Peggy’s Cove loop

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Eight hours is a few too many, that’s my day today: Day 1 in Halifax — the ultimate cure for jet lag — a 65 mile loop fully loaded.

Days here are long; I was shocked when I finally reached my hotel — I didn’t believe it at first — all that time on the bike. Half of it in a fierce headwind, the second half blissfully with the wind at my back. I’ll mention the winds to my local friends, but I can hear them now, “That’s nothing…”

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I only planned to do about 30 miles. Why not spend the night in picturesque Peggy’s Cove? But when I got there at 3:30pm I knew I had to keep going because I had great weather; wind, yes, but it could rain in the morning and I have an 11am car trip to Moncton, NB arranged. The great weather compelled me to keep going. And I’m glad I did.

Once I made up my mind to press on, it was as if the bike gods answered my prayers — headwinds turned into tailwinds and I was flying north along lovely St. Margaret’s Bay.

Just like last September’s Erie Canal ride, I felt great pressure to keep going. Any thoughts of a leisurely pedal out to the coast and an overnight stay, well it seems kinda ridiculous. There are always too many miles to cover.

One favorite moment: there are so many times each day when I think I’ll pull over and take a drink and rest my bones. One time was very important — I’d just made it off the peninsula and back to Route 3, maybe 25 miles from Halifax. I was beat, but I knew I had the route nailed. I see a driveway ahead on the right; I think I’ll pull in and take a drink, relax. It turns out it’s a EMT station, and I assume they’re sitting in there thinking I’m coming in to report a heart attack. But as I chill for a moment and look around, I see two bicyclists across the street, they’re in the woods, off-road on the rails-to-trails path I’d read about. Gotta try it, because I’m tired of all the hours riding the fog line. Then I spot it, only 100 ft away, an access path onto the trail. In a minute I’m on this sublime trail and I’ll ride it all the way to Halifax as I enjoy peace and quiet and relief from the close shaves of rush hour traffic.

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It’s a ritual that started with my Erie Canal companion Kent: a martini before dinner because nothing else salves the pain as quickly. Getting up out of the chair after dinner is a raucous affair with lots of groans and a limp as I take the first few steps back to the hotel.

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One Comment

  1. Comment by Brenda Miller:

    Going down Hill on a Bicycle
    by Henry Charles Beeching, 1859–1919.
    (as slightly amended for my friend, Frank Peters)

    WITH lifted feet, hands still,
    Frank is poised, and down the hill
    Dart, with heedful mind;
    The air goes by in a wind.

    Swifter and yet more swift, 5
    Till the heart with a mighty lift
    Makes the lungs laugh, the throat cry:—
    ‘O bird, see; see, bird, Frank flies.

    ‘Is this, is this your joy?
    O bird, then Frank, though a boy 10
    For a golden moment share
    Your feathery life in air!’

    Say, heart, is there aught like this
    In a world that is full of bliss?
    ‘Tis more than skating, bound 15
    Steel-shod to the level ground.

    Speed slackens now, Frank floats
    Awhile in his airy boat;
    Till, when the wheels scarce crawl,
    His feet to the treadles fall. 20

    Alas, that the longest hill
    Must end in a vale; but still,
    Who climbs with toil, wheresoe’er,
    Shall find wings waiting there.