Across the Cabot Trail By The Skin of My Tire: Mile 1534

Testing Treacherous Tread on Cape Breton Island

Jay and I camped on the beach in Meat Cove last night.  Although we're quite far north, the temperature only went down to about 55 degrees, but the wind blustered around consistently, and neither of us got that much sleep.  As a result, we woke up before dawn and got to watch the sun rise over the bay.
Before we left, we took mile long hike up a mountain overlooking all of Meat Cove.
  The spectacular panoramic view from the mountain we climbed would probably the apex of our trip, both figuratively and literally. 
Morning mountains
Sunrise in Meat Cove

  Rolling mountains plunged into the sea, illuminated by a newborn sun, shining it’s first light on the crumbling rock faces, with our makeshift campsite on Meat Cove nestled in between.
 We took a less-traveled trail through the woods, which emerged at the top of a sweeping grassy hill, overlooking the coastline before it dropped off towards the ocean.

First light over Meat Cove.

We packed up our gear, scratched our bug bites, and got back on the road.  We still had half of the Cabot Trail to see today, but I was seriously worried about my rear tire.  I had checked my wheel before leaving on the trip, but two days ago the tread had worn down past the marker nubs, and last night I noticed a crumbling patch of rubber along the crest of the tire, through which I could begin to see metal cords, the last bit left of a tire that should have been replaced long before.
The risk of a flat or even a blowout increased the farther I went.  We had 8 miles of uneven, unkept roads comprised of washed out dirt and irregular gravel, up and down mountains to get back out of Meat Cove.  With no cell service and no hope of rescue (or hope to retrieve my bike) should a blowout take me over one of the multitudes of cliffs, Jay and I slowly rode on, white-knuckled and tense until we finally saw macadam again.
 Stopping several times to admire the eastern side of the Cabot Trail, we resolved to slowly and carefully make our way down to the closest motorcycle shop.  I would have changed my tire a few days ago, but we didn't pass any shops or large towns along the trail.
End of the Cabot Trail.
Within about an hour, I was clearly running on cords.  No shops were open today, but we talked to several people at service stations, who said our best bet would be Sydney (3 hours north in the wrong direction) or Moncton (5 hours ahead).  
Finally, we decided to make our way back to Antigonish, where we had stayed two nights before, and see if there was a motorcycle dealer anywhere in town.
To our relief, we got into town early and actually met up with several people we had met a few nights back, who helped us find the nearest service shop. After some absurdly expensive late night fast food (I bought a $17 lobster Subway footlong and Jay an almost inedible McLobster...), we rested our weary heads, with our fingers crossed that the shop had the necessary tools, tires, know-how and time to fit us in tomorrow morning.

 © 2014 Tigh Loughhead

Tigh's House of God to Meat Cove: Mile 1339

The Road to Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island and off-road to Meat Cove

Meat cove after 7-8 miles of treacherous back roads.

Ducati on Campus- St.FX, Antagonish: Mile 1142

Halifax History (at the Citadel) to a St.FX dorm in Antigonish

The ride today was by far the best ride so far.  The weather was beautiful, and the roads were windy and gorgeous.  Halifax is a fairly cosmopolitan city, and two New Yorkers felt right at home.

Soggy Slog to Halifax: Mile 958


Bit of a late start this morning.  We checked out of Yarmouth at around 10:30, with warnings of thunderstorms from the hotel staff.  I had planned a leisurely, scenic coastal route (3) to New Brunswick, but as we rolled out of town the angry looking skies unleashed a torrential downpour for about half an hour, and we instead got on highway 103.

Boats, Bridges and Bikes on Beaches: Mile 726

New Brunswick to Nova Scotia

What a day! For the first time on our trip, we had less than a hundred miles riding planned, but ended up accomplishing more today by the seat of our pants than on a motorcycle.  Jay's Tuono's tire was looking pretty bare, which apparently gets only about 2500 miles per tire (about a third of what I'm hoping for, but understandable since his race-mapped Tuono is pushing something like 186hp to the rear wheel) so we rushed over to Eldridge's, a big Harley dealer/shop on the way to the ferry from St. John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia. We had 12pm reservations and would be cutting it quite close, though they promised they could squeeze us in...
I'm not really a cruiser fan, but the guys we met there were almost all on some epic trek.  There was a fellow who was going back to Toronto (a 15 hour ride) strait, and a fellow named Don who had gone around the world on a bike in 1971, regaling us with stories of getting caught up in wartime in southeast Asia, paying gypsy thieves to watch his bike in Morocco, and staggering out of a bar in Ireland two hours before the IRA bombed the place. 
 A Duc amongst the hogs...
 Everyone we've met in Canada has been extraordinarily laid back, and guys at the shop assured us that the 11am boarding time to the Digby Ferry was flexible, though we ended up cutting it extremely close, arriving after 11:45 for a 12pm departure.
 We were loaded onto the boat nearly last, and an attendant handed us each two tie-downs and disappeared from the almost empty vehicle compartment below deck.  Now neither Jay or I had used just tie downs to secure our bikes before, so we spent over a half hour furiously strapping loops through our forks to anchor our motorcycles to the floor, expecting the ship to launch and rock the boat.  Finally, an attendant walked by letting us know that we had been at sea for the past forty minutes and that the tie downs were probably unnecessary...

The ferry itself was fantastic, and we grabbed lunch and sat outside for most of the 3 hour voyage.
 A group of hopeful whale watchers...
Bluffs arriving in Digby, NS.
 I found a Nova Scotia.
Jay is ready to roll.

Outside of Digby

 From Digby I had decided to try to get to Yarmouth (and get some riding in today), but rode southwest along the northern coastline back on Route 1 for about an hour until I saw a gravel road advertising some sort of park or historical monument (in French).  The dirt road veered off, but there was gravel footpath several feed wide that turned towards the beach for half a mile, and I recklessly plowed offroad knowing full well that there was no way I could turn my bike around should this trail suddenly end...
 The scene we found was utterly incredible. 180+ degrees of ocean coastline (called St. Mary's Bay) beneath a stone beach that rose about 50' above the ocean (first picture as well).
 We extricated ourselves from our sticky riding gear, ran down the beach covered in snails, barnacles and seaweed, and jumped in the water.
A panorama of the path along the beach we drove.


Solemn little brook.

 We checked into the first motel we could find, and went to grab dinner, and met a bunch of spectacular people, laughing and drinking with a few commercial scallop (pronounced "skuhh-lp") fisherman and locals, the best of whom Nadine offered us a tent in her yard and insisted we should come back down on Sunday for a seafood party at her house.  Perhaps it's in part due to our high spirits, but we haven't met an unkind, or particularly stressed out person in Canada and a few of the people we have been truly lucky to meet.

© 2014 Tigh Loughhead

Maine to New Brunswick: Mile 651

We woke up and hit the road early, taking Coastal Route 1 north through Rockport, Belfast and Ellsworth.  I had plotted an alternate route around Arcadia National Forest both on the trip out and the way back, so when we were congested in traffic through most of the morning, we decided to get as much tarmac under our wheels as possible and save Bar Harbor for the route back. Jay and I had orignally planned on ending up in Maine, but as the day wore on we decided to make Canada.

Maine an Afternoon Away: Mile 321

Maine is less than an afternoon away (from NYC)

I woke up early yesterday, ready to begin a grand adventure around Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, my partner in crime Jay had a last minute work call, and we didn’t end up hitting the road till 3pm.  We’re booked on the 12pm Wednesday ferry from St. John New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia, so with half the day gone already, I decided we would just push as far as we could, and make up any outstanding mileage the following day.  Leaving from Harlem, we criss-crossed across the Bronx, up through Connecticut, scissoring through EZPasses and traffic in central Mass and New Hampshire, making incredible time.

We hit I95 just south of Maine a little after 7pm, and when an eight-lane highway suddenly arrived beneath our wheels, pristine and empty, and when we began to see moose crossing and motorcycle caution signs (as well as notice of an apparent severe penalty for contraband out of state firewood), we knew we had entered motorcycle country…

We hit South Portland Maine sometime around 8pm, shocked that this great northern state was less than an afternoon’s drive from New York City by motorcycle.  Maine occupies some mystical, nearly foreign corner of this country in my psyche, like Montana or Alaska, a fallacy which I was happy to have dispelled by its actual proximity. 

With plenty of daylight left, we found the cheapest motel we could find and went looking for dinner.  Jay wanted anything but Mexican, as he and my buddy Cam, who recently went cross country on an Aprilia Tuono and a Ducati 899 Panigale, had eaten nothing but from Kansas to SoCal.  We got a drink at a place called the Maine Table, only to be informed that the Kitchen had closed since we sat down, and that he only place open was the Mexican joint across the street.

© 2013 Tigh Loughhead

Nova Scotia, Eh? 12 Days, 2600 Miles

Hopped on my ST3 with my buddy Jay and we're taking off for Nova Scotia.  Packed and ready to roll.

 Leaving from my buddy's house in Harlem.
In South Portland
© 2013 Tigh Loughhead

2014 Ducati 1199 Superleggera at Eurosports in Coopersburg


 I stopped off at EuroSports in Coopersburg last week, on my way from NYC to PA, to find a Ducati Superleggera 1199 on the showroom floor.  Not only is this bike exceedingly powerful, boasting the chops of the 1199 Panigale R, it's incredibly light, offering the highest power to weight ratio of any motorcycle ever in history.  At $65,000, it blows the 2007 Desmosedici away at 186 horsepower at only 366 lbs (dry weight). 

Twin Duc SportClassicism

I picked up my ST3 a few days ago from Rockwell Cycles and out in the lot they had two matching sunburst Ducati SportClassics back to back. This is probably my favorite bike that Ducati has made in the last decade, and this coupla Ducs lined up in a row did not disappoint...

Quick Run Up to Bear Mountain

 It's hard to believe such beauty and great roads are less than an hour outside of NYC.

Offroad over Hawk Mountain to Tamaqua and Back

I woke up early this morning to an incredible day in Pennsylvania; eager to get out on the road. My ST3 has been out of commission for almost the entire time I've owned it, and apart from one big trip,  I haven't had much of a chance to ride.

Central Park West Crash takes out the ST3

A few Tuesday's back, I was trying to catch up to the DOCNYC at Columbus Circle, for an evening ride on my Ducati ST3.  Unfortunately going down CPW in the mid 70's, a cab was stopped in a traffic lane, and I stupidly decided to pass it on the right, just as a girl decided to get out.  She didn't look behind her, and though I managed to slow down to about 10mph, I hit the door and went down.  

NYPD Harley Davidson Road King and Electra Glide Motorcycles by Central Park

 I'm not a huge cruiser fan, nor much of a Harley aficionado, but these police-'hogs' (pardon the pun) looked pretty boss walking down 6th Avenue in Midtown today.  I know the city spent close to $3 million last year on Harley Davidson Road Kings and Electra Glides, and I guess they wanted a strong presence for NYU's graduation ceremony at Radio City Music Hall this morning.

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