Calgary

The ride to Calgary featured the gradual transition from the Rockies to the beginning of the Prairies in 110km. We started the morning eating breakfast in Canmore, eating bagels in what felt like a little bowl of mountains, and ended the day in a big city surrounded by flat farm land. Oh Canada.

We cycled along Highway 1 on the giant shoulders and although Calgary was lower than Canmore elevation wise- there were still some epic hills to keep us occupied. Mischa made fun of me for buying a half-dozen bagels in the morning but by 2:00pm, they were all gone along with all of our almond butter. We finished our second jar! Another big event. We almost made it into the city by 3:30, our goal time until we were passing the Olympic training centre and I hear a hissing sound and felt my bike slow down; the infamous sound of a flat tire. Our first flat tire after 1500km is not too bad, but nonetheless a bit of a nuisance. We pulled over and got to test our listening skills and bike knowledge from our training courses and lectures from avid cyclists. Thankfully Mischa was there and I was not afraid of getting my hands greasy anymore so he guided me through all of the steps. After 45 minutes we had it! A fully new and inflated inner tube! Yes!

We ended our cycle at the Fairbank’s home in North West Calgary to be greeted by my wonderful friend and her entire family. We were welcomed with drinks, food, conversation and felt so fortunate to be sitting at a dinner table with a dozen other people sharing stories and hearing about life in Calgary. We were utterly spoiled with love! We woke up in the morning and Haylee took us to Mt. Yumnaska, a mountain in the edge of the Rockies that is considered to look like a feathered head dress. I thought it was a hippo and Mischa saw a croissant with melting chocolate. Who knows! What a beautiful climb though. How lucky are people in the West to have this in their backyards (almost) to explore. We hiked past the treelike and began to make our way up the backside of the rock face. ‘Fear is all imagination,’ right? I thought I wasn’t scared of heights until my steps started to shorten and my hands were awkwardly up at my side for balance. I am glad we made it to the top though. The view was spectacular. One side we had the mountains, the other was untouched valley, and the last had a trail of human footprints like roads, houses and industry. A really neat contrast.

We ended up getting our bikes dropped off just outside of Yumnaska back in Canmore for a presentation we had planned in Exshaw the following morning. We get to do the ride to Calgary twice now! Woo! But, it was nice to be in the mountains again and neither of us really realized that Calgary was so different compared to our previous surroundings. We were fortunate enough to camp in one of the Exshaw teacher’s backyards and made our way to her school the following morning- almost seamlessly. A 9:00am arrival time turned into a 1:00pm arrival time due to a short tire pump hunt, rainstorm, and 30km detour along Highway 1 to cross the Bow River. We were so close. We could practically see the school from the south side, but there was no pedestrian bridge nor road- only a highway crossing 15km up the road. Shoot! Thankfully though the school was flexible and even greeted us with lunch waiting upon our arrival!

Exshaw School was such a welcoming community. Most of the students live on the Stoney Reserve so it was a new experience for both Mischa and I to be in a school with the circle of courage on the walls and a place where so many of kids not only went to school together but essentially lived together too. As soon as we walked into the school we were greeted by curious kids who came right up to ask questions. Pulling into a small town with a loaded bicycle can have this effect sometimes. We spent a lovely afternoon with a couple of the classes and they send us off with a run and wave as we sped down the school’s driveway, consequently feeling rather epic.

That night after another long ride we were welcomed again by the Fairbanks family and a warm dinner with pie for another wonderful evening. It was definitely another nice boost of family for us. That is one thing that is beginning to really sink in. Both Mischa and I are becoming so dependent on one another. All of our time is spend together and it is refreshing and wholesome to spend time with other familiar faces again.

This feeling continued as we made our way to the next destination; Laura and Chad’s. They are friends of mine I met traveling last summer and since we had a busy week in Calgary with Seed by Seed presentations and meetings, we got to spend the tail end of the week in their company. Mischa and I were again amazed by the kindness of people. Beginning with walking into their backyard to find hand-drawn signs-by-Laura to welcoming us with a cooler bag filled with baked goods, veggies and a few beers for us to enjoy while they got home from work. We got to experience a snippet of their lives from watching their ultimate frisbee match, eating moose that Chad hunted, meeting their neighbours and sharing keys. Thanks for the lovely stay!

Our week in Calgary was also exciting because we got to spend Wednesday with the director of Hillhurst Community Development Calgary and learn about their magnitude of programming for the city from farmer’s markets to cooking classes, community gardens and food policy councils. They are trying to use food as a way to build community in Calgary and are engaging both youth and adults in their movement. We will post more about them in an ‘Initiatives Calgary’ post later! On Thursday we spent the early morning at the Calgary Independent Radio Stations! 90.9 CJSW with and incredible host and fellow trans-Canada cyclist. Very exciting. Right after we cycled to City Hall to set up a booth at the Mayor’s Environmental Expo. We were one of 60 booths talking about sustainability to youth from all across the city. We felt a little unprepared considering we are both only carrying two panniers and a sleeping mat, so we decided to make our area like a campsite display! Mischa finally got to show off his tent to the public and we had photos, stats and a few interactive demonstrations to show the power of food at shaping the environment. It was an exciting day to be a part of! Then on Friday we spend the day with Charter Connect School beginning with a presentation followed by a workshop with 18 students to do a few leadership modules and a session of action planning revolving around politics! The school’s final project is an election where the grade nine students create a full political campaign for a party of their choice. We came a week before elections and were taken back by the complexity and creativity of the platforms and visions for Canada. Definitely many strong leaders and future MP’s in that room! Mischa and I were both a little intimidated by the language the kills were using! I had to google the word ‘constituents’ when no one was looking!

We had our final night in lovely company again, back at the Fairbanks’ with a spontaneous visit from one of my longest best friends who is working in the Columbia Ice Fields for the summer took a road trip down for quick 12 hour visit. Again, it is so lovely being in familiar company and getting to chat, giggle and reminisce. Its so comforting smelling an old friend!

We are headed east now with the goal of being in Winnipeg on the 28th. We have no more presentations booked for the Prairies since school is beginning to wrap up and summer camps have not started so we get to focus on biking and beginning to share with you all some of the things we have learned about food along our journey and to highlight local food initiatives taking place across the Prairies.

Until next time!

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