41.3 mi / 10.4 mph / 1594 ft. climbing
Home: Pictou AirBNB
We expect this to be our last morning for a while waking up in a tent, and while the wind stayed quiet again, the tent, the picnic table, and our bikes were soaking wet with dew. But after sopping up most of the water from the table, and laying down our multi-purpose Mexican drape on the bench, we had our nice usual breakfast of toasted bagels, cheese spread, and warmed-up pre-cooked bacon. And of course coffee!
We were up early enough to get a gorgeous sunrise view across the neighboring hayfield to the fog-softened view of St. Peter’s Bay. It was a bittersweet image, especially for Rett, since we would be leaving Prince Edward Island and all of its gorgeous landscapes, today.
The day’s distance and scheduled ferry departure meant Rett wanted to get moving as quickly as possible, so I sent her south climbing the massive hill out of St. Peter’s Bay, while I (on our third-and-final pass-by, finally) ran into Julio’s Seafood Market to get us some local PEI seafood (scallops, of course) to take off the island with us. Julio was just as friendly as all the reviews said, and before I could tell him that this was our last day, he recommended riding the Confederation Trail from Morell to St. Peter’s Bay, and visiting Greenwich Dunes. Great, we’ve already done both of those! The trio of road cyclists we met the other day at East Point Lighthouse highly recommended the “western” side of the island, which initially made us sad because we had never made it to that end (or even to Summerside). But further discussion revealed that by “western”, they actually just meant west-central areas (like French River) that we had in fact also already been to! So as sad as we were to be leaving without seeing everything, it was nice to get this sort of passive confirmation that we had in fact been successful at seeing most of the recommended places.
Even though chatting with Julio for a minute had Rett out there with a rear-guard a little longer than I wanted, by the time I raced back to the road she was still within visual range, climbing alone up the 150-ft hill. That then made it baffling to me how long it took for me to catch up with her, since she had been “right there”, nearly within arms-reach. But in retrospect it made sense: it took her nearly 7 minutes to climb that hill, so despite not being far distance-wise, she was still 7 minutes ahead time-wise. And as the road flattened out, she re-expanded the distance with her increased speed, while I was slowly retracing her climb. Just a funny bit of perception-is-not reality, which I normally don’t get a chance to perceive (and luckily, traffic on the road was pretty light so her being out there without a rear-guard wasn’t as stressful to me (or her!) as it could have been).
By noon, Rett’s impressive push through the hills was beginning to show cracks, I think mostly due to going too long between calories. We were about to return to “charted territory” at the town of Montague, where we planned to stop at the Sobey’s grocery store that we’d been to before, for lunch supplies. But just before that, the Golden Arches of a McDonald’s appeared, and Rett rightly made in immediate turn into their parking lot; we’ve been fast-food free for too long on these islands!
The grease helped a bit, but Rett’s cycling confidence continued its downward slide, partly due to a return to a busier area, but perhaps partly due to the unhappy knowledge that she was leaving Prince Edward Island, which had been a mind-settling comfort to her. Once we got out of Montague, the road chilled out again, though we had to suffer through the return of some asshole drivers that made us feel apprehensive about returning to Nova Scotia (at this point there was basically no other reason besides the ferry to be on the road we were on, and that meant we were getting too-close-passed by non-PEI drivers in a hurry).
Our oddly straight-arrow route for the day was taking us not only north to south across one of the widest sections of the island, the afternoon segment also brought us to nearly 400 ft. above sea-level, one of the highest points on the island.
Due to our early start and all of that effort, we reached the ferry with plenty of time to spare, and could actually sit on a grassy hill near the front of the line and enjoy some snacks before the boat arrived. Once on-board, I let Rett go off on her own to say goodbye to her Prince Edward, an Island that exceeded her sky-high expectations, but now was all the more-painful to part with because of it.
Back in Nova Scotia, the ride down the long, straight, ferry-traffic-only road on this side of the strait went super-fast, and was much more-comfortable than the reverse had been (once all the cars disembarking from the ferry passed us, there were no one on the road but us, since the ferry is the only real source of traffic). And due to the warm light at 5:30pm, it was even quite pretty, softening the aesthetic step down from PEI. We actually made a quick stop at the Sobey’s in Pictou this time, and from there managed a no-stops ride to our AirBNB house. Well, until we had to get off and push our bikes a couple blocks uphill through rough gravel, since the entire street in front of our place was under construction (it’s ok, our hostess had warned us).
Nearly three weeks of abnormally-constant motion (for us!) since Rett regained her starting ability, combined with the windy and wet weather forecast, meant that it was time for a break; we would stay in this house for four nights before moving on again.