“That bit in the trees is the top” said the man with the sign as we waited, worn out, at roadworks midway up a big hill. We were surrounded in every direction by millions of trees.
“Take the coastal road, save yourself a mountain” said the second sign man a few miles later, pointing us down a road that had a crushing amount of hills with gradients over 12%.
Technically two truths, but each misleading by omission of quite an important detail. “Why not be more specific?” I wondered, while chugging up the seemingly endless hills that Cape Breton delivered.
It was by far the hilliest part of the ride in terms of both gradient and frequency, though with around 4200 miles on the clock and in the legs by this point we weren’t phased. Dropping into the lowest gear and pushing gently but consistently for the best part of an hour brings a guaranteed sense of accomplishment to overpower any aches.
The scenery was sublime too, and provided welcome distraction. The road the second sign man pointed us down led us to the most beautiful place in the whole ride, or “maybe the most beautiful place I’ve ever been” if my journal entry from the time is to be believed:
“The colours here are excellent.
The grass is darker green with ochre undertones from the orange, red-brown and burgundy plants and shrubs hiding in it; purple-white flowers with yellow centres offset it.
Aerated waves crash sky blue against the pink-orange rocks.”
After climbing the big hill out of White Point, the road round to Neils Harbour was several miles of wonderful undulations. There were hills but they were so long and gentle that we could freewheel the entire time, with the tailwind and downhill sections being enough to keep us going. A noticeably liberating treat after a morning climbing all sorts of hills.
One final piece of misinformation met us that day. “Out of Order”, said the unlocked toilets in Intervale. Two long-drops, both in the exact same state as every other long-drop we’d used crossing Canada (i.e. half full of shit, a bit smelly).