harbour, Ireland’s Eye, and British Harbour. Confederation and resettlement destroyed these small communities, which are now only evident from the ruins of abandoned churches, stages, and sheds. Bruce sure knows the local history – and the politics!

Well-mannered trails

Our shoes remain dry on several well-maintained trails. The award-winning Skerwink Trail is a stunning five-km coastal loop lined with stairs in the steep places and walkways to cover the boggy sections.

The Klondike Trail is short (3 km), but there is a lot to see as we walk from forest to sea: pitcher plants, a lichen-covered rock garden, and two moose in a swamp. The Lighthouse Trail boasts rocks arranged like cake layers.

Gun Hill Trail is short, too, but it leads straight up for a 360-degree view of the Trinity area. Another spot with a stunning panoramic view of Trinity? Yes, indeed: the Sweet Rock Homemade Ice Cream stand on High Street.

Jellybeans and big dogs

Our hiking tour starts and ends in lively St. John’s, known for its jellybean-coloured rows of houses, raucous nightlife on George Street, and striking statues of a Newfoundland dog and a Labrador Retriever. We visit The Rooms, an impressive cultural space. We marvel at the artifacts and art, and we learn a new word: teuthologist, a person who studies squid and other cephalopods.

The North Head is the most popular hiking trail at Signal Hill, site of the first transatlantic communication. This trail is rated Difficult. It isn’t particularly difficult, but hang onto your hat; Signal Hill is a windy place.

Travelling with thirteen bicycles

Self-drive tours are popular in Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, each and every couple we meet at breakfast tables is driving a rental car. Bucking this trend, we are taking a guided St. John’s and Trinity Hike tour with Freewheeling Adventures.

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We two are the only customers on the hiking tour. Pascal is our guide and driver, and we attract attention by travelling in a van topped with thirteen bicycles (for cycling tours the week before and after our hiking tour). Serendipity! Pascal is a recent graduate of Queen’s University. Every day Pascal patiently answers our questions about campus life, and we relay his advice to our grandson Nick, who is packing for Queen’s Frosh Week.

Now, we are flying on to Prince Edward Island for our next adventure. This time, bicycles will be involved!

Read more of Cathy and Doug’s adventures on their blog, https://bootsboatsbikes.net/.

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Canada Turns 150!

Why you should visit Canada in 2017

By Alana Lojek

2017 marks Canada’s Sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Not coincidentally, Canada has been named the Top Country to Visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet, and took the number one spot in the New York Times’ 52 Places to Go in 2017.

Interest in Canada is soaring. Our charismatic prime minister, the second-youngest (and arguably handsomest) leader in the country’s history, has garnered attention, but it is the diverse landscapes and dynamic cities that are drawing visitors from around the world. The generous current exchange rate with the US dollar probably hasn’t hurt, either.

A (very) brief history

The Dominion of Canada was born July 1, 1867, when the British North American Act melded  Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. The remaining provinces and territories were stitched together over time, with Nunavut being the most recent addition, officially becoming its own territory in 1999. Canada as we currently know it, with 10 provinces and 3 territories, is only turning 18, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

What to expect

Don’t let our polite demeanour fool you: we Canadians know how to party. Here in the north, festivities are in the works from coast to coast to observe Canada’s 150th. Provinces are planning year-long events to celebrate the anniversary, with particular emphasis, of course, on Canada Day, July 1st.

While each city will provide its own cultural flair, highlights will be Vancouver, where First Nations art and music will take centre stage; the nation’s capital, Ottawa, which will host a massive street party with flyovers by the Snowbirds (and maybe even a special appearance by the Queen); and an all-day concert showcasing the musical talents of PEI‘s Charlottetown, the Cradle of Confederation.

Anticipate high volumes of traffic in city centres, and hotels booked to capacity. Parks Canada is offering free admission to National Parks, Historic Sites, and Marine Conservation Areas for 2017, so these areas will be busier than usual. A little extra planning will make for smoother travels.

Join us this year to see what all the fuss is about!

 (ses·qui·cen·ten·ni·al – perfect the pronunciation and dazzle your friends)

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Careful Mr. Lobster Man!

 

I’m riding my bicycle to music class on Tuesday morning, late November, cold and sunny. I hear a big big grumbly rumble behind me, and tense up. The driver is kind: I hear him gearing down. He is treating me like vehicular traffic! I smile, and as the road continues in its narrowness, I see a paved area and pull off to let him pass. Holy crap! He’s carrying a load of lobster traps that takes up nearly the whole of the road on his side of the centre line! I pray silently: “thank you!” and wave to the driver. Just at that moment, my son waves and beeps as well, coming in the other direction on his way to work at Freewheeling Adventures. He always tells me how proud he is to see me – his momma – brightening up the road in my fluorescent green vest and cheery smile.

 

I’m riding my bike to music class on Tuesday morning, cold and sunny, one week later. I hear a big big grumbly rumble behind me, and tense up. There is no gearing down. Instead, the engine revs. I scan the road ahead: there is oncoming traffic, and no shoulder except a steep gravel drop off. For some unknown reason, I have chosen to ride my sturdier hybrid bicycle this morning rather than my faster road bike, even though there is no ice or snow. So grateful for my stronger wheels, I brace and pop off the road, just in time to feel the wind of the truck’s load millimetres from my left elbow. I scream at the top of my lungs as I put my foot down and watch the lobster man barrel past me with his wide load. Had I not pulled over, I would have been creamed, smeared, broken into small bits. I pray silently: “thank you” and wave to the sky.

 

This is dedicated to Ellen Watters, who was not so lucky on her bike ride a few weeks ago and was killed. Drivers: please be kind! Catherine Guest, December, 2016.

         

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Waving at Crosswalks

By Cathy Guest

There has been a rise in pedestrian crosswalk accidents here in Nova Scotia, with ensuing talk of pedestrians waving a ‘thank you’ to the car driver who has stopped for them at a designated crosswalk. Why should we wave a thank you? says the angry pedestrian. It is the duty of the driver to stop. Why indeed! We hear that in Montreal, if a pedestrian steps out to cross the street, the driver will veer towards him, just to give him a ‘heads up’ that this is ‘car territory’ – pedestrian beware!

There was talk here in Halifax of eye contact – not always a guarantee, we hear, of compassionate behaviour. But persevere at the crosswalk we must! Already, jay walking tickets are exorbitantly high – perhaps more than a drunk driving fine, minus the loss of the license and impounding of the car – since there isn’t one…

What got me thinking, as I rode my bike leisurely last Sunday on a quiet country road, was about all that waving. If the pedestrian waves her thank you, and the car driver also waves, may not others wave also, just for fun? We humans are great pranksters – what mayhem could ensue if we are all waving and making eye contact, even at people we don’t know, loving our neighbours, saying “Hey!” No one could drive in that madness! We would all have to switch to non-motorized vehicles for safety’s sake.

I confess, I nearly fell off my bicycle from laughing so hard at the thought of all that waving, and drivers getting all confused about who was saying thank you and who was just kidding around. Bicycles rule! Cyclists can wave and drive!

 

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Kitchen Folk

[an ode to all the wonderful people that have worked in our Freewheeling kitchen over the years]

I’m writing to you so that, in

the passing of one year to another,

one season to another,

your presence in my life will not go unmarked.

 

So deeply have I been moved

and blessed

by those spaces of overlapping time

that we have spent

elbow to elbow at the kitchen sink,

aprons on and smartly tied,

Robot Coupe flying

under pressure of walnuts and feta,

taming of butter chunks,

pestos with herbs and nuts and beans,

hummous for days;

still thrilling to the perfectly timed,

perfectly cooked

batch of brownies

 

Side by side, we dug in the garden,

in the compost,

and picked black currants for weeks

 

hanging napkins and tablecloths on the clothesline

folding napkins and tablecloths

ironing napkins and tablecloths

and then washing, washing, washing

examining for stains, holes, fading, fraying –

only the best and brightest

for our Freewheeling picnics!

 

And the bleach…scrubbing coolers

and Tupperware, and the bits from

the Robot Coupe…rubber gloves wiping

our sweaty brows in the heat

 

Why is it, you beauties of spirit,

that I hear from you that

you loved these summer spaces

in the thick soupy-ness

of all the ingredients that make up

the ideal Freeweeling adventure experience:

the tried and true recipe,

with heaping servings of well maintained equipment,

liberal dashes of excellent humour,

more than a few pinches of compassion,

and the most gorgeous landscape of the world

under the amphitheatre of sky?

 

Yet, as much as there is pride in

the good work done,

this is life being lived in the now

of that soapy water, the black fly

swatted, the whirring of blades, and the scrape of

batter to pan, cooling rack to tin.

All the while, the blue skies

beckoning, the waves breaking along

the rocky edges

 

Summer was always with us,

always precious,

and dreams a drifting mind away….

planning bonfires, bike rides, midnight swims,

and times together with our summer friends.

 

Thank you, oh beauties of spirit –

Kitchen folk

We’ve been sneaking into every Victory

square, every jar of salsa, every

loaf of banana bread

the secret ingredient

for success, for joy, for fun, for

adventures that remind us that we are

travelers together on this earth journey –

Yes, love – we put the love in.

 

Blossoming abounds.

 

You are forever welcome in my kitchen.

 

Happy New Year! Love, Cathy

December 31st, 2015.


David Brennan, inventor of the walnut feta, serves a picnic at Bayswater.

David Brennan, inventor of the walnut feta, serves a picnic at Bayswater.

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Spring Fever!

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If you’ve been whiling away the winter in a fabulously warm locale, tropical fruit-laden beverage in hand, you probably won’t experience the spring fever that has hit us East Coasters with a vengeance! After a winter that felt as though it had no end in sight (and I am a one of the few who actually enjoys the snow), the little glimpses of spring we’ve had over the past week have been downright glorious. 

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Finally some vitamin D! Sorting compost, planting seeds, sneaking in a game or two of Frisbee golf…it’s been a long time coming.

 

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At Freewheeling this spring, it’s not just the longer days that have us excited. Reservations have been rolling in – Nova Scotia seems especially attractive this season – and we have new team members (meet our office staff and guides here: http://www.freewheeling.ca/meetTheTeam.html).

And…drum roll, please…our Quebec: Magdalen Islands Multisport tour has been selected as one of National Geographic Traveler’s “50 Tours of a Lifetime.” Not too shabby! http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/tours/

The magical Îles de la Madeleine form a small archipelago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Before the days of lighthouses, the high, strong waves around the islands were blamed for over 400 shipwrecks, resulting in a population melting pot of Anglophone shipwreck survivors, Francophone settlers, and Mi’Kmaq descendants.

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Our Magdalen Islands tour will be featured in the May 2014 issue of the magazine, which hits newsstands April 22. The rigid selection process chose tours acclaimed for their authenticity, innovation, stellar guide reviews, and sustainability. Freewheeling’s six-day tour explores a new island of the Maggies each day. A family-friendly adventure on bike, sea-kayak, and foot, participants relish the chance to try kite-buggying, dabble in kite surfing, cave swimming, sailing, and snorkeling with seals.

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Jacques Cartier, credited as the first European to visit the islands, described “beasts as large as oxen and possessing great tusks like elephants, which, when approached, leaped suddenly into the sea.”

Throw in some amazingly delectable cuisine and first rate inns, and everybody’s happy.

http://www.freewheeling.ca/adventures/QuebecMagdalenIslandsMultisport.html  

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Fall at Freewheeling

By Freewheeling staff member,  Alana Lojek

View Of St. Margaret’s Bay, from Freewheeling HQ

Ah, fall. Sunny days, crisp nights, and the glorious progression of autumnal hues. A chance to catch our breath and reflect on the whirlwind summer, a wonderfully hectic season that has suddenly passed us by.

As the greenhorn of the group, I have been able to watch as adventures unfold; from the early booking stages of my first days at Freewheeling, to the post-tour feedback from guests. It has been an exciting experience witnessing tours come to fruition.

If we’re being honest, though, I must confess to finding myself in a rather panic-stricken state for the first few weeks of employment at Freewheeling headquarters. Not that there is anything nerve-wracking about the staff here; on the contrary, you couldn’t ask for a kinder, more laid-back bunch. It is the million little details that go into a tour (so-and-so only likes orange Gatorade, or was it blue?) that woke me at 3 am, wondering if I had remembered to book the proper hotel rooms and note the medical details for tour participants.

Now that I have shed the rabbit-in-the-headlight demeanour (or so I am choosing to believe), I can see that it is precisely that level of attention to detail that make Freewheeling trips so special. Need help making pre-tour reservations? We can do that. Like dark chocolate, but not so fond of white chocolate? We’ll make sure you get all the cocoa-ey goodness your taste buds can handle. Basically, we aim to please.

These days, our time here at Freewheeling headquarters is spent preparing for next season, identifying and implementing improvements to our routes, inns, and service.  We are once again busy planning great tours, and having fun along the way.

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Cycling the Eastern Townships

By Freewheeling guide, Dan Corbett

After a classic getaway from a sweaty Grand Prix weekend in Montreal, the tour kicked off amidst a street festival of local crafts and produce in the picturesque hamlet of Dunham, Quebec. Late in the afternoon, there was just enough time to acquaint with our bikes then take on an easy 24km loop ride. Stomachs growling, a local sauvignon blanc magically complemented Françoise’s beautiful presentation of Lac Brome duck and grilled peppers in the intimate dining room of her lovely B&B.

A drizzly morning could put no damper on the boundless ambitions for a second day of riding, neither could an unexpected detour around a missing bridge. Thankfully, one amongst the many things the Quebecois have mastered is the preparation of coffee. Les Sucreries de L’Erable, while famed for its maple syrup pie, also serves up a mean espresso. The extra jolt carried us all swiftly towards a hot lunch at Sutton (and no, we didn’t even consider tasting the exquisite apple cider brandy at Domaine Pinnacle) just as the drizzle and wind escalated into a veritable downpour. Enter the support vehicle. Cold, wet and longing for ease? Hop on board! Tired, poor and hungry masses congregated in the Volvo for a dry shuttle to Knowlton. Side note: if you’ve yet to experience from inside a car the sight of your friends riding in the pouring rain, you’ve yet to feel true pity. The 150-year-old Auberge Knowlton awaited us with hot showers, towels and hot meals supplemented carefully with a brief shopping trip in centreville Knowlton.

As with most foul weather, this storm simply didn’t have the gumption to stick around for another day. The sun shone beamingly through the clouds by mid morning on the third day and we made our way along the trafficless, wooded road beside lake Memphremagog to a stone-pier, shoreside picnic of local foods in Knowlton’s landing. Free entertainment (en français) was provided by sailors Larry, Curly and Moe, raising their vessel’s mast to inaugurate the season. Stuffed with prosciutto, Camembert, chocolate & strawberries, we sluggishly carried on riding towards the Abbey at St. Benoit du Lac. Here, we toured the vast, active monastery to the sound of an organ resonating Bach throughout. The last leg of the day was interestingly split between the busiest road of the week and a dedicated bike thoroughfare. One must feel lows to really appreciate the highs. The bike path into Magog was second to none and led us directly to our delightful, French ex-pat owned B&B. A supper of smoked salmon focaccia and exotic pizzas left us brimming for the short walk through the lively village back to our inn at the end of the night.

After a long third day, a bit of rest was in the cards for our circuitous ride about Magog. The route called for a long venture uphill toward the north border of Mt Orford National Park, followed by a long, winding, backroad descent back to Magog. To truncate the day, we elected simply to drive to the top then cruise back down. What a joy it was! This stretch of road was probably my personal favourite for the whole trip. So it was possibly for its immaculate pavement, downhill stretches and almost entire freedom from cars, but more likely for its terminus at one of the finest bakeries ever I’d visited. ‘Twas a very good thing the remainder of the road was scarcely inclined. The provincial, downtown Magog was at its best on a sunny afternoon. To be sure, lakeside patio dining comes no finer.

Day five brought us from Magog to North Hatley along 80 kilometers of quiet roads. Climbs both steepened and stretched, but with four days behind us, everyone was feeling strong. Yesterday’s forests were replaced with vast pastureland – grains, grapes, lavender and ‘mooooooo’ cows. A classic covered bridge made for a terrific spot for fresh fruit and fabulous home-made cookies at our mid-morning break. Lunch in Ayer’s Cliff could have been no better a preface to a beautiful stretch of lakefront bike lane. One of the best sections of riding for the week was today’s 20km converted rail bed beside the Tomiphobia river. Avian songs and a trickling river were all that could be heard apart from bike tires on packed gravel. A mill re-conditioned to become the Picallili restaurant in North Hatley offered memorable tastes plus a quiet & refined but modest atmosphere. I was told that the salmon was not to be missed. I, however, blessed my tongue for the first (ahem, and last) time with a most splendidly presented plate of veal kidney.

With the promise of a second night in North Hatley’s Manoir Hovey, there was little need to wake early for our penultimate day’s 55km ride. An unsightly construction zone was carefully bypassed in the car and the ride began at the quiet crossroads dubbed the town of Compton. The week’s sole punctured tire was replaced in record time and only a few rolling hills dotted the route through pastoral richness. A latte break in the bustling small town of Coaticook was the last of our stops on route to a picture-perfect waterfront park at Lac Lyster in Baldwin Mills. With the day’s riding finished, our picnic was decidedly abundantly stocked in all things delicious. The eating was appropriately no holds barred. Ice cream and sunny naps in the grass were for some, while others took 62 minutes (sorry to keep you waiting) to hike to an endless outlook from atop the mammoth cliff at Lac Lyster.

In only a modicum of haste, we returned to Manoir Hovey for a dining experience that was an event unto itself. Finer attire somehow absent, I contentedly sat, much to the bemusement of our half-dozen servers, in a borrowed M.H. golf shirt whilst we were served possibly the most extraordinary food that has ever graced my palette. You must experience it for to understand. Tired and stuffed, we passed on the sampling of 25 local cheeses and moved right along to desserts that were otherworldly in their goodness.

A pleasantly tardy final morning marked the end of a week fast gone by. The 90 minute drive back to Montreal was broken up by the tying up of loose ends in Dunham and one last charmed bakery stop for lattes and melt-in-your-mouth croissants.

The colours and tastes of this remarkable region still linger in my mind. One of the great joys of being a Freewheeling guide is that I know I’ll be back here soon. It’ll be just a matter of weeks, in fact. You ought to come along for

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Just getting started

By Freewheeling guide, Dan Corbett

A full season of near perfect weather is a rarity to behold – abundant sunny skies, persistent tail winds, hot days and cool sea breezes. It’s a cyclist’s dream really. And when, after a full season of said majesty, the forecast suddenly calls for a hurricane, I get excited.

It takes a fairly substantial amount of personal mania to be keen to ride a bicycle in ferocious winds and pouring rain, but then again it takes a similarly good bit of mania to want to be a guide of bicycle tours. Understandably, if I were to have booked a bicycle tour months in advance to arrive to a forecast of such tremendous severity, I too would have cause for concern. Herein lies a quirky paradox. In reality, nothing would please me more than to be out and about on a bicycle, embracing these periodic Gaian endowments for all that they’re worth. In character; however, my mission is to convince everyone in the van of (1) the falsehood that “it’s not so bad out there” and (2) the utter improbability that it will just pass us by – the storm, that is.

I’m profoundly amazed by the enthusiasm the guests are able to maintain despite the noticeably worsening conditions in driving up to Cape Breton this mid-September day. Positive attitudes aside, I think there’s an inconcealable sadistic inclination most people feel when faced with adverse conditions. In this case, said inclination will be expressed with persistent inquiries into radio weather forecasts which persistently report the same doleful news. Islanders in all corners of the Cape are said to be boarding up their windows and triple-anchoring their boats, leaving us with discouraging mental images of widespread desertion awaiting us on arrival.

“You can never trust these silly forecasts,” I say, “and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Eastern Canada (in this, my first season here), it’s that weather prophets are, at best, as legit as they sound.” Meanwhile, I keep a tight lid on my eagerness to ride in such meteorological misery.

The rains climax at times with the fortitude of a small army and I feel the need to pull over the vehicle and wait it out; necessarily taking the opportunity to don my waterproofs and review the quality of my knots, making fast once again the bicycles on the roof. The winds fill our big, blue, steel sail with such gusto that I’m sure we’re destined to become an automobile rollover statistic. The thunder and lightning is… well, intimidating even to a lover of all things turbulent.

The Canso causeway (a confidence-compromising bridge if I’ve ever traversed one) is looking like a bit of a disaster zone. Massive waves surge against the stone break only 10 feet to the van’s starboard, blasting spray in a vertical duel with the rain high above our heads. The wind howls with the guttural passion of a famished beast, desperately trying to push us overboard the crossing for the sea to feast. Our sad shadows under the orange streetlamps show the wheels of the bikes spinning much faster than most people would ever care to ride. Once we’re safely across the bridge, surely the worst must be over.

And then from straight out of left field, something absolutely unexpected takes us for a ride. The storm starts to subside. Finally conceding defeat after trying her best to keep us at bay, Gaia reclines in her chaise lounge and says, “Okay – you win. I guess there’s no stopping the Freewheeling van.” The rain ceases, leaving little more than big puddles amidst drying patches of tarmac. The wind relaxes refreshingly like the long awaited finish to an unpleasant carnival ride. The thunder and lightning: nothing more than a damp taste in the air. A surreal drive into Baddeck, it is.

And in a scene reminiscent of the cliché dénouement towards the end of every apocalyptic action movie, people start coming out of their homes, gazing upon the now fragmented cloud cover and the six o’clock rays of sunset beaming through the gaps.

“Well,” I say, “I guess it’ll be a good day for riding after all,” secretly frowning over the recent turn of events. Alackaday, my perfect storm will have to wait.

 

If you think that’s exciting, you should see what happens after we arrive. The weather isn’t always this much fun in Cape Breton, but the adventures are always unforgettable. Come join us!

Visit Freewheeling.ca and see our Cabot Trail Tour.

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