BOBBY MAGILL

Journalist • Photographer

Bobby Magill is a senior science writer for Climate Central in New York and a journalist who has covered fracking and the environment in Colorado and New Mexico since 2001. 

Greetings from Cape Sable Island: Nova Scotia Bike Tour Day 1

Our recumbent cycling trek around Nova Scotia has gotten off with some fits and starts, but after several days of dealing with some technical issues and unrelated complications, we're now one day in and 59.4 miles down the road. 

Storm light over Shelburne, NS, on Tuesday night.  

Storm light over Shelburne, NS, on Tuesday night.  

We left New York on Saturday morning, drove to Portland, Maine, where we stayed with family, and then drove to Halifax on Sunday, just in time for the city's busking festival.  

How do you like your poutine? Halifax.  

How do you like your poutine? Halifax.  

Halifax is a beautiful and booming small city, but we quickly hit the road on Monday for Lunenburg, a UNESCO world heritage site and small historic town down the coast from Halifax. We camped on the edge of town, ate local Indian food and tasted locally distilled vodka and gin.

 

Even the local stray cat population knows where to find the good stuff in Lunenburg.  

Even the local stray cat population knows where to find the good stuff in Lunenburg.  

The Blue Nose II schooner in Lunenburg. 

The Blue Nose II schooner in Lunenburg. 

The Dory Shop in Lunenburg.  

The Dory Shop in Lunenburg.  

From Lunenburg, we drove to Shelburne, where we stayed in a local hotel and ate at restaurant where we discussed the finer points of the virtues of donairs, the local cuisine, with the waitstaff of a local restaurant. Donairs are made of spicy beef and a sweet mayonnaise. 

 

Shelburne was founded by English loyalists during the Revolution, and the town is quite proud of it. There are more Union Jacks flying here than maple leaves.  

Shelburne was founded by English loyalists during the Revolution, and the town is quite proud of it. There are more Union Jacks flying here than maple leaves.  

Storm light in Shelburne.  

Storm light in Shelburne.  

Shelburne.  

Shelburne.  

Finally sick of riding in the car, we wrapped up the business we needed to take care of and struck out on two wheels on Wednesday morning. The plan is to leave the car in Shelburne, then head along the Nova Scotia coast through Yarmouth and eventually to Annapolis Royal and the Bay of Fundy coast, where we'll turn south, cross back to the South Shore and return to Shelburne, where we'll retrieve the car and make our way back to New York City.  

 

Jacob, parking the bikes for breakfast this morning at a Shelburne cafe. total mileage at this point: 0.8.

Jacob, parking the bikes for breakfast this morning at a Shelburne cafe. total mileage at this point: 0.8.

The rural marshlands we rode through south of Shelburne.  

The rural marshlands we rode through south of Shelburne.  

We ran into another bike tourist from Montreal, and we ended up leapfrogging him several times on the route toward Barrington. We ate dinner with him at a pizza joint in Barrington Passage, where Jacob and I filled up on snacks at the Sobeys grocery store and the headed south toward Cape Sable Island. 

We ran into another bike tourist from Montreal, and we ended up leapfrogging him several times on the route toward Barrington. We ate dinner with him at a pizza joint in Barrington Passage, where Jacob and I filled up on snacks at the Sobeys grocery store and the headed south toward Cape Sable Island. 

Total mileage for the first day on the road: 59.4. The idea was to do an easy first day, but services were nearly nonexistent along the entire route, and there are no places to camp until Yarmouth, another 50 miles down the highway. So, we worked AirBNB magic and ended up near the very southern tip of Nova Scotia — Cape Sable Island.  

No short ride tomorrow, either. 50 miles or so gets us to a campground near Yarmouth. Or, who knows? Maybe we'll ride 100 tomorrow.  

Finally, several generalizations about Canada: Everybody is insanely friendly; even when people are grumpy, they're nice. Unlike in NYC, litter is usually minimal, but you can follow the Tim Hortons cups scattered on the highway to find the nearest location. Canadian towns don't sprawl like US towns do. Yes, they have their commercial strips, but in Nova Scotia, there isn't much in between. Better fill up with gas and water or snacks while you can, in other words. And, everything is expensive. So expensive. But the quality of life? Pretty stellar up north, it seems.