Thursday, September 15, 2011

A day to relax and a ride to Mabou and Antigonish...goodbye Cabot Trail

Day 31

With the weather being as crappy as promised I took advantage to down size and edit pictures, get caught up on some writing and emails. It was a quiet and peaceful day with Angela and Patrick scarcely around. I revelled in taking some time to myself to just sit on the deck and admire the birds and the tranquility.  Motorcycle Retreat…no better description for this place!
A peaceful and serene place
A peaceful and serene place

I had some camembert and crackers I had purchased the day before for my supper…after the lobster feed of the night before I was scarcely hungry and I took my tired but happy and contented bones off to bed.

Day 32

The morning started of very over cast, foggy and gloomy but you could see the skies were attempting to clear. Angela and Patrick filmed a motorcycle awareness video with me, I finished packing up my gear and stowing it on the bike just as we heard Daniel Ross’s bike begin the ascent up the driveway.  After two years of conversing by email I was to finally meet the man behind Cabot Trail Biker and the fabulous Tee Shirt!
After Daniel had a tour of Patrick and Angela’s Retreat, we bid farewell, shared hugs and off we went.

I really had a hard time leaving the Middle River’s Cabot Trail Motorcycle Retreat. This is one special place, run by very special people. Please check out their web site and if you are thinking a trip to ride the Cabot Trail is in your future, may I recommend that you try this place for your accommodations at least one night…book well in advance because this place has become very popular and has a lot of repeat guests!

Middle River's Cabot Trail Motorcycle Retreat
Phone: (902) 295 1087
Web Site:

Patrick had suggested that Daniel and I take the back highway to Mabou, the home of the Rankins and so we did, what a wonderful twisty little road, this whole place is so darned pretty.
Red Shoe in Mabou
Red Shoe in Mabou
Red Shoe Pub for tea
Red Shoe Pub for tea
We stopped at the Red Shoe Pub for tea, this pub is owned by members of the Rankin Family and is filled with all sorts of memorabilia.  Daniel gifted me with a Red Shoe Tee Shirt and pretty soon we were heading outside. We ran into two riders who had just come off the trail and were heading to Daniel’s store in Antigonish to pick up their Cabot Trail Tee Shirts. We had a great conversation about the shirts, the riding and the scenery and then parted ways leaving them to their lunch and us heading to Daniel’s store. My Schedule was tight on this day and due to the heavy fog that delayed our departure we were running about 2 hours behind – I was supposed to be seeing the kids from the Bike Klub in Moncton.
The Dark Sky
The Dark Sky
We pulled in to Daniel’s shop and he took me on the grand tour. I met his gal Betty, she is the admin for Ross Screenprint and I was introduced to so many other really nice and friendly employees and I kick myself that I can not remember all of their names.  After the grand tour of his business and us going back outside to film his motorcycle awareness PSA and I had Ali call Marc Mazerolle to let him know I was leaving. After Daniel and I were done filming, Ali called me back to say that Marc had to cancel because it was getting too late in the day and between summer jobs and weddings, the kids couldn’t wait that late in the day.  While I was sad that I would not get to see the kids this trip, I was grateful not to have to push myself and to drink in the last of the Cape Breton region before heading back in to Moncton. 
Embroidery machines hard at work
Embroidery machines hard at work

With some new found time one my hands, I decided to stay and have lunch with Daniel, his wife was gracious enough to share their anniversary with me by letting Daniel show me around. We stopped in at a great little restaurant and had a bite to eat and Daniel got a call from his wife about his son’s hockey game time…so like any good bike trip, plans change, kid’s come first and off went to stop in at Alex’s hockey game where I met Daniel’s wife Shauna. 

At the Hockey Rink
At the Hockey Rink

But not before Daniel and I could discuss some business and he has agreed to start producing the Belt Drive Betty line of clothing here in Canada.  I am extremely happy about this alliance for as with Alanna from ArtaTude out of Hinton AB, where I get all of my hand out promotional materials, I am now hooked up with another biker in business to get my clothes made!

If you are looking for great Tee Shirts, hats, hoodies etc, why not give Daniel and his team a try!

Soon Daniel and I would part company
Soon Daniel and I would part company
Ross Screenprint Ltd. 4053 South River Rd. Antigonish, NS B2G 2H6
(800)905-3388 Sans Frais
(902)863-4630 Phone
(902)863-6448 Fax

After a bit, we headed out on the bikes to where Daniel and I would part company and I would continue on to Moncton…

A Lobster Tour in Baddeck & the Cabot Trail

Day 30

We all got up early as Angela and Patrick were riding me out to Baddeck to meet their friend Brian, better known as Beastie.
Patrick and Angela
Patrick and Angela - Patrick is on the pink bike...

We boarded the small fishing vessel and headed out to feed the eagles and bring up a lobster trap.
It was so impressive to watch the eagles fly in and scoop up the fish that was thrown out to them – they are such a magnificent creature.
An eagle snatching up the fish
An eagle snatching up the fish

The scenery around the Bras d'Or Lakes and Baddeck is nothing short of spectacular.

Town of Baddeck
The town of Baddeck from the boat
Town of Baddeck
The town of Baddeck from the boat
Angela caught the buoy for the lobster trap and Beastie hauled it in - there were a coupe of crab and a small female lobster in the trap.  Patrick had tried to snag the buoy but was unsuccessful!
Beastie measures the lobsters that are caught, weighs them and then releases them – his tours are highly educational. Beastie also fishes for a living and has a license to catch lobster – we purchased some from him for our dinner later that night.
Catching the buoy for the trap
Catching the buoy for the trap
couple of crab and a small lobster
A couple of crab and a small lobster
Brian AKA Beastie
Skipper Brian AKA Beastie
She's 9" long
Yup, she's a girl!

I took the helm of the boat for a while and surprisingly I never crashed us into any rocks or other vessels so it was all good. After docking the boat we went for breakfast and I thanked Beastie for the excursion. 

One of the many lighthouses
One of the many lighthouses
Bell Mansion
The Bell Mansion

I was so impressed with the professionalism and information this man had to offer. His passion for what he does not only as a fisherman but as an educator is very evident and I can guarantee you that if you take a tour with him not only will you have a lot of fun and see some truly impressive sights but you will also learn a lot about lobsters and the creatures of the water.

For more information on Cape Breton Lobster Adventures visit:

After breakfast at the Yellow Cello Café we headed out for the Cabot Trail – we planned to take the trail in a counter clockwise direction. With Patrick in the lead, me in the middle and Angela bringing up the rear… off we headed. I was excited like a little kid! The Cabot Trail is a bucket list item for me that I was going to get to sort of cross off my list – you can be guaranteed of one thing – Sooner than later, I WILL BE BACK to do this ride again!

It was an over cast morning, cool but not cold as we headed out. As we rolled along the curvy and winding road, we settled into a nice pace of about 80 Kph and 3-4 second intervals between riders. I am not much for group riding, but riding with these two was a treat. I was able to use my whole lane, the way I like to ride, I never had to worry where anyone was, I could see Patrick’s face in his mirror and Angela was always visible to me in mine.

I was so comfortable riding this road, could we have gone faster, sure, but I wanted to drink in every ounce of scenery and both Patrick and Angela were fine with that.
John Roberts Leather Works
John Roberts Leather Works
 Our first real stop was John Roberts shop, Leather Works. John is Glenn Roberts of Motorcycle Mojo fame’s brother! John’s talent with leather is amazing, from the leather pails of days gone by to exquisite purses and belts, this man’s talent is a visual experience!

After spending a wee bit of time in the store, we mounted up…next stop…15 minutes up the road to Wreck Cove and fuel.
Moose having breakfast
There were lots of bikes stopped on the side of the road watching 2 moose eating breakfast, we discussed the fact that this was an ideal morning for swamp donkeys to be present and that we had best stay hyper vigilant in watching for them.  It became foggier as we road up the Smokey section. Going up the mountain, about 9 and a half minutes into this leg of the journey we encountered a moose crossing the highway just in front of Patrick.  We tightened up the grouping as the riding got foggier so that we could keep each other in view and continued on our way towards the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and Coastal Waters Restaurant to get lunch and a Cabot Trail Biker Tee Shirt.

About 23 minutes into this stretch of the ride, Patrick is passing a tent trailer that had pulled over and a guy in a silver car passes Patrick while he is passing!

We pulled over shortly after that and Patrick expresses that he would have liked to chase the guy down but discretion won the day and cooler heads prevailed. Out here on this magnificent road, with these amazing views are not only the natural and infrastructural hazards to deal with but there are tourists who stop suddenly in the middle of the road to see something or perhaps to avoid a danger and there are those who have to race through everything! 
Man some people’s children anger me! 

At Coastal Waters Restaurant and Pub, we stopped for lunch and decided on our next stop. Since Patrick has taken the time to ride the area since moving here from Toronto, he took me to what he felt were some of the most gorgeous sites because we all knew tomorrow’s forecast was for rain and I would only get this one opportunity to ride the trail! Next stop was to be at one of the light houses.
Coastal Waters
Coastal Waters - THE place on the trail to get your Cabot Trail Biker Tee
We had another impatient driver about 15 minutes into this leg of the trail. There were two riders ahead of us and this car decided to pass the three of us and get in between us and the other riders. The car was following so close that the driver was constantly riding his brakes. We all experienced some frustration with this driver, of that I am sure.

We pulled off of the highway and ventured into this tiny fishing community to go see the light house which is right next to the Chowder House Restaurant in Neil’s Harbour.  What a gorgeous, gorgeous spot!
Neil's Harbour
Neil's Harbour
 We spent a few minutes taking in the beauty, taking some

photos and talking with a fellow rider and then we were off…next stop, White Point. I was wishing the weather would break and it finally looked like it would up ahead as we entered White Point. This is another achingly lovely spot.

Over the next fourty minutes of riding it went from foggy to misty to ominously over cast to bright sun shine. Finally it looked like Mother Nature would cooperate for at least a while!  Bay St Lawrence was the next stop, I wished I knew more words that could better describe just how incredible the views are in this region. Spectacular, gorgeous and phenomenal hardly come close!

Bay St Lawrence
Bay St Lawrence

We stopped at the Mountain View Lodge for a snack and a coffee/bathroom break and then headed back out on the road. By this time the weather was amazing albeit getting windy, and the views from the different look offs became, each, more inspiring and breath taking than the next. As we headed towards Pleasant Bay, I settled far behind Patrick because, sorry buddy, when you aren’t the lead dog the view never changes and these curves and roads needed to be shown off!

Pleasant Bay
Pleasant Bay
The Pleasant Bay Look Off provides a magnificent view - simply fabulous!  While the road is not always in the best of condition and it forces you to really pay attention, the government here has done one thing very well…created beautiful places to pull off and take in the panoramas!

A short scoot up from the first look off for Pleasant Bay was another giving one an entirely different perspective! 
The Mackenzie River Valley Look Off afforded one the most fabulous view of the valley.
The Sky Line Trail was one of the most impressive things that I had seen to this point and yet with all of the beauty we had already seen, Patrick promised me the best was yet to come!
Sky Line Trail
Sky Line Trail

We headed out yet again and stopped up the road only a couple of minutes later – rounding the one curve it was as if the whole world opened up before you like an oyster bearing it’s pearl.

And another two minute putt up the road we stopped yet again. It is amazing what a half kilometre or two can do to the view and the perspective. With the wind just howling, we set off again…Our next stop, only a four minute or so ride gave us the backwards view of what we had just ridden – another perspective and equally as gorgeous to the eye!

At the last Look Off before Cheticamp we stopped again and my word, even with the wind howling the way it was you just wanted to drink in all of the magnificence you could.
 Look Off before Cheticamp
The last Look Off before Cheticamp

church in Cheticamp
An exquisite church in Cheticamp
By the time we arrived in Cheticamp it was getting close to dark and the wind was horrendous. We stopped for fuel and headed back to Middle River where lobsters would be waiting to be eaten. We experienced our first rain of the day on the way back to the Motorcycle Retreat.  We parked the bikes and headed for the house where sure enough we had fresh cooked lobsters waiting courtesy of Beastie and while no one else dug in, Angela and I sure did.  It was the most perfect ending to a most wondrous day!

From Sydney to Middle River

Day 29 

The morning saw me up early, I needed to see Pam the manager of the Sydney Comfort Inn where I had been hosted. After a great discussion, she invited me to her staff BBQ around 12 – 12:30

I was headed over to the rally head quarters to say good byes and catch up with a few people. After a great chat with Leah and Scott I headed to the Tim Horton’s for a coffee and got shanghaied by the Saddle Bags. What a great bunch of gals!

We had a great visit and then they rode me over to see the World’s Biggest Fiddle.

The world's Largest Fiddle
The world's Largest Fiddle

After a picture taking session where the fiddle played for us the whole time, it was time for hugs and good byes. I headed back to the hotel for the staff BBQ and to finish packing up my bike.
A veritable feast!
A veritable feast!
Comfort Inn in Sydney
Comfort Inn in Sydney
We had such a feast and it was such a pleasant and welcomed experience to really get to spend some time with the men and women who work hard at this hotel to make guests like me comfortable and taken care of.

The Comfort Inn in Sydney has some wonderful people on staff.

Pam the manager and Barbara, the assistant manager work with their team closely and it shows! 

This is a hotel I can highly recommend and they are a member of the Rider Friendly Business Association®!

Comfort Inn Sydney
368 Kings Road
Sydney, NS B1S 1A8
Phone: (902)562-0200

Fax: (902)564-6410

After a wonderful lunch it was time to head out to Middle River and the Cabot Trail Motorcycle Retreat.

I turned right on the Middle River West Road and wondered what this retreat would hold in store for me.

I came across their sign and driveway beacon and headed up the short gravel driveway. What a gorgeous place!

As Angela and Patrick Lanctot came out of the house to great me I could hear the barking of their Doberman, Danika AKA the Velcro puppy! She is lovingly nicknamed that because she sticks right beside you once she adopts you!


The beacon that let's you know you have arrived
Danika by the Gazebo
Danika by the Gazebo
Old bones make for beautiful gardens

Angela and Patrick set out to change their lives back in 2007 and founded their bed and breakfast – they actually wanted to start with a café but you know how life goes! These two die hard motorcycle nuts – said very lovingly, have created the perfect motorcyclists retreat. From the gardens that hold the old bones of long dead motorcycles to the sconces that adorn the garage – motorcycle parts and pieces can be found everywhere. 


gorgeous garden
Yes, old bones make really gorgeous gardens

I was shown to my room – the Harley room and was amazed at the space it had. No detail was left to chance here – there are even boot and glove driers in the rooms!

The front door of my hotel room
The front door...
The Harley Room

There is a bathroom large enough to party in and the hall has a fridge well stocked with water and coca cola and a microwave with popcorn for that late night snack.
Glove and Boot Dryer
Big Bathrom
Hotel's Bathroom
fridge and microwave at hotel room
Community fridge and microwave...popcorn included!


 There are books and photos – a wall of international motorcycle
license plates to peruse – actually there is one in the bathroom too!
As I said – there are little touches of motorcycles everywhere from the artwork to the roller bearings and gear plates that adorn the buttons on the base of the toilet and the bath tub to bike chins finishing of the chimney and some other masterpieces like the chandelier in the dining area. Above this candle chandelier is a board outfitted with a series of motorcycle mirrors that shoot light every which way and magnify the light given off by the candles – it’s bloody brilliant!
Everywhere you look, motorcycle art
Chandelier with motorcycle mirrors for reflectors
Chandelier with motorcycle mirrors for reflectors
After sitting out on the deck watching the humming birds feed out of the feeder and other birds eating out of their feeder in the middle of the yard it was bed time. The pillow top mattress and my back agreed with each other really well and before I knew it, it was morning.

rider friendly  | rfba | rider friendly business assoc | rider friendly business association | riding clubs canada

Rita's Tea Room, Storming the Fortress...

Day 28

Harold and Wendy Nesbitt of Motorcycle Tour Guide Nova Scotia
Harold and Wendy Nesbitt of Motorcycle Tour Guide Nova Scotia

Harold, Wendy and I rode out to Rita McNeil’s Tea Room together to go to meet the Grande Dame. 

She is such a gracious and generous hearted woman and everyone in the region has such admiration for her.  The tea room is filled with photos and albums, a tea cup collection and pictures of Rita’s roots and accomplishments not to mention all of her awards.
Rita and her Fans
Rita meeting some of her fans

Photos and records
Photos and records
Awards and recognition
Awards and recognition
The gorgeous deck
The gorgeous deck
We had a fabulous lunch there too. I had the quiche and a salad with coffee – Harold the Fish Cakes and Beans and Wendy had the chowder. Wendy and I fought over the bill – Wendy won but I have vowed that next time is MY treat!   

It was such an honor to ride with these two fabulous people. The Motorcycle Tour Guide Nova Scotia is a fine publication and has changed the way many businesses think of motorcycle tourism and has helped countless riders enjoy this province to its fullest! We parted company back at Rally head quarters and I finally got to meet Scott and Leah Boyd who are the hosts of Bike Fest. 

I got my passes and a bag of goodies – talked to a few more people and headed off to meet the Saddle Bags. I also had the greatest pleasure of encountering members of the Cape Breton Regional Police – many of you know how critical I can be of our police services – this police force was a breath of fresh air. These police officers, all 7 that I encountered seem to understand that many normal rally type issues can be dealt with; with a smile and that you will get far more with honey than vinegar. I was sooo impressed with the demeanour and conduct of these officers that I even called the Regional Police Head Quarters to tell them how impressed I was. What a POSITIVE experience!

Police Bike

The Storm the Fortress event was next!

The Cape Breton Saddlebags
The Cape Breton Saddlebags
We all rode to Fortress Louisbourg together with me filming the ride – sadly the file was somehow damaged so I have nothing to share of that ride but trust me – it was a lot of fun.  When we got to the Fortress parking area, the gent from Parks Canada informed us all of what was going to take place, I gabbed with a bunch of the riders, and then Leah and I discussed me riding up front with the police officer and the gent who was to be asking the Fortress Commander for permission to bring in his troops.  What a HOOT!

Motorcycles are the only motorized vehicle to be allowed in to the Fortress and even then it is only for this one day a year!
Getting read to Storm the Fortress
Parks Canada giving us the lowdown on what to do and expect!
Riders going into the Fortress
Riders going into the Fortress
It was so impressive – as we rode up to the Fortress the sound of piccolos and drums met our ears even over the engines. There were photographers everywhere and we really did feel like this was a conquering!

As 350 motorcycles roared over the plank bridge and toured the town there was an excitement in the air.
From the Fortress Louisbourg web site ( – some history on this magnificent reconstructed site: 

“The Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest reconstruction project in North America.
The original settlement was founded in 1713 by the French and developed over several decades into a thriving center for fishing and trade. Fortified against the threat of British invasion during the turbulent time of empire-building, Louisbourg was besieged twice before finally being destroyed in the 1760s. The site lay untouched until well into modern times, when archaeologists began to reconstruct the fortress as it was in the 18th century.”
The costumes, the actors, the musicians…I can not express just how well done this whole thing is. The reconstruction of this Fortress and the period specific equipment like the leather water buckets all add to the feeling of being thrown back to a time when life was simpler, though harsher. 

As the bikes wound their way through the streets of the Fortress in this large invasion parade, one got the sense, the feeling of being a conqueror and what that must have been like. Once all of the bikes were parked, we gathered around the Thunder Glide to find out which lucky ticket holder would win the bike. It stayed in Nova Scotia and all of the proceeds went to the Hospital Foundation.  
350 bikes parked and their riders getting ready to explore
350 bikes parked and their riders getting ready to explore

Raffle bike - The THUNDER Glide
The raffle bike - The THUNDER Glide
After the draw which brought about many cheers and groans alike, we were free to wander through the Fortress. There were cannon firing demonstrations and good old Harold Nesbitt from Motorcycle Tour Guide Nova Scotia got himself arrested for stealing sheep.
Charged with THEFT
Harold and a female visitor - charged with THEFT!
Another member of the crowd – a gal – was arrested for stealing wine. They were thrown in jail together and then a group of soldiers paraded them through town to the iron collar where the town crier read the proclamation that Harold should be hung!  Harold by the way missed his calling – he really should have been a stand up comedian – the man has one heck of a sense of humour and a flare for drama! He had EVERYONE in stitches and playing along.

Harold pleading for mercy
Harold pleading for mercy

We took in the shops and I bought a loaf of hard tack bread to munch on from a street vendor - building after building offered up actors in the most authentic costumes all playing their parts so well you really felt like you were living the life! The chapel was amazing – I had goose bumps running down both arms as I walked through it.

Hard tack Bread for sale
Hard tack Bread for sale
The Fortress
The Fortress
The AMAZING chapel
Cannon Firing
The Cannon Firing
The finale for the day was the long gun demonstration and the raising of the Cape Breton Bike Fest Flag along with the Parks Canada Centennial Flag. Scott Boyd who is a local Radio personality and the chairman of Bike Fest told the story of the RCMP officer who was integral in seeing the Storm the Fortress event come to be a reality and how he had died of cancer during this past winter. He had his son not only raise the flags but also gave them to him in memory of his dad.
After that emotional ending we were asked to mount up for a police escorted ride back into Sydney.

Many stayed to take in the Matt Minglewood concert and fire works, I however decided I needed to go to the room and edit photos and get a good nights sleep for I would be heading to Middle River and the Cabot Trail Motorcycle Retreat!