by Lonnie Jones
The temperature was hovering at a balmy two degrees Celsius when most of us abandoned the comfort of our beds on June 17, Father’s Day. By nine o’clock it was nearly ten degrees warmer and the first annual Lobster Roll Relay rolled out of the Mira Road Fire department, and coasted down Hardwood Hill on George Street. For some, this first leg of the 100km relay, 20 km to New Waterford, would be all they would do for the day; others would go on to Glace Bay while others would meet the main group at other Pit Stops.
In all, there were four legs to the relay, each presenting unique challenges and rewards. The wind, when it came off the Atlantic Ocean, was chilly, and long sleeves and tights remained in place for most of the day. Leg three presented broken pavement and occasional tight manoeuvring, while the hardest climbs were reserved for the fourth leg. Some riders were overheard making statements such as, “I’ve never ridden out here before. It’s beautiful!” and “You don’t have to go far to see amazing beauty like this.”
Participating riders, 75 in total, came from all walks of life and age groups; some, weekend novices who worked hard just to finish while others took time to stop for photographs and still managed to finish early. Among the faces were some who were unfamiliar to the rest of us, as well as long-time friends. Resplendent in their distinctive jerseys were most of the Cycling Ambassadors.
Upon returning to the Mira Road Fire Hall, riders presented their passports to the kitchen staff and received a tasty lobster roll made with fresh-caught Cape Breton lobster. There was also a huge cake for dessert. Everyone’s name was entered for door prize draws and many prizes were handed out.
The Volunteers kept the day running smoothly providing refreshments, punching passports at checkpoints, and looking after registrations. A hearty thank you must be extended to the Kiwanis Golden K in Sydney for handling the registration process so effortlessly, and for providing the sweep vehicles. Chester Borden, director of the Whitney Pier Youth Club, managed to get some of his youth out of bed on a Sunday morning to assist with the checkpoints and Pit Stops. Daniel Roy, who rode the entire relay was available to assist with mechanical difficulties, but got to enjoy the ride without incident. Others provided support as well after finishing a leg or two of the ride. An extremely heartfelt thank you must go to Shirley Pettigrew in Mira Gut who so graciously offered her driveway and washroom (but not her wine) for the use of the riders. Shirley, you are a very generous and hospitable lady, and a true gem!
Such events do not just magically happen. For every event, there are months of planning, preparing and re-planning, and this event is no exception. There is no way to overlook the efforts of all the volunteers for all the hard work and planning they put into this event; one that ultimately has raised the profile of cycling in Cape Breton another notch.