Nova Scotia

Montreal cyclists thank strangers after bikes break down in Cape Breton

Two Montreal cyclists who flew to Sydney, N.S., to bike the Cabot Trail are feeling the hospitality of strangers. Several people came to their rescue when their bikes broke down on a Cape Breton highway.

The women planned to cycle the Cabot Trail to celebrate Canada 150 when they ran into trouble

Cyclists Laurene Lessard (left) and Hoang Thi Kin Nguyen (right) say they're surprised by the kindness of people in Sydney. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Laurene Lessard and Hoang Thi Kin Nguyen didn't get very far in their quest to cycle the Cabot Trail after touching down in Sydney, N.S.

The travellers from Montreal were only on the highway between the airport and the city when their bikes sustained damage that threatened their journey.

"We were basically in the middle of nowhere for us, lost in a city we don't know," Lessard said Monday in Sydney.

"All the worst things that could happen, happened in one day."

With a flat tire and a damaged sprocket, the 27-year-old cyclists badly needed help. That's when strangers came to their rescue, offering a place to stay and to fix their bikes.

Kay Sampson of the Wintering Harbour Neighbourhood Association said the cyclists pitched a tent in a Sydney park that it operates — one that's not meant for camping.

"So of course when we noticed the tent, we had to look into it," said Sampson. "Since they were in that situation, it was agreeable that they would stay."

The Wintering Harbour Neighbourhood Association, including Kay Sampson (middle), doesn't normally allow camping in the Sydney park it runs. But it made an exception for two stranded cyclists. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

The cyclists were offered breakfast, a place to shower and repairs for their bikes, said Nguyen.

'Surprisingly amazing'

Lessard said they are not used to that kind of treatment from strangers. 

"It's surprisingly amazing," she said. "It really doesn't happen much where we are from." 

But Sampson said her group didn't do anything unusual.

"It gives us a great feeling and that's what ... Cape Breton is all about," said Sampson. "It's about being kind and welcoming."

Trip continues

As the cyclists gear up their bikes to continue the trip, Lessard said they're grateful to everyone   

"Thanks to a lot of people, it's not that bad after all," she said.

"We are still having fun. I think that's the good part."