I made it to Drumheller by 4:30pm. Cycling the prairies is so much easier. Time seems to go by faster and I’m not counting every kilometre. I rode 138kms in just over 6 hours.
My ride started at 8:30 in the morning. Dave and Lose live in northwest Calgary so I quietly tiptoed my way around the outskirts. At this point there was still a number of rolling hills to climb but nothing too troublesome. All I can say is that goodness for Google maps. There is so much construction around Calgary that my Garmin topo maps were off, way off.
It was long however before I hit the Prairies in earnest. At least I think it’s the prairies. There’s no sign or anything saying “Welcome to the Prairies!”. But my first real emotion hit me shortly after having lunch in Beiseker(pop. 828) I had a long stretch of highway 65kms without anything in between. There are still kind of rolling hills but picture these hills are maybe 10m or 20m in height and 3-5kms peak to peak. You can see a really long ways and it’s definitely a feeling of openness. It’s pretty cool.
It’s a truck on a stick (and a tractor on a stick), just before Beiseker
Dorothy, you’re not in the mountains anymore: this was the first time I felt the expansiveness of the prairies
You also pass a sign that points to a place called Carbon. It’s too far out of my way but there seems to be lots of things to do. Besides, what a cool name: Carbon. Surely there’s a superhero named Carbon.
My first oil rig near the highway to Carbon
As you near Drumheller you start to see mounds. I still have to read what causes them exactly, but if we were in Syria or Lebanon it would be a sure sign of a great and ancient city buried underneath.
Could there be an ancient civilization under that mound?
But not here. Drumheller is in what they call the Badlands. It looks like you’re caught in an old western. They have a rock formation here called hoo doos. They are tall rocks that look like mushrooms because the lower part if the rock has been worn away by wind and sand.
The badlands are really bad, in a cool way of course
Cedit: Wikipedia (this is too far out of my way to see unfortunately)
It was great getting here earlier because it gave me a chance to look around. Luckily, I booked a room because almost all the hotels and campsites were full because of the long weekend. However, after settling in I walked over to the Information Centre which is awesome. They were very helpful and helped me find campsites and towns all the way into Saskatoon. They also two large whiteboards with all of the hotels and campsites listed, their amenities and which had vacancies.
What you see of Drumheller from the highway isn’t much. But if you go to the info centre and walk the trail along the Red Deer River it’s very pretty.
But the biggest thing to see in Drumheller is the WORLDS LARGEST DINOSAUR. Sorry, I have to use caps when I say that. It just seems appropriate. It’s big, there’s no doubt about it. Much bigger than the actual dinosaurs which is kind of ironic. You can climb steps to an observation point in the dinosaur’s mouth. I opted not to do that; it could have meant the end of me.
This morning I’m headed to the Royal Tyrrell Museum which is where they have all the dinosaur exhibits and I am as stoked as hell. This museum is every little boy’s dream.
Afterwards it looks like my next stop will be Hanna which is only 85kms but there’s no camping after that for a long time. The infomarion centre here was very helpful and they gave me maps and info on campsites all the way into Saskatoon.
Looking at the map I’m half way throuogh Alberta now. It shouldn’t take long to get to Saskatoon. The weather has been awesome. I relized yesterday that every day I’ve cycled it’s been sunny. Every single day. The only day it snowed and rained a little was on my day off.
I also saw a live band last night. A Celtic band from Calgary called Claymore. It was the last thing I expected out here. They are very talented and they played a lot of fun Maritimer songs. If I wasn’t nodding off at my table, even after a coffee, I would have stayed longer.
Last night I slept for 8 hours. The first time since I left home. I am so sore from climbing Prairie Mountain it’s not even funny. But it feels really, really good.
Ok, I’m off to see the dinosaurs. I can’t keep them waiting any longer; sixty million years is quite enough.
Distance traveled today – 138kms
Avg speed – 21kms
Elevation – 675m (in Drumheller valley)
Moving time – 6 hours and 34 mins
Avg kms per cycling day – 115.5