Rum Runners of Atlantic Canada
Yar Next Bike Adventure
(Insert pirate voice)
The coastal wind wisps that roll through the forest bring the scent of the ocean and evergreens in the perfect combination of sweet and salty that travels light throughout the lungs. Fluorescent Goldfinches flutter, following you through the journey on a highlighted trail of fallen orange pine needles that convey the most legal sensation of psychedelic. If you love to cycle and are in search for a safe flat ride that is filled with beauty and awe, search no further. The Rum Runners Trail has all the features for your next bike adventure.
Six organizations collaborate to manage seven sections of multi-use trails all connecting to create the Rum Runners Trail from Halifax to the UNESCO world heritage site of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The 119km (we’ll round it up to 120km) trail is a valuable investment to the local communities through tourism development, health and fitness of the communities themselves, and through creation of a better quality of life for every path it crosses.
We rented our bikes for the long journey ahead from Mahone Bay's acclaimed Sweet Ride Cycling Shop, opened in 2011 by former Ottawa residents Rose and Alan MacEachern. Sweet Ride Cycling is a candy store and full-service bike shop which offers all types of bikes at reasonable prices and good loot, to boot. Try the spicy gummy squids! When we arrived for our rentals the measurement masters took the time to calculate our angles making sure the bikes fit us for maximum comfort and efficiency. It was a pleasure to meet Rose and Alan, who take cycling seriously, but know how to have fun with it. We left with a water bottle full of candy and a sense of security knowing our bikes were inspected thoroughly.
The Rum Runner Trail caters to the adventure seeker in all of us. The clear signage and well maintained crushed gravel trail allow the cyclist to travel swiftly through the coastal forest with effortless mental clarity. You're never too close and never too far off from artisan shops, cafés, and beautiful beaches along the way. Finding tucked away passages that led down to the ocean rewarded our sense of discovery. The ocean broke waves that resonated nothing but east coast living as the pace matched our breath for the moment. But we wanted to make it into Halifax before the dinner rush, so we never lingered for too long. Looking out to the mighty Atlantic gave us reason to believe that perhaps the meaning of our lives isn't even within the scope of our understanding, let alone our sight. Our vital capacity grew with the environment and each breath charged our attention inwards before heading out– and we were back cycling on the open trail to Halifax.
The only encounter back on the trail was the odd dog walker and a small group of young bears easily dispersed with an orange whistle while ripping toward them like woodland banshees. When we rolled into Fairview at the end of the Rum Runner Trail our airbnb was just a final 6 km over the highway towards North End Halifax. In total it took us about five and a half hours from Mahone Bay to Halifax with stopping to eat and awe struck, altogether. We arrived just before 4pm and as soon as we got settled we were walking through the streets in a fresh pair of clothes in search for food. We devoured a couple of pizzas on a windy patio on the main strip of street, then headed next door for some sushi before one last stop next door again, for desert. When we waddled back to our airbnb we crashed for the only time that trip. A food coma ensued.
We woke in the morning with a quick departure in mind, so we downed our ceremonial cowboy coffee before jumping in the saddle. Spirit's were high and winds were low– the best time ride. It couldn't have been easier to get out of the city as we found our way to the Trailhead and away from traffic. The first place we stopped along the way was the St. Margaret's Bay, Bike and Bean for our second coffee and a bagel. The Bike and Bean Café is a local bike shop on the beautiful bay with great coffee and endulgent cyclist snacks.
The Second and last place we stopped before Lunenburg was Linens For Life, a boutique and tea room in East Chester. The little café and designer clothing shop along the Chester connection is the perfect stop and shop. Although we didn't have room in our packs for shopping, we did have plenty of room in our stomachs for food. A kind woman chattily led us to our seats while her husband looked out from the kitchen, ready to take our orders. We sat on the back patio where we destroyed tuna melts, pie, and coffee before riding out. The energy lasted until Mahone Bay when our body's were ready for a rest, but there was still the final 10 km before we reached Lunenburg. Rolling into the colourful village of Lunenburg and up to the Ironworks Distillery, an old Blacksmith Shop turned distillery, we grabbed a shot of rum in the literal and figurative spirit of the name of trail and another one for the road home. Since we started the Rum Runner in Mahone Bay, it technically wasn't complete until we biked back. The final 10 kms is nothing to report. An exhaustive grind, but the last victorious downhill stretch led us to the SaltBox Brewery in Mahone Bay, where we met family for the proper toast.
At the end of the trail we couldn't think of anything we'd do differently, and we knew we'd ride it again soon. The trail may remain the same, but the adventure along the way always changes. Atlantic Canada has many hidden gems tucked away along the beautiful coastline. You can discover many of them linked together by the trail that has all features for your next bike adventure, The Rum Runner Trail.