Pedaling Up Old Smoke-360 Meter Rise In 2.2 Kilometers

Cape Breton
July 21, `82

The coffee is great, but the weather is not. It looks just like I
remember Nova Scotia—cloudy, foggy, windy, wet, and generally
miserable, but all this has little effect on me right now because I’m
watching it from inside this coffee shop. It’s not raining, which
means that when I finish writing and get back on my bicycle, I’ll be
okay, at least for a little while anyway. I’m on my way to a scenic
spot—Marry Ann Falls. It’s a side trip for sure, uphill, and at least
ten miles of gravel road, but that’s the name of the game if beauty is
what you’re after.

Yesterday, I waited for Mike until 9 am. Beddeck was the adopted home
of Alexander Graham Bell, so I decided to tour the museum that was
created just for him. I learned a lot about Bell, but I needed at
least another hour to take in all the exhibits. I cut my visit short
to look for Mike. When I found him he said he had been looking for me
since 8 am. I let that statement slide and we set up a plan for the
day, which basically consisted of getting to Ingonish, a national park
at the northern tip of Cape Breton—our destination. It was after 11 am
when I finally said goodbye to Mike who was still puttering with
something. We agreed to meet further up the highway—a highway, I might
add, that was punctuated by large mountains. In fact, that ruggedness
was what influenced my decision not to bike the island when I was here
four years ago.

Pedaling up the mountain called Old Smoke, a 360-meter rise in 2.2
kilometers, I was forced to dismount and push my bike to the top. In
my younger days that challenge alone would have kept me on my bicycle,
but now I just wanted to get to the top. The beautiful Cape Breton
scenery made it all worthwhile though. The people were pretty nice
too. I was almost to the top, sweating and panting, when this car
passed me. The car pulls over to the side of the road and this French
guy gets out, his wife still in the passenger seat, and he pulls a
cold beer out from the cooler in the trunk of the car. He then hands
me the beer. He doesn’t speak English, but there’s no mistaking the
message. I smiled and thanked him, as I snapped the top of the beer.
The gesture completed, he got back in his car and drove away, and I
enjoyed one of the best beers of my life.

From the top of Old Smoke it was a nice ride down to Ingonish. The
ocean side of the park was absolutely beautiful, and there on the
beach, I found a bulletin board set up for tourists to connect with
each other. I left Mike a message. I said I would meet him at the next
beach park. It was getting late, so instead of paying for a campsite I
decided to hike down into Warren Lake and set up my tent off the
trail. The hike was about two miles, beautiful, quiet, and I was
totally alone. What can I say, I like being alone.


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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2 Responses to Pedaling Up Old Smoke-360 Meter Rise In 2.2 Kilometers

  1. Mèo Lười Việt says:

    Most of the time I like being alone but sometimes being alone is unbearable!

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