I did it – my first “double century”! Today I cycled over 200kms, into a headwind for the majority of the ride. If I sound excited, I am. This is something every cyclist strives to accomplish.
The day started in Hanna, AB. I couldn’t find anyone at the campsite so I set up my tent on the lawn of the Hanna Museum. It got me a couple of strange stares but you can’t beat the price. There was a washroom at the ball diamond across the street so I was very comfortable. I went to sleep with the sounds of coyote signing in my me ears. Oh, and watched the final two episodes of Game of Thrones in my tent. Thank God that’s the end of the season. Now I can finally get some sleep.
As I mentioned yesterday I planned to cut out early. I was on the road by 7:30. By 10am I reached Youngstown and was ready for a hardy breakfast. Unfortunately, there’s no restaurant in Youngstown. Only a corner store. But they had coffee and muffins and all sorts of other goodies to keep me satisfied, including Kit Kat bars which are fast becoming my favourite: “for a quick snack on-the-go” (Nestle, please send cheque to… ha, ha)
While I was there I spoke to the older gentleman I shared the one and only table with. I asked him what Youngstown is known for. He said “nothin”. Having seen the sign on the way in I said “well, your town is almost 100 years old, that’s something”. His reply “yah, I’m catchin up”.
Definitely my biggest group of fans today
If you Google the route from Hanna AB to Kindersley Sask you’ll see that there’s not much on the road, like scary nothing. When I reached Oyen it was about 1pm and I had already cycled 112kms. Again, I was so looking forward to sitting in a restaurant and enjoying a good meal. But once again I was foiled. The restuarant was closed and had a sign in the door that said “Waiting for an A&W”. How exactly do you “wait” for an A&W? Does it come on one of those trucks from the east?
As I sat and munched on fries and chicken fingers (yuck) the gentleman besides me struck up a conversation. He was from Oyen and he told me that small towns across the Prairies are dying. He explained that the family farm is a thing of the past and the miles and miles of farmland that you see along the road are all owned by big conglomerates. So lots of stuff is shutting down. In Oyen they don’t even have a bar anymore. Where do people go to socialize I wonder? The nearest towns are literally 100kms in each direction.
It got me thinking there’s no reason why people can’t remain in small towns. With good quality high speed Internet, and I understand Alberta and Saskatchewan have pretty good rural connectivity, you can run a small business from anywhere. I know I’m over simplifying but if I lived in a small town I would pick the one thing that makes my town great, and if there isn’t one make one up, and promote the heck out of it. Why just putting up a sign on the highway that says “Fresh baked goods and Lattes” would suck tourists in like a magnet.
Somehow I expected more, like a visitor centre or something…
The sight of this long, endless stretch of road made me feel really lonely
Proof positive: there are hills in Saskatchewan (and this one was pretty steep too
A buffalo rubbing stone, about as big as a SUV, carried here by glaciers
Distance travelled today – 207kms
Avg moving speed – 19.8kms
Traveling time – 10 hours and 30 mins
Elevation – 685m