Back to BC part 2


This page covers the bike trip from Fernie to Maple Creek (SK).

Total Days: 3
Pedaling Days: 3
Total Distance: 470 km
Total Vertical: 1,916m
Average Speed: 33.0 km/h

Route summary: Highway 3 from Fernie to Medicine Hat, with a brief urban detour through Lethbridge since bicycles aren't allowed on the TC through Lethbridge.  Also a brief detour to avoid Medicine Hat, joining up with highway 1, and following that to the Saskatchewan border.
Click on a day below, or scroll down to go through day by day.  Click on any image below to get a larger view.  Click here to go back to the trip index.

  1. Alberta: June 13-15
    1. Monday, June 13
      1. June 13 – Fernie to Fort Macleod
      2. Sparwood
      3. Coasting down the Rockies in Alberta
      4. Windmills
      5. The open range (mind the barbed wire)
      6. Sunny and flat
    2. Tuesday, June 14
      1. June 14 - Ft. Macleod to Grassy Lake
      2. Rainbows in the prairies
      3. Receding Mountains
      4. Horses with Jobs
    3. Wednesday, June 15
      1. June 15 – Grassy Lake to Maple Creek (SK)
      2. They were recommended, but did not tempt me

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:


Tuesday, June 14

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 will bring.

Receding Mountains

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 stay focused.

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 for it!”

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 poodles.


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. We got 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...