Entries in Nova Scotia 2009 (16)


We're not dead yet!

Matt makes it sound like we died on our trip (re: Matt's postmortem).  Of course, that's somewhat fitting as it looks like I'm a corpse on a picnic bench.  Thanks, Matt!  ;)  So let's see.  What sort of trip summary can I come up with?  My apologies in advance; mine won't be as neatly organized as Matt's.  And certainly more long-winded.

It was somewhat amusing that we decided to do this trip after replacing our bikes and not before.  Suddenly we had "high performance bikes" that were new and unfamiliar to us.  They had bigger engines, but smaller gas tanks and demanded high-octane fuel.  And then there was Matt's little "incident" with my new bike that resulted in road-testing my newly installed frame sliders and bar ends and a trip to Mount Sinai's emergency room.  Yes, life got very exciting, very fast.

Prep work and pre-planning were certainly made less tedious because we split up the work.  Matt worked on the route while I worked on researching accommodations and sightseeing.  Matt gets all the credit for making sure our bikes were prepped (how sexy are those windscreens and frame sliders!) along with researching and acquiring the majority of our bike luggage.  I must say, having luggage on the bikes was a bit of an eye-opening experience.  It probably took us easily 45 minutes the very first time we loaded up the bikes.  By the end of our trip that came down to 5 minutes or less.  Where did I fail with the luggage?  I over packed!  But that's not unexpected if you know me.  I have a much better idea of how to pack less and pack more efficiently for next time.  Really!  I mean it! 

I have absolutely no doubt our Frogg Toggs and H2Out gloves made our rain days far less disgusting than they could have been.  Although we weren't 100% dry, they offered us far greater comfort than if we were without these items.  Our Scala units were absolutely fantastic.  The only time they let us down was on the two really long days (Gananoque to Portland, and Trois-Rivières to Toronto) when they ran out of juice, and really, that was our own fault.  The second long day wasn't so bad because we were on our way home and riding on familiar roads.  That first long day?  Wow.  We were riding in the dark, in heavy rain, at the end of a really long day, in the silence of our own helmets, on unfamiliar roads.  I found it to be mentally exhausting.  In future, we'll know to figure in some riding time with the intercom turned off to ensure that we'll be able to use them throughout the day.

Oh right!  The trip: I had a wonderful time.  Despite all the rain, the construction zones, and our impromtu off-roading moments.  It was an awesome experience.  Touring on a Ducati Monster was pretty comfortable.  Of course, I think I have a bit more padding on my seat and my butt than Matt.  Hahaha.  =)

Will we go to Nova Scotia again?  Yes!  Will we go on more multi-day bike rides?  Yes!  Hmm.  When and where?  Give us some ideas! =)


Matt's postmortem

We've now been home for about a week and have had a little bit of time to reflect on the overall trip.

The pace:  I think the pace we had set for ourselves was pretty much perfect.  In general, our longer days tended to not go beyond 600km.  That still allowed us to get to our destination by late afternoon/early evening.  The shorter days we had interspersed throughout the trip were also great and allowed us to see some extra things and reduced overall fatigue.

Nova Scotia:  We're definitely going back.  There are some more places we'd like to visit, even in areas we frequented on this trip.  For example, I think we'd like to spend another 2-3 days in and around Lunenburg alone.  Not to mention, we'd like to do the northern coast of Nova Scotia as well.

Rain gear:  Ah yes, our favourite topic of the trip.  RAIN!  It was abundantly clear that we got quite wet on this trip.  Having said that, it's also evident that the rain gear we had helped a great deal.  The Frogg Togg oversuits would eventually allow water through (especially under higher speeds) but they greatly reduced the amount of water that our riding gear retained.  Hell, we were able to put our jackets on the next day without spending hours drying them!

Scala Rider Q2 units (aka bluetooth communicators): I can't stress enough how fantastic these units were.  Being able to continually communicate with Cess allowed the riding time to still be time we were spending together, instead of two individual rides.  Provided that the speakers are mounted correctly in the helmets, we were able to hear one another at up to 130-140km/h; that's impressive!

Touring on an Aprilia Tuono:  Ok, so it's not the sort of bike people think of when you say touring.  You know what though, the bike did perfectly fine.  The ergonomics, power, and range were great for the sort of touring we're doing.  It's certainly no Gold Wing but then again, it doesn't pretend to be.  The only thing I think I'll have to change for our next tour; the seat.  Pain in the ass.  Literally.

So... where to next?


Useful links


Day 12: Homebound!

Today was the last leg of our journey, as such, it was a bit bitter sweet. On the one hand it marked the end of our vacation, but on the other hand, it's going to be nice to sleep in our own bed tonight. It's been sunny the whole day, a nice bonus considering the relative boredom of riding nearly 700km on a divided highway.

The boredom of this route caught up to us around the Québec and Ontario border where highway 20 turns into the 401. At roughly that point, Cess started feeling pretty tired and sleepy. We made sure to keep chatting on our Scala Rider units until we got to a rest stop just east of Gananoque. There, Cess had a power nap on top of a picnic bench.

The rest of the way went without much incident, however, there were plenty of slowdowns due to long weekend traffic heading into Toronto.  When everything was said and done we had covered nearly 700km over the course of about 10 hours (about 7 hours of that was riding).

Day 12 Route:

Day 12: Route

Nap time:

Day 12: Nap time


Day 11: Dodging (rain) bullets

The route today was fairly simple, hug the coastline all the way down to Trois-Rivières.  Before setting out, we checked the weather forecast and... surprise! rain was in the forecast for most of the day in and around our destination.  The first two thirds of today's route went without incident, we spent a lot of time dodging ominous looking rain clouds.  Just as we would approach a dark cloud, the road inevitably would take us around it.  Whew!  The weather wasn't great (it was even chilly at times), but hey, we were dry.

By mid afternoon, our luck had ran out and we found ourselves in the midst of an ever increasing amount of rain with gusts of wind thrown for good measure.  By the time we were reaching Québec City, it was raining hard enough that we had a difficult time seeing ahead.  Navigating in such conditions was definitely challenging.  Seeing ahead of us was hard enough, let alone the GPS.  The bluetooth communication devices we've been using on the trip were once again extremely useful.

Finally, with about 60km to go, the weather started clearing up and we even saw a bit of sunshine.  It's amazing how much of a difference that made.  Despite being thoroughly soaked, our spirits and mood were elevated a great deal.

Let's just hope those sunny weather forecasts for tomorrow's ride home hold up...

Today's route:

Day 11: Route


Day 10: Thar she blows!


We went to bed at 11:00pm last night. If you know us well, then you know that is unheard of. Why did we do such a thing? We had to get up at 5:30am so that we could be in Gaspé for 9:00am to go whale watching. It was exactly 3 hours away from where we were staying in Gaspésie. Not only that, we only got there on time because we asked the locals what the most direct route was. On the way back, we took our originally planned route and boy were we happy we didn't try to go to Gaspé on that route. Construction, construction, construction. It would have been a disaster!

We arrived at the pier with minutes to spare (we had left at 6:15am and the boat was scheduled to leave the dock at 9:30am!). We dropped off our helmets, picked up our supplied rain gear and hurried onto the boat; we were still dressed in all of our riding gear, sans helmet and gloves. The cruise was 2.5 hours long. I managed to snap a few shots of a blue whale. We could see their long, pale shapes in the water. They were longer than the boat we were on! I didn't get very many shots. Too many annoying people in yellow rain jackets that just would not sit down. Grr.

After the whale watching cruise, we stopped for lunch at Le Café de L'Anse du Centre culturel Le Griffon, about 45 minutes westward along the northern coast from the tip of the Gaspé peninsula. We were starving! We were a little concerned that we wouldn't be able to communicate with the staff (je ne parle pas français!), but it worked out. We enjoyed a tasty meal. On our way back to Gaspésie, we stopped to refuel and buy some groceries in Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts.

Matt made a yummy dinner in our kitchenette that we enjoyed with a nice bottle of wine. One thing that we need to remember: every time we plan ahead and have accommodations that have a kitchenette, we should actually plan to bring some basic cooking condiments (salt, pepper, sugar, olive oil, etc.).

Oh right. One last thing: Matt's camera woes. It turns out it is the lens that's messed up, not the body.  I suppose that's the better of two evils.

We're expecting rain (oh noez! not again) so we're going to take off and post up photos when we arrive at our next destination.


Day 9: Parlez-vous anglais?

Our original plan to get from Dalhousie, NB to Parc de la Gaspésie, QC was to cross into Québec and then hug the coast (east-north-west) taking us through the town of Gaspé.  That was going to be a 560km leg taking an estimated 8.5 hours to complete.  However, when we woke up this morning, we made the decision to take a much more direct route to Parc de la Gaspésie, a mere 200km from Dalhousie.

We are staying at Parc de la Gaspésie in a small riverside cottage.  By mid afternoon we had checked in and were already starting on some of the shorter hiking trails.  We opted to have dinner at the restaurant at the Gîte Mont Albert (the main hotel at the park).  Folks here are quite proud of their restaurant, and rightfully so, the food was excellent.

Tomorrow morning we'll be up at the crack of dawn as we need to be in Gaspé for our 9am whale watching tour (it'll take about 3 hours at a non-leisurely pace to get there).  We never did get a chance to get in on the whale watching action while in Nova Scotia, so we're going to make up for that here.

In other news, my 5D or the Sigma 24-70 lens (I can't determine which just yet) is acting up.  At times, the camera will try to desperately focus (imagine lots of loud focusing noises) but fails miserably in doing so.  The body must obviously think that the image is not in focus as it won't allow the shutter to close.  The issue seems a bit intermittent though.  It happened for the first time a few days ago but then disappeared until today.  Now it's back.  Ugh.


Day 8: Would you like a refill?

This morning, we woke up to ... wait for it ... a forecast for more rain!! Yes, today would be another test of our rain gear. After breakfast, we rode out from Tatamagouche and left Nova Scotia under gloomy skies. As we rode, the skies got darker. We debated pulling over to put on our rain gear, but decided to wait until we got into Moncton, New Brunswick. In Moncton we paid a brief visit to Atlantic Motoplex, the only Ducati dealer in the Atlantic provinces. The store was huge! We talked briefly to a salesperson who used to live in Toronto (coincidence or what?); he was very pleasant. We stopped off for a hot caffeinated beverage at Tim Hortons before hitting the road again. I swear, the dude who served us looked like he was 10 years old. Unreal. After Matt finished his coffee, we put on our rain gear and headed out once more. What a crazy ride. It poured. When we didn't get buckets of rain from above, we got soaked by walls of water from the opposite lanes of highway traffic.

And then it finally happened. I'm going to blame it on fatigue from riding in the rain. I have a fresh scratch on my brand new clutch lever from laying it down pulling up to the pump at our next gas station stop. =( Oh well.

We missed a turn on our final leg of our journey to Dalhousie, New Brunswick. To get us back on track, our GPS rerouted us along a road that suddenly became unpaved.  That unpaved stretch was several kilometres in length.  And covered in mud.  Let's just say that had to be the longest and most tense stretch of road in my life.  But we both made it, whew.

Needless to say, we have very few photos for today.

Day 8 Route:

Day 8: Route

Atlantic Motoplex:



Day 7: Choo choo!

Our first event of the day was having a private tour of the Glenora Distillery at 9am.  Ok, it was only a private tour because no one else was in our group.  There's nothing like having a sample of 10 year old whisky at 9am. ;)  After the tour, we loaded up our bikes and rode out of Cape Breton and stopped in Antigonish for lunch.   At our first gas stop after lunch, we met a couple who were riding two-up on a bike with foreign plates.  It turns out they were from Belgium!  They had shipped their bike to Halifax and were touring the Maritimes for 1 month.  They put us to shame with the tiny amount of luggage they were carrying.  Here we were with two fully loaded bikes and we're only travelling for 12 days.  They were travelling for 1 month, two-up, with about half the amount of stuff.  Wow.  Talk about seasoned pros.

So where are we staying tonight?  We're in Tatamagouche at the Train Station Inn.  How unique is that!  Our room is a converted train car!  It turns out we have one of the nicest cars.  We have the only one with a full tub.  All the others only have showers.  What luxury! 

It's late and we're planning an early start in the morning.  The photos for the day will be in a follow up post.  Tomorrow we'll be leaving Nova Scotia.  Bye bye, Nova Scotia.  There are lots of things that we didn't get to see or do.  We'll be back!


Day 6: On the Trail

Now it's abundantly clear. All that crappy weather was Mother Nature clearing the way for sunshine and blue skies for this important day. Day 6 contained what would be arguably the most significant destination of our entire trip: the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. The Trail snakes through the mountainous coast on the northwest side of Cape Breton. It was everything we expected and more. The roads were great from a motorcycling perspective. The pavement in general was decent. Some sections were freshly paved and thusly fantastic. The views were absolutely breathtaking. There were plenty of scenic lookout points to stop at for photo opportunities. As traffic was pretty sparse, we were able to enjoy this section of the trip to its full extent.

By early evening, we arrived at the Glenora Distillery, home to Canada's first and only single malt whisky. We didn't arrive in time for the last tour of the day, but since we were staying there for the night, we made sure we would be on the first tour the very next morning.

Route for the day:

Day 6: Route


Lunch: fish and chips

On the trail:

View along the Cabot Trail

View from the trail:

Day 6:  View from the Cabot Trail

Break at a lookout:

Day 6:  Short break at a Cabot Trail lookout