It's not a big hill- no craggy peaks or snow-fringed cols up in the thin air. But it is at the beginning and end of every ride we have done so far in Nova Scotia. It's only about 150 metres in height and about 2 km long. According to my GPS, the grade varies from 4.2% to 16.5% depending on which road I take to hook up with the main road which runs to the top. The average grade is probably around 6.8% to 7.0%.
I was hesitant about riding up the hill the first time around. Had to do a bit of on-the-bike coaching- telling myself to just keep the pedals cranking over- "Don't rush. It's not a race. You can do this."
And I did- I wouldn't go so far as to say it was the most fun I've ever had, but it certainly wasn't a stop-the-bike-and-throw-it-to-the-ground moment either. In fact I actually made a point of picking out the hilliest approaches to some of our old familiar neighbourhoods during our trip back to N.S.
It's coming to the end of summer and there is a coolness in the air- not just in the morning but right through the day. A near cloudless sky today and in the bright sun in the backyard, a most pleasant day but step around the side of the house and away from the shelter and the wind has a freshness that cuts straight through. Doesn't feel like it has even made it to 20C today.
The end of summer also is when the harvest is in full swing. We pass orchards on our rides where the trees are heavily weighed under good crops of apples and peaches. Acres and acres of pumpkins turning orange amongst the tangle of vines- a bit early yet for Hallowe'en. And fields of corn stretching almost as far as you can see.
Friday saw us travel down the Annapolis Valley to Digby for a visit with my older brother. We piled into his car and drove up to Bear River- a lovely, vibrant community in a most picturesque setting on a tidal river. In fact it is so picturesque that I was overcome by its picturesqueness and forgot to take any pictures- trust me- it's very nice. Lunch in a wonderful little restaurant perched over the river followed by a wander through a marvellous art/craft gallery/studio/shop.
Then off to one of the local wineries for a tour and tasting. The Bear River Winery is a small operation based in an old dairy barn on a south-facing, predominantly shale-based soil just up the road from the restaurant and studio. The young lady who was our tour guide was a most engaging and knowledgeable employee. She has been working at the winery since she was 15 and shows considerable passion and enthusiasm for the grapes and the resultant end product.
Interspersed throughout the afternoon, no matter where we went, was the rumble of motorcycles- big motorcycles- many, many, many motorcycles. An event called the Wharf Rat Rally is taking place in Digby and there have been estimates of anywhere from 7,000 to more than 25,000 motorcycles may be in town as part of the rally.
I really don't know how many bikes we saw yesterday, several hundred I'm sure and on the drive back to the Top of the Hill yesterday evening, I'm sure we passed at least another couple of hundred headed for the rally.
I hope they have brought in a good supply of earplugs for the locals. Or I suppose if you have enough of these- the sound will eventually just fade away- Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale- "those who like it, like it a lot." (Or like a lot of it....)
Cheers- ride safe