Biking Across Canada Day 60 — Brudenell River, PE to Antigonish, NS: Day of Defeat?

I took a few photos of this ferry only to realize I was taking a different one.

Today was an eventful day, for better and for worse. I got up at a reasonable time, packed up and rode for a couple hours to the ferry terminal, where I arrived with time to spare. I spent most of the ferry ride writing my blog post, but did manage to enjoy the views of Pictou Island and Nova Scotia afterwards.

Then I arrived back home in my adopted province—a welcome treat after months away. Adding that extra distance to the ferry terminal meant changing my route today to keep on schedule, so instead of riding by the scenic ocean shore, I'd be spending my day on the Trans-Canada, which is noisy, hot, and boring by comparison, but I knew that yesterday when I decided to hang back at Brudenell. Not all of the Trans-Canada is bad, though. There are pretty views from the causeway to Pictou, and since it doesn't avoid any hills you often get some stunning vistas.

View from the causeway to Pictou

My original goal was the campground Lindwood Harbour, but if things were going well I hoped to shoot past that to make the next day's journey through Cape Breton easier. Unfortunately I had three visits from the Ghost of Bike Repairs Past that made even that modest original goal impossible.

Typical highway view
Sometimes you get up high

My troubles with my rear wheel never went away. Even after visiting the bike shop in Ottawa, it only stayed true for an hour or so. I'd just resigned myself to frequently making adjustments with my spoke wrench to smooth out the worst spots, but that's been like playing whack-a-mole. As the spoke tension got wonkier and wonkier I've been stopping multiple times a day to stop the tire from rubbing the frame.

So in the early afternoon I noticed my rear tire had lost a lot of air pressure since leaving the ferry. I spent a fair amount of time inspecting the tube but couldn't find the slow leak, which was made harder by all the traffic noise. So after inspecting the tire for any hidded debris I put a spare tube in place, figuring I could find that leak in the tube later, away from the highway.

That lasted about an hour, until the sidewall of my tire blew. It had been weakened by all the rubbing against the frame. I put on my spare tire and attempted to patch the hole in the tube, but after multiple attempts I couldn't get the patch to adhere properly (I was rushing too much). So I put my last spare tube in and rode on. Between these two repairs I'd spent over two hours on the side of the highway. I didn't think I'd make my stretch goal, but I still hoped to make Linwood Harbour.

Then the third visit occurred about 10 kilometres west of Antigonish. My wheel became so out of true that I had to remove my rear brake to keep riding. There's a bike shop in Antigonish, but it doesn't open until the morning, so I limped on towards town where I found a campground for the night. It's the last bike shop before Newfoundland, so better to have the problem now than later, I guess. I also feel the need to get more tubes and a folding tire now that I've used up my existing stock.

Now I'm left with a few unpopular choices once I get my wheel looked at:

1. Take the ferry a day later than planned, leaving me less time to get across Newfoundland.

2. Ride into the dark to catch the overnight ferry. I'm not even sure if this will be possible with the amount of time available.

3. Wait a couple days for the ferry to Argentia, then go the short way across Newfoundland.

So this will all depend on how quickly I can get my bike fixed, and how the ride to Sydney goes. I'll let you know.

At least I could stop and buy my favourite Nova Scotia beer. Small mercies.

Today's Distance: 123 km

Cumulative Distance: 7355 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle