While visiting a friend in Nova Scotia our fan reporter and some friends embarked on a journey through the scenic roadways of Cape Breton Island.
It started out as a nice serene ride with six friends on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia. We had decided to visit our friend Tito, who had just moved up there and bought a campground complete with cabins. There was a mix of bikes from my ‘92 Softail to Tito’s Ducati Paseo. It was a bleary day, overcast with stretches of very dense fog. We enjoyed the scenery and even saw a bear cub roll down a hill next to the highway quickly followed by Mama Bear. We rode to the pace of the slowest rider since we were on vacation, but I know I wasn’t alone and chomping at the bit to go much faster. As always, I was holding down the rear of the pack.
We rode with Tito in the lead until we came to a nice church where some nuns served us lunch. After egg salad sandwiches with lemonade we hit the trail again. This time we rode the opposite direction, since we had done 75% of the trail at this point.
In the parking lot Jeff said: “I want to take off. I’ll meet you back at camp.” I asked to join him and he smiled and said, “You know what I’m about to do.” I grinned and off we went. Tito, playing host, looked forlorn. I know he wanted to show us how it was done since he lived there.
Jeff and I have ridden over 20,000 miles together and sometimes I know what he’s going to do before it happens. We have similar riding styles despite his being on a BMW and me on a Harley-Davidson. He has about twice the hours on
a race track than I do, despite my having raced semi-professionally during the ’80s. He’s one of the few riders I know and trust implicitly. Unfortunately Jeff decided to ride the posted speed in mph instead of kph, but chasing Jeff was a lot of fun.
All was well as we rounded each corner, passing cars and RV’s in a relatively safe manner. I was smiling the whole time. The roads were in great shape and since it was June the tourists were scarce. I was perhaps 20 feet off his tail and we rode as one bike. It was what I call ‘motorcycle ballet.’ Mile after mile of apexes and short straights kept us entertained. The fog had burned off and the weather was perfect.
We slowed into the town of Chetticamp out of respect and I noticed our friends appear in my mirror. Apparently Tito decided to pick up the pace after we left. As we were leaving town, we jumped back up to speed and quickly fell in behind a car going rather slow. Jeff jumped out to pass with me hot on his tail. That’s when things quickly went wrong.
As Jeff was next to the driver’s door and still accelerating a car turned onto the road heading straight for us. There was no way we were going to execute the pass. Jeff slammed on his brakes, dropped two gears and jumped in behind the car. As he did I saw his shoulders clench as if he was expecting me to slam into him. He later told me he had forgotten I was following him until he was behind the car. However, I knew what he was doing and managed to keep my distance. Needless to say I am very glad I replaced the stock brakes with upgrades earlier that year.
As the other car flew by, Jeff waved and off we went. We were really moving (at speeds I won’t admit to here) as we rounded the first corner. Around the next corner, I saw a Mountie Station to our right with several Mounties standing outside. They all looked up at us and one actually waved. We never slowed. I kept looking for a police car to come up from behind, but nothing followed.
Jeff tried to leave me at this point and was rather surprised that my ’92 was able to keep up with his relatively new BMW. Actually, I think he wasn’t very happy when I passed him during a long straightaway. However, I felt I had to show off my winter project upgrades. Since I’m not comfortable leading I shortly afterward signaled for him to take lead again.
Back at camp the others arrived about 20 minutes later and everyone was full of tales of how they saw our incident and thought we were history. Jeff and I laughed, but secretly we vowed to never do that again. Two years later we were to forget that vow in northern Georgia, but I’ll save that for another story.