Rocky Mtn House to Saskatchewan River Crossing

Saturday’s ride started out very slowly, I loaded up my bike and proceeded out of town via my ‘quick route’. It turns out that this is only a quick route because the timing of the lights works out perfectly at about 35-40 kph if I’m riding a racing bike, not when you’re doing 25 and making very slow accelerations with a hefty trailer. Yes, the trailer is rather hefty or at least it was when I set out. I had a bunch of fruits and vegetables that needed to be eaten before I returned so I loaded them aboard at the last second, at least another 4 lbs. Most of it is already eaten though so I’m only carrying relatively ‘light’ calories from here on out; avocados, cucumbers and apples no more. Every pound makes a difference, and I could definitely tell towards the end of the day that my trailer was getting lighter.

Today’s route was pancake flat for the first 90 kms at which point the rolling hills grew and grew to the point that there were sustained climbs in some of my easiest gears for 20 minutes before I reached Rocky. The wind didn’t co-operate with me, but it wasn’t an unbearable affliction either, a three-quarter headwind seemed to be the prescription regardless of the way I turned. My last 2 kilometer roll down the hill to the riverbank of the North Saskatchewan (where I am camped this evening) had a fantastic tailwind and I debated briefly the merits of continuing along for another hour to take advantage of it. Not knowing of any water sources I could count on, liking the idea of free camping instead of paying, and being rather tuckered out already I called it quits at 219 kilometers, 9 hours of riding into my day.

I can certainly tell that I am in need of a vacation, my mind was racing like a runaway locomotive all morning. The brain started to slow down in the afternoon when I got nice and tired climbing hill after hill after hill, maybe I was getting tired or maybe it is a sign that I am eventually going to get some peace of mind this week. Part of me insists that I keep the brain cruising this week while I ride and sort out all sorts of thoughts and ideas and plans. The other part of me wants to just look around, turn the pedals and take a break from all-day every-day busyness. I think I’ll try to go for option two and if I’m lucky maybe that will be the key to reigning in all the other stressful bits and dealing with them too.

It’s a good thing the afternoon improved. I woke up to the sound of wind rustling the leaves of the trees around me and was on the road a hair before 8am. Climbing out of the river valley it became immediately apparent that the wind was from the west, and would be head on for most of the day. I did my best to keep trucking along but had a tough time feeling like I had any energy, it was chilly and I didn’t really want to eat so I was trying to force-feed myself bits of everything that I was carrying, nothing seemed appetizing. After a long three hours of climbing towards the summit (not a pass, just a high point with a few radio towers on it) I decided I needed to hop off the bike. A nice sit down on the warm pavement did wonders for getting rid of the chills and I was able to eat quite a bit. The next hour cruising generally downhill to Nordegg seemed to fly by and I stopped in at a cafe for a snack and to refill my water.

Photo from gallery: Edmonton to Penticton 2009

Setting out from Nordegg the rolling hills continued to the edge of Abraham Lake and I felt pretty good, cruising up above 50 kph a few times with the trailer, 70 kph doesn’t even seem fast on my other bikes anymore but 55 with a trailer loaded down with gear is a big rush. The valley narrows where the lake begins and the wind-speed consequently picked it up a few notches. I found myself in my easiest gear pedalling downhill at windy-point. I have no chance to make it up Bow Pass tomorrow if I have to deal with something like that. The rest of the cruise along the lake went a bit better and I pulled in to the two o’clock creek campground to cook up some supper where I had access to a picnic table. Following dinner of cous-cous and herring I plugged away into the headwind for another hour, once again finding myself in my easiest gear going down a hill at whirlpool point. There has been prescribed burning happening in this valley, probably to combat the pine beetle, so I continued on until I could find some non-charred soil on which I could pitch my tent. I think I’m between 10 and 15 kms of Saskatchewan river crossing, so hopefully less that three hours from the top of Bow Pass. I’ve got a relatively longer day tomorrow, especially if I detour to Emerald Lake, but the tough part is at the start, hopefully all is well and I get my legs feeling alright a bit sooner than today.

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