by Jacques Cote
The new Velo Cape Breton 4-day Tour of the Bras d’Or Lake gets underway this coming Friday at 10am. The “Tour du Lac” is a fully-supported 337km bicycle ride on the scenic rolling shores of the Bras d’Or Lake. In 2011, the Bras d’Or Lake watershed was declared a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve [MAB], one of only 16 in the country.
“One of the key elements in obtaining an MAB designation is sustainable ecosystem management. This bicycle tour is a wonderful local example of how people can enjoy a relaxing and healthy holiday in a spectacular natural setting, while at the same time supporting the growth of sustainable tourism. There is no doubt that bicycle travel is ‘green’, and it fits in well with the principles we espouse for preserving the beauty and function of the watershed,” says Shelley Porter, Bras d’Or Lakes Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative (CEPI) coordinator.
A jaunt on beautiful Isle Madame will allow every cyclist to discover this hidden jewel of Cape Breton Island, a well-kept secret rich in history with modern silk-smooth roads, beaches, magnificent landscapes and very friendly people.
From Isle Madame the tour rolls through Marble Mountain, Portage, and Washabuck Island with a stop to admire the brilliant white gypsum cliffs. Cyclists will end Day 3 in Iona, by the Highland Village, a provincial museum complex documenting the settlement of the area by Scottish immigrants in the early 1800s. Rest on the front steps of the Malagawatch church – the church that sailed – in the Village and admire the swift-flowing waters of Barra Strait, which separates the upper and lower portions of the “arm of gold”.
The 4-day tour will end in Sydney this coming Monday afternoon. Several have opted to ride to Louisbourg for a day or two, while others have chosen to ride around the Cabot Trail before returning to their respective homes in mainland Nova Scotia and the USA.
Velo Cape Breton Bicycle Association is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that promotes the use of the bicycle as a safe and enjoyable mode of transportation and recreation. This is accomplished through advocacy, education and rides that are geared to all levels of experience.