Florida to Nova Scotia, 2013

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by ag_streak, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. ag_streak

    ag_streak Tiene Ruta Cuarenta?

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    Spanning the last week of September and the first week of October this year, 7 of us in the Tampa area boarded the Auto Train in Orlando, FL bound for Lorton, VA, and spent 14 days and 4,200 miles riding to Nova Scotia and back.

    The first leg was for everyone to meet in Sanford, FL on a Saturday afternoon. If you're not familiar, the Auto Train travels a single route between Sanford, outside Orlando, to Lorton, outside DC, once per day each way. You depart about 4:00 in the afternoon and arrive around 8:30 in the morning, avoiding about 1,000 miles of slab. Here's Larrygee and I saying farewell to my niece and nephew in St. Petersburg, en route to Brandon to meet up with Daryl.

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    The loading of the bikes on the Auto Train is an interesting affair. They have some wheeled dollies that hold two bikes each. You ride onto the dolly and the workers secure some straps, then you go inside the terminal to await departure. The workers seemed to know what they were doing just fine, and they take great care securing the bikes. Despite that though, two of us had some minor damage to our saddlebags on the return trip.


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    Everyone arrived by 1:30 - 2:00, the appointed time to load bikes prior to the 4:00 (4:30?) departure. Everything is spelled out when you book your reservations online. Simple.

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    They string the dollies full of bikes together and take them away for loading on the train, which you don't get to see. Then you wait in the terminal until departure.

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    The workers are very informal, and if you need anything off your bike after you load them on the dollies and before they take them away, it's no problem. But after the bikes are on the train, you cannot access them. Here's how they take the bikes away for loading on the train.

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    The train is awesome! They do such a great job! There's a dining car, a bar car, and a movie at night. We opted for the cabins, which are small but functional, to try to get some sleep before riding for two weeks! The plain seats we had on the way back sucked. They're bigger and better than airplane seats, but not by much. The train is very quiet and the ride is smooth. Much more relaxing than an airplane.

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    The dinner was awesome! White linen tablecloths, wine, waiter service! First-class!

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    We arrived early in Lorton, VA and disembarked. It probably took 45 minutes or so to get the bikes. We packed up our overnight belongings we took on the train, and headed out.

    The first day took us through Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, where we stopped at our first hotel in Honesdale. A half hour out of the train station, we met up with Don, on the only non-ADV bike on the trip (a BMW K1600) who had ridden up from Florida. Don ended up with the highest mileage of all of us by far.

    The first day of riding was epic, and the hotel in Honesdale was a hoot! The next morning we had breakfast locally and took off for our next night's destination, New Hampshire.

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    A couple of us stopped in Gettysburg to take in the battlefield while others went on ahead. This was our MO for the rest of the trip. Riding as a group of 8 sometimes, and other times splitting into smaller groups or riding alone.

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    My camera didn't catch Josh with a smile at this moment, but we were definitely having a FUCKING BLAST! :freaky

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    This is Aaron, the owner of Eurocycles of Tampa Bay. All of us on this trip owed a great debt of gratitude to Aaron, He had ridden Nova Scotia with his uncle the year prior, and was kind enough to scope out all the best roads and routes, pick the destinations and hotels for each night, and coordinate the planning of the whole trip. If he could only keep his pace to a speed mere mortals could maintain on public roads, he'd be the perfect trip leader! :freaky

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    This takes us only to the second or third day of the trip. The best was yet to come, what with our planned accent of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, crossing the border into Canada, seeing the Bay of Fundy, and riding the infamous Cabot Trail on Nova Scotia. I've got a bunch more pictures to post, but it's late and I'm on my third glass of wine! More coming..,.

    Stay tuned... :deal
    #1
  2. England-Kev

    England-Kev Long timer

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    I'm in... :lurk
    #2
  3. Mustang28027

    Mustang28027 Been here awhile

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    Good trip. After reading Radioman's report, this might be on my bucket list. Im curious to see what your picked out to see up there.
    #3
  4. Rutabaga

    Rutabaga Been here awhile

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    I like the Auto-Train idea. Looking forward to the rest of a neat adventure.
    #4
  5. realpsi

    realpsi n00b

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    Auto-train is a great idea. Thanks for sharing.
    #5
  6. Litespeed602

    Litespeed602 Going in Circles

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    :type Get those fingers moving, we're waiting :lol3
    #6
  7. Freshorse

    Freshorse Adventurer

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    A buddy and I are planning a ride to NS the coming year from NJ. Looking forward to your report. I went up thru New Hampshire, vermont and maine this summer. I was in the clouds on mt Washington so didn't get the view from the summit, still awesome.
    #7
  8. ag_streak

    ag_streak Tiene Ruta Cuarenta?

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    Jeez! Ok, ok! :freaky

    The next day we rode through the awesome Adirondack Park in New York, around the north shore of Lake George, all the way across Vermont, and into New Hampshire. First stop of note was Mount Washington.

    Mt. Washington is only 6,288 feet tall, but has recorded some of the most severe weather in North America and the highest wind gust every recorded on the entire globe! Impressive! The day we were there, it was in the 60's at the bottom, but at the top, it was 34 degrees, 45 mph wind gusts, and 30 feet visibility! By the time I took some pictures, the visibility was much better.

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    Halfway up I stopped for the picture above and suffered the only dropped bike of the trip.

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    This one was on the way down, below the cloud line.

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    The snow was really frozen fog and mist that blows constantly.

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    Pretty cool for a bunch of Florida guys.

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    The year before, Aaron had met a couple of Canadians on his trip, and this year they joined us in New Hampshire and rode back to Nova Scotia. I'm an ass for not remembering everybody's name! :cry

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    After a night in New Hampshire, we rode across Maine. Crossing into Canada at the Maine - New Brunswick border.

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    Parts of the ride are a blur, but we were excited to finally be in Canada. Despite some steady rain and temperatures in the high 40's we blasted across New Brunswick towards our night's destination in Sydney, NS.

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    New Brunswick was less than breathtaking, but a HELL of a lot better than Florida! :deal When got to NS, we were finally hitting some great roads and amazing views.

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    We averaged around 400 miles a day. Here's a very tired Ryan late in the afternoon.

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    Larry was amazed to learn he had his own river!

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    Larry and Don discuss the day's route.

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    The real fun began when we made it to Cape Breton Island.

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    THIS is what we came for!

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    Finally made it to the Cabot Trail!

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    The towns and seaside villages made for plenty of photo ops.

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    Yours truly, enjoying a trip that was a long time in the making!

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    Taking a break somewhere along the miles, and miles, and miles of great roads along the shore.

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    This is one of my favorite shots. The eastern shore of Cape Breton Island! :freaky

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    Only on Nova Scotia for a day at this point. Plenty of trip left. More pictures soon...
    #8
  9. ag_streak

    ag_streak Tiene Ruta Cuarenta?

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    If you're going to ride Nova Scotia, you better like lighthouses!

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    Yet another incredible view from the eastern shore of Cape Breton Island.

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    If you're going to ride Nova Scotia, you better like lobster!

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    I think my expectations were exceeded regarding the roads and terrain. There was plenty of elevation change and challenging roads.

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    Just another crappy view!

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    The Canadians we rode with were some of the nicest damn people I ever met!

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    We spent a night in downtown Halifax and it seemed like a big city after a few days on the road in small towns in rural Nova Scotia!

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    The next day we rode out of Halifax. I wanted to see Peggy's Cove, which wasn't on our route, so I did a 40 mile loop off our planned route and spent the rest of the day riding alone before meeting up with the gang at the appointed destination for the evening. It was one of the best riding days of my life! In a foreign country, exploring new roads and fishing villages, without any schedule to keep, riding a fine machine in great weather! Sublime!

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    We had two days in Digby planned. The second was an "off" day with no route planned. A couple of us took off in a drizzle to explore while some others rested, did laundry, and stayed close to town. Another sublime day exploring an area we had never been. Here's Daryl taking some pictures.

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    Daryl...

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    Ryan..

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    Most of the pictures above of water are of the fabled Bay of Fundy. More to come! :freaky
    #9
  10. Dr.Z

    Dr.Z 6Sigma Knuckle Shflr

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    Nice pics! :clap

    More, more, more... :lurk
    #10
  11. ag_streak

    ag_streak Tiene Ruta Cuarenta?

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    When we last joined our insipid heroes ("Don't you mean intrepid?"... "No-o-o-o-oo...") (name that movie!) Daryl, Ryan and I were exploring the Digby Peninsula.

    About half way along the string of islands (multiple ferries) was the famed Balancing Rock. It was nice to get off the bikes and hike the mile or so to the shoreline down an interesting trail.

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    And there is the natural wonder itself! :freaky

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    As everyone knows, the Bay of Fundy is famous for it's incredible tides. We heard stories of people not being able to outrun the incoming rush of water across the mud flats, boats unable to overcome the current, and underwater electric turbines designed to harness the tidal energy being destroyed within weeks of installation.

    We didn't experience any of that, but the mud flats in some of the harbors did go out further than you could see.

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    After two rowdy, fun-filled nights (not!) in sleepy Digby, it was time to leave Nova Scotia on the Digby-to-St. Johns (New Brunswick) ferry. Like all my ferry experiences in Canada (Nova Scotia and British Columbia) the ferry service is awesome. On time, comfortable, and efficient.

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    We left Digby under fog but it quickly dissipated as we left port. The ferry crossing took 3.5 hours, if I remember correctly.

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    The indefatigable Jim striking a nautical pose!

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    Once back on the mainland in New Brunswick, we high-tailed it back to the border to Maine on some fast, remote backroads. The border crossings both ways were uneventful.

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    We cruised down coastal Main and spent the night in Camden. The hotel that night was really cool, but it was so late in the trip, I didn't get any pictures.

    The next day we stopped for lunch along the famous Vermont Route 100. We continued making our way across a couple states until we found Pennsylvania. At least, I think that's where the pictures below were taken! The days were starting to blur together! Wake up, eat, ride, eat, ride, eat, sleep, repeat. Tough times!

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    We arrived in Baltimore for the final night of our trip. The hotel was also the most "interesting". It was in a bad part of town, and we witnessed two drug deals in the parking lot, a hooker (on roller skates, no less!) making the rounds at 2:00 in the morning, blood on the walls of some of the rooms, and remnants of crime scene tape. Sorry, no pictures of the hooker!

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    Nova Scotia is to lobster, as Maryland is to crabs. A bunch of very relaxed but tired riders enjoyed the last night of the ride in the Inner Harbor. Almost worth the $80 cab ride (each way, for two cabs!)

    Nice face, Josh! WTF?

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    All that remained the next day was a short ride to the Auto Train in Lorton, VA, where we pretty much repeated the process for the ride home.

    By the way, if you book the Auto Train, get a cabin. The basic cabin is fine for two. The deluxe cabins have their own baths, but you really only need it if you're traveling with kids. The seats suck and I didn't get any sleep on the way home. They're better than airline seats, but not by much. The return leg was much more expensive for the cabin, which we attributed to the seasonal rates changing October 1st. I'm just speculating.

    By the way, the quoted travel time on the route was overestimated. We arrived early both legs. On the way up, we were so early we had to wait about 20 minutes for the terminal workers to arrive.

    All in all I clocked 4,200 miles in what I think was 12 days of riding. If anyone wants to see some truly beautiful coastline, a Nova Scotia trip should be in your plans!

    The 2013 Tiger 800 Roadie ran flawlessly. It was the perfect mount for this trip. Effortless 80 mph cruising, light and neutral with plenty of grip from the stock tires in the twisties, and all-day comfortable with the Triumph accessory taller adjustable windscreen, electric grips, and even the stock seat was great. I used a fleece Alaskan seat pad and a Beadrider. Everyone else on the trip was on a BMW. Mostly 1200GS's (a couple of the new water-cooled) and a couple of 800GS's. We suffered no crashes, and one mechanical breakdown. A thrown chain on Josh's F800GS, which was fixed with miraculous generosity and kindness by our Canadian friends, who lent Josh another F800 for two days, got his chain fixed, and met us in Halifax to deliver and swap bikes! :freaky :clap :freaky

    Ride well!
    #11
  12. Litespeed602

    Litespeed602 Going in Circles

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    :thumbup
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  13. aspaldo

    aspaldo Been here awhile

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    Cool write up. I've been wanting to go to NS for some riding, the photos make want to go even more.

    I'm glad to hear the auto train worked out well. I've always considered it for a trip to fl (I live just outside DC), but then I think of riding in fl and decide to go someplace else hah...

    Sent from my Nexus 10 using Tapatalk
    #13
  14. Space Traveler

    Space Traveler explorer

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    This is a very nice ride. Idid it in 2003 and 2010, and will do it again for sure.

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    #14
  15. westernguy

    westernguy Adventurer

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    Hey guys,
    great post! I grew up across the bay from the balancing rock. Did you guys go all the way to the end of dig by neck to briar island? If you did you must have rode the ferries. The film Dolores Claiborne was partly filmed on a few of the islands and ferries. If you ever watch the movie you will recognize parts in the film of those areas. If anyone ever returns to NS please feel free to msg me, i know many nice back roads to explore and can give any information you would require.

    Keep posting :D
    #15
  16. ag_streak

    ag_streak Tiene Ruta Cuarenta?

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    Thanks, Westernguy, I love me some backroads!

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    I always try to find the ways off the beaten path. BTW, we took the first ferry on Digby Neck both ways but not the second to the end.

    If we ever head that way again, I'll look you up. Thanks again! :freaky
    #16
  17. LarryGee

    LarryGee Been here awhile

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    Good job on the write up and photos Paul...

    I always take a camera but never wind up taking any pictures...

    Larry
    #17
  18. EuroCyclesofTampa

    EuroCyclesofTampa n00b

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    Location:
    8509 Gunn Highway Odessa, FL 33556
    The meet-up for the 2014 Nova Scotia ride is happening THIS SATURDAY, June 7th here at Euro Cycles of Tampa Bay at 2pm.

    Join us if anyone is interested!

    We are at 8509 Gunn Hwy, Odessa, FL 33556

    ph: 813-926-9937

    Attached Files:

    #18
  19. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

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    A few years back, I visited Briar Is. by car with a girlfriend. I paid my respects to Josh Slocum, born on Briar & the 1st man to circumnavigate solo. Leaving Briar & in the middle of Long Is. we saw a raccoon mom, right at the side of the road with 5 little tiny ones, thinking about crossing the narrow country road. We slowed to a walk & carefully rolled past them. If there's something cuter than tiny raccoon babies, I don't know what it is! I saw in the mirror that they started to cross after we passed. We sped up & 50 feet up the road, rounded a curve. Suddenly going the other way, comes a bike leaned over & going maybe 50-55 MPH.(road was probably rated for 25, tops) It was a real rat-cafe bike, 70's Honda 750, no fenders, pipe wrap, no mufflers, clip-ons, primer paint, the whole thing. The rider, had his beard on the tank, 3/4 helmet & goggles & dirty leather jacket & he was really hauling ass. My girl & I looked at each other in horror. We both figured momma coon & at least a few of her offspring were now road paste. I pulled over, stopped, & trotted back around the curve to see if any survived. There was the old Honda parked on the shoulder. In the middle of the road was the hairy 250 lb. biker, stooped over, gently trying to herd the raccoon family to the other side of the road with gentle hand motions! Our Canadian cousins! You gotta love 'em!
    #19