Nearing the End…

Trip: Dingwall to Little Bras D’Or
Distance: 136km

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This morning was our last one on galley duty (we were the only group that got stuck doing an extra shift…lucky us!) so I couldn’t get off and onto the road early. More accurately, Doug, Rudy and myself were the last ones to leave by a fairly decent margin. Oh well - there are certainly worse things in life.

There was a huge climb to start the day, which was kind of a thrown-into-the-fire way to kickstart my already weary legs. The bonus was that, at the end of said hill, there was a very, very long descent. It was something like 10km where I did absolutely nothing but coast. Bliss! Bonus number two was a lookout down the road where Brett pointed out the heads of seals peering out of the water. Seals! We don’t get those in Toronto!

The first town of the day was Ingonish, where I thought for sure I could get the second breakfast I was so craving. I wandered past many a restaurant that was closed, and began to think that there was no place open. Finally, I happened upon a grocery store, where I had to make a decision - eat something from there, or risk not getting anything at all. I decided on the former, and wandered in to pick up some chocolate milk and a box of pop tarts. I sat on the steps and ate a package of the pop tarts, and then got back on the bike. What was maybe 200m down the road? Oh, a restaurant, where I found Lori, Iona, and Rudy. Crap.

Iona and I climbed Smokey, the second-last of our mountain climbs, together and it actually wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the other ones. It was a steady climb at maybe 14-16km/hr and then boom, there was the top. It was actually quite surprising because we hadn’t felt like we had gone up that far and then suddenly we were in the midst of an amazing descent. The ground was dry again, which allowed me to fly on down…actually, the thing that slowed me down was a Jeep, as it was going incredibly slow on the switchbacks and I couldn’t get past him. It was a rush anyways.

I waited just past the bottom of the mountain for Iona, and then we moseyed on down to a general store for a little stop. From there we headed towards the Clucking Hen, a nice little deli, where she and I and Bob Mack stopped for lunch. Lori caught us as we were finishing up, and joined up with our little crew. I ended up busting ahead of the trio, but waited at the ferry for them (the ferry was actually a five-minute long roll across 100m of water). From there, we climbed the last of the mountains, Kelly, which was also the one with the least elevation (I believe it was 240m). It still allowed for a pretty nice descent at the end of it.

The big surprise for the day was that the route map was off my 20km, and instead of being a 156km, it was 136km. I’m not entirely certain how one can be off by that much, but it definitely got me into camp a lot earlier than I thought I was going to be.

When I got into camp, the story of the day became organization. Everything had to come off the truck, and I figured if it all had to come off, I might as well pack it all then (as opposed to tomorrow morning). Into the bags everything went - I seem to be able to fit things better now than I did when I left Toronto…I don’t know how that happened (or if it means I’m missing stuff), but I’m just going to operate on the belief that I’ve just become better at packing. Yes, that must be it.

Not having to be up at any particular time tomorrow morning, we were hoping to stay up a little later than our typical, oh, 9:00pm. The biggest thing that tried to throw a wrench in our plans was the weather - man did it ever get cold! A bunch of us sat and chatted around a fire until 11:00, but then with the combination of the cold and a chilling wind, we all packed it in for the warmth of a tent. Safely secured in my sleeping bag I was able to stay warm - that thing was a great purchase. I have never been cold in it once this summer. Can’t go wrong there.

Tomorrow is our wicked-long ferry. We have to be at the docks around 1:30, and it sails at 3:30 (and then docks the next morning somewhere around 6:00am). This should be an interesting experience, to say the least. One more day of riding, and then we’re done. I can’t believe it. It’s even harder to believe that I will be in Edmonton in four days (it’s also quite scary, so I’m trying to live in a fantasyland where that isn’t really happening). Each day as it comes…each day as it comes.

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