Low moral

I have been struggling with motivation and energy for the last week or so and its therefore been hard to just get out and keep moving. I took a few days rest in Yorkton to try and recover, and my body has quite a bit, but my motivation is still low. I think I need to see something that isn’t just fields and small towns with very little in them.

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Sky in Yorkton

Yorkton to Kamsack (19/06/2017)

I travelled directly north for half the day which was a bit of a slog with the wind from the east slowing me down (due to side winds), the scenery is the same as for the last month and a half but this should be my last day in Saskatchewan so I am hopeful that it will start to change soon!

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Flattish…

At about 12:00 I got to Canora for lunch and stopped for a Subway, I was tempted to stop but hadn’t actually covered much ground, only about 45km, so it was back on the bike and head east… with a tail wind! I made good time to Kamsack. I wasn’t feeling particularly game for camping so got a motel for the night and as I was on the way to the room the heavens opened! Thank god I wasn’t trying to set up a tent in that, to be honest even if the tent was up it may have wetted out!

After a shower and watching the rain for an hour before the blue skies reappeared it was into town for some food and possibly the worst macaroni and cheese I have had, o well its all food!

Kamsack to Grandview (20/06/2017)

I decided to do a long day in the saddle…. but struggled to get out of bed… I headed east until I joined route 5 which runs south east to the border of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. just before Togo I came across a cycle tourist heading the opposite way, the first I have seen since the Rockies, again he was French but this chap had been on the road for 23 years nearly continuously apart from times when he was injured, like having to have his spleen removed in a rural African village after a bike accident! We chatted for about 1/2 hour before we parted ways. Not long after I stopped in Togo for a spot of lunch.

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Crossing the line

After lunch I travelled about 2km to cross the boarder and, I think, another time zone. Into Manitoba the scenery was very slightly more bumpy but not much, still most appreciated though! I passed through Roblin but wasn’t fussed by the town and had been informed that there was a good campground further on but there was 10km of roadworks. It turns out that I wasn’t able to cycle through the works as the surface was being taken apart and there was lots of heavy vehicles going through so I had to wait around for a traffic manager to come with a flatbed pickup to take me through. Oddly the traffic controller wanted a photo with me as she had never come across anyone doing a cycle tour before… weird but I obliged.

After the trip through the works I ha came onto perfectly smooth roads for a few kilometres then disaster struck; at the end of the works is a very (very) slight bump… and it sounded like the back wheel exploded and steering went odd, I immediately stopped to check what had happened only to see one of my panniers 10 meters back (I had been going about 25km per hour). Both the clips on the top of the bag that are the main connection to the bike had snapped, unsurprisingly the bag had sustained some major damage on impact with the road so I had to do some roadside repairs, thankfully Alpkit had supplied spare clips, the rest of the repairs would have to be gaffa tape, this is less than ideal and the last thing I needed. After a number of choice word and doing what I could I to the bags it was on to Grandview, by now it was getting to about 19:30 and I was getting grumpy so checked into a hotel instead of camping (not much more expensive here) and got some food before adding more tape to the bag to make sure it will hold up.

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Damage to the bag

Grandview to Dauphin (21/06/2017)

Again I struggled to get up and only started at about 10…. I made it as far as the coffee shop next door… then the local grocery shop to pick up some breakfast… cold Poptarts!

Today was going to have to be a short day, I was tired… not from the ride but the fact I hadn’t slept well, also when I got to Dauphin I had a couple of options on route and had yet to decide on the route. It was literally a straight ride between the two towns and the same scenery… seems Manitoba may be the same views…  I stopped for lunch at a roadside café, that’s the most exciting thing of the day apart from another storm coming through in the evening, I was modeling (again) and the next couple of days were going to be bad weather so I decided to hold up for a day or so to let the weather pass and choose what route to go. It also allowed me time to get a needle and thread and start patching up my torn pannier (now called Franken-bag)

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Franken-bag

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Winds of Saskatchewan

 Moose Jaw to Buffalo Pond

On leaving Moose Jaw I headed slightly east before going directly north on the 301, this road goes parallel to the road I entered the town buy but is gravel. I followed this until I reached Buffalo Pond Provincial Park located in a valley next to a lake. I had every intention of just passing through but there was scenery other than farm land so I decided to set up camp for the night. I had a paddle in the lake and washed down my bike before spending a very pleasant evening chatting to some fellow campers who were a couple of pitch down from mine, they handed on a bit of knowledge on what’s coming up, wildlife around the area (one of them was a biologist and twitched (called birders over here apparently)) and some Canadian history.

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Pelican at Buffalo Pond 

Buffalo Pond to Regina

After cooking up some porridge and breaking camp I followed the valley path as far as I could, the path was a mix of gravel (tough to cycle on) and grass (even tougher to cycle on) for about 20km where I left the park and headed back on to gravel and dirt roads towards Regina. Due to how flat the land being so flat I could see the city for miles before I got the industrial areas at the edge of town. After a few minutes I passed these and found a route to the river which, as seems the case with most cities, I was able to follow for a few miles to the city centre and the youth hostel I was to stay at for a couple of nights. The hostel was slightly run down compared to the other Hostelling International hostels I have stayed and quieter but as ever the staff were amazing and there were people to talk to. After a shower I went for a wander into the Down Town area and found a “traditional English pub” to eat at, it wasn’t very good… I should know better by now than to go to that kinda place! Then back to the hostel for some much-needed sleep.

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Its not all gravel grinding! 

Regina

Today I wandered round Regina, first exploring the bike shops… again its Sunday so not many were open and they didn’t have the cassette that I was looking for, seems that the “easy to get£ components that I had built the bike round aren’t always that easy to get, also it was bad timing being a Sunday. After this I had a wander around Wascana Park (the name “Wascana” is derived from the Cree word Oscana meaning “pile of bones” in reference to the plains bison bones scattered around Wascana Creek before the area was populated by non-indigenous people). The lake is quite pretty with a number of islands and some stunning views over the impressive Legislative Building, possibly the nicest building I have seen so far in Canada. After this I headed back and got supplies for dinner (quinoa with lemon and chilli halloumi yum!) and pack and prep for the next days ride.

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Legislative Building through a waterfall 

Regina to Fort Qu’ Appelle

From Regina I was heading in a general north western direction to Fort Qu’ Appelle. I followed route one out of town, this was slightly dodgy as there were a lot of roadworks going on meaning the road was narrow and more lorries. I followed this to White City, which seemed to be a service station, and had a Subway for early lunch. After about another 30mins I left route 1 (after having to cross 3 lanes of main road moving at 100kph, thankfully Canadian roads are quiet!) and joined route 10 a few hours of flat Saskatchewan prairie I dropped down into another of the almost hidden valleys and into Fort Qu’ Appelle and headed to the campground and set up the tent. I headed into town to explore and visit the museum to learn a bit about the town, there wasn’t much to learn apart from the fact that it had been set up by the Hudson Bay Company as a trading post and fort and the museum had the second oldest building in Saskatchewan. That night I was treated to one of the most amazing sunsets over Echo Lake that I have ever seen. 20170612_205521.jpg

Sunsets… pretty!

Fort Qu’ Appelle to Lemberg

I decided I wanted something other than porridge for breakfast and headed for my first Tim Hortons (aka Timmies), to be honest they aren’t anything to write home about but Canadians make a big deal about them so…!

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Apparently this is quite Canadian!

I decided to follow the pretty route (read long and hard!) down the valley of gravel paths with headwinds, it was hard going and it detracted from the beauty of the place the head winds were brutal. A storm had been forecast for about 4pm so I couldn’t hang around which was a shame as at about 1pm a local farmer drove out to offer me lunch which I unfortunately had to turn down due to worrying about the storm. About an 10 mins later and the owner of the museum I had visited yesterday drove up to say “hi” after he had noticed my tracks at the turning and wanted to check how I was getting on.

 A few hours more gravel grinding I got to the small town of Lemberg where I got a hotel room to shelter from the potential storm that had yet to appear. As ever it was a quick shower before heading out to look at the town and find some food…. Everything was closed so I had a pizza at the hotel bar and chatted to some “quirky” locals, as I was finishing dinner the lady behind the bar told me that I had been invited around the house of another of the servers to say “hi” as they were English too, so I was walked over and introduced to Tammie, Neil and family. I had a lovely evening with them and am very grateful for their hospitality and the nicest cup of tea I have had this side of the pond! O and the promised storm hadn’t appeared.

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Lemberg Elevator

 Lemberg to Melville

I woke up to rain… and nearly didn’t bother getting out of bed but I have miles that I need to make so even if its only a short day I had to get moving. I popped into the local coop to pick up supplies for the day and then hit the road, I followed the main roads east and north in the rain and brutal winds; I was also tired from the day before and knew that I wasn’t going to be having a big day so just toughed it out to the next town, Melville where I stayed at a cheap motel and hid from the rain, I was soaked through and cold… my waterproof jacket had wetted out and the temperature had dropped to about 15oc with the wind it had got into my bones.

 Melville to Yorkton

I struggled to get out of bed again today and was slow getting going… especially as I stopped at Timmies for breakfast again. I think taking pity on me the staff gave me a voucher for a free coffee next time I stop at one. The countryside is slightly hillier today and there seems to be more trees, it vaguely reminds me of Cheshire but flatter. I only 45km; all of which in pretty much a straight line and the wind had dropped; I couldn’t help but try and push the pace, I covered the distance in 2hrs. The scenery is the same until I got to Yorkton. I have to say I was majorly underwhelmed by the city on entering the first thing you see is the Casino in a rather tacky first nation style, the main area of the town is surrounding Broad Street, a three-lane highway right through the middle…. I will stay here a few days to recover and see if I can get my new cassette… Wish me luck!!!

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 Some days be like…

 

 

 

Who knew??

I quickly visited a local museum today and one of the things I learned was that the iconic maple leaf flag was only introduced in 1965, before that date the Canadian flag was the the British ensign with the Canadian coat of arms, who knew it was that recent!?

Moose Jaw

After a tough cycle in I needed a few days rest in Moose Jaw, I spent the first two days just eating, drinking and sleeping I was truly done in and the weather was still sweltering hot. On day 3 I had a walk round town and did a tour of the tunnels below the town and learning a bit of the history of the town and the country.

The first tour was about the way that Chinese immigrants were treated and the conditions that they lived in. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Chinese immigration was seen as a big problem, especially in British Colombia, to try and limit immigration a charge was put on Chinese trying to come to the country, this had little effect and in 1923 a full immigration ban was introduced! Those who were in Canada were often hated and heavily in debt to “Coolie Brokers” who had put up the money for the trip over. Due to there social stigma the Chinese often worked in menial labour such as laundries, which is the main occupation shown in the tour. They were treated badly and paid poorly, the living conditions often being 3 men to a bunk. I was slightly horrified at it but know that this was going on with many other races in other countries so wasn’t hugely surprised.

On the tour they also explained why the tunnels under the town had been constructed, the primary reason being for the boiler engineers. During winter Saskatchewan gets cold… -30-40oC cold. Going from a boiler room that can be in excess of +40oC out into the bitter cold can be lethal, if you are doing that multiple times a day it can be rather bad on your health, therefore they built tunnels between the different businesses and boiler rooms. Simple solution really.

Tour two was about the bootleggers during the prohibition period and the way they used these tunnels to smuggle alcohol into the US. The main operation was run by Al Capone but some of his men also made a bit more money with there own work on the side, if they had be caught they would end up “sleeping with the fish.” During this period Moose Jaw was a seen as a den of vice and nicknamed “Little Chicago”

I had a bit more of a wander round the town and more rest and food. before moving on…

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Tough times

On leaving Saskatoon my general direction is down towards Moose Jaw, mainly because I love the name, but also because it has a bit of history to it. I had estimated that this would take a couple of days but I underestimated the effects that weather would have on slowing me down…

Saskatoon to Danielson Provincial Park (2nd June 2017)

From Saskatoon I headed south following the river as far as I could then headed through a dog park where I had my closest animal encounter with the typical “he wont bite!”… easy to say when you aren’t the one being run at by an angry looking dog… I have come across bears that are less aggressive then these domestic creatures!

It was nice to be back on the bike and not on roads but hard work as after the dog park it was onto gravel roads heading past Cranbury Flats conservation area and then back onto tarmac on the 219. I would be following this road for most the rest of the day, and in general it gradually rose in altitude for approximately 50km but only by about 100m this still takes energy out of you especially in 30 degree heat. Again this was all through prairies so the countryside is all very samey and I must admit its starting to get slightly lonely while cycling.

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Same old, same old…

By the time I got to the provincial park (effectively a large campsite owned by the province) I was drained both physically and mentally. I erected my tent, had a shower then started to cook dinner, while doing so I noticed some rather large black clouds coming over, it looked like a storm… I moved my cooking into an undercover area and finished up my vegi stew but by now big drops of rain were falling… I have to admit I was worried that this might be an uncomfortable night and had the bivi easy at hand in case I needed to escape a collapsed and broken tent, I haven’t tested it in really heavy wind! Thankfully it wasn’t a storm but the wind was high and the rain heavy… and the tent didn’t even seem to flap, most impressed!

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Camp

Danielson Provincial Park to Central Butte (3rd June 2017)

The day didn’t start well, although the tent had been good I had slept appallingly, so was sluggish when I got up, after my morning porridge I went to the site shop to get a sugar hit only to find they had no change and the card machine wasn’t working! The temperature was already getting hot as I slightly disgruntledly got back on the bike.

It was more miles of the same types of farmland until I got to my lunch spot of the town of Elbow, what an unusal name! After ouch the temperature was really starting to get to me, I never cope to well with temperature approaching (or in this case exceeding) 30 degrees. By the time I got to one of my only potential stopping spots for the day at Tugaske I was ready to rest… only to find the hotel I had planned to stop at and was signed from the road had been closed… my only options were either a roadside camp (les than ideal) or go 20km out of my way to Central Butte, 10km of that down gravel roads, so yet again I was on my last legs when I got to somewhere to sleep and not worried at how run down it was, I had drunk 3ltrs of water and eaten all my snacks but was still not doing well….

Central Butte to Moose Jaw (4th June 2017)

Setting off the day was already quite warm at 9am, and the local grocery store was shut… this meant that I had to hope that one in the other 2 small towns on the way would be open… I had packed a extra couple of litres of water to ensure that I wouldn’t run out today, after all I wouldn’t drink more than 4.5 ltrs in a day right???

After 25km I re-joined the 42 at Eyebrow (what’s with the town names round here!) and headed south east, as had been the case on the last couple of days the wind was coming generally from the south, this makes it hard even without a head wind. It turns out that all the shops and restaurants in the area are closed on Sundays so I have no food for the 100km ride! this was going to cause some issues! To top things off the road after Eyebrow turned in to a gravel surface for 20km, given the heat and dust I was going through water faster than I had anticipated.

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Some roads are better than others

I was struggling with the heat and the lack of food, by 14:00hrs I was in quite a bit of trouble, I was down to my last 1.5ltr of water and I was “bonking”, I had nothing left in the tank, everything was struggling to work an I was in a low gear just to keep my legs turning. And I still had about 20-30km to go. I kept having to rest and thoughts of just quitting were now firmly in my head. It took me about 3hrs to cover a distance that would normally only take 1.5hrs, I was supposed to be camping in Moose Jaw but I couldn’t make it past the outskirts of town where thankfully there was a hotel. I was a sorry mess when I checked in and I am sure I probably came across rude to the receptionist but I wasn’t meaning to be. I hit the vending machine to get some quick food before crashing out for nearly an hour. A shower followed and then it was off to get some food, oddly I couldn’t take much on for fear that I couldn’t keep it down. Also considering how tired it was I had an amazingly bad night sleep.

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I need a rest!

 

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Saskatoon

I have spent nearly a week in Saskatoon, not 100% through choice but the opportunity to relax and recover was quite appreciated. There aren’t many tourist attrations as such in the town but it has a thriving foodie seen and I took full advantage of this and had some of the best meals that I have eaten so far on the trip. I ate on the terrace of posh hotels and at takeaway shops, and all of them were good quality and at a reasonable price! To be honest I cant tell you much else about the city as its really quite small. 

One thing of particulare note though is that they have the best bike shop I have yet come across in Canada, Bike Doctor. These guys have a great selection of gear and bikes but of more importance to me was  the servicing  team who tuned up the bike and did replaced the break pads on the drop of a hat even though they had a waiting list for works. Also they are lovely people with a wealth of both bike and local knowledge so if you pass through on a bike it’s worth going for a visit! Big thanks to Sarah and Brad in particular.

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Heads or Tails

This blog covers the section of the route between Kindersley and Saskatoon, a distance of just over 200km which is about 200km (120miles) or two days ride. In true British fashion I will mainly be talking about weather… This is because Saskatchewan is notoriously dull! The whole province so far has been relatively flat agricultural land, but it does have some interesting weather. Sorry for the lack of photo’s

Kindersley to Rosetown (24th May 2017)

Leaving Kindersley the weather reports were looking like I was going to get a few showers through the day, it had been a while since I had been rained on and given how dusty it can be I was hoping the showers would give some release from this. After about 30 mins I realised I had a lovely tail wind that was making going really easy and happened to glance behind, apparently the weather predictions had been correct that it would rain…. but wrong on how much, there was a full blown storm spinning around the plains behind me, it was hard to tell if it would hit me more not as it seemed to move away them come back before moving away.

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Keep a weather eye on the horizon

About 30mins after spotting the storm the edge of it came in and, just in time, I  was back in my waterproofs as hail the size of garden peas started falling for about 30mins (seems one of those days!) 10 mins after leaving the hail a driver flagged me down to warn me there was a hail storm about 10mins ahead… kind of them but it was the storm that had already passed over!

The rain started not long after and gradually got worse till about midday when I decided to stop at a restaurant in one of the local towns to hide from the worst of it…. the restaurant was closed and the weather was decreasing rapidly as the full force of the storm was coming in, I decided to hide under the eves of a building, just as I was getting into the shelter a local came by and opened the local hockey rink for me so I could shelter inside, very kind of him!

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Hail…

I hid away for over an hour and had to change out of my damp gear and into some of the warm stuff I haven’t used since Jasper as the temperature plummeted. I tired to open the door a couple of times to check the weather conditions, I have no problem riding in the rain but I wasn’t going out in a full blown storm… well I couldn’t open the door more than an inch as the wind was so strong!

Once the storm had passed I was out and on the road again, light drizzle came in and out but I made good time with the tail wind and was in town Rosetown about two hours later, I was drenched and slightly cold and there were more storms coming and predicted for the next day so I got a room in a motel and rested up and dried out, the owner was amazed that I had cycled through the storm.

Rosetown to Saskatoon (26th May 2017)

Today was quite different to the last cycling day… sunny and with a 15-20mph headwind… it was going to be a hard day with 120km to cover. I struggled through the day eating all my snacks and easily eatable supplies to try and keep my energy up but 6hrs of cycling into the wind was brutal and by the time I got to Saskatoon I was done in (yet again!) and struggled to even walk to a restaurant to stuff my face with a huge 3 course meal… when I returned to the hotel (I am in town for a few days awaiting a package so splashed out on a bed and shower!) where I got some of the complimentary fruit and munched on that too!

 

 

Into the Badlands

It’s been a few days since I have written one of these so sorry if it gets a bit wordy!

I left Calgary on Monday 15th May and took another detour from the originals route based on advice from locals and other travellers and decided to head to Drumheller and the Badlands… this place is also dinosaurs country but we shall come to that!

This the first time I had used my Garmin Edge Tourer GPS for anything other than recording the ride as I have a terrible habit of getting lost in cities… mountains or wide open plains, fine! But cities are a maze to me! So the GPS (from now on refered to as the scatnav) did well, keeping me off main roads most the way out of the city then through suburbia and the industrial areas and out onto the wide, flat, agricultural landscape of Alberta… this is were things got interesting, the scatnav took me down some lovely backroads, again keeping me away from traffic but unfortunately these roads then turned into gravel tracks… this is fine, Eve is built as a steel framed cyclocross or gravel bike but with all the equipment on her she isn’t quite so handy as normal (but still good!)

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Gravel Grinding

The first hour or so was fun with the tail of the bike kicking out on occasion so I was having think of what lines to take on these roads but as the day wore on I was finding it harder to keep the level of concentration and there were a few times that I nearly came of when the back kicked out too much or I over compensated. After nearly 7 hours on these roads I had had enough, the landscape is just field after field of cows, the roads varying levels of gravel or grit and I was tired, hot, dehydrated (there was nowhere to fill up my filter bottle and I had drained all of my three bottles that I carry…. and worse… I was hungry… on long days I have to keep eating and today was 140km… that’s approximately 3000 Calories burned so I should be eating over double what the recommended daily intake of food…. I had probably eaten 1000 calories all day.

Eventually I came back onto asphalt just outside of a lovely named village of Rosebud but the scatnav wanted to take me back onto the gravel… I ignored it and headed straight north of lovely smooth roads into the Badlands, I stopped briefly at Horseshoe Canyon before heading down a spectacular road and eventually into Drumheller where I was beginning to feel ill through lack of food so quickly showered and headed to the nearest food place and ate everything I could think of!

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Horseshoe Canyon

Drumheller 16th and 17th May 2017

Drumheller is known as the dinosaur capital of the world because of the high concentration of fossils located in the area. In the 1880’s, J.B. Tyrrell came to present-day Drumheller looking for coal and found the skull of a dinosaur near the Red Deer River. That dinosaur became known as the Albertasaurus and so began the collection of dinosaur remains that are sought after by museums all over the world and is provides a steady stream of tourists to the area.

 

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Drumheller water tower

I spent a couple of days in Drumheller having a look round cleaning Eve. I spent the first day eating and having a look around the town itself, its quite nice and has a clear dinosaur theme going through it! Day two I told the scatnav to take me the quickest route to the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum which resulted in a rather hot and sweaty 50km bike ride for what should have been 15km!!! But the museum was interesting and lets be honest, who doesn’t like dinosaurs!

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T-Rex!

Drumheller to Hanna (aka “Power of the Voodoo; Hoodoos?”) 18th May 2017

I decided to take the less obvious route down the valley today to see the Hoodoo’s; unusual rock pillers often with a “cap” of rock on top that form totem pole like shapes, these only really form in Badlands and deserts so I thought it was worth the trip.

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Hoodoos

Because of this detour I ended up on gravel roads again… and then the gravel ran out and it was onto dirt tracks…. then through fields with hundreds of cows with there calves, if only I had listened to the reprogramed scatnav! It turns out that cows in Canada are scared of bikes and being in a field with literally hundreds of cows stampeding is scary as hell! After a couple of fields (probably 15 miles of track) it was back to gravel roads where a vehicles that came from the farm stopped and the driver asked if I was lost, then laughed as I told him what had happened.

 

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There goes the gravel!

Eventually I got back onto tarmac and after another 2 hours on lovely smooth roads with boring farm landscape I got to Hanna, I was tired so decided to have a couple of nights here, the gravel had drained my legs completely.

Hanna to Oyan 20st May 2017

To be honest there is not much to report from today, the landscape is a never ending sea of farm crop fields and there was nothing on route apart from one bad truckers diner from the start of the day to the end it was slight rolling hills flanked by the golden stubble of last years crops until I got to Oyan  where I set up the tent and cooked myself an excessively spicy salami hash (fried salami with sweet potato, onion and a tin of chopped tomato’s)

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Camp dinner

I wasn’t the only one having dinner, the mosquitos were out in force and were having a feast on me! The prairies (which I was now in) may not be that interesting to ride through but boy, the sunsets are something!

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Prairie Sunsets are quite something!

Oyan to Kindersly 21st May 2017

This was much the same as yesterday with the exception of crossing out of Alberta and into Saskatchewan, I had now passed through two states in full but I knew this one was going to be tough, and it seemed that started as soon as I was on over the state lines, the wind seemed to switch straight away and it became a head wind blowing over miles of open planes at about 20mph, it felt like an uphill battle. the few times that the headwind dropped it became a sidewind and pushed me all over the place on the road, and the amount heavy goods on this section was increasing the buffering I was getting to the point that I had a close call of getting pushed by the aerodynamics into the side of a lorry travelling at 100kph, brown trouser time! on a more positive note though I saw a beaver in a pond off to the side of the road. Unfortunately the wind didn’t help get rid of the mosquitos and I have been eaten to death!

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Saskatchewan…..

I am having a couple of rest days at Kinderley, there isn’t much here but I need to pick some stuff up and possibly get a new chain for the bike, mine is nearly worn out after the last 1800km.

 

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Cooling my heels in Calgary

So a day off in Calgary to have a look-see. First impressions of the city are pretty good! As with a lot of Canadian cities that I have been to the river side area has been revitalised into a public park and is used heavily by everyone; families, bikes, rollerblades and skateboarders… as you can imagine, you need to keep your wits about you!

The city is built on the back of the petroleum industry and suffered hard times in the 80’s due to the drop in the price of oil. After a period of readjusting economy recovered and culminated in in the city hosting Canada’s first Winter Olympics in 1988. The success of these Games essentially put the city on the world stage.

While in town I visited a couple of the sites including the iconic Calgary Tower which was the Olympic Torch back in the day and has a rather impressive view of the city.

 View over Calgary

Don’t look down

I also visited the Glenbow Museum, which has a large exhibition on First Nation culture and recent history and how they feel that they have been treated by the European Settlers, we don’t come out looking very good I must admit…

As cities go I kinda like Calgary…

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Hangover on Wheels

10/05/2017

I have been on in Canada for a month now, how exciting! Today I went up to Banff Cave and Basin, this is the birthplace of the national parks in Canada. The caves and basin are two thermal mineral pools (one in a cave and one outdoors) that are fed by a number of springs that run of Sulphur mountain.

I am not very good underground… in fact I am down right terrible! But I can’t let my fears stop me from seeing interesting things so I headed on into a really rather wonderful little grotto. Due to a unique type of snail you can no longer access the water but I sat by the side and soaked in the relaxing atmosphere (occasionally broken by school groups or tour groups) for about 30mins or an hour. The slight humidity, hint of sulphur, sound of running water and general ambiance of the place was relaxing. Its really no wonder that the First Nations thought that this was a spiritual place.

Banff Cave

Originally the cave was only accessible through a skylight but the Europeans blasted an access to it to make it easier for the tourists and small resort was built so people could “take the waters”.

11/05/2017

The hostel had organised a trip to the local climbing wall, so I thought I would join in and meet some more new people. The climbing was good, although my lack of practice was quite evident (to me), its amazing how just a month or so of not climbing makes you significantly weaker! After this it was a dip in the pool then back to pick my bike up from having a service, no issues but as I was in town for a few days I thought its was worth the while, and bike shops are an invaluable source of information for what is coming up next!

That eve a few of us went down to the bar for a pint… this turned into a few pints and I crawled back to my bunk at about 2am…. enough said about that!

Banff to Canmore (12/05/2017)

At 8am I was up and packing the last of my things back into the panniers, rather less organised than it had come out but I was feeling sick as a dog and had no idea how I would even with the short day to Canmore, this is only 22km and relatively flat. The views, those that I could pay attention to, were slightly different as the road follows the wide glacial valley with the mountains seeming to get further and further away.

Exiting Banff National Park

I am sad to say I left the national park on this journey and in the next day or so I will be leaving the mountains all together.

I got to Canmore at about lunch time and found a hotel, I was still feeling rough and ended up sleeping most of the afternoon. I can never work out if what I call a hangover is purely the alcohol or a lack of sleep and the fact I can’t really eat the next day.

Canmore to Calgary (13/05/2017)

Today I will be leaving the mountains behind me, and a sad day that is. I headed for route 1A and with my typical grace in towns, got misplaced… After a few wrong terns I got on the right route and headed up into some of the foot hills and climbed for about 30 mins, I was now out of the national park and it was obvious, after the first hour I was seeing signs of mineral extraction and other associated industry that isn’t allowed in the park.

20km from my starting point and I was out of the mountains all together and the next 50km after that were a gradual down hill. I stopped at an old Church called the McDougall Memorial United Church. This place was built in 1875 (old for this part of the world it seems) and was built as a mission to the Stoney-Nakoda and Blackfoot First Nations of this area (its located in a Blackfoot reserve). It was also a pioneering settlement, featuring southern Alberta’s first permanent homestead, first herd of breeding cattle, and first Protestant church, as well as one of the province’s first trained teachers.

McDougall Memorial United Church
After this I briefly passes through Cochran which seemed like it was still a cowboy town! Then climbed a rather large hill that required more effort than I really wanted to give, Granny gear even came into play again! At this point the road was getting rather busy as well so I was glad a few km later to take a turning towards Tuscany, no not that one! this was a suburban maze that confused me like you would not believe, I only wanted to get to the river then it was a straight (or as straight as rivers are!) run through the city to the hostel. pretty much the whole of the river in Calgary has been turned into a park so it was a rather nice journey into town, I was joined by a local commuter for a while which was nice, he had seen the panniers and was interested to know what I was up to.

After winding my way through riverside walk for about 15km I got to the hostel then it was the normal gig of shower unpack a few bits, wipe the bike down and go find some food.

 

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