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

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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.


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

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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.