Nova Scotia

Cycling wonder woman crushes long-distance challenge

Micheline McWhirter is believed to be the first Nova Scotia woman to complete a 1,000-km brevet, or long-distance bike event, from Halifax to Cape Breton and back.

Bike ride from Halifax to CB and back all in a weekend's work for Micheline McWhirter

Micheline McWhirter was part of a group of eight cyclists - and the only woman - to complete a 1,000 kilometre brevet last weekend from Halifax to Cape Breton and back. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

Weekend road trips from Halifax to Cape Breton are a normal part of summer for many Nova Scotians, but Micheline McWhirter's version of the trip last weekend was a little different.

The 48-year-old Halifax resident was part of a group of eight cyclists who took part in the Eastern Nova Scotia Brevet, or distance challenge. The event sees riders follow a defined route, attempting to complete a set distance within a certain amount of time, all the while checking in at control points along the way.

The goal last weekend was to complete 1,000 kilometres in 74 hours or better. McWhirter completed the journey with 10 hours to spare. It's believed she's the first Nova Scotia woman to complete the feat.

As cyclists make their way through the brevet, they're required to check in at control points along the route. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

In an interview Tuesday, McWhirter, who rides with the Randonneurs Nova Scotia long-distance cycling club, said she was tired, but happy with the accomplishment.

"I just really enjoy cycling. So if you're passionate about something, I think that helps if you're trying to attain a goal."

Training for this goal really ramped up at the end of April. Weekend rides of 100 or 200 kilometres were the norm on Saturdays and Sundays and McWhirter was out on the bike twice during the week, too, usually for between 40 and 50 kilometres.

Micheline McWhirter rode her bike 1,000 km from Halifax to Cape Breton and back in 64 hours last weekend. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

McWhirter said one of the biggest challenges was making sure she ate enough — she was taking in food almost every hour while on the bike — and dealing with the lack of sleep.

"It takes a lot of mental strength and perseverance," she said.

"I only got about seven hours of sleep the whole weekend. So the mental game of riding at 2:30 in the morning really plays a factor."

Something a little different next

While this was the longest brevet McWhirter has taken on, she's no stranger to the long-distance challenges.

Last year she completed four events, including two 200-kilometre brevets and one each at 300 kilometres and 400 kilometres.

Next up for her is something a little different — a week off.

"Most of my friends know I normally don't do that, but I'm going to try and not ride the bike."


Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at

With files from Elizabeth Chiu