After leaving the ferry at 7:30 AM I had breakfast at North Sydney and rode back to Sydney. This time I stayed on 304 till it intersected 125 instead of riding 105 to 125 and then 125 to Sydney. 304 runs along the bay and is quite pretty, if a bit bumpy. When I reached 125, I just put my head down and hauled on into Sydney. I made it before 9AM, stopped to get help from the tourism center, and discovered that the 'good' bike shop no longer existed. The only shop in town was a motorcycle dealership that sold and repaired bikes on the side.
The shop was only two easy miles away from the tourism center, and they said they could true the wheel. I rode down, gave the owner the wheel, visited with him about my trip, worked on my bike while the wheel was being trued, and he gave me back a very true wheel for no charge. He said it was the least he could do for someone who had bicycled to Cape Breton from North Carolina. Another nice NS person. There certainly are lots of 'em! I put my bike back together and rode off with a smile on my face.
After riding back to North Sydney, I took 105 west to the Cabot Trail. 105 has very wide shoulders and was more fun to ride that 125. I stopped for lunch before the climb over Kellys Mountain. Great chowder at the restaurant next to the Kellys View Motel. Then I rode over the 900 foot high hill. The road took 7 km to do 260 meters vertical, so the average grade was maybe 4%. No big deal. On the other hand, there where these nasty storm clouds forming about and beyond Kellys. Big rolls of thunder and lots of dark roiling clouds up there made me very concerned about what I was riding into.
I chose to turn north towards Englishtown and the cable ferry across St Ann's Bay. As I rode out along the harbor, I could see heavy rain ahead and on the other side - the Cabot Trail. The temperature plummeted at least 20 F in a mile or so and I had strong head winds and an occasional large drop of rain as I rode to the ferry landing. When I got off the ferry on the other side (we're talking a very short ferry ride, like a quarter mile) the ground was very wet and I was told, by several people 'you just missed a hell of a storm!' Golf ball sized hail, torrential rains, etc. Moreover, this wasn't a normal Cape Breton thing. A guy who runs a service station near where I'm staying in Ingonish Beach said he could only remember one other storm like this one in his, 40 year or so, life here. I had a nice, 20 minute, conversation with a couple at the restaurant after lunch. If I hadn't, I probably would have been hit by that storm.
After getting my courage back, I rode on through the area that had just been pounded. As I rode, the weather cleared up and the trip was pretty nice on the first, and gentlest, part of the Cabot Trail. Then I came to Smokey, the first big climb. It is a mile or so with an average grade of 12%. The worst part is right after it really starts to climb. I'd say some of that part is 15% or greater. Then it settles down to a very steady climb for the next mile or so. What can I say; I enjoyed being able to ride up it at 4 to 5 mph on my 75 lb bicycle. Tomorrow I get to try a hill that is twice as high and has a 15% grade for the last half a mile. That part I may have to walk.