99.3 km – Nictaux Falls to Windsor
It rained today. The weather forecast for our little coastal province is ever changing, but no matter how many times I checked, this rain seemed inevitable. Still, when we woke up in the morning, I saw patches of blue sky and sun through the window, and I felt hope. I eat pumpkin zucchini loaf and drink fresh coffee in our host’s kitchen, and I feel hope.
The day starts not with rain, but with sand. After detouring along some back roads to get back onto the trail, we are greeted with a surface of thick, loose sand. We slog through it until it becomes unbearable and we decide to bail back onto the highway. We cut across on a track through a farmer’s field, which is so sandy that Gummies tips over ass first into the wheat. We walk out bikes the rest of the way out to the road.
Just a few minutes later, we see the rail trail paralleling the road beside us, but now it appears to be paved (?!), so we hop back on. We cruise through the town of Kingston, and the pavement eventually ends and is replaced by some very chunky gravel. It starts to rain lightly and we stop to put on our jackets, but it doesn’t last long and soon we are skidding to a stop to pick blueberries from the plentiful bushes alongside the trail. We add them to our cold oatmeal and sit in the dirt to eat it. What a treat.
As we set back off, bumping along the gravel track, a light rain starts up again. The trail is fairly wooded, so at first we barely feel it, but it gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier, until it is well and truly pouring and even the thick tree canopy barely provides any shelter. I see a bakery ahead on the map that is also supposed to have a cafe where you can sit and eat, so we make for that, all of my hopes and dreams pinned on the idea of a hot cup of coffee and some fresh baked goods.
However, upon arriving at the bakery we discover the seating area is closed and there is nowhere where we can take shelter. We consult the map, and see a country diner about 7km down the highway, so we head straight back out into the rain and make for the restaurant instead. We stay on the road to makes things easier, and we are going to ow getting truly pelted with cold rain. The road is also very busy and cars keep flying past us on the slick road.
When we finally roll up to the diner, we are absolutely sopping wet. Gummies exclaims that it is the worst rain he’s ever ridden his bike in, and some random woman standing outside the restaurant butts in to let us know that the rain is also very horrible to drive in. We stare at her and her dry clothes blankly.
Once we are inside and have a table, we take turns going into the bathroom to strip off our soaking wet jerseys and change into our puffy jackets. There’s not much that can be done about our dripping wet shorts as we slide, shivering, into our faux leather diner chairs.
Every table in the place is full, and the service is painfully slow, but we don’t mind one bit. Any excuse to stay out of the rain as long as possible. I have a full view of the situation outside through a large window, and the rain is still falling steadily and showing no signs of stopping. I down a mug of hot coffee and a bowl of French onion soup, and finally start to feel the chill coming out of my bones. After what feels like eternity, my massive plate of Newfie poutine arrives, but I can barely stomach it. I’m dreading going back out into the downpour, but I know it’ll have to happen eventually.
While we are waiting for our food, we do make the call to make the day slightly shorter and book a motel room instead of the campsite we had planned on staying at. Knowing that I’ll be able to have a hot shower and climb into a warm bed at the end of the day makes the thought of heading into the rain again infinitesimally more bearable.
We shiver our way back into our damp jerseys and leave the diner behind. We make our way back on to the trail, where the surface and our morale steadily improves. It is still pouring, but the riding is easy and there aren’t cars threatening our lives every few minutes (or at the very least splashing us with tidal waves of water).
When we arrive in the town of Wolfville, we head straight for the Church Brewing Company, one of our favourite local craft breweries to visit. I pretty much fully bathe in the bathroom while we wait for our table to be ready, and by the time we sit down I am feeling warm and content. I sip a delicious toasty brown beer, which further helps the warming process. The rain has blessedly stopped by the time we finish nursing our drinks, and we happily head out again under dry skies.
We reach the Grand Pre National Historic Site in no time, where the rail trail dead ends. We will now be on roads until we reach Cape Breton Island. We cruise for a bit until we turn onto a road called “West Brooklyn Mountain Road”. The word mountain in the name makes me shudder, and the foreshadowing turns out to be legitimate as the road climbs, and climbs, and climbs. Every time it rounds a bend or seems to plateau, a spark of hope lights, but it is always followed by another uphill slope. I am totally out of gas by the time we reach the top, but luckily we seem to have crested out of the valley, and we cruise all the way down into the town of Windsor.
We stop to purchase bread sticks and pizza to take to our motel room as we pass through town, strapping them down to the top of our bike trailer. As we leave the pizza place, dusk is setting in and my teeth begin to chatter uncontrollably. I am eternally grateful that we are on our way to a warm, dry room. We stand under the hot shower for probably too long, stuff our faces with delicious bread sticks and pizza, and rinse the day’s grit from our bicycles. For a cheap roadside motel, the bed feels heavenly, and I pass into a deep and satisfied sleep.