Pleasant Bay to Ingonish - Cycling Into Retirement Folly - CycleBlaze

September 9, 2020

Pleasant Bay to Ingonish

Day 4

Riding all the way to Ingonish in one day was going to be a challenge, but there weren't many options and once we got going, the 75km distance with 1125 metres of climbing wasn't really that bad!  Just to put it in context, yesterday’s climb was 750 metres and that almost killed us.  

At least the hardest part was right at  the start, leaving Pleasant Bay, up and over North Mountain.   With a 13% grade it definitely was a grind.  Oh, but the views looking back towards the western sea of the Cape Breton Highlands were terrific.   


Breakfast at the Mountainview. Good thing we didn't have any pastries!
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Up, up up...
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Top of North Mountain looking back to the Western Shore of the Cape Breton Highlands
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As a reward, the absolute blast of an almost endless ride downhill.   The views were incredible of the Aspy Trench, a 40 km divide that we were headed into.   The weather again was amazing.  A slight tailwind most of the time, with the temperature hitting a balmy 31 degrees in the Trench, in September!

Looking into the Aspy Trench
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We pulled into South Harbour looking forward to lunch at a highly recommended cafe, only to find it is closed on Wednesdays this summer!  We sat at one of their empty picnic tables and gobbled a snack of energy bars and water.  Up and down more hills as we took in our first views of the eastern coast.  It is rugged with large red boulders along the shore and stunted, wind blown trees.  

First sights of a beach on the eastern shores of Cape Breton Island
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Coming into Neil’s Harbour we were definitely ready for lunch, but we were flummoxed once again as THE seafood (and only) restaurant in town was closed on weekdays as the number of tourists didn't warrant it to be open all week this summer.   We sat at the foot of the town’s lighthouse and ate a second round of energy bars before  heading off for the next set of hills. 

Lighthouse at Neil's Harbour
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Neil's Harbour: note the absence of restaurants
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 From Neil’s Harbour there was a steady incline of 8% that seemed to go on forever.  However there was a carrot to be had at the end of the day as we had decided to treat ourselves to an elegant dinner at The Keltic Lodge.  "The Keltic at the Highlands is a beautiful lodge that sits on a strip of land which juts out into the water on a high bluff with magnificent views overlooking the water on both sides".     

The Island B&B.
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After a much-needed shower and change of clothes, Tracy, our angel host at the Island B&B, drove us to the Lodge.  What seascapes, what a delicious supper!   

Enjoying the views at the Keltic Lodge
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Delicious seafood supper at the iconic Keltic Lodge
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And much to our delight, after so many cafes and restaurants being closed, luck was finally with us and that night the Lodge was hosting a Cape Breton Kitchen Fest.  It was an evening of traditional music, stories, humour and song with four of Cape Breton’s talented musicians.  

Cape Breton Music
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Wonderful Cape Breton Musicians
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What a way to end a perfect day.  As Steve and I walked the two km home to our B and B, we marvelled at the stars in the balmy dark sky as the jigs and reels still played in our heads.  

Today's ride: 75 km (47 miles)
Total: 220 km (137 miles)

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