Hardest…Thing…Ever

Trip: Lake Ainslie to Dingwall
Distance: 146.52km

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I was up and ready to go today at 6:00 - I guess all that anticipation (and okay, a little bit of worry) regarding the Cabot Trail has got me quite wired. I ate a bit of breakfast, and was out of camp and on my way at just after 7:00. I’m not sure what people thought, seeing me out on the road as one of the first, and not my typical last. Eh, I do things at my pace and that’s what’s good.

The pre-Cabot Trail portion of our day was challenging, but not overly difficult. Bob W. rode with me for a little while before jetting off - he’s a speedster, that one. I stopped for breakfast at the first place I happened to spot, and Dennis and Melissa were just finishing up, while Rudy had just gotten his meal. I waited for a while to get some eggs (it was the guy’s fourth day and he said it was packed in the restaurant…there were eight people…either they don’t get much business, or he doesn’t get out to restaurants much) and read a bit of the local paper to kill the time before finally heading on my merry way. I stopped again in Cheticamp, right before the Trail starts in earnest, and had an Iced Capp at Timmy’s. Spotted Doug there, though he returned to the Coop in town to pick up some bars for the road, so I was off to enter the national park all by my lonesome.

I met up with some cyclists from a London cycling club as I was ascending French mountain, so it was nice to have a little bit of company. There were positively gorgeous views as we went - both on the up part, and the later down part. The down was just incredible - I felt like I was flying, and I never wanted it to end! Lunch was at the bottom of that mountain, and it was unfortunately not quite as amazing. In fact, it was slow and rather crappy. I ordered a crab roll (since, you know, I’m in the MARITIMES) and it was chock full of mayonaise and honestly, my lobster on wonderbread on the ferry was significantly better. What a disappointment. Oh well.

After lunch came another mountain. North Mountain. North Mountain has officially become the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I don’t know what the hardest thing I had ever done used to be, but North easily replaced it. I was going up at speeds between 5.5 and 7.5km an hour. For 6km. Everything hurt - my legs, my arms (from gripping the bars so hard)…wow. It was rough. It also started to rain as I was ascending, so that just added to the pure joy of the moment. Getting to the top though, man, was that ever a thrill. I did it. I did it, and it’s something that there’s no way I could have ever done at the beginning of this trip, when I thought Jackass was a challenge. It was really cool to think of how far I’d come - it was still very hard, and there are certainly people who could have done it a lot faster, but I did it. And that’s what matters to me.

The descent from North…man, that was another pretty hard thing to do. The rain had made everything, well, wet, and it was foggy, and it’s this steep, switchback-filled mountain. I still enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the same kind of carefree thrill that descending French was. I was also freezing cold by the time I hit the bottom, but I knew that camp wasn’t that far away, so I just put my head down and tried to chug away into camp. Imagine my surprise when I got there, and discovered I was actually one of the first ones in. This was cool, but also really great because the ground was sopping and I wasn’t looking forward to setting up Spidey…but Rudy had rented a cabin and there was still space in it and boom, warm bed for the night. Bonus.

Everything at camp was very low-key tonight, and the cabin (filled to the brim with Rudy, Doug, Lloyd, Emilie, Iona, and myself) had lights out and people asleep by 9:00. Day two of the Cabot Trail tomorrow…if I can do today, I can do anything.

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