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VCB eNews, Volume 12, #39 - Paths of Opportunity




Volume 12, #39: Paths of Opportunity

Shelley Porter, Editor



Editorial: Paths of Opportunity

Rides Captain’s Report 

Cabot Trail in 4 Days

WOW Rides

Other Rides and Events


Bike Culture Finds 

Loose Chain Links

Bike Buy and Sell

About That Funny


“You will roll up grades of trial;
You will cross the bridge of strife;
See that Christ is your conductor
On this lightning train of life;
Always mindful of obstruction,
Do your duty, never fail;
Keep your hands upon the throttle,
And your eyes upon the rail.”

  • From Life’s Railway to Heaven, Eliza M. Snow & M. E. Abbey, ca. 1900





On a hot summer day in 1986, I walked from Doctor’s Cove to Barrington Passage on the Shelburne County Rail Trail. I was wearing very ill-fitting and inappropriate shoes, because I’d forgotten my sneakers at the island field station at which I was working for the summer. I tried not to let my blistered feet interfere too much with my enjoyment of the flat surface and wide corridor of the trail. The only other trail user I met on my walk was a solitary ATV rider. I really wished I had my bicycle; but alas, temporary island-dwellers, like fish, do not need bicycles. 

That trail has been extended and now runs from Shelburne to Yarmouth. It is a multi-use trail, open to both motorized and non-motorized users. Development of these trails has grown to the point that if you are so inclined, you can cycle on trails, mostly former railbeds, from Halifax to Yarmouth. This year, a fundraiser for cancer research will see cyclists ride 100 km on rail trails from Halifax to Mahone Bay. On the other side of the province, work is underway to complete a trail from Grand Pre to Annapolis Royal, much of it on former railbeds. Our route on this year’s Across the Highlands Mountain Bike Challenge included some sections of “rail trail”, all part of the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail network.

Though we despair at the abandonment of rail lines as a sign of a failing industrial base, maybe we can look at it as an opportunity. Abandoned rail lines turned to trails provide opportunities for tourism development, and support active transportation. The province of Prince Edward Island bought up all the abandoned rail lines in its jurisdiction, and created a lovely network of trails that draws thousands of cyclists each summer. Though still behind PEI, rail trail development in this province has come a long way since my sweaty and painful walk in 1986. Trails for cycling and hiking feature prominently on the Nova Scotia tourism webpage, and rail trails will form parts of the province’s bicycling Blue Route.

The conversion of railways to trails began in the US in the 1960s. My first rail trail experience could also be said to be in the 1960s, when I walked from my home in Stellarton to my friend’s house in Westville, partly along the railway. This was not very safe, and it’s a good thing my mother didn’t find out about it. But rail lines are flat, long, and don’t have steep grades – people, livestock, and wildlife tend to use them because they are easy travelways. In the town of Wolfville, so many people walked along the railway that the town created a trail alongside it as an alternative to the dangerous practice of sharing a path with trains.

Rail lines in the Maritimes often wind through wilderness or along picturesque coastline, and connect historic locations. In PEI, I cycled along a quiet, tree-lined rail trail from one small town to the next, stopping at each to enjoy the history and do a little shopping or snacking. Some areas had interpretive signage that provided information about cultural and natural history.

The city of Fredericton, New Brunswick, lost its rail service about twenty years ago – and promptly converted the railbeds into a trail network that supports active transportation and urban renewal. Writing in spacingAtlantic, Hassan Arif went so far as to call the loss of the railway in Fredericton as “a blessing in disguise”- the trail system underlies the direction of development, encouraging economic renewal and recreational activities.

A railway has long sightlines, to give the engineer lots of time to react if something should appear on the tracks ahead. There are some choices that will have to be made about railways in Nova Scotia in the coming years. Looking down that line into the future, that’s not a train engine I see coming. It’s a bicycle.



A section of the rail trail between Inverness and Port Hood, 2011 (J. Cote, photo).



A scenic section of rail trail along the west side of Cape Breton. Note the flat, wide surface. (J. Cote, photo)







 I think it is time I admitted I am not the best choice as Rides Captain because, really, who wants to ride in the kind of weather we have been having - only the crazies- right? My impression of the club is we have a few members that are gung-ho about riding but when I get up in the morning and it is cold, damp, and windy, the last thing I feel like doing is getting on a bike and increasing the wind chill factor. And yes, I feel guilty that I haven't been out and riding as diligently as I should but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, I ride because I like it. Riding when I am cold and wet doesn't appeal to me and if I want to continue riding, I will do it when I enjoy it, otherwise I will stop doing it. And that is not an outcome that is good for me or a healthier lifestyle.

 So if there is anyone else out there that has started to feel guilty because they are not riding as much as last year or avoiding other riders because they don't want to discuss how many K's they have done - stop it. Take a deep breath and when the sun comes out tomorrow (and it will eventually) make sure your tires are pumped up, your water bottle is full, put on the sunscreen, and go. You are still more active than the person who has never ridden. Have fun with it because when it becomes a chore or something that you are doing because you feel morally obligated, you are only building up frustration and resentment. Life is too short to do things that have no meaning or that engender those feelings. And cycling is all about having a good time for most of us.


JP Martin, Rides Captain






Tomorrow, Friday July 31, is Day One of the annual tour of the Cabot Trail organized by VCB.  


Forty hardy cyclists, local “capebretoners”, “mainlanders”, several coming from other provinces and six participants from UK will hit the road at 10:00 am from the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s Bay to ride one of the TOP 10 Cycling destination in the World as selected by Lonely Planet in 2010.  


Cabot Trail in 4 Days has been designed specifically for touring cyclists to enjoy 300 km of paved roads, from softly rolling terrain to steep climbs winding its way through the quiet Margaree Valley on the first day, then following along the shores of the Gulf of St.Lawrence on Day 2, the beautiful Highlands National Park on Day 3, to end the tour along the scenic Atlantic coast of Cape Breton Island at the Gaelic College. 


Cabot Trail in 4 Days is a fully supporter tour where everyone cycle at their own pace and style to immerse in the Cape Breton culture, and enjoy what we have best to offer.  No pressure.  Just plain fun.






This suggestion is for you guys and gals drooling for next year’s tour.  


How about meeting at the Englishtown Ferry for a 10:00 am departure?


A 15km ride to the Clucking Hen Café for the noon lunch and return with the CT4D tourers on their last leg of the Cabot Trail.


It is a "Show-n-Go" easy ride for anyone to enjoy and meet Cheryl, Shauna, Mike, Paul, John, Jack and all the others.


NOT a Velo Cape Breton event... just another opportunity to ride and see what fully-supported cycle touring is all about.  






By popular demand, Tuesday evening rides will resume on August 11 at 6:00 pm from Noelle’s Country Market on Keltic Drive in Balls Creek.







Not an upcoming ride, but a report of one, to give you ideas for cycling trips!



by:  Nita Bernat, Shelley Johnson


Sometimes you just have to be open to an adventure. Something you have never done before.  Little did we know what we were getting into when we decided to ride the Katy Trail, the longest Rails to Trails in the United States.  The Katy Trail follows along the Missouri River, which is the longest river in North America.  Rich in the history of Lewis and Clarke and  Daniel Boone.  Lewis and Clarke is significant to US history as they made a perilous two year journey to explore and map the western half of the continent and claim this territory before the British and other European powers.  When you ride the Katy, you are in Daniel Boone country and one is reminded along the Trail of his exploits that made him a folklore hero.  The Katy Trail consists of crushed limestone for 264 miles ( 425k ) from Machens, MO to Clifton, MO.


We knew we were committed when we boarded the Amtrak train with our bikes in the small town of Kirkwood, just about a half an hour drive outside of St. Louis.  It was interesting looking out the window at the fast moving waters of the Missouri River.  There had been a lot of rain and flooding in the week prior to our arrival.  Three hours later we were delivered to the small town of Sedalia, where we chose to begin our journey.  Since this was our first trip  on a trail carrying panniers with our clothing, we knew very little what to expect.  We had arranged ahead of time to stay at B&Bs in the towns we had determined we would ride to daily.  We kept our daily mileage between 40 and 50 miles.  Although cycling was not difficult, it took us twice the amount of time to ride as it would have on road bikes vs. hybrids and pavement vs. limestone.  We pedaled constantly.


The scenery was impressive from the swollen banks of the Missouri River to the towering limestone cliffs that were the back drop to the railroad line.  Large lush trees hung over the Trail providing us with much needed shade and then at other times we rode exposed past flat fields of corn and soy bean plants.  Had we of taken this trip a week earlier, we might have been under water as torrential rains caused much of the trail to flood.  We were fortunate that our week had sunny skies and temps in the 90s ( 32 plus celsius ).  The folks that we encountered in the small towns along the Trail were wonderful, rich with stories and information and great ambassadors for both the Katy Trail and the state of Missouri.  Sadly, our 5 day journey was over in ST Charles, where we caught a ride back to Kirkwood.  However, we have our memories of a great trip together and the dreams of what the next adventure could be.




Shelley Johnson and Nita Bernat on the Katy Trail.


If you have any desire to see, do, experience, or ride the Katy Trail you can find more information at; . 




As an aside, I want to thank Nita for suggesting and organizing this trip.  It was truly wonderful and even more so on two wheels.


“ We do not remember days, we remember moments”

Cesare Pavese







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!



TANDEMONIUM – contributed


Tandemonium…US Style     written by Renita Bernat /inspired by Shelley Johnson

After a wonderful 5 day trip on the KATY Trail in Missouri and a couple days in Chicago, we were back in Louisville before Shelley was to return home to NS.  Weather here still in the 90’s with little to do but ride and enjoy the remainder of our time together.  

That means one thing to me…bring out the tandem.  

I have 3 tandems.  The one I chose to initiate Ms. Johnson on was my Burley Samba.  I have a wonderful captain that I ride my Santana Sovereign tandem with and we are a team that in recognizable around much of Louisville, Kentucky. I decided to give him a reprieve and make this all about the girls.

  I would be the tandem captain (the rider up front) and allow Shelley to be my stoker (the very important rider in the 2nd seat). This was a lesson for both of us.  Instructing Shelley on how to sit very still, listen for all my cues, follow my instructions, and at the same time allow me to sharpen my skills at balancing the weight of another rider behind me and communicating all my intentions.

What a ride!  What started out to be around the block ended in a wonderful 40 mile / 60 K ride.  Of course it included food, photos, friends, and friendship.  The best combination for a successful cycling outing.  I could not have chosen a better stoker.  Shelley even mentioned how different it is to be able to look around and enjoy the surroundings without having to focus when you’re riding stoker position.  She did so well I put her up front in the captain’s position for a bit and took over the stoker seat.  Once again she proved to be a quick learner and is now able to add yet another title to her resume.

Amazing what you can do on a bike…eh?



AND: A Thank You


Development Isle Madame would like to express our sincere thanks to all who assisted us in hosting the Velo Cape Breton cyclist tour on Saturday, July 11th.  It is always a sincere pleasure to promote our beautiful pristine Island to others and this could not be possible without your continued assistance.  A sincere thanks to Jessica Boudreau for organizing the route, to Edgar Samson for providing the seafood, to Victor David for the delicious seafood chowder, to Donald Goyetche & Devon Terrio for the tasty barbeque, and to the numerous volunteers who assisted. 



Joan Clannon - Administrator

Development Isle Madame Association Inc.

2575 Highway 206, Box 57

Arichat, NS  B0E 1A0

Tel: (902) 226-1918

Fax: (902) 226-1919



Participants in this year’s tour of Isle Madame. (J. Clannon, photo).





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).


The Blue Route is being launched August 6th, 2015, in Pictou. You can’t get much more cycling-culture-y in NS than that!








Trails We Have:


Trails We Don’t:


Pan-Am games cycling results:


Tourism for NS includes cycling:


The Trans-Canada Trail:


Sign up to ride the rail trails for a cancer treatment fundraiser:


Tour de France report:






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



Still for sale: 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 for sale: 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







  1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
  2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian .
  3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
  4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.
  5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.
  6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
  7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
  8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
  9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
  10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
  11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.
  12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
  13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, 'You stay here; I'll go on a head.'
  14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'
  16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, 'No change yet.'
  17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
  18. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
  19. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
  20. A backward poet writes inverse.
  21. In democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.
  22. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.
  23. Don't join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!




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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