At its best, you feel like you could ride forever. I met a man in Mortlach who said he’d gone 247 kilometres on a good tailwind.
At its worst, the wind tosses you around the shoulder like a rag doll. It took every ounce of effort I had to get from Medicine Hat, AB to Maple Creek, SK — eight gruelling hours of charging into headwinds as thunderclouds loomed and rain pelted the pavement. (In sum: I’ve had better days.)
Still, most importantly, I never gave up.
That struggle through headwinds and rain led to a revelation, too; as I pedalled through that desolate stretch of the Trans-Canada, it dawned on me that the most important thing we have is each other. More than shelter, food, or anything else, I longed for company in that moment. I won’t take it for granted in the future.
A few observations from the past while:
1. To call the Prairies flat is a bit unfair. I’ve cycled past countless rolling hills on my way through Saskatchewan — first the Cypress Hills straddling the Alberta border, then the stunning Qu’Appelle Valley east of Regina. (On the other hand, I had to laugh at the stereotype when it proved true: you can see Regina from 30 kilometres away on the Trans-Canada.)
2. Prairie dogs are fun. It’s remarkable how close you can get to them on a bicycle before they scurry away and poke their heads up somewhere else.
3. I’ve taken to noticing town mottos as I pass through. Here are a few from the past week:
- Swift Current: “Where life makes sense.”
- Mortlach: “Meet me in Mortlach.”
- Moose Jaw: “Surprisingly unexpected.”
- Regina: Technically “Floreat Regina,” but I prefer this.
The more you know.
Things I’ve seen:
1. Fields as far as the eye can see.
My host in Bassano, AB told me I was cycling through the Prairies at the best possible time: right when the canola was blooming. She was right: the fields of yellow have added a vibrant splash of colour to the otherwise green surroundings.
My first time in the city was a good one. The Wascana Centre is a beautiful area — the only shame is that the Saskatchewan Legislative Building was undergoing renovations.
Here’s a look at the aforementioned Qu’Appelle Valley.
Distance travelled: 2,115 km
Days of tailwind: 2
Days of headwind: 2.5
Prairie dogs spotted: Too many to count.
Saskatchewan Roughriders paraphernalia spotted: Same as above.