Sunday, July 22, 2012

Days 32-33+ - Very Prairie

Prairies at dusk
[Friday morning, Tyler is pumping a new 100psi tire, which gives me a chance to type this blog.  Both tedious, repetitive tasks, but at least this is more rewarding...]
Day 32 finds us in Brooks, 106km from the nearest bike shop, dangerously low on tubes/patches, and still repairing the damage from the night before.  By the time we replace Kyle's front and back tubes, it is already 11:00am.  Sigh.

Cycling on eggshells to Medicine Hat is made easier by no headwind.  We see this in a 28km/hr average speed, four higher than the day before.  The good news is that Kyle only gets one flat on the way to the city!  Big thanks to Greg from Ralston for the use of his air compressor - the little hand pump just isn't doing the job anymore.  Also, thanks for the help from Side Tracks diner, who tell us that we can't make Walsh that night.  We'll see.

We make it to Cyclepath in Medicine Hat, which takes care of us quite well, even past closing.  Kyle's broken spoke is replaced, the wheel is trued, and we stock up on tubes.  One salesman comments, "I've never seen anyone buy that many tubes."  We take this seriously.  In addition, we also make the decision to replace each of our rear tires, two of which are only two days old.  We are determined not to repeat Kyle's yesterday.  These tires are much thicker, slightly less efficient, and are also 100psi.  We will buy a new pump just keeps adding up.

[The irony of the situation is that right now, we are sitting at a gas station in Swift Current (later Friday morning), using an air compressor to fill Tyler's flat fully.  Kyle points out that the hand-pump is the most time-consuming part of the experience.]
Saskatchewan farms the median of the Trans Canada

But we get fixed, hit no more flats, and make it to Walsh, just on the border, by 10:00pm.  It's not pitch-dark yet; Prairies, edge of time zone.  A miracle campsite with warm showers saves the day.  Good sleep!
Thursday is Day 33, which begins with a border crossing - first time in Saskatchewan for all of us!  There is also some minor confusion as we cross into Central Standard Time, which is not different from Mountain Daylight Time.  Also, and officially, Tyler did not go flat in Alberta.  But as I can insert my insights from the future into the writing of this post, guess who flats first in Saskatchewan...

We rolled through SK on Thursday, happy with the wind we were given.  As I try to recap this day, it hints at the title of the blog...very Prairie.  Kind of flat, but not really; not much to see, but nothing to block your view; just not much to write about...  Small example - there really isn't much shade along the Trans Canada in Saskatchewan.  For our second lunch break, towards the end of the day, Kyle spots some trees in the distance to target as a stop.  8.5km later, we arrive.  

The most notable factor of the ride is the shift in winds.  After a slight tailwind all day, the last two hours are marked by a significant crossheadwind, which slows our pace of 30km/hr for the first two hours to about 21km/hr for the last two, for a daily total of 27km/hr.  Tough.  I watch the numbers all day on the Garmin, and I believe the wind to be a much bigger factor than mountains.  

What a feast!
The day gets interesting once we get to our destination, Swift Current.  We stay at Trail Campground, which compensates our site fee (and showers)!  There we meet Laura, proprietor of Nature's Nook in town.  And what can we say about Laura - thanks so much!  She takes us to Safeway, just in the nick of closing time, and then back to our camspite - no additional biking!  She also stopped at her store to pick us up some electrolyte mixes for the upcoming days.  Furthermore, she brought a leafy salad, garden vegetables and all kinds of seeds to our dinner, which she stayed for - spaghetti and spicy hotdogs.  It was the most elaborate meal we have enjoyed on the road so far!  To top it off, she also snuck some granola bars from the grocery store that we passed on because they were too expensive, and she took care of a Purolator errand for us.  These are all the acts of such a kind and generous stranger, which made our night in Swift Current easy and enjoyable.  Thanks Laura!

So that was day 32 and 33, but for some bonus coverage.  The blogs took long enough to write that now you get Day 34, too!  As you know, the day started with Tyler's first flat since New Brunswick.  This leaves the flat standings at 5 for Tyler, 6 for Jordan, and 17 for Kyle.  Poor Kyle.  

That flat and corresponding pumping delayed our start by almost two hours, which is not what we wanted for the fourth of four consecutive long days.  Moreover, a strong headwind put our first two hours at an average speed of 20.9km/hr...slow.  By the time we stopped for a buffet lunch, the day was looking looooong...

But as you might expect by now, things would change.  A complete random stranger stopped Kyle on the side of the road and gave Kyle a cold litre of PowerAde.  We also went through Chaplin, which is the location of the second-largest saltwater lake in Canada.  [These are the kind of stories that Tyler is talking about when he says "very Prairie."]  But the real turn of events is the the wind.  It really died down, which would let us do our 24-27km/hr for the balance of the day, and we arrive in Moose Jaw at 9:00: ahead of earlier expectations, but late by any measure.  We continued our long-day-fast-food tradition at DQ and then camped for the fourth consecutive night.  All in all, a good day, a good week, and at this point, we can look towards a short day to Regina tomorrow!

Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

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