Alberta: June 13-15
Monday, June 13
Bike log: 161 km, 1020m of vertical,
average speed 32.7km/h
June 13 – Fernie to Fort Macleod
I felt 100% better this morning, got up
and got a good start (9AM after having breakfast at Smitty's). It
ended up a great day, and finally we crossed a provincial border!
The weather started out very cold and
quite damp, it looked like it could rain at any time. I had on a
short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, windbreaker, a hat, long
pants, and cycling pants - and still wished I had a bit more on to
start. But the rain held off, and as we approached Crow's Nest Pass,
the wind started picking up from behind - for a change! The pass
itself was by far the easiest of any of the trip, and I guess it will
be the last big hill for quite some time.
On the way to the Alberta border, we
passed through Sparwood, home of the largest trucks in the world.
They are used in the world's largest open pit mine. Despite their
gargantuan size, they get slightly better gas mileage than the new
Hummer SUV. For $20 you are allowed to take one of these out on the
highway and scare tourists.
Coasting down the Rockies in Alberta
The view of the Rocky Mountains coming
over the pass was fantastic. Huge, rocky peaks, coming out of
beautiful blue glacial lakes. Still lots of snow up on those
mountains - it probably stays year round. It was about 50km to the
Alberta border, and I was pushing it a bit to stay ahead of the
clouds that looked like they were following us. At the summit, the
wind really started to blow - from the west finally! And it kept
building, as well as getting warmer, for the rest of the day. By the
end of the day, I was in my top gear and doing about 50 km/hr on the
flats (it is pretty much all flat here), there was so much wind.
There were hundreds of huge power
generating windmills all along the highway, it was good to see. Hope
the wind keeps up like this for a few more days!
The open range (mind the barbed wire)
The landscape changed almost
immediately at the provincial border. The mountains are receding
quickly behind us, and we are surrounded by rolling hills and crop
fields. Very different countryside, but still just as scenic to see
going by. Perhaps because I am not used to it, but those little hills
and fields sure are pretty.
Sunny and flat
I am sure enjoying the sun and flat
terrain after days of rain and hills! However, the sunny weather seems to be new here, as there has been some flooding:
Bike log: 141.5 km, 390m of vertical,
average speed 29.3 km/h
June 14 - Ft. Macleod to Grassy Lake
We are staying in a place called Grassy
Lake, but we could not find a lake. There is, however, plenty of
grass! The towns are pretty few and far between here (not unlike
coming through BC), so there was not much choice. It is a nice little
town, though, as have been all of the towns we have passed through in
Alberta. I don't know whether this is true for other parts of the
province or not, but it seems like the small towns we've passed
through in Alberta are in better shape than the ones in BC. A little
better taken care of, a little more alive. In BC it seems that you
see more towns with run down buildings or mud pits full of busted
down cars in the front yard once you get out of the bigger towns. But
maybe we have just not hit the "right" places here!
Rainbows in the prairies
There was no rain today during my ride
– it was nice and sunny most of the way, and not too warm either.
Pretty much perfect. However, we had some really crazy weather when
we were cooking dinner. I had my clothes out drying, and all of a
sudden the wind picked up to a huge gust – probably 60km/h or more
– accompanied by some rain! It died out within about 3 minutes, but
then did that in fits and starts for the next half hour or so – and
then a beautiful rainbow. It is calm now, who knows what tomorrow
The scenery was really
spectacular for the day. In the morning, the Rocky Mountains were
very visible, and they slowly shrank as the day wore on. I can
now see what people meant
when they warned of the prairie winds! My awesome tailwind from
yesterday turned into an awful headwind today for the last 100 km.
Funny thing was, the clouds kept moving from the west, but the wind
here on the planet were going the wrong way! We stopped a bit short
of the destination today because of it. I was really struggling to
keep my speed at even 25 km/h. It sure is a mental challenge to keep
going through that – it is hard to accept that you are moving so
slow even though you are working so hard. It is very important to
Horses with Jobs
This being cattle country, a
lot of the
trip today was through fields full of cows - and horses too. The
horses make for better pictures. It is strange – as I
ride past, often several of the cows look up from chewing their grass
and stare at me, slowly scanning their heads to follow me as I pass.
I guess they are not sure what to make of a cyclist. It could also be
that I talk to them. I say, “If you get a chance, make a break
We passed through a few oil fields
today – nothing very large, maybe a half dozen small wells or
something. A novelty for me.
I am glad to report that even though
there are only two other trailers camping here, they both have small
Wednesday, June 15
Bike log: 168 km, 506m of vertical,
average speed 37.3 km/h
June 15 – Grassy Lake to Maple Creek (SK)
That was a great ride – what a
tailwind! Payback for yesterday, for sure. All day the winds were
blowing from behind, probably about as strong as they were from the
front yesterday. Much more enjoyable!
They were recommended, but did not tempt me
I hope to pass through
Alberta without having to tell anyone I am a vegetarian, so I thought
it would be a good idea to not stop at the sausage factory. This
was taken at our first stop of the day, at a place called
“Seven Persons” Alberta, about 24km outside of Lethbridge.
a tip there from Frank Church (who runs Church’s Trading Post)
about how to bypass Lethbridge – take Township road 120, which is
about 12km from Seven Persons. If anyone is coming through this way
and want to avoid Lethbridge (bigger cities, especially the approach
to them, are no fun on a bike) I highly recommend this!
Forward to Saskatchewan...