Today’s Goal ~ Medicine Hat . . . . Where’s The Shower?

Distance ~ 104 km.     Winds ~ tailwind  Temperature ~ 5 – 20 C
Overcast throughout the day, sunny evening

The first 50 km were so flat, I thought we were in the prairies yesterday, today I know we are! Off in the distance you could see steadfast hydro towers like giants trailing off into the horizon and telephone poles and wires lining dusty sideroads. Occasionally we would see a truck or tractor leaving a dust trail that would blow endlessly across the fields. It is incredible to see!

The second half of our ride was a repeat of yesterday with long loping gradual climbs, I was so happy to see the Medicine Hat city limit sign. I was feeling the effects of pulling the trailer, riding my areobars and the narrow seat. As we approached the city, the traffic became hurried, so different than what we’ve experienced so far. Truckers and most cars have always given us as much room as possible and have moved over to the far lane to avoid traveling beside us.

We were happy to get off the #1 to find a little piece of heaven in the middle of Medicine Hat to set up camp. Cottonwood Coulee Golf Couse and Camp, is set in an area that has been eroded away to the bottom of a small creek. It is similar to the Dinosaur Provincial Park, but only on a smaller scale. (We decided to pass on that park due to it being 50 km north of the TransCanada and we had visited it in the past. It is an amazing place to visit!)

Doug was in such a hurry to get to the shower after we set up camp. I gathered up a change of clothes and sauntered over to the ladies room, as I went to hang up my towel ~ I recognized the shirt and riding shorts thrown over the top of the stall. “DOUG?” “Yes.” ” You are in the ladies shower!” “NO!” “Yes!” “Oh, oh!”

Tomorrow we’re planning a day of exploring the area, our first day off.

image

image

image

image

image

image

Advertisements

The Best Guide Ever To Lead Us Out Of Calgary On Our First Day ~ Ryan

image

Distance ~ 106 km.     Winds ~ favourable    Temperature ~ 15 – 20 C
Sunny skies

Up at 5:30 a.m. to do our final packing, eat breakfast and hook up the trailers. Ryan was going to pull my trailer today for me. Marie left for work and we rode to where we finished  our Vancouver to Calgary ride in 2012 for our picture. Thankfully, it wasn’t too far out of our way to back track, although we coasted down the hill and had to climb back up it, to be on our way. Ryan guided us down the Bow River Pathway that runs right through the heart of the city along the Bow.

The Honey Stinger rep for Western Canada, Clay Gillies, came up behind us and shared some knowledge of the area.  He said he loved the Niagara Grand Fondo last year. At his turn off to the warehouse he works at, he stopped and pulled a Vitara road tire out of his backpack along with a Lyzyme rechargeable light and an inner tube and gave them to us after wishing us a safe journey.

On Clay’s recommendation, we followed an irragation canal pathway all the way to Chestermere. With 50 km under our tires we stopped for lunch and groceries, then continued on to our final destination of the day. We were hoping to stay at Wyndham Provincial Park in Carseland on Hwy. 24S, beside the Bow River. Due to the flooding last year it was closed. A little park called Parkside Campground just before it had an older gentleman named Jack working outside. I asked him if we could camp here, as it is the end of our first day biking across Canada from Calgary and we’ve put in 106 km. today. He said the campground was closed, it’s his sisters place and he is just working on her house there to fix it up due to the damage of the flood. Then he said, “No problem, she’s not here and I’m the boss, you can camp over there.” How great is that?

Shortly afterward, Marie arrived to pick up Ryan. But first we all enjoyed the pizza, pop and beer she brought. A super first day! Thank you, Ryan for pulling my trailer for me today and for leaving your warm coat behind! See you in 10 days when you join us for another portion of the ride.

Before heading to bed, we walked down to the other park to see the destruction from the flooding. Trees were tangled and broken off, weeds, leaves, long grasses and brush were hanging 8 to 10 feet (3 metres) off the ground. The fences were covered in dried hanging weeds. Back at camp, Jack came over for a visit around our fire and shared some of his life stories with us. He left Toronto 35 years ago, he’s now 69. He said, “I always wanted to be a cowboy!” Oh my gosh, he had us laughing so hard! Thank you Jack, you ended our day wonderfully! He offered us a ride up to the highway in the morning, but we decided to stay off of the TransCanada a bit longer. Thanks for your hospitality, Jack!

image

Goodbye Calgary ~

image

image

Thanks for towing my trailer all day, Ryan!

image

image

image

Image

Day 10 ~ A Killer Last Day ~ The Day With All the Breakdowns . . . . One Of The Longest Days Ever!!!!

Picture 5

Chain Lakes Provincial Park ~ Calgary ~ 117 km, 6 hour 15 minutes (supposedly)

Shortly after riding on to the Cowboy Trail towards home, Ryan yelled ahead to Doug. “My back wheel is rubbing.” We all dismounted our bikes to take a look. One of only eighteen spokes was broken and we had 120 kms ahead of us. The wheel was jammed against the frame making it impossible to proceed.

Doug jumped into millwright “McGuyver Mode.” They cut out most of the broken spoke, leaving just enough on each end to twist into loops. Before the final solution was found, a few other strategies were attempted.  After searching the shoulder of the road in both directions, he found piece of wire suitable for the job.

As the sun was blistering down on us, Doug laced the wire between the two loops and then tensioned it by twisting it with an Allen Key. I was hiding in the long grass trying to cool down behind the shadow of a fence post. VOILÀ, after a couple of hours we were back on the road!

Ryan was fairly tentative to ride on his new fangled spoke.  A few hills later, as we approached Longview, more trouble surfaced. h
He couldn’t shift into a higher gear to climb the next hill. Another maintenance stop revealed a broken rear shifter cable. There was no solution to fixing this problem . . . . . he only had two gears he could use ~ fifth and tenth. The rest of the Doug pulled out his bunge-cord tow rope to assist in towing Ryan up the hills. Several stops were made to hook up and unhook the towing rope. The day seemed to drag on as the sun began to lower toward the horizon.

As we crested one of the last hills, we could see skyline of Calgary off in the distance. We celebrated that we only 30 km left to pedal, we had so many mechanical problems today, we thought we were home free!

Not so! Ryan had . . . . . not one, not two, but three flat tires. Argh! It seemed we didn’t have enough trouble yet! We were so ready for this ride to be done. What should have been an easier 6 hour ride, was stretching out to be one of our longest rides going on 11 hours.

As we approached the last two kilometers to Ryan’s house, Doug’s chain broke  . . . . . not once, not twice, but three times. Ryan and I patiently waited while Doug fixed it.  We were so anxious to be finished our ride and couldn’t believe we had so much trouble, all in the same day.  Thankfully this didn’t happen throughout our entire ride!

We turned up the last road with a bit of an incline, about 1k left to go. We heard a crack ~ Doug’s back derailler snapped off and was hanging down, only held up by his chain. It was unbelievable!  We all stopped and looked at each other and laughed so hard. The best part wad the tow rope came out one last time to finish our ride. Marie was waiting for us at the gate to welcome us home. Our adventure was over.

Image

Day 9 ~ Leaving Blairmore, Past Frank Slide to The Foothills . . . . Oh, The Foothills!

Picture 4

Blairmore to Chain Lakes Provincial Park ~ 95 km., 5 hours

We were excited to be nearing the highway that would take us toward Calgary, leaving the last few mountain ranges and officially entering the foothills.

As we approached the area of the slide, the road cut through enormous rocks and boulders. Boulders the size of houses were jumbled and strewn off into the distance. We stopped to witness the devastation of the historic Frank Slide, where the side of Turtle Mountain broke away early in the morning, burrying the small town alive. The rubble was 150 metres deep and covered an expanse of 1 kilometre wide. It was overwhelming to see, we rode for miles in silence afterward, processing what that horrible morning was like. (Click on the link below for incredible information about the slide.)

Frank Slide Info

We turned on to highway #22 ~ Cowboy Trail. When thinking about leaving the mountains and riding through the foothills, it seemed like the hardest part of the ride was over. What a ridiculous thought! The foothills are not little hills, they are long sweeping rollers that drop down to river beds then rise endlessly into the distance. From afar the road looked flat, but as our wheels edged closer to Calgary  . . . . . we knew these next two days were going to be challenging!

The air was extremely hot and dry, dry as a bone.  There was no wind to cool us, no gas stations to refill our camel backs, no shade to be found anywhere and biting flies chasing us as we pedaled up the hills. In contrast, there were amazing beautiful fields of yellow safflower in bloom stretching to the horizon and miles and miles of pasture for livestock and fence lines, as far as the eye could see.

Fortunately as we emptied out our last few gulps of water we approached a clean, cold, crisp fast flowing stream where other people had stopped to enjoy the view and refreshing waters. We lingered here for a chilling swim and purified some water to finish off our ride for the day. Our aim was to camp at Chain Lakes Provincial Park. Our site had a panoramic view of the Chain Lakes Reservoir with the Rockies in the distance. There was thunder exploding in the distance, coupled with an entrancing heat lightning light show that completed our evening sitting by the campfire, pondering that our momentous trip was coming to an end.