Archive for Saskatchewan

Another day, another province, another timezone

Day 48: Jun 1 – Moosomin to almost Oak Lake

Daily Distance = 80.86km, Trip Total = 1,870.04km

After being hunkered down for two days hiding from the elements, I woke up this morning super keen to get back on my bike!  This excitement was further enhanced when I realized I was facing a crosswind (with the occasional tail) instead of a headwind!!!  I’ll take it!!

Dash waiting so patiently and properly (luv the crossed paws) as I went to retrieve our bike and trailer

Dash waiting so patiently and properly (luv the crossed paws) as I went to retrieve our bike and trailer

I made pretty good time to the Manitoba border and at times I could even coast!  GASP!  What is this?  The bike keeps forward momentum even when you don’t pedal for 5 or 6 seconds?  That is joy!

Reaching the Manitoba border I had to stop for the mandatory pic and I took the opportunity to let Dash run in the park for a while.  Not only did I cross a provincial border, I’ve also crossed another timezone!

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About 5km later I came to the Manitoba visitor centre and chatted with the gals working for a few minutes.  They suggested that I sign the cycle log.  They have a guest log specifically for cyclists!  How cool is that?  As I quickly scanned through the log I noticed one entry that started with ‘slow and steady’. I commented out loud that this was my mantra to which the tourist info gals said this group had come by about a week ago and they were optimistic I would catch up to them eventually!  Not likely, but I appreciated their optimism in my abilities! lol!  The tourist info gals also commented how crazy it is that we have had so many days with such a strong easterly wind.  I felt like this further validates that I’m not just imagining or exaggerating the wind factor.

At the Manitoba visitor centre

At the Manitoba visitor centre

 

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Heading back out on the road about another 15km I started to notice my legs were getting a bit toasty – oh crap!  I forgot to put on sunscreen!  I just happened to be pedalling past a gas station in Elkhorn, so I pulled over and immediately applied the necessary sunscreen (albeit a little late, I did get a bit burnt).  I didn’t stop again ’till the town of Virden where I claimed a picnic table at an ice cream place and quickly chowed down on some trail mix and a protein bar.  While sitting there a lady came by and asked about my trip and commented that it was good I wasn’t ‘bucking the wind’ today! I couldn’t agree more! lol!

The most common road debris (second most common seems to be banana peels)

The most common road debris – parts of tires (second most common seems to be banana peels)

Where I applied sunscreen (better late than never...)

Where I applied sunscreen (better late than never…)

Cows!

Cows!

I arrived at Aspen Grove Campground just off the highway between the towns of Virden and Oak Lake around 4:30pm.  After setting up camp and having dinner (fettucine primevara today), I took Dash for a walk around the campground where a lady immediately started to gush over Dash and asked if I could walk Dash over to her site so her hubby could meet her (apparently they also had a min pin that recently passed away).

Dash digging...

Dash digging…

Her aim is true, she was able to place the dirt right on the tent

Her aim is true, she was able to place the dirt right on the tent

 

Day 49: Jun 2 – Almost Oak Lake to Brandon

Daily Distance = 61.01km, Trip Total = 1,931.03km

I woke up around 2:30am a little chilled (temperature dropped to about 1 degree overnight), but once I fully zipped up the mummy style sleeping bag and ducked my head inside I was cozy and able to go back to sleep.  Given the cooler temperatures I was surprised that I slept comfortably until 7am.

Heading out of the campground and just before getting back onto the highway I realized that I had forgotten to apply chamois creme this morning (and was feeling it), so I pulled over and quickly applied (thankfully nobody came by at this time – how embarrassing that would have been!).  Now for those who don’t know – chamois creme is applied to the derrière as well as the inside of your shorts to reduce the chaffing and friction that often occurs when cycling for any length of time thereby reducing (but not eliminating) the effects of ‘bikers butt’ (thanks Jen for informing me of this gem of a creme!).

Since crossing into Manitoba I have noticed a couple things:  it’s a bit more green, there are trees (not overly tall trees, but trees no less), cell reception seems limited.

Otherwise today’s trip was rather uneventful, I really just took in the new scenery and happily rolled along the highway.  There was a headwind, but it was pretty minor (only about 10km), so I was pretty grateful to have two days in a row where the wind was a relative non-factor!

I got to Brandon around 2, where I headed out to a park and a grocery store to pick up some fruit, chocolate milk, cheese, peanut butter and bagels!  Yummy!

I'm surprised it took me this long to take a pic of they Hwy 1 sign....

I’m surprised it took me this long to take a pic of the Hwy 1 sign….

Transport trucks in the fields

Two transport trucks and a tractor in the fields

More green AND trees!

More green AND trees!

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Sunset in Brandon

A fuzzy sunset in Brandon

 

Day 50: Jun 3 – Brandon

Today was super mellow.  I slept in ’till 9:30 and after having breakfast (fruit, bagel and peanut butter) I spent over an hour rotating between the pool and hot tub :)

After this I caught up on some emails and then around 2pm I headed out for about a 10km stroll around Brandon.  I headed to the downtown core, spent some time in a park watching the trains and then meandered along the Assiniboine River while Dash got to run free and off leash to her hearts content :)  I got back to the hotel around 6:30 having picked up a turkey wrap from a local restaurant and then got to work on my blog, uploading pics, reading other blogs before heading back down to the pool and hot tub for another hour!

Brandon University

Brandon University

Downtown Brandon

Downtown Brandon

Watching the trains

Watching the trains

 

Dash and I watching the trains

Dash and I watching the trains

The trains

The trains

Dash waiting for the squirrel to come out of the hole

Dash waiting for the squirrel to come out of the hole

Assiniboine River

Assiniboine River

 

 

Still waiting...

Still waiting…

Heck, I'll just try to dig it out

Heck, I’ll just try to dig it out

Assiniboine River - was moving pretty fast

Assiniboine River – was moving pretty fast

Trees!

Trees!

River, green and trees!

River, green and trees!

 

Me beside the Assiniboine River

Me beside the Assiniboine River

Wetlands by the Assiniboine River

Wetlands by the Assiniboine River

Prairie Grass by the Assiniboine River

Prairie Grass by the Assiniboine River

Some info on the prairie grass

Some info on the prairie grass

 

 

 

 

Finally flat as far as the eye can see!

Day 43: May 27 – Regina to Indian Head

Heading East out of Regina I can’t say I really noticed the flat at first simply ‘cuz it was raining and I was keeping a keen eye on the pavement ahead of me trying to dodge puddles that might be hiding unsuspecting potholes which could cause me to spill.  Needless to say, the paved shoulder out of Regina was not the smoothest, but fortunately I was able to make it out incident free.

Although I'm faster when not contending with a headwind, I don't think this is my speed :)

Although I’m faster when not contending with a headwind, I don’t think this is my speed :)

It rained for the first two hours of the ride today (I will take rain over wind any day of the week)!  Unfortunately mother nature must have noticed that I was back on my bike ‘cuz after two hours of rain she shut down the rain and cued up the headwinds.  I’ll be perfectly honest: more than once when I took a quick breather from the wind there would be a fist shaking at the sky while proclaiming ‘You win wind, you win.  You’re strong.  I get it.  Now can’t you work WITH me?!?!’.  This lasted for about 3hrs at which point (thankfully) the winds died down and the rain started up again.

Wind, wind go away....

Wind, wind go away….

While it rained two separate truck drivers pulled over and offered me a ride.  One as far as the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border another ‘to get ahead of the rain’.  Despite the offers, I declined and forged on.

Other tourers!

Other tourers, but heading West!

The tourers in the bottom right give a sense of scale to how large this storage facility is

The tourers in the bottom right gives a sense of scale to how large this storage facility is

Today I actually tried using my clipless pedals again for the first time since

The cleat on the right is twisted

The cleat on the right is twisted

Medicine Hat and at one point when I tried to unclip my right foot it would not for the life of me unclip.  So I unclipped my left foot, stopped my bike and actually had to take my foot out of the right shoe to get detached from my bike.  Turns out the clip on my cleat turned when I tried to unclip.  I quickly changed back to my trusty old school running shoes.

I rolled into Indian Head (68km later) just after 4pm and stopped by the tourist info to see

Me in front of the sculpture of an Indian Head in (you guessed it) Indian Head

Me in front of the sculpture of an Indian Head in (you guessed it) Indian Head

what was worth checking out.  They seem to promote a round barn, but it was a few km’s off the highway so instead the lady at the tourist info and I discussed my journey and the wind.  She commented that although the winds are known to get strong, they do not usually persist at that strength for as many days in a row as what they have been.  After our chat, I used the washroom unwittingly dragging a lot of mud through the building.  I apologized but she laughed it off saying that’s what vacuum cleaners are for.

At the Indian Head campground I was met by three kind ladies.  I asked if they happened to have a cabin that was pet friendly and they did!  I wouldn’t have to set up camp on the wet ground!  After checking in (and knocking over a flower pot with the front wheel of my bike – it was a clumsy afternoon for me), I immediately booted up my laptop and turned on some music while I made this cabin my home for the next 15hrs.  I might be converted to cabin camping.  You get the pleasure of being close to the great outdoors, yet the convenience of a roof over your head and a mattress to sleep on.

My cabin home complete with a swinging chair

My cabin home complete with a swinging chair

Hanging my clothes to dry

Hanging my clothes to dry

Dinner is cooking outside and I'm dancing to the music indoors protected from the mosquitos - a perfect camping experience!

Dinner is cooking outside and I’m dancing and singing to the music indoors protected from the mosquitos – an ideal camping experience!

Today's din - mashed potatoes

Today’s din – mashed potatoes

Dash licking up the scrapes - no food is wasted here!

Dash licking up the scrapes – no food is wasted here!

Dash checking out the mechanics of the swinging chair

Dash checking out the mechanics of the swinging chair

 

Water before purifying

Water before purifying

And after purifying

And after purifying

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 44: May 28 – Indian Head to Broadview

Leaving camp around 9:30 I was immediately greeted with a train going through town:

Train heading through Indian Head

Train heading through Indian Head

It was a rainy day, but winds where extremely mild and the temperature was around 15 degrees, so I was a happy duck!  The winds remained mild for the WHOLE day, so this was actually the most pleasant cycling day I have seen in about a week and a half.  I think it’s safe to say I have now properly tested out my new Ortlieb waterproof panniers and they have passed with flying colors!

Glorious flat land! :)

Glorious flat land! :)

A quick stop in Wolsely

A quick stop in Wolsely

Lots of water and marsh area along the highway in Saskatchewan

Lots of water and marsh area along the highway in Saskatchewan

With the flat land, bare landscape these buildings can be seen from many km's away and always indicated a town was coming up!

With the flat land and bare landscape these buildings can be seen from many km’s away and always indicate a town is coming up!

I made pretty decent time to Broadview, covering 83km just before 3pm where I checked into the Sweet Dreams motel which had good reviews online and I wasn’t disappointed.  Nothing fancy but decent price, clean place, friendly people and you can tell they care about their property.

Sweet Dreams motel in Broadview

Sweet Dreams motel in Broadview

Sweet Dreams motel in Broadview

Sweet Dreams motel in Broadview

After getting settled into the motel and showered I took Dash for a walk to the local park.  Nobody was around so I let her run off leash.  She pranced and bounced around for about 45min before I got tired of standing out in the rain and I started getting hungry, so I picked up a club sandwich at a local restaurant and headed back to the motel.

Train in park in Broadview

Train in park in Broadview

Park in Broadview

Park in Broadview

Day 45: May 29 – Broadview to Moosomin

The headwinds returned.  3km into today’s ride I saw a rest area and pulled off with the excuse that it would be good for Dash to get out and run.  In reality, I needed to change my mentality to tackling these headwinds.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t naive enough to believe that I would get a tailwind every day.  But considering winds are supposed to be predominately out of the NW, I was expecting a tailwind at least 40-50% of the time.  Since Calgary I have cycled 13 days, 2 with a tailwind, 8 with a mid-strong headwind and 3 with a weak headwind.  Alas – the direction or strength of the wind is not something I can change or control, so I need to change my approach.  Instead of cursing and getting frustrated with every km I crawl by at a painfully slow 7-13km/hr, I will embrace the fact that I can (and will!) tackle these kilometres no matter how slow or fast I conquer them!  I have also removed all shame in walking on flat land (which I have had to do more than once) and have no objection to hunkering down in a hotel on the days that the wind is quite simply too much for me (I’ve determined this is around the 40km/hr + range).

This was a turning point for me.  When I got back on the bike I was actually able to smile and sing along to my music once again as I rode into the 30km/hr winds for the remaining 70km I conquered today!

I arrived in Moosomin just after 5pm where I booked into the Motel 6, what looks to be a fairly newly built motel.  The gentleman who greeted me said that I was the 4th person who has stayed there this year who is cycling across Canada.

I grabbed dinner at the Red Barn, a restaurant pretty close to the hotels and just off the highway.  Chicken and mashed potatoes – it was quite tasty!

Dash enjoying some free run time!

Dash enjoying some free run time at the Broadview rest area

Large machinery on the highway

Large machinery on the highway

Two more tourers heading West!

Two more tourers heading West!

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Windmills!  Reminds me of some areas of Ontario!

Windmills! Reminds me of some areas of Ontario.

This is the kindof flat I expected the prairies to be...!

This is the kind of flat I expected the prairies to be…!

Some info on Moosomin

Some info on Moosomin

 

Day 46: May 30 – Moosomin

This morning I woke up to high headwinds (40km/hr with gusts up to 65km/hr) and cloudy skies with the forecast of A LOT of rain (30-40mm), so I immediately went to the front desk of the hotel and booked myself for another night.  I will be spending the day cowering from the wind in Moosomin!  My first errand was to pick up some peepads for Dash and then drop by the grocery store to pick up some fruit, banana’s, chocolate milk, crackers, etc.

It's hard to get a picture of the wind, but here's a look as the rain started around noon

It’s hard to get a picture of the wind, but here’s a look as the rain that started around noon

Getting back to the hotel I then went through all my gear and identified what I have yet to use.  Those items I took down to the post office (gentleman working there was super friendly) and shipped them back home (thanks Sue for offering to pick these up for me!!).  So what items did I ship home?  For starters – my clipless cycling shoes – these just aren’t working for me, from here on out I’m riding in my runners or sandals.  Someday when I’m not carrying 100+ lbs of gear on my bike then perhaps I will give these shoes another try, but it won’t be this summer.  I also sent home my wind pants, a t-shirt I have yet to wear, a sarong (I might regret this one when I get to beach areas, but I can always buy a new one then), bear bag and rope for the bear bag (I still have a bear canister for storing food when camping in bear country).

Mural in Moosomin

Mural in Moosomin

Main street in Moosomin

Main street in Moosomin

I also had the opportunity this afternoon to call and chat with both of my brothers!!  It was great to catch up with them and I’m looking forward to seeing lots of friends and family when I go through southern Ontario!! :)

The remainder of the day I spent perusing other blogs of people who are currently cycling across Canada.  One fellow is about 150km west of me right now and also chose to hunker down for the day to avoid getting frustrated (and exhausted) trying to ride into the wind.  For some reason this makes me feel more justified about my experiences with the wind!

What has become almost a daily tradition – I also google mapped where I currently am and scanned out to where Victoria BC is.  It’s quite remarkable to look at the ground already covered!

My unexpected temporary home in Moosomin!

My unexpected temporary home in Moosomin!

 

Day 47: May 31 – Moosomin

NE winds are still humming along at 35km/hr with gusts near the 60km/hr mark, the rain stopped late morning, but the temperatures have dropped to single digits.  So I managed to read the rest of the book God Bless You Mr. Rosewater (I really haven’t read near as much on this trip as I thought I would have by now), reading up on blogs of fellow cross Canada cyclists and looking at the logistics for the Brandon to Sauble Beach leg in a bit more detail.  The perfect way to spend a rainy day!! :)

I also took Dash out for a couple quick walks where she immediately found some mud to dig around in.  While out on one of these walks the owner of the motel asked if I needed a ride into town or any items picked up (I didn’t need anything, but the offer was appreciated).  Last night when I stepped out to pick up a Subway sandwich, I was walking back to the hotel in the pouring rain when the owner drove by and gave me a lift the last .25km.  These simple acts of kindness along the way will undoubtably be on my top 10 moments of the trip.

Moose Jaw & Regina

Day 38: May 22 – Moose Jaw

After an incredibly great sleep I swung by the hotel front desk to pick up some

Dash had a good sleep too - I didn't place the blankets this way, this is all her doing...

Dash had a good sleep too – I didn’t place the blankets this way, this is all her doing

grub at the continental breakfast.  I did notice on this short walk that my legs, in particular my quad muscles, were still aching from the previous days ride.  Boy was I glad I was going to have a few days off the bike to rest and recoup.

Dash and I headed out to the Moose Jaw tourist info (about 4km one way) to take some pics with Mac the Moose.  Mac claims to be the world’s largest moose and was created simply to draw in tourists (I guess it worked!).  The tourist info in Moose Jaw was quite nice, it has a replica steam train coming out of the back wall which looked pretty cool (more impressive than Mac the Moose).

Looks like a nice park - I didn't explore because it wasn't pet friendly

Looks like a nice park – I didn’t explore because it wasn’t pet friendly

Snowbird statue at the Moose Jaw tourist info centre

Snowbird statue at the Moose Jaw tourist info centre

Mac the Moose!

Mac the Moose!

Mac the Moose, Dash and I

Mac the Moose, Dash and I

Replica steam engine in the Moose Jaw tourist info centre

Replica steam train in the Moose Jaw tourist info centre

Some info on the train the replica was designed after

Some info on the train the replica was designed after

On our way back from the tourist info I stopped by Canadian Tire to pick up another spare tube for Dash’s trailer and re-stock on poop bags.  It was only an 8km walk today, but my body was telling me that was enough.  I got back to the hotel around 3pm and fell asleep until 7pm!  After waking up I picked up a pita from Pita Pit and a frozen yogurt (can’t remember the name of the shop) and got to work on my blog.

Day 39: May 23 – Moose Jaw Tunnels

Today was going to be a super mellow day, my only goal was to check out the Tunnels of Moose Jaw.  It is believed that in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the majority of the buildings in Moose Jaw were being heated by steam, the boilers were kept in the basements of these buildings.  The engineers who maintained these heating systems decided to build tunnels connecting the buildings underground so they could move themselves and their equipment easily without exposing themselves to the cold prairie winters.  Although that was the original purpose of the tunnels, they did serve other uses.  The tours explain two of these other uses.

Each of the two tours are about 50min long and are guided by actors who play fictional characters.  One tour is called Passage to Fortune and tells the fictional tale of a Chinese immigrant in Canada in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  After the Canada Pacific Railway was completed in 1885 many of the Chinese who worked on the railway started heading East from British Columbia looking for work.  Many ended up in Moose Jaw and worked for very low wages.  In order to survive off the poor wages and to hide from the locals (who were not particularly friendly to them) they took up living and working quarters in the tunnels.  The tour is a mix of history and fiction and I found it a very well executed tour, even if the material is discussing rather unpleasant Canadian history.

The second tour has less history and more speculation mixed in and is called the Chicago Connection.  It talks about the role Moose Jaw (and its tunnels and railway connections) played in bootlegging liquor during the Canadian and US prohibition days – this part is true.  Where it becomes more speculative is the focus around the connection to Al Capone.  The tour focuses on Al Capone having spent time and had dealings with locals in Moose Jaw.  From what I’ve researched there is no confirmation one way or the other as to whether Al Capone frequented Moose Jaw.  Regardless, it’s still a very interesting story, the tunnels and underground rooms are cool to see and the actors do a stellar job!

Unfortunately pics aren’t allowed on either tour – so I have no pictures of the tunnels which is really a shame, ‘cuz it is impressive how extensive they are.  I guess it means you’ll have to come to Moose Jaw yourself to check the tours out! lol!

Other then the tours I checked out the local bike shop to see if I could get a replacement tire.  I’ve rotated my back tire to the front, but almost all of the middle tread is gone so I think it’s in need of being replaced sooner rather than later.  Unfortunately the local shop didn’t have the brand I prefer so I’ll have to check out the bike shops in Regina when I get there.

Pedestrian cross walk in Moose Jaw - does this mean you can only cross if walking your moose?

Pedestrian cross walk in Moose Jaw – does this mean you can only cross if walking your moose?

I had chinese for dinner today and the fortune seemed rather relevant...

I had chinese for dinner today and the fortune seemed rather relevant…

 

Day 40: May 24 – Moose Jaw Murals

I will be the first to admit that although Moose Jaw is a very pleasant town it doesn’t need three days to tour and explore.  One day to explore and one day to get a little R&R would have sufficed, but winds are still calling to be out of the East around 40km/hr with gusts up to 60km/hr.  So quite simply – I’m hiding from the wind today.  Turns out it was a good day to hide ‘cuz it also rained for a couple hours in the early afternoon.

In my hiding I have spent a fair amount of time reading blogs of other folks who have cycled across (or sections) of Canada.  It’s great to hear what kind of insight others have on upcoming terrain, what parts they found easy or difficult, what experiences they had, etc.

After the rain passed I went for a little stroll through town to check out a handful of the 46 murals that are spread across Moose Jaw.  A pamphlet is available describing what the murals are depicting, so I’ve included the description in the pic comments below.  I also picked up some Gatorade and protein bars for the upcoming days ride.

Downtown Moose Jaw looking at the old train station (now converted into a liquor store)

Downtown Moose Jaw looking at the old train station (now converted into a liquor store)

Inside one of the nicest liquor stores I've seen

Inside one of the nicest liquor stores I’ve seen

Another look at the Moose Jaw liquor store

Another look at the Moose Jaw liquor store

This was the entrance to the 'Passage to Fortune' tunnel tour

This was the entrance to the ‘Passage to Fortune’ tunnel tour

Motel trying to capitalize on the claimed Al Capone link

Motel trying to capitalize on the claimed Al Capone link

A perspective of Main Street looking North (about 1883) just as a storm is on the way

A perspective of Main Street looking North (about 1883) just as a storm is on the way

Representing the pioneer's hopes of a golden future by 'proving his land' 5 acres per year for 5 years to obtain title of ownership

Representing the pioneer’s hopes of a golden future by ‘proving his land’ 5 acres per year for 5 years to obtain title of ownership

A fireman's prayer

A fireman’s prayer

Showing some of the changes of equipment a fireman uses over time

Showing some of the changes of equipment a fireman uses over time

For pioneer women on the prairies a cow was a prized possession.  The lady is Mrs. Elizabeth Elliot.

For pioneer women on the prairies a cow was a prized possession. The lady is Mrs. Elizabeth Elliot.

On August 19, 1911 Moose Jaw's Streetcar took it's first run

On August 19, 1911 Moose Jaw’s Streetcar took its first run

I had a couple coolers with my greek dinner and went to bed early.

Day 41: May 25 – Moose Jaw to Regina

I had originally set my alarm for 6:30 this morning, knowing that they were calling for a strong headwind again and wanting to get to Regina by 3 or earlier to pick up supplies I wasn’t able to find in Moose Jaw (dehydrated food, new tire).  However I wasn’t quite ready or willing to wake up at 6:30 so I proceeded to sleep until 7:15.  After grabbing some of the hotel continental breakfast I packed up my gear and was on the road just before 9am (I’ve got this packing up process down to about 1.5hrs now!)

Unfortunately the weather forecast wasn’t wrong.  The winds were strong out of the SE (25km/hr with gusts over 50km/hr – to be honest tho, I couldn’t tell when it was a “gust”, it was all strong).

Around the 30km mark a fellow cross Canadian cyclist caught up to me, he slowed down and rode beside me for a bit while we chatted.  Jacques is originally from Switzerland, living in Quebec now I believe and started his ride in early May.  He is giving himself about 3mths to cross the whole country and is riding to raise money for a charity.  After cycling a couple km’s and taking each others pictures we parted ways (Jacques is cycling at a quicker pace than I).

Jacques - another cross Canada cyclist

Jacques – another cross Canada cyclist

Me!

Me!

Jacques quickly pulling away from me - I'm determined to be the slowest cross Canada cyclist!

Jacques quickly pulling away from me – I’m determined to be the slowest cross Canada cyclist!

I should point out here that the terrain has FINALLY flattened out!  Now if only the wind would co-operate….

Finally the flat prairies I imagined!

Finally the flat prairies I imagined!

I saw many more farmers working the fields today than previous days

I saw many more farmers working the fields today than previous days

Around 40km I started to feel myself dragging so I stopped and tried eating a protein bar.  I say try ‘cuz I could only get about 3/4 of the way through the bar before I felt like I was going to upchuck and started to get really woozy.  I immediately set my bike down and took a seat ’till the feeling passed.  I’m 90% certain the protein bar was the culprit for this weird reaction.  It was a new bar that I hadn’t tried before and I will quickly be throwing out the other 4 I bought at the same time and go back to my tried and true Clif bars.

For the last 35 of the 74km covered today I had to take a break every 5km.  This in addition to my slow riding speed meant that I didn’t get to the hotel in Regina ’till 5:15pm.  Which meant that I wouldn’t be able to pick up a new tire or more dehydrated food today.

Regina from a distance

Regina from a distance

Me at the Regina info map - I was too tired to smile at this point

Me at the Regina info map – I was too tired to smile at this point

After settling into the hotel and having a shower (the BEST part of every day on the road is the shower as it immediately makes you feel human again!), I took Dash for a walk and ordered a hamburger from a local pub.  While waiting for the hamburger I continued to walk Dash who gathered the attention of a couple locals.  A lady has her own min pin so we had to compare notes on the breed and a guy who stopped and parked his car to come out and play with Dash. :)

Day 42: May 26 – Regina

After breakfast I went to enjoy the hotel’s pool for a little while.  Unfortunately the hot tub wasn’t in service.  Following my little swim I took Dash for a walk to the local bike store to pick up a new tire, some electro gels and jubes and a new cloth backpack for the sightseeing days (all the threads were coming undone on my previous one and the duct tape just wasn’t holding it together anymore).  Dash seems to be a hit in this town, while walking several people stopped to try to pet her and one guy biked by calling out ‘hey, cute dog!’.

Train in Regina

Train in Regina

Downtown Regina

Downtown Regina

After the bike store I headed to Wascana park.  It is a very nice park and is located along Wascana Lake, however I was surprised to find that they have a road that runs through the majority of the park area.  I guess this makes the park more accessible.

Wascana Park

Wascana Park

Wascana Lake

Wascana Lake

Dash on patrol

Dash on patrol

Bike trail through Wascana Park

Bike trail through Wascana Park

Dash and I hanging out in Wascana park

Dash and I hanging out in Wascana park

A worn out tire

A worn out tire

Once back from the park I immediately started work on changing my tires.  This was a slightly messier job than

And what the same tire would have looked like new

And what the same tire would have looked like new

normal as it seems as though I cycled through some not entirely dry tar yesterday – I have tar with little stones stuck to my tires and splayed across my bike frame and some of my gear.  I’m pretty sure this hotel is going to love what I leave behind for them! lol!

 

While petting Dash tonight I noticed a little red bug with a hard back hanging out on Dash’s fur.  I immediately dug the little bugger out (no freeloaders allowed here) and investigated the rest of Dash.  Turns out she had three of these little bugs on her.  They didn’t seem to be causing her any discomfort but it does concern me a bit, I have no idea what this bug is and where it was picked up.  I’ll give her a bath and start doing daily inspections to see if they re-appear.  In the meantime, I’m happy that I started her flea and heartworm medicine early this year!

The Prairies – Part I

Day 33: May 17 – Medicine Hat almost to Maple Creek

After a couple day’s rest I was ready to be back on the bike and my expectation was that once I cleared the hills in Medicine Hat I would be on relatively flat terrain.  I mean this is the prairies, right?  How wrong I was.  Although not necessarily steep hills, there are hills a-plenty!  Constant, rolling hills.  Every time I reached the top of one hill I would hold my breath expecting to see nothing but flat road on the other side only to be met with another hill.  Turns out I was travelling just north of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park (shared between Alberta and Saskatchewan) and has the highest elevation between the Rockies and Labrador.

Houses on the hill

Houses on the hill

Farm watering system

Farm watering system with hills in the background

Cows, with hills in the background

Cows, with hills in the background

Some Alberta history

Some Alberta history

I didn't see any buffalo, so thought I would at least take a pic of the sign!

I didn’t see any buffalo, so thought I would at least take a pic of the sign!

Town of Walsh.  Most western town in Alberta along the Trans Canada Highway

Town of Walsh. Most western town in Alberta along the Trans Canada Highway

My last view of Alberta!

My last view of Alberta!

Shortly before noon I crossed into Saskatchewan!

Saskatchewan here I come!

Saskatchewan here I come!

The hills continue in Saskatchewan

The hills continue in Saskatchewan

About 30km in to Saskatchewan I was minding my own business cycling down the nice wide paved shoulder of the highway when I saw what I’m PRETTY sure was a wolf heading my way!  I didn’t stop to take a picture, but the creature was grey-ish/white and was probably about 90-100lbs.  He was trotting along the fence line on the same side of the highway as me, but in the opposite direction (heading west).  He looked at me for about 5-10 seconds (I’m pretty sure picking up Dash’s scent) and then as quick and nimble as can be he hopped over the fence and carried on his way. There are not a lot of towns along this stretch of the highway, however there is a campground (Eagle Valley Park Campground) a few kilometres west of the turn off to Maple Creek (Maple Creek is 4 or 5km south of the highway).  This put my distance for the day just over 90km and seemed like a good place to stay for the night.  I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at this campground – free, super clean showers, nice staff, nicely maintained grounds and it looks like they are in the process of installing a pool and lounge area. Although I was the only camper in the tent section when I first arrived, a motorcyclist showed up around 7pm.  He is in the process of riding his bike across Canada as well – I’m pretty sure he’ll make better time than me!

Eagle Valley Park Campground

Eagle Valley Park Campground

Bar and sitting area at campground

Outdoor bar and sitting area at campground

The tenting section

The tenting section

The RV section - more populated!

The RV section – more populated!

Sunset at Eagle Valley Park Campground

Sunset at Eagle Valley Park Campground

Day 34: May 18 – Almost Maple Creek to Gull Lake

Waking up around 7am I was surprised to see my fellow cyclist/camper friend was already packed up and ready to head out for the day so after a quick wave and well wishes on each other’s journey I started packing up my camp.  I’m proud to say I’ve now gotten this process down to about an 1hr and 45 minutes.  I’ve shaved off 15 minutes.  It’s a start, but I think I can still do better. :) A few kilometres into today’s ride I came across a provincial tourism info office so I stopped in and picked up a map and booklet on the province.  It turns out

Some history on the ranches in Saskatchewan

Some history on the ranches in Saskatchewan

the lady who was working at the tourism office stayed at the same campground as me the previous night.  We chatted for a bit where she informed me that flooding is not currently an issue in the province along Highway 1 (good news) and that the terrain remains ‘rolling hills’ until Moose Jaw (not so good news). Back on the road I was quite disappointed to see that my nice lane-wide paved shoulder was quickly reduced to a mere two foot shoulder.  I know this still sounds like a wide shoulder, but when you’re on a highway with oodles of transport trucks and the speed limit is 110km/hr, that 2 feet is a little too close for comfort (for me at least). In almost all cases the transport trucks were kind enough to move over to the far lane (in fact, most transport trucks do this even when I have a full lane wide paved shoulder), however there were two scenarios when a transport truck passed me at the same time as a car and therefore wasn’t able to move over.  I had to be careful to not let the draft of the vehicles suck me on to the road.  I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when after 20km the full length paved shoulder returned!!

This is not flat

This is not flat

Nor is this

Nor is this flat

Around 65km into the ride today I saw a road side ice cream stand – and it was open!!  I couldn’t resist stopping in!  The lady at the stand said there was a couple gals there two days prior who were also cycling across Canada.  It always gives me a little peace of mind hearing of or seeing others who are tackling this same journey.

Ice Cream!!

My first roadside ice cream stand on the trip!

The last hour of the ride the winds really started to kick up (I guess mother nature felt I had to work off the calories from the ice cream?)  I was pretty happy to see the campground in Gull Lake (with 80km under my belt for the day) and for the 2nd night in a row there was 1 other person camping old-school in a tent instead of an RV or trailer!

After setting up camp, showering and eating my dehydrated beef teriyaki stir fry I took Dash and I out for a stroll around town after which we quickly zonked out for the night.

Day 35: May 19 – Gull Lake to Swift Current

Today was a shorter day (just under 60k) and I had a hotel booked in Swift Current, so I was looking forward to getting to my destination and exploring the town.  I spent most of today’s ride singing along to my music (as I do most days), but today the Lion King’s I just can’t wait to be king jumped out at me.  I know it sounds incredibly childish, but the lyrics around freedom – ‘free to run around all day, free to do it all my way’ seemed so fitting.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not particularly tied down in my day to day life in Toronto but there’s something about being on the open road with no commitment or obligation to others for months to come that is incredibly liberating.

Oil drills at work

Oil drills at work

Ok - there are SOME flat stretches in the prairies!

Ok – there are SOME flat stretches in the prairies!

South West Terminal buildings

South West Terminal buildings

And those pesky rolling hills again

And those pesky rolling hills again

Signs of the spring flooding in Saskatchewan

Signs of the spring flooding in Saskatchewan

Again in the last hour of the ride the winds really began to pick up and it even started hailing/raining for about 10 minutes.  The rain passed quickly, the wind did not.

Heading into Swift Current, at least the tractors proved some buffer from the wind!

Heading into Swift Current, at least the tractors proved some buffer from the wind!

Me in front of Swift Current - the river the town is named after

Me in front of Swift Current – the river the town is named after

Once getting settled into my hotel I did my customary post ride check of my

Wire lodged in Dash's trailer tire

Wire lodged in Dash’s trailer tire

bike and Dash’s trailer to discover that Dash’s trailer had another flat tire and here’s the culprit:

So I changed the tire tube, showered, slipped over to Subway to grab some lunch (it was only about 2pm) and headed out for a walk.  Swift Current is an incredibly cute town with loads of walking/cycling trails.  They have a 22km trail that runs along the river and passes through a very busy golf course.  On my walk I also picked up more gatorade, beef jerky, a banana, apple and slice of banana bread for breakfast and snacks for tomorrows ride.

Walking/cycling trails in Swift Current

Walking/cycling trails in Swift Current

Horseshoes on pavement anyone?

Horseshoes on pavement anyone?

A golf cart style bike - looks comfy!

A 4 seater golf cart style bike – looks comfy!

Day 36: May 20 – Swift Current to Chaplin

After a short day yesterday and an incredibly comfortable sleep on an actual mattress I had an abundance of energy when heading out.  Turns out I was going to need it because the wind was strong from the get go.  I had been keeping an eye on the weather forecast for the past couple days and they are calling for the winds to stay out of the East (which is NOT the predominate wind direction otherwise I would have biked from Newfoundland to BC and not vice versa!).  They are also calling for the winds to get stronger over the next five days up to 30-50km/hr.

The flag shows the wind is not in my favor

The flag shows the wind is not in my favor

Who put those hydro poles in that pond?

Who put those telephone poles in that pond?

Heading out of Swift Current there was a particularly long steady climb which I walked up a good portion of.  While I was walking a police officer passed me and pulled in to a turn around area near the crest of the hill.  Within minutes he had somebody in his crossfires to pull over.  After issuing a ticket he went back to the turn around area and had a 2nd car pulled over again within minutes.  He  repeated this a 3rd time before I finally climbed the hill and continued on my way!

First busted vehicle

First busted vehicle

The second culprit

The second culprit

And the third

And the third

Pretty much every day that I’ve been on the road I have had at least one trucker honk a tune of encouragement as he passed by, each and every time it makes me break out into a ridiculously large grin and gives me an extra boost of energy for a few minutes.  Today as I had my head down into the wind I heard a honk from behind me and when I looked up a motorcyclist was passing by giving me a thumbs up.  I don’t think anybody will ever understand how much these little gestures provide encouragement and motivation and reminds me that I’m really not in this journey alone.  The amount of support I have had from friends, family and strangers alike is quite incredible – so thank you!!

I didn’t notice as many rest areas in Saskatchewan as what I was finding in Alberta, so needing a break I had to make my own rest area:

Making my own rest area

Making my own rest area

Alpaca farm

Alpaca farm

Me in front of Reed Lake

Me in front of Reed Lake

The bills on these ducks are massive

The bills on these ducks are massive

Another improvised rest area

Another improvised rest area

 

Dash dumped out her food in the trailer and started chowing down

Dash dumped out her food in the trailer and started chowing down

Road across Reed Lake

Road across Reed Lake

More poles in the pond - signs of flooding me thinks

More poles in the pond – signs of flooding me thinks

I did not make particularly great time today, but I was still able to cover about 87km in just under 8hrs of elapsed time.  I was certainly happy when I started seeing signs of the town of Chaplin – my destination for the night.  Chaplin is a very small town on the north side of Chaplin Lake a salt water lake.  I had never actually heard of inland salt water lakes (my lack of knowledge), I had always thought oceans were the only source of salt water.  Regardless, it looks like the main business in Chaplin is mining the salt from the lake.  I also noticed all but one road in Chaplin is gravel – makes me wonder if paving the road with the salt nearby would cause too much damage to the pavement (that’s just me speculating).

Salt on Chaplin Lake getting dusted up by the wind

Salt on Chaplin Lake getting dusted up by the wind

Salt on Chaplin Lake (not snow)

Salt on Chaplin Lake (not snow)

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Campground with salt plant in the background

Campground with salt plant in the background

Dash exploring Chaplin

Dash exploring Chaplin

Gravel roads in Chaplin

Gravel roads in Chaplin

Salt banks

Salt banks

Salt banks

Salt banks

The weeds makes me think this ball diamond doesn't get much use

The weeds makes me think this ball diamond doesn’t get much use

Sunset in Chaplin through the trees

Sunset in Chaplin through the trees

Chaplin campground - I think I interrupted the locals driving routine, at least 5 different cars/trucks pulled in to drive around this loop in the time I was there.  One car actually started to pull in, saw my tent and immediately reversed and left!

Chaplin campground – I think I interrupted the locals driving routine, at least 5 different cars/trucks pulled in to drive around this loop in the time I was there. One car actually started to pull in, saw my tent and immediately reversed and left!

Sunset in Chaplin

Sunset in Chaplin

Day 37: May 21 – Chaplin to Moose Jaw

With over a month on the road I haven’t had a lot of tough days yet, but today was definitely a tough one.  The winds were absolutely relentless and with no trees or shrubs you are left completely exposed.  I also didn’t know of any campgrounds between Chaplin and Moose Jaw (87km), so I knew I had some ground to cover whether I liked it or not.  I woke up just before 6 and was on the road by 7:30 in the optimistic hope that I would get an hour or two in before the winds really picked up.  Not so.  The winds were out in full force.  And to add insult to injury, the winds were so strong I could barely hear my music.

It took me about 9.5hrs to cover these 87km.  At several points I had to get off my bike and walk ‘cuz my legs were simply too tired to keep pedalling into the wind.  BRUTAL!  Today was definitely a day I had to draw on all the support of friends and family.  To look at the positive (as dad kindly reminded me) – the temperature was ideal for riding, low 20’s so not too cold and not too warm and it wasn’t raining.

After getting settled into the hotel and calling my parents I headed out to pick up some groceries, some coolers and KFC (I know – not good for me, but I was sooooo craving grease!).

Hills everywhere!

Hills everywhere!

Town of Mortlach from the highway

Town of Mortlach from the highway

This landscape does not provide good protection from the wind

This landscape does not provide good protection from the wind

A much needed Subway stop in Caronport

A much needed Subway stop in Caronport

I believe this was a snowbird (although I could be wrong)

I believe this was a snowbird (although I could be wrong)

Signs of Moose Jaw - so close, yet sooooo far!

Signs of Moose Jaw – so close, yet sooooo far!

Getting closer...

Getting closer…

Moose Jaw - FINALLY!!!

Moose Jaw – FINALLY!!!  Now just 6 more km to the hotel