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VCB eNews, Volume 12, #38 - Climb Every Mountain



Volume 12, #38: Climb Every Mountain

Shelley Porter, Editor



Editorial: I Think I Can

Rides Captain’s Report 

Other Rides and Events

Bike Culture Finds 

Loose Chain Links

Bike Buy and Sell

About That Funny


“Mountain, get out of my way”

  • Montel Williams





If you want to do some hill training, you couldn’t be in a much better place than Cape Breton. This past weekend I participated in the 12th annual Across the Highlands Mountain Bike Challenge, organized this year by the Na Beinn Trails Cycling Association in Mabou. Who knew there were that many hills in Mabou. All this time, I just thought Mabou was mostly a nice pub down the road from the beach at Port Hood. 


I had lots of time on this ride to contemplate the tackling of hills by bicycle. In fact, it occupied almost as much of my time as did taking photos of the spectacularly beautiful landscape. 


Having lived and cycled in Cape Breton for 15 years, I’ve climbed a lot of hills. One wise old cyclist instructed me never to refer to a hill as a hill, but as a “climb”. It’s more active, more like something a cyclist can do, whereas a hill is a thing that stands there, blocking your progress.


Good climbing technique is easy and important (if you like functioning knees for the long run) to learn. It is easiest to get up a climb if you maintain a consistent pedaling rhythm – that means spinning, and spinning means keeping up a high cadence in a low gear. Shift down through your gears smoothly, and don’t wait until the pedaling gets difficult before you shift. Breathe deeply – shallow breaths don’t get enough air into your lungs, and you tire more quickly. It also helps if a stronger rider comes up behind you, carefully places their hand in the small of your back and pushes you up the mountain. This is kind of like that “footsteps in the sand” meme, but with more sweat and less imagination. And it happens about as often, so don’t count on it.


A technique suggested by a racing cyclist is best for short climbs: stand in your pedals and “run” out the hill. A rule of thumb is, if you can sit the climb, drop down into one gear harder and stand. Keep in mind standing in the pedals uses more energy, so save it for when you need to get over a shorter climb faster. Or to show off for that guy who pushed you up the last long climb!


Once you have arrived at the summit, take a breather and enjoy the view. On the AHC, when I regained my wits after a tough climb, I made sure to do a 360 degree turn to enjoy the landscape from every angle. While this is likely a worthwhile exercise anywhere, on a rural trail in Cape Breton it brings a reward in sheer natural beauty that makes every climb worth the effort.


With the possible exception of the price of good cycling clothing, what goes up, must come down. Mountain cyclists love the descents – the adrenaline rush of a barely controlled roll and slide down a gravel path. On the latest AHC I learned that grass is just as good as gravel for sliding down mountains sideways. 


 Before you try this, have your bicycle in good working order. It’s a good idea to make sure it’s “street legal”, with lights/reflectors and bells. You may scoff at the idea of having lights and a bell on your mountain bike, declaring “I never use it on the road”. And then you get lost, or break your chain on the trail and have to cycle 15 km to the nearest country pharmacy and ask for bandages, directions and a variety of cycling tools and parts.


Descend at a pace that is comfortable for you, and respects the limits of your equipment. Dual suspension mountain bikes do better at absorbing uneven terrain than front-only or no suspension at all. When descending, you can stand on your pedals (I recommend it), flex your arms and legs (they act as extra shock absorbers), and shift your weight over your rear wheel. Trust your equipment: it’s designed to stay upright doing this, and you’ve maintained it properly so mechanical failure is not a risk. Enjoy the wind in your helmet ventilators and the breeze through your jersey. Revel in that free momentum. Do it now, because just a few meters down the road there is . . . another climb.





The beginning of the descent on the last really big hill after a bunch of other giant hills and before some other not-quite-as-big hills on the 2015 Across the Highlands Mountain Bike Challenge in Mabou. (S.Porter, photo)



The Editor’s mountain bike takes a little rest at the bottom of a mountain, conveniently located on a lovely beach, before climbing yet another mountain. (S.Porter, photo)





Today was going to be a chore day as it started off with rain this morning but at the time of this writing, the clouds have broken up and it is warm and partly sunny, so the chores may get bumped (again). It was a busy weekend ride-wise, with the Across the Highlands Challenge and The Big Ride all set up for the same day. I know Art's Ride and BBQ on the Mira, which was also on Saturday, was a great success.

Next weekend (July 26th) Jimmie Campbell will be doing his Louisbourg ride (park fees are involved, so come prepared). See the Velo Cape Breton website for more information. This has been a good ride over the past couple of years and you are in good hands with Jimmie leading. 


The following weekend is the CT4D, which may be full, but check for any last minute cancellations with Jacques. Four days to do the Cabot Trail and it must be good because it is always sold out. Again, check with Jacques for any last minute cancellations if you find you have the time. This ride takes up the first full weekend in August, after which nothing is scheduled. If you have any last minute suggestions for an impromptu ride let me know and I will do my best to get it out there. Get me at 


Good riding everyone and enjoy the last days of scheduled rides until the fall. Our own Shelley Johnson will be back from touring the Katy Trail in Missouri and I am sure will have pictures to share if you haven't been following her on Facebook.


JP Martin, Rides Captain





Grand Phare Ride Sunday, 2015-07-26 (10:00 am to 1:00 pm)

10 am registration inside opposite the washrooms in the PARK Visitor Information Centre (as in previous years). Enter by the side door. There are bike racks in the front.
The cost is $15 and includes entry fee to park for cyclists.

10:30 start ride at PARK Visitor Information Centre
stop 1 Light House
stop 2 parking area by beach
stop 3 Camperdown Elm
stop 4 Old village Roadway second entrance
stop 5 Richard Cemetery / possible Titicomb's Battery. Green Hill Battery
stop 6 Gate / Porte 2
stop 7 'Black Rock'
stop 8 'Queen's Gate'
stop 9 King's Garden to leave bikes This should be at 1:00 pm. Come and join us for lunch in the Fortress (this will cost you an extra 12-20 dollars depending on what you eat. The fish soup is delicious and the Rum Cake is out of the world).

This ride is a supported ride. Your camera, jackets and other items can go with Eliot in the vehicle. There are no big hills and the longest distance is 7 kilometres (6 km are on paved roads with 2 little hills going out to the lighthouse).


For additional information, contact Eliot Frosst at 902-674-0936 or email him at



CBRM Cycling Camp

Are you interested in spending a fun week learning how to ride your bike with confidence and safety? The CBRM Cycling Camp is for you!

The CBRM Recreation Department will be holding a children’s Cycling Camp August 24-28. The camp will be aimed at providing beginner cycling instruction to children between the ages of 10 and 12. Children can register for either five morning or five afternoon sessions. Certified instructors trained in Making Tracks, Can-Bike, First Aid, High 5 and bike maintenance will lead children through sessions at the Don and Ron Deleski Cycling Park in Open Hearth Park and in a classroom setting (site to be determined).

Participants may use their own bike, if it is in good working condition and the correct size, or one of the 16 bikes generously on loan from Velo Cape Breton.

To register or for more information, please contact Colleen at CBRM Recreation at 563-0901 or

This program is FREE of charge!

Let’s have fun and get our wheels spinning!







This section features bike-friendly places and spaces, as submitted by our members. You can write in and tell us about a retail or service outlet that encourages cycling, whether it be by offering cyclist-friendly food, safe pathways, or just being there when you need it (like a public washroom).


Gaspereau Vineyards in Gaspereau, Kings County, NS, has a lovely little fleet of rental bicycles, for customers who want to enjoy the pastoral scenery of the area by bicycle. Depending on your cycling prowess, you might visit two to six wineries (L’Acadie, Planters Ridge, Grand Pre, Muir Murray, and Luckett’s) of a sunny afternoon on your rental bike. Just remember not to sample too much, and to keep your bottled goodies corked in the bike basket until you get back to your accommodations!










Maybe don’t call me:


Dandyhorse, Toronto on Two Wheels:


WoW, province-wide:


Avoid the “cyclist’s tan” – and maybe skin cancer:


So many bike tours:






 (Ads will run for 3 weeks; if your item has not sold in that time, please resend the ad to the editor. Thanks!)



WANTED: I'm 5'2" and look for a women's road bike size Small.

email:  Carla Arsenault


FOR SALE: Giant Cypress comfort bike. Men’s, size 17 in. Excellent condition, just tuned up at SportChek. $200. Contact


Still for sale: Cleats, suitable for eggbeater-style pedals. Crank Brothers brand. New, still in box, ordered wrong model. $10. Contact


Still available: 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







“It's not that hilly"


Translation: This climb lasts longer than a presidential campaign. Be careful on the steep sections or you'll fall over -- backward. You have a 39x23 low gear? Here's the name of my knee surgeon.




“This is a no-drop ride"


Translation: I'll need an article of your clothing. It's for the rescue dogs.




"It's not that far"


Translation: Yes, it is.




Shelley Porter,

Editor, Velo Cape Breton eNewsletter

VCB Cycling Ambassador.

July 23rd, 2015


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