|Cheticamp River, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia|
I already had one of my cases loaded with camping gear, so all I had to worry about was some spare clothes, electronics, food and water, so Saturday afternoon I let out the clutch and headed out to the track via Confederation Bridge and towards Atlantic Motorsport Park via the most direct route that my Garmin plotted.
|The Grand Tour|
I only had a loose plan formulated limited only by my desire to ride and the cash in my wallet, about $240 dollars. Let's see... I had to hit Meat Cove, Fortress Louisbourg (it was free this year), and I sort of wanted to see Halifax and ride round the Southwest side of it, but it was a bit too ambitious to fit all that in on this trip, so something would have to be cut.
Day 1 - Borden - Carelton PE to Atlantic Motorsports Park, Shubenacadie NS
|Day 1 - Borden - Carelton PE to Atlantic Motorsports Park, Shubenacadie NS|
|Have tent will travel|
I found that my friend Zac was on his way to the track to cover the event for Canada Moto Guide and we back and forthed a bit on messenger, then late that night he walked up with a mutual friend, Eric from the Fundy Adventure Rally and we talked for awhile about bikes, the scouting for the upcoming rally, friends and my plans for the trip, with Zac giving me some great tips for the ride I'd be doing following the races that would end Sunday afternoon around five.
Day 2 - Shubenacadie NS to Murphy's Cove NS
|Day 2 - Shubenacadie NS to Murphy's Cove NS|
Yesterday I'd arrived after six pm with a part tank of gas and enough water in my camel-back to get me through supper and breakfast but not much more. I asked around to find that while people were willing to give me some of their water, I should under no circumstances use the water at the wash rooms and that the only reliable source was a food vendor that had not yet arrived on the grounds and was expected near noon. As the morning was scheduled for practice laps I opted to head into town to gas up, get four litres of water, and to buy a bit of food for lunch and supper that night. Hot dogs and potato chips. :D
|Breakfast of champions: Instant Oatmeal and Tea|
|I was camped between turns 9 and 10 on the inside track.|
|"We play in traffic"|
|Don't touch the bike, son.|
One of the things I love about race day is the spectators you meet. Motorcycle nuts all, and with great stories and tips. The ultimate motorcycle meet.
|Jordan Szoke takes the Superbike Podium|
Zac was quite taken with this customized Yamaha XS650, as was I.
|Tomas Casas takes the sport bike podium.|
Now that the race was over, Zac and I seemed to be headed in the same direction, towards the coast of Nova Scotia. He was headed to Halifax to spend the night with his brother, and I really had no clue where I'd be staying or what direction to take other than my goal of riding north on Route 7 along the coast.
We parted at Musquodoboit Harbour, where he recommended a place that serves great fish and chips while he continued south looking for fuel on his way towards Halifax. He'd hit reserve on his Suzuki Savage a while back but neither of us thought it an issue as we'd arrived in a fairly urban area and I assumed there would be a gas station just around the corner.
The fish was pretty good, but I was disappointed when the fries on the plate had come out of a bag and into the deep fryer. I love fresh cut fries with a passion, and the absolute best fish and chips is had on the East Coast was in Alma New Brunswick at the Alma Boathouse. Sorry Zac, s'truth.
When we left the race track it had been uncomfortably warm, hot in fact, and I was suffering in my leather jacket, but it dropped what seemed like five degrees out by the ocean, and as I rode North up towards Sheet Harbour NS I found myself riding into a nice cool fog. Not exactly what I'd planned, but much preferred to rain even though it meant that I didn't snap many shots. There were a few that I felt worth stopping for, this one was taken on the side road out to Murphy's by the Ocean camp ground.
I'd arrived just around 8pm to the campground to find a nice spot available just back from the water. The thought of a nice warm shower to wash away to dirt and smell of Shubenacadie was a wonderful thought as I paid the $35 dollar registration fee, but if all the camping was going to be as pricey as this, it meant that my ride was going to come to an end prematurely, or so I thought.
|Home for another night - Murphy's Cove NS|
I had the tent up quickly as I've been using this setup for a few years now, so thoughts turned towards the shower and perhaps a wee snack afterwards if the office sold chips and chocolate.
They could call this "Mosquitoes By the Ocean". The little buggers had put me on the menu as Hot and Fresh off the bike.
|Murphy's Cove NS|
With all that fog this was about the best view I was going to get of Murphy's Cove. Time to go grab that shower and wash the shirt and underwear that I was in. I'd packed three sets of shirts, shorts and socks, but the feeling was that I'd be at this longer than three days as this was the end of my second day already. Sadly by the time I'd arrived at the shower, the nearby office was closed and my dream of midnight munchies was a shattered dream. I'd make up for that tomorrow night, you bet.
|Do you like my 650cc clothesline?|
Day 3 - Murphy's Cove NS to Mira River Provincial Park NS
|Day 3 - Murphy's Cove NS to Mira River Provincial Park NS|
|Sometimes the fog can be a beautiful thing - Murphy's Cove NS|
After (yet another) breakfast of instant oatmeal and tea, I had the bike packed up and was on the road just after 7. Yep, 7am.
Camping and riding for the sake of the ride can be distraction free. Once I got all my bits charged up for the night and read my EBook for an hour or two, it was lights out and I didn't wake until nature called, and cawed, and chirped and whistled.
By this time the fog had burned away and with the directions I'd received from some friendly locals I headed off of Route 7 and towards the coast on what would become "Marine Drive" according to the signs posted. I had a ferry crossing to get to, and with luck, Canso NS later on that day.
These roads were certainly a lot of fun, but I was finding that as Zac had told me yesterday, that they truly tested the suspension of a modern "adventure bike" like the Versys. They not only provided entertainment with seemingly endless twisties, but kept you awake with pressure cracks and frost heaves here and there. I've been on worse. Much much worse.
|Waiting on the Country Harbour ferry|
|I still don't know what this building was. Anyone?|
Update: Paul L. had this to say
We stopped by that building in Canso last summer. It's one of the last cable stations in NS. It relayed cables from the U.K to North America, and was one of the first to get the messages about the Titanic. It stopped service in the 60's and is scheduled to be demolished because of asbestos. We were lucky enough that get the story from an old timer who lived next door who worked there until it closed, as had 2 generations before him.Thanks Paul!
Now I was in Canso NS and I'd seen a sign advertising a bakery up ahead, and it shared space with the post office. I would imagine that the postal service slowing down as it was, that there was surplus space to rent, and it became a bakery. I bought a couple of buns for tonight's dinner and sat down to a lunch of fish and chips. Yep. It seems I was on a theme. The fries weren't much better than the last stop, but the fish was nice if a bit overcooked. I forgot to ask for some butter for the buns, darn it!
The road I was on led out to a gravel road and just kept on going out to the point, and if I'd been on my old KLR or DR650E I'd have been able to keep going to the south, but the Versys usually doesn't go down roads that you wouldn't take a honda civic down. :P
|Looking back towards the town.|
|Heading away from town out to the point - Canso NS|
I stopped for a butt break at an Irving/Tim Horton's where I met a trio of riders up from New Hampshire on a real mix of bikes. A Kawasaki ZX10, a Triumph Street Triple, and some sort of low riding Harley freight train with black and shiny chrome stuff. They were a father and son, along with a friend who was just getting back into riding, but one of the bikes had it's rear fairing pulled off and they were working with an epoxy paste on the plastic gas tank. "Oh no!" thought I, they were in a hell of a pickle a long way from home. It appears that the son had used a longer bolt to secure the fairing on at some time in the past, and over time and load it had rubbed a hole through the gas tank, and the first he knew of it, it was leaking a slow trail of gasoline down the bike while at the fuel station. Here the three of them were with the Dad hard at work trying to get the epoxy to cure before the gasoline would dissolve it and bulge out through the side. We talked and chatted while they worked on the bike and I drank a small coffee. Double cream and one sugar please, cause I'm not sweet enough.
|Cape Breton Island NS|
Around a corner, up a hill and there were three pickup trucks hauling lobster traps stopped by the side of the road, but not completely off onto the shoulder, so I slowed down, waved and took a pic or two.
The road was absolutely lovely and I think might have seen three or four other vehicles on it that day. What a fabulous thing to be on a bike in an area you've never ridden before. Parts of it were like northern Labrador with wind swept stunted pines and low lying green foliage. I was certain I'd run across a moose or deer before long, but all I met on the road that day was a fox. He stayed in his lane, and I in mine.
I was riding in and out of the edge of a fog bank, and it was like a game where the visibility would drop and then I'd turn a corner or drop down into a valley and it would disappear.
|Fog sweeping across the road - Fleur-de-Lis Trail CBI NS|
|Taking pictures into the sun doesn't always work.|
I decided to find a camping spot in the general direction I was headed with my GPS and it found a provincial park not too far down the road that I'd arrive at in plenty of time to get a site, and if it were fully booked, I had enough light to continue to look for another hour or so before I got desperate.
Mira River Provincial Park was my destination, and I arrived about 8 pm and was able to secure a spot for the night. although the clerk had me a bit scared as their computer system was down and she was loathe to allow me to camp in a spot that might have been reserved online, but I assured her that I could up pegs and move my tent in no time flat if that were the case, and that I could have that tent up in five minutes if she took a chance and let me go. :)
A couple of hours later I returned to pay the $26 dollars and have a great chat with a couple of other campers in the area, one that planned to take the family across to PEI tomorrow. I got invited to the campfire for marshmallows, but wasn't feeling up to it at the time and politely declined as I headed back to my camp to make a meal out of boiled hot dogs and some rolls without butter. *sniff* There was more, as I'd picked up a wee bag of hickory sticks and had some mountain dew and a choco bar, so it turned into quite the feast, even if I was running a bit low on water, and the water in the taps was grey although they claimed it was potable, it just didn't look appetizing at all.
|Mira River Provincial Park NS|
|SVEA123R A 50 year old design that keeps rocking|
|Now that's a fire! It's still preheating when you see yellow flame like that.|
|Best camping shoes for motorcycle trips ever!|