Alberta Blows Us Away

8 Jun

We reached the Wild Rose Country! Yay! (Technically they are still part of Canada.)

In the morning, we were well-rested and the sun was out. Everything seemed great, and we were cycling at a solid pace. Turning onto Highway 22 we saw this sign, and poked fun at it by taking silly pictures.

Little did we know what the weather gods had in store for us. Also, Maria’s rear tire was partially deflated and we had to pump it up. We assumed that was the end of it.

At first we were confronted with massive side- and headwind. Our pace slowed noticeably. For the first time during our trip, we had to cycle close together such that the person in front would block the wind for the person in the back. By this point we realized Maria’s back tire had a slow leak, as we had to pump it up again. Our ambitions of getting to Black Diamond (a 140km day) crumbled.

Around 5pm the rain started up. By this point in the trip we knew a rain-bringing cloud when we saw one, so we quickly put on our rain gear – and not a minute too soon. But unlike previous downpours, this one just kept going and going. In addition, we started seeing some lightning and hearing thunder, although it was still far away.

The particular stretch of highway we were cycling along is interesting because from the turn-off onto it and until Black Diamond, a 130-km stretch, there is literally nothing. No gas stations, no corner stores, no campgrounds: just fields with grazing cows. We knew this in advance, too, because there was a sign. So we were slowly making peace with the idea that we would camp on the grass beside the highway.

Our spirits were low when we had to stop a third time to inflate Maria’s tire. It was already 8pm, and our waterproof-breathable jackets were soaking through. We got going again, but the lightning was getting closer (we were counting the time between the lightning and thunder). After cycling another ten minutes we both had the idea to just stop for the night already.

Within a few minutes we were lucky enough to discover a bridge. So we did the hobo thing, and set up camp right there.

In the morning, we finally cobbled together enough enthusiasm to change the tube in Maria’s tire. It was still cold and wet, though it was not thundering anymore.

 

Grudgingly we started out, in full rain gear, preparing ourselves for a half-day of cycling followed by warming up in the nearest B&B. But within an hour the sun caught up with us!

We stopped at Bar U Ranch for breakfast/lunch and ate the most delicious, largest brunch in the world: soup, burgers, chicken wings, and dessert. The attendants there told us there had been 2 tornadoes that touched down near Medicine Hat the day before.

5 Responses to “Alberta Blows Us Away”

  1. Larry June 9, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Goodness. I don’t feel nearly as put upon having to fix a pesky door knob last night. The constant fetching of additional door knob tools, salty snacks to buoy my endurance and additional documentation seemed punishing. Made me reflect on the duration of the after life. To right my karma, I may sleep under the No. 2 Road Bridge tonight.

    In solidarity.

  2. Leigh June 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    Congrats on crossing one border! Only a few more to go…. I love reading your blog! Great writing.

  3. Olga June 9, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Whoa, what a day! Good idea to camp under the bridge (in case of more tornadoes)🙂

  4. Gili Rosenberg June 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Too bad about the weather, but you are bound to hit some tough weather on a trip like this, so you knew it was coming🙂 Hopefully you have a tarp? We got one a year or two ago and it has made rainy trips much more palatable. Sometimes we even put it up midday to hide from the rain if it is coming down really hard. Looks like you are making good progress!

    • Maria June 18, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      We don’t have a tarp. Actually we were thinking to bring one, but decided it was going to be extra cost and weight. But we have a pretty roomy tent that we can set up really fast, and here in the prairies it’s easier than finding trees for a tarp.

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