Shortly after Dani and I left Calgary we entered the badlands of east-central Alberta. We decided to head north to Red Deer River valley on the recommendation from a man we met on the side of the highway one afternoon when we stopped for lunch.
This was one of our first cycles in the Prairies and it was beautiful. We were gladly off the main highway and could take over the empty road. We passed through many small hamlet towns and countless farms and fields. The skies are massive in the Prairies and this day of cycling was clear and we could see tens of kilometers ahead of us. We stopped to have lunch that day in Rosebud, AB, a tiny town with a ‘one car an hour’ passing rate. Riding into the valley was interesting because in an oasis of fields and farms neither of us could understand how there could be a canyon a few kilometers away until we saw a cluster of trees in the distance indicating water. The Red Deer valley was created by a river from the melting of the glaciers. This water cut through the ground exposing 70 millions years of history that has been preserved in the earth. As Dani and I dropped into this valley on our bikes we quickly realized the lines on the valley walls; reds, browns and beige sediment that represents different eras throughout history. We arrived in Drumheller home of the Royal Tyrrell Museum one of the most epic Dinosaur Museums in the world!!! This museum has on display fossils of Dinosaurs, plants and other animals that roamed the earth millions of years ago. They had some incredible exhibits! Drumheller brings people from all over the world into this hub of Alberta. We were glad we made the detour!
The following day we had a climb out of the canyon and into the Prairies again. The climb was unlike any we had done in the mountains because it was straight. It looked like it went on forever, but eventually we made it and were greeted by the plains and farms again. What we have learned about the winds is that usually they come from the West in the morning and in the afternoon there is a shift to from the North. This afternoon the winds were the opposite. We were headed South East and the wind was in our face the whole way. There is something about the wind that makes it extra difficult to grasp as a cyclist because as it gusts, you are thrown off balance and it is so unpredictable that you establish a good lean and suddenly it shifts and you are thrust in the other direction. I (dani) found this extra tough. My elbows were stiff and every time a car passed it was like I was getting sucked into their channel and then let go again and whipped to the side of the shoulder. Just keep peddling. I then reached my tipping point when we reached a wind farm on the highest point we had been in the Prairies yet. We could hear the whooping of the wind mills and they were obviously there for a reason; it the windiest spot in the valley. Another challenge about the wind is that when you are suddenly straight in it’s path, it will take you in its direction. For just one fraction of a second I lost control and the next moment I was on the other side of the highway anxiously trying to unclip my pedals and stop. We needed a breather after that one. We pulled over behind a small mound and ate a few peanut butter and banana sandwiches to wait to the wind to subside. After a few minutes we got on the bikes again to just keep peddling. About 15km away from our final destination though we see a truck go by with a familiar driver. It was Ian, the kind Scotsman who advised us to go to Drumheller. He had felt the wind that day and decided to come rescue us! In the back of his truck was a bike rack and we all crammed into the front seats and drove to his home in Huzzar. We were welcomed by he and his partner with a home cooked meal, bed and wonderful conversation. Ian and Mischa are both dreamers and hearing Ian tell stories about his travels and projects was uplifting. He reminded us that, “it is not the destination, rather the journey” that counts, motivating us to make the most of the next few provinces and the unknown areas ahead.
We then continued east through Brooks and Medicine Hat being well- fed, clean and ready to tackle the rest of the Prairies! Until next time,