A friend had an idea that we should bike the Cabot Trail, NS, Canada, 300 km (186 miles) of mountainous terrain, with an elevation change (many times) from 0 to 445 m (1460 feet) above sea level.
Bicycle - well maintained and serviced
proper clothing for the weather and be prepared for weather changes
more water, you really can't have enough (once we had to stop at a house to get bottles filled)
You can not take on a major bicycle road trip without proper training. In order to cycle 300km you need to build up endurance on a bicycle. I would suggest starting in the spring with 30 min every second day, building up to 60 min every second day and taking long 1-2 hr rides on the weekend. If you had 1500km of training under you belt I would think that would be sufficient to take on this type of challenge, as long as you had a very hilly training route. If you were mostly flat cycling you would need to build up hill climbing stamina as well. This surprisingly can be accomplished very fast. We started training in March and we were up to the challenge in late July.
Plan for the unexpected, sounds like an oxymoron, yes, but the weather in the highlands will be your biggest enemy. Even in July we had sun, rain, fog, cold and hot. Keep in mind you are changing elevation a lot and the weather can change in a minute. You go up one hill in the sun and come down the backside in the fog and drizzle, yes even in July.
Step 1: Safety First
As we would be travelling on a major highway with lots of car and truck traffic. We had a car travelling behind us with a sign "Slow Bicycles Ahead". Because the cars and trucks had prior warning, they gave us a wide berth when they passed. We had food and water in the car and could stop for refreshments when needed. I would suggest travelling with a car otherwise you will have to pack water and food and the extra weight will add time to your trip.
Step 2: Counterclockwise
We traveled counterclockwise so we could be on the road lane closer to the ocean and edge of the cliffs for a better view.
Day 1 100km
Day 2 75km
Day 3 125km
Step 3: And It Rained
Day 1 started out misty and then turned to rain, and it rained some more.
Left Margaree and headed along the Cabot Trail toward Cape Smokey. We traveled on the Englistown Ferry for free as we were on bicycles. We stopped at the base of Cape Smokey with the thought of starting at the base in the morning. Well having said that, it sounded like a great idea, but in reality it was very stupid. Stop at the top or back side of a mountain, not the base.
We had planned to camp along the way but due to the rain, we rented a cottage for the night.
Step 4: Cape Smokey
Day 2 started with a climb up Cape Smokey, 350 m, it took a little better than 30 minutes to do the climb. Got to see some wildlife along the way to our next rest stop in Cape North.
Due to the morning mountain climb we didn't travel as far as we had hoped this day and ended after only going 75 km, we were dog tired.
We learned our lesson from Day 1 and ended our day on the back side of North Mountain after another 445 m climb.
Step 5: Faster
Day 3 Started out foggy and then the sun came out and it got hot.
Managed to get a top speed of 78.9 km/h going down French Mountain! To fast for someone to be going on a bicycle.
Step 6: Scenery
I have traveled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes, the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton out rivals them all! Alexander Graham Bell
Things to do in Cape Breton
Salmon fishing in Margaree, contact me for a guide
Alexander Graham Bell Museum
Giant McAskill Museum, his grave is at the Englishtown ferry landing
Hiking, Skyline trail a must do
St Michael Church Margaree
Cape Breton Miners Museum
Ingonish Beach, was once a dump but now one of the best beaches in the area to pick beach glass
Glenora Inn and distillery
Celtic Music Interpretive Centre
Fiddle Music, just look for a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road and you'll find a kitchen party
Friendly people everywhere, willing to talk and help if you need it
This is only a fraction of things you can do on Cape Breton Island
Step 7: End
Well, after three days it was over. Thank you to my friend Mike for allowing me to go along on this adventure with him.
I hope this might motivate someone to complete a long distance bicycle trip of their own.