Cycling across Canada remains one of my proudest accomplishments, and I am happy to be back on track, sharing the experiences of my Trans Canada journey.
When I left off, I had travelled across the magnificent Rockies, hiked and relaxed in Banff and Lake Louise, and head out for a few days of fun in Calgary. It was surprising that I had met so few cyclists doing the same trans Canada journey – after all, I had read that close to 1,000 cyclists do it every year, and the best way to cycle across Canada was from the West to the East – the prevailing winds would be in your favour, making for a better trip!
Had a great time in Calgary, but time to get back on track – hit the road – the East coast wasn’t getting any closer with trips to the zoo and nights at the bar. Getting started the morning I left town was a challenge. Expecting a lot of traffic, I hit the road extra early – it was the right thing to do. The first 100kms out of town were glorious – you know the feeling – basking in the warmth of the sun on your face and blue skies!
After that, I was zonked – not sure what happened, but sleep deprivation surely caught me up. Found the only tree (don’t forget, we are moving into the Prairies now!!!) and that was it – pulled over on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway, pulled out my sleeping roll and was out for the count. Slept like a log until the shade from the tree had completely disappeared. Full sun gets pretty hot out there.
Something had shifted – I pedalled squares along the highway, my prevailing wind not so friendly as it has shifted to become a headwind during my sleep. Crawled along til I reached the town of Brookes – a huge day in the saddle – 194 kms in total, with over 8 hours of riding. Needless to say, a hotel room and nice dinner was in order! Woke up to find my first flat – picked up a huge shard of metal on the road! Not good. At least I had the luxury of fixing in the comfort of my hotel room (which was still feeling rather decadent!) Opted for an easier day, checking out of the hotel late before the push on to Medicine Hat and back to camping.
Tough day in the saddle – temperatures peaking around 35 C and heavy headwinds. So much for the prevailing winds theory! Turns out there was a mini tornado east of town. This was going to test me and my gear. Exhausted and thirsty, I tumbled into a restless sleep. Everyone kept telling me there was a lot of nothing coming up – was going to need to be prepared!
Riding to Gull Lake the next day, I met up with a new riding partner, a young man from Quebec. It was great to have someone to ride with. Even better when I flatted again and he was happy to help me fix it! We were greeted by some great Canadian hospitality as we cycled along – a man in a motor home stopped to check on us, offering fresh sandwiches and a respite from the sun. He was the first of many who blessed me with kindness on this trip, part of what made it so memorable. Sandwiches done, it was back on the bikes – we had a ball, racing for the sunset and a campsite at Gull Lake.
Feeling rather run down, I had to bid my new cycling partner adieu – my next destination – a motel to recover – turns out I had picked up a cold while in Calgary. My legs just couldn’t pedal across Canada for another minute – I stumbled into Swift Current, plunked down my credit card, and ended up staying 3 days! Sleep, eat and Tour de France on tv! Just what the body needed!
Next segment: Cycling Across Canada: Random Acts of Kindness
Back on track: Cycling Across Canada – the Prairies – stats from Calgary to Swift Current:
|Start||Stop||Distance (km)||Time Riding|
|Day 11||Calgary||Brookes||194||8h 19m|
|Day 12||Brookes||Medicine Hat||112||5h 36m|
|Day 13||Medicine Hat||Gull Lake||176||7h 56m|
|Day 14||Gull Lake||Swift Current||55||2h 37m|