It is difficult to explain how iconic the Cabot Trail is to Nova Scotians and even Canadians.  With six significant climbs (some of which are 13-17% for long stretches) it is notorious and glorious at the same time.  The scenery is unparalleled and there is a mystique about the Highlands which captures everyone's imagination.  The trail has been labeled “one of the greatest bike routes on earth” by Bicycling Magazine.  Its notoriety has both intrigued and deterred many ‘ordinary”™ people from attempting to ride or run it.
There is no doubt that some of the members of our group were initially attracted to our project by the concept of taking the trail and living to tell the story.  As their journey has unfolded they have become much more enthusiastic about their own health and skills, and just as we hoped, the Trail is now only a subsidiary goal.  Improving their fitness and their cycling skills has become foremost in their minds.
In the last month more people have been drawn into our group.  All of them are non-cyclists and some of them have no recent history of exercise.  They have been attracted by the experience of family members who are part of our group or by the buzz that has started to build around our trip.  I am delighted by the ripple effect of our activities.  It will have a lasting impact on individuals and their families and on our small community.
Our Sunday activities over the last few weeks have included:
  •  a 2.5 hour trail ride
  •  a 2 hour trail and road ride including some hill instruction
  •  hill repeats
  •  road ride - 3 x 13 km loops with moderate traffic, flats and hills to 14%
In addition my husband and I ran a tire/tube/wheel workshop.  It was really well attended and went a long way to break down people's fear of their bikes.  We'll do another mechanical workshop in a few weeks.
Participants continue to attend two indoor cycling classes per week.  They also fit bike rides and strength training into their weeks.  Their training logs show that they are planning their activities carefully, with rest days and a month over month increase in training load.  The weather is now improving to the point where it will reasonable for us to plan much longer Sunday rides.  In the works for the next three weeks:
  • an indoor climbing session (we have booked the whole facility for some risk-taking, bonding and laughter)
  • a 55 km trail ride broken by brunch (world”™s best lobster Eggs Benedict)
  • more work on hills
  • a 52 km loop road ride, with some significant traffic and two challenging hills
For those of you who are considering doing something similar in your community, next week I will provide a breakdown of the time commitment and activities which have been necessary to organize the Take the Trail project to date.
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Originally posted 2012-05-15 08:12:28.

Christine Nielsen
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