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VCB eNews, Volume 12, #23 Trail Head

Volume 12, #23: Trail Head
Shelley Porter, Editor
Editorial: Trail Head
Rides Captain’s Report: Battle of the Bands Heating Up
Dear Motorists – Rick Hellard
Notices of Rides and Events
Loose Chain Links
Bike Buy and Sell
About That Funny

”We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home, in towns and cities.”

  • G. W. Sears

I learned to ride a bicycle when I was 7 years old. My family lived in Stellarton at the time, in a little bungalow on a street lined with tall elm and maple trees. I rode my bicycle to school, to the playground, and to the library. Sometimes I rode alone, sometimes with some friends. Our street was paved, but at the top of it crossed a dirt road which backed on to some scrubby forest. In that forest was a pretty little tinkling stream . . . and trails.
We kids called the area up past our street “The Black Hills” and we were forbidden by our parents to go there. One day while walking to a friend’s house on a path on the edge of this area, I came upon a huge hole in the earth right in the middle of the trail. It was so wide I couldn’t jump over it and so deep and dark that I couldn’t see to the bottom of it. Years later I realized this hole was formed when the roof of an old mine collapsed. The Black Hills were riddled with abandoned coal mines, any of which could fall in at any time without warning.
Yet I did take my bicycle there from time to time, to roll along the leafy pathways and visit the frogs in the little stream that ran through it. There is something about a woodland trail that draws one in. Our curiosity is piqued by evidence of past footsteps (or bike tires) – if there is a way, there must be a destination.
Trail riding, or mountain biking, is a fairly new development as a sport. The mountain bike was invented in California in the late 1970s. Riding bicycles on dirt trails was hardly new (by 1979, I’d already been trail riding for a decade, on whatever bicycle I had at the moment)  but an obsession with racing downhill on trails made the invention of a new type of bicycle necessary. Because the new sport was racing down mountainsides, the new type of bicycle was named the “mountain” bike and that name would come to describe all off-road type bicycles.
Racing down mountains or through forests is still a big part of mountain bike culture, but the tough, low-geared bicycles with wide, knobby tires are popular as recreational vehicles too. They are perfect for trail riding and for use in winter conditions.
In order to have trail riding, you have to have trails. Nova Scotia is scored with old logging, farming, prospecting, and portaging trails. My first trail riding was done on wooded paths near small towns, then progressed to riding developed trails in parks, and reached a pinnacle (literally and figuratively) with participation in the Across the Highlands Mountain Bike Challenge created by Velo Cape Breton in the early 2000s. The “AHC” moves to a new location each year: I’ve enjoyed spectacular mountaintop views and slid down gravel roads sideways outside Cheticamp, St. Peter’s, Baddeck, Inverness, and Margaree. A ride on a trail can be a way to reconnect with nature, a change in skills-development from road riding, and a way to get to know your region from another perspective.
Trails and trail-related events can be a tourism draw and a boost for the economies of rural communities. The AHC attracts participants from all over North America. Registration can exceed 100 riders, and many of them bring partners, children, friends, or dogs along for the trip. All of them will need food, many require overnight accommodation, and most will want mementos to take back home with them. A well-maintained trail with appropriate nearby amenities can become a community focal point.
There are a number of trail development and improvement initiatives underway in Cape Breton and the rest of Nova Scotia, including the completion of the Trans-Canada Trail, Wolfville Reservoir Park trail network, Gore mountain bike trails, Coxheath Mountain Wilderness Trails, and the “Walking Around the Bras d’Or” project of the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association. I would encourage everyone to become involved with trail development in their own community, as an investment in the future and for a lot of fun in the present!
A group of Across the Highlands Challenge participants at one of the refreshment stops on the 2014 AHC, based in Cheticamp. (S.Porter, photo)
The Editor’s mtb, somewhere outside Baddeck on the 2013 AHC route. (S. Porter, photo)
Déjà vu: a feeling of having already experienced a situation, according to the Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus. Most people, I think, tend to use this word for more rare occurrences but basically we are all programmed to experience them daily, we just don't. As one gets older there are fewer things in life that haven't been experienced and more that have "been done" before. We get up every day and repeat the same tasks as the day before. There are weekly, monthly, seasonal, and yearly cycles that are repeated. Some have more relevance and meaning than others. Soon the snow will be gone and we will be experiencing another cycle and ritual. Getting your bike out (except for the B-52s) tuning it up and going for that first ride of the season, with a careful eye out for this year’s crop of potholes. Looking forward allows you to avoid those and other obstacles in your path and to anticipate the fun and challenges that you will have, even if they have been done before. Looking back at a situation already experienced does not diminish the joy one felt or the lesson learned. 

    This year's first official ride will be in 4 weeks (May 2nd) at the Mira Boat Club. It is the season opener and banquet. Followed shortly after by other events that will be listed as they come up. Many will give you a sense of déjà vu, but that is okay. Here is another song from the memory vault. Hope you enjoy it. Crosby,Stills ,Nash,and Young   P.S. This week’s article was inspired by the editor having added a preferred song last week which was quite good but not on a par with the Beatles (IMHO). You never know what will trigger that special sense of  Déjà vu. Good riding everyone.
[Editor’s pick, “I am the ghost of the one before”, she sings. Recorded after 1980, nasik]
DEAR MOTORISTS – Rick Hellard, TriRudy
Dear motorists

It is that time of year when we cyclists start popping up on a street near you, possibly the one you are driving on.
Please be careful. We are people too. We are productive members of society. We own homes, work, and may even be someone you know. We are doctors, lawyers, programmers, salespeople, labourers, grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers, and fathers, sons and daughters. We also drive cars, just like you. We pay taxes just like you do.

We don’t get in your way to piss you off. If we are in the way, it is because we feel unsafe at that particular instant. Wait a moment and we will likely move out of your way when it is more safe.

You know the condition of the roads in Ottawa [Cape Breton!]: they are terrible, with cracks and potholes everywhere. 

You don’t likely want to hit one in your car. 

We definitely don’t want to hit one on our bike. 

There are puddles hiding some of those potholes and cracks. 

We may ride a bit more to the left than you would like or swerve at the last minute to avoid one of those nasty potholes or puddles.

It’s not to annoy you. It is to avoid an obstacle and to stay upright and safe.

You may think you are giving us enough space, but please be considerate, patient and allow as much room as is safely possible when passing. 

We appreciate your understanding.

Thank you. 
Rick Hellard                 
Please Share the Road 
Registration is still open for the Women on Wheels 2015 Retreat at the Deanery Project. Join us for a weekend of workshops, rides and fun! The getaway offers women a space to learn from each other and share their cycling experiences. Workshops will cover mechanics; touring; safety; women’s cycling issues; and other related topics. All levels of cyclists are welcome!
WoW 2015 will begin at 4 pm on Friday, April 24 and run until 4 pm on Sunday, April 26. Registration for the weekend, including meals and dorm-style accommodation is $125.
Contact Lesley by email at or the Deanery Project at 902-845-1888 for more details. You can also visit or
The YMCA is more than a gym; the YMCA is a cause. For the past 129 years, the YMCA has provided financial support to families to help cover the cost of childcare, day camp and health and wellness programs. In order to continue to support our community, we need your help with our YMCA Strong Kids Campaign and support for our programs.
The Y is hosting two important fundraising events in the next several weeks, and it is my hope that you will be interested in supporting them.

The first event is Spring into Motion – presented by the Giant 101.9 and Downtown Nutrition - and takes place on Saturday, April 11.   It is an exciting half day, event for teams of 10.  The teams fulfill workout challenges -  for all levels of fitness - throughout the YMCA.   You can help by forming a team, joining a team and by simply clicking on this link to make a donation:
Please circulate this link to family, friends and social media contacts.  And if you are interested in entering, please contact Anita
The second event is the YMCA Monte Carlo Night, presented by the Giant 101.9 and Casino Nova Scotia.  This fun filled event will take place at Centre 200 on May 23, 2015 and will feature an exciting night of casino games, music, fine food, live and silent auctions.  Proceeds go to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign to enable kids and families who need financial assistance to participate in the much – needed YMCA programs to help them realize their full potential.  More information will follow.    
Thanks to people like you and our community-minded businesses, we raise funds to ensure that no child is turned away because of inability to pay. 
River Ride and BBQ: Your VCB executive is pleased to announce our Season’s Opening Ride!
Saturday, May 2nd, 2015, 2 pm to 8 pm (approx.)
As a change-up from previous years, in place of our “Opening Banquet” we have decided instead to invite you to enjoy an early season bike ride followed by a BBQ. This event will be held at the Mira Boat Club, 545 Hillside Rd., where we can enjoy a 30 km ride along the river followed by a BBQ. Come on out, enjoy some cycling socialization, and get a look at our 2015 Rides Schedule. Bring some friends - we are always hoping for new members for our club. Membership forms will be available for those who have not yet renewed or joined for the 2015 season. Not interested in riding this early? No problem, just join us for the food and festivities!
We will be cooking up steak and several sides, as well as dessert. Cost will be $18 per person for adults and $10 for children under age 10. No need to worry about bringing food. We’ll even cook up some Portobello mushrooms for the vegetarians! (We aim to please). There will be a cash bar. Tickets will be available starting April 20/2015 on our website via Paypal.
Registration starts at 2:30pm; ride starts at 3:00; social hour from 5-6 pm; and meal served at 6pm.
So get your bikes out, pump up the tires, and get out your warm cycling clothes! We’re ready to ditch the snowshoes and skis!
Family-oriented cities:
Nova Scotia will have a Gran Fondo!:
If you build it . . . :
One of the many uses of toothpaste (you can use it to clean silver jewellery too. And teeth.):
How to city-bike like a boss:
Mountain bike by Mercedes, only $10K USD!:
Veterinaire a velo:
Should do one for Sydney (would be better than many):
Cool bicycle paint:
Barriers to cycling to work:
Wisconsin also has winter – and cycling:
For Sale: Crank Brothers premium eggbeater style cleats, never used, still in the box. $10. Contact
FOR SALE: Two mountain bikes, one Giant Rincon 6061 aluxx, frame size 14 in., $300; one Norco XFR, frame size 15, $300. Both about 4 years old, rarely used, stored inside. Will sell together for $500. Contact Heather at
There was a biology student who was studying equilibrium in sea birds with a
specific focus on terns. He proposed that giving measured doses of THC (from,
of course, marijuana) and observing their flight patterns would give some
insight to the problems of equilibrium in three dimensional space. This
proposal being given in a more liberal era, the student got the funding. He
filled out mountains of forms, set up a lab with a ready supply of terns, and
proceeded on his way. After a year of diligent work, groveling monthly before
the review committee to get his stipend, and living with drugged terns, he
completed his study.
With trembling hands, he delivered his 247-page report, complete with charts
and graphs, to the review committee. The august body peruses his study, asking
penetrating questions and reducing our student to jell-o. Finally, the
department head rises. The light reflects off her steel rimmed glasses as she
stares down at our student.
"There is a lot of good work here," she says. "But we can't accept this report.
You have detailed marvelously the effects of THC on terns but you forgot one
essential step: you have no control group." Our student turns pale and says,
"You don't mean..."
"Yes. I'm afraid so. You left no tern unstoned."
Velo Cape Breton is the island-wide voice of cyclists, working for better cycling in our great island. Visit our website that will introduce you to some of our activities.   If you have any question(s) or suggestion(s), please contact us
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Joining VCB is a proof of support to the community development and advocacy work done by the hard working volunteers of this club. Your $10 will go a long way.   It's your legacy to the rising generation. Check our Facebook page.
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