Home > Cycle 4 SchoolBOX, Day to Day > NEVER before in my life did I experience winds like those of last night; the rain and mosquitoes were record-challengers, too! Linwood to Baddeck, NS

NEVER before in my life did I experience winds like those of last night; the rain and mosquitoes were record-challengers, too! Linwood to Baddeck, NS

Mother Nature isn’t done with us, not by a long shot!

Yesterday afternoon was weird — Chelsea and Nieka came around and told each of the riders that the two of them would not be going to Newfoundland! Rather, Bud would be renting a smaller van in North Sydney, from where the ferry departs. All our belongings would be transferred to the van from the truck. And our young companions for the past two and a half months would begin driving the truck back to Ontario.

I assume this was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. Perhaps it was motivated by the fact that only Isabel was going to attend the final dinner. In any case, all ‘celebrations’ were cancelled and riders will receive meal vouchers instead of the final celebration event.

Owen and I as well as the three Mouseketeers had already decided that we would spend the next night in hotels in Baddeck instead of camping in Englishtown. This would enable us to have a shorter 110 km ride the next day, a somewhat longer 55 km ride the day after (to the ferry) and the opportunity to (1) visit a nice town, including the Alexander Graham Bell museum and (2) spend one less night camping.

In retrospect, we should have spent last night in a motel instead…

Dinner was early, muted, chilly. We were all done by 7 pm. And as I certainly have mentioned previously, there isn’t much to do in these campsites once dinner is finished: reading, bike maintenance, blogging (in those rare occasions when WiFi is available close to where the tents are) or bedding down for the night. So I cleaned and oiled my chain, blogged, and then sorted out my gear: I needed to take stuff with me for the hotel night and for the 14 hours on the ferry. Then I headed to my tent and sorted through the stuff I keep there — what few items to take on the bike and what to leave in the boxes, in the truck.

The forecast  on my smartphone claimed “thunderstorms overnight, with rain showers – 10 to 15 mm.” I did not expect this would be a problem.The five of us guys spoke for a while — light, good-natured banter and ribbing and a vote for Miss Congeniality: too funny. Then I went to bed.

The wind was picking up — soundly batting the sides of my tent. I stared at them wondering how much stronger the wind might get, and how much more the tent could withstand. Peering outside I saw a couple of the nearby tents twisted out of shape and leaning at odd and dramatic angles! One of the tents was almost flat to the ground! Then I saw Ric pick up a large boulder from near a fire pit and place it on an outside edge of his tent. He repeated this several times…

I read for a while and then, around 9 pm I laid the book aside, placed my eyeglasses within easy access and fell asleep. I woke up with a start around midnight… when the tent panel above my head bopped me! Every part of the tent was shaking violently and straining against the pegs holding it down. The fiberglass poles were flexing wildly, but managing to hold. Then I heard the rain begin…a few drops pelting the fly, then a torrent.

“Fits and starts” describes my sleep for the next few hours — nodding off and then getting slapped into wakefulness by a violently-flapping tent panel or a loud crash of rain. At 3 am I was woken up by loud voices and unchecked laughter — Ric and Graham were making the best of being totally flooded and soaked. Ric’s expression was “I feel like an upturned gecko”. I didn’t catch the details but was impressed that the two of them could take their predicament with such good humor. I gingerly felt the tent floor around me. The right side was wet, all around my Thermarest.  So I moved my clothes and other stuff away from the wet, piling the important items on top – hoping to protect them. And I tucked the sleeping bag under me so it stayed above the moisture. And I slept again.

05:45. It was still dark. Not really cold. Still drizzling. I initiated my “getting up” procedure, carefully working my way around the wet spots. Ric and Graham were up as well, talking loudly about abandoning their tents and other camping gear (to be picked up by some lucky locals later in the morning.) Once I was ready to exit I surveyed the bottom of the tent — a wet stream started at one corner and spread from it to cover the center of the tent’s floor. Locating and seam-sealing the leak would have been a top priority … had I been facing more camping nights. But since this was our last tent night of the Ride, the repair can wait… possibly for a long time :-)

Quick breakfast. Photos with Nieka and Chelsea. I was able to get all my stuff into my two bins, camping bag and pannier. Other riders will get a nasty surprise when they find that their stuff had been transferred by the Cycle Canada folks from their bins into… Glad garbage bags! (My cynical streak pondered the possibility that Cycle Canada would up-charge riders for the bags… :-))

Owen, Isabel and I rode the 110 km to Baddeck. The Canso Causeway was very impressive and a bit scary to ride across with all the other heavy traffic, two narrow lanes  and no shoulders. The terrain was seriously hilly and the winds were coming straight at us, no matter the direction in which we headed. (To be fair, we were mostly headed north-east.) This kept up for about 90% of the ride. And despite the headwinds we made good time. At Baddeck we consulted with the Tourist Bureau and found a nearby motel at a reasonable price that included breakfast and a late checkout.

We walked to town, a distance of several hundred meters. Shared a medium pizza and continued to the edge of town where the Alexander Graham Bell museum is located. We’ll leave it for tomorrow. Back through town, I picked up a great cup of cappuccino and then returned to our room, where both Owen and I quickly fell into deep snoozes, brought on (I assume) by the previous night’s turmoil.

The rest of the evening was not exceptional but it was enjoyable. And now we are ready to settle into lovely queen-sized beds while “Mars Attacks” plays on the TV. Tonight’s sleep should be deep, and uninterrupted!

imageNieka and Chelsea, who will leave us unexpectedly tomorrow. And since we will be staying at a motel in Baddeck tonight (rather than camping in Englishtown as originally planned) — this was our last time together… said with a note of sadness.
imageNieka and Chelsea — good luck on the drive back to Ontario, and with your lives!
imageSide of the road, Nova Scotia. The wild flowers are reminiscent of Scotland. And many of the signs are in English and Gaelic! The vicious mosquitoes are strictly local!
imageOriginal front lawn decorations…
image…in a First Nation home, just off Reservation Road.
imageCape Breton vista, before the Cabot Trail
imageEnglish, First Nation and Scottish names all co-exist here…
imageQuilting is big in Baddeck…

The view that inspired Alexander Graham Bell to invent…

  1. August 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    One of my favorite places in the world – Baddeck! Lots of great food and song…I’m so sorry you got what sometimes also comes to Baddeck – lots of wind and rain. At least it wasn’t too cold. I’m imagining today that you are making your way to the Ferry – and the trip across to the Rock.

    Enjoy your last few days of this tremendous trip,

  2. darylwood
    August 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Oh my Ilan. It seems that Mother Nature is making sure you don’t get too complacent on these last days of your remarkable journey. As your group begins to thin out with departures I wonder what holds the rest together. What magic is gently binding your friendships as you face into the Atlantic winds and waves. Safe journey to all. Love Daryl

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