I knew the moment I started riding that Saskatoon wasn’t going to happen today. A strong headwind and a driving rain made for hard going. But I can’t complain. I’ve had 17 days of great weather and it was only a matter of time.
My day started, as usual, with a huge breakfast. Two pancakes, two eggs over-easy, two slices of bacon, two sausages, two pieces of brown toast, two cups of coffee, a glass of orange joice and a glass of water. It’s so nice to be able to eat pretty much anything I want and know I’ll burn it off over the next couple of hours.
And that I did. After two hours of heavy rain and wind everything was soaked through. My MEC rain jacket behaved admirably but eventually the water gets through on the sleeves. The best purchase I made was my helmet cover. While it looks pretty stupid but it kept my hair and my head warm, and as they say “warm head, warm feet”. My pannier covers did their job well. The only piece of rain gear that’s pretty much useless are the gators covering my shoes. Eventually the water gets in from underneath and I don’t think there’s anything that can prevent that but if anyone has a better solution let me know.
Whenever I see a Point of Interest – let’s call it a POI from here on in, to maintain the link to my telecom background – I stop to have a look. This one is for an old cart path that ran between Swift Current and Battleford. A trucker was pulled over checking something and we had a brief conversation. Folks are friendly out here and always open to conversation.
There’s actually quite a bit of wildlife in Saskatchewan. There are many wetlands along the road along with associated waterfowl. Near Harris I spotted a falcon sitting on a road sign not 20′ feet from me. By the time I dug out my camera it had flown off. I had a coyote cross the road in front of me and yesterday a deer, about 100 yards off, ran along side my bicycle for 20 or 30 seconds. It started to cross the road but then spotted me and ran off the other way.
Speaking of Harris, it’s and interesting town and my very first sight of a traditional Saskatchewan grain elevator. The town itself has a museum, murals of traditional farm life, and the location of the Great Ruby Rush of 1914 (I’m going to make you look that one up).
My first traditional grain elevator
Murals in Harris, Saskatchewan
The glacial boulder that started the Great Ruby Rush
If I had of been smart I would have stayed here tonight
I learned so something new today. When I truck behind you toots its horn it’s not to say “hi”, rather, it’s to say “move over before I blow you the hell off the road”. One truck was carrying the mother of all tractors with its huge wheels hanging off the sides of the flatbed. It’s a good thing I have a rear view mirror, and it’s a good thing they give you some warning. Two wide loads passing each other on the highway must be a curious event.
Q. What do the call two wide loads passing each other on the highway?
A. The cyclist clean-up crew
After a very pleasant lunch in Rosetown, where the owner gave me hot soup right away and was happy to let me dry out, I headed back out on the road. PS – to the owner of the restaurant: sorry about all the mud I dragged in. The wind had died down, the road was smooth and I made excellent time. Once again I was fooled into thinking I was in control. Things changed about 30km down the road and a strong wind from the southeast kicked up.
I noticed that whenever I passed a grove of trees (there aren’t many) there would be a brief respite from the wind. I think that all the cyclists crossing Canada would be thrilled if the Saskatchewan government, perhaps with a little help from PM Harper, were to plant a line of willows along the side of the road to block this nasty wind. I’m sure motorists wouldn’t mind much either. How hard can that be?
In any case, while I was cycling into this headwind I had an inspiration: an ode to the tailwind:
O tailwind, tailwind, wherefore art thou tailwind?
Deny thy natural tendencies, and from behind O push me tenderly;
And if thou wilt not, comest thou back another day;
Perhaps when I’m sailing the heavenly sea.
Did I mention you get strange thoughts after seven or eight hours in the saddle? By the way, my ode is not completely original. I’ve borrowed a bit from that other guy.
A vast body of water. How did it get here? It must be some kind of mistake.
By the time I reach Delisle I’d pretty much had it. Delisle is the first “big” town on the map, at least it looks that way. I managed to find the only hotel, which is more like a smelly boarding house with a bar attached. It was a slight improvement over that hotel I passed in Harris. But the room was clean and cheap and dry.
The women in the bar who arranged for my room noticed my address and asked if I was cycling from Ottawa. “No, the other way, I came from Vancouver and am cycling to Toronto” I replied. Said “Pardon my language but holy s&@t! Are you training for something?”. She was very helpful and let me keep my bike in the lobby.
Not surprisingly there’s no wifi here but my cell phone works. Vicki told me a few people have expressed concern because there have been no updates for a few days. That’s very touching and I appreciate the concern. I try to update this blog as often as I can but sometimes the wifi gods don’t cooperate.
Distance traveled today – 163kms
Moving avg – 17.6kms
Moving time – 9 hours and 16 mins