After I finished writing my last update from the Banff Centre I went downtown Banff for some food and walked past the Saltlik as our waitress from the night before, Meghan, was walking out for a couple hour break. She said 'hey Kevin!' and then we decided to go get food and a smoothie and eat/drink it in the park by the river. It was a really nice sunny day and we shared a nice conversation before she had to go back to work.
Then I called Luke (Calgary Commissioner of Film, TV, and Creative Industries) who I had met the night before with my buddy Tim and who had offered to set me up with a place to stay. He got me a room at the Banff Centre for one more night and it was another comfortable night. I also got word from my other TCBC (Trans-Canada-Biking-Colleagues) who had arrived in Banff and we arranged to meet for coffee before I headed out of Banff for Calgary.
The next morning on my way down from the Banff Centre I ran in to Luke and had an opportunity to thank him for the room and get a picture in front of the Banff Springs Hotel. I made my way to the Wildflour coffee shop to meet up with Chantel and Tamar before heading out on the journey to Calgary. It started off with some light showers and despite the downhill nature of the road toward Calgary the wind was blowing back toward Banff. Just past Canmore I saw four helicopters parked on the tarmac from the road and decided to go in and take a look and a picture. They would have taken me for a ride but they were grounded due to the weather - I was nearly grounded on my bike because of the weather too :)
Heading on from Canmore I caught the 1A toward Cockrane. Shortly after turning on to this road I had my first flat tire of the trip. Ironic that my tire went flat as the terrain started to get flat. So, I pulled off the side of the road to repair my leaking tire. Upon replacing the tube and starting to pump up it up the tire exploded like a gun and I was set on my butt pretty hard. Ears ringing I started over with my second spare tube. All the while the rain was coming down harder and harder. What a day.... finally, I was on my way again and I came upon some mountain goats grazing up the hill away from the road. Took some pictures and had a bite to eat. While I was doing this another cyclist rode up to say hi. He was riding from California in a loop up one side of the mountains and down the other. He wasn't in a great mood because he had had bad weather for the majority of his trip - and apparently dogs had been chasing him the whole way.... he had a sharpened stick that he was using to fend off the dogs. So far I haven't had that problem.
Now, moving on and out of the mountains the terrain really started to flatten out. It's amazing how fast the mountains turn to plains. Still raining and determined to arrive in Airdrie at my friend Greg's place I pressed on. I gave Greg a call to let him know my status and then stopped at a gas station to replenish my water bottles and get some quick carbs and glucose. The woman at this store was really nice and told me about how she had nearly electrocuted herself just before I came in - that would have been a wonderful discovery!
Onward - I arrive in the vicinity of Greg's house and he comes out with his car to help direct me to his house and shoot a little video of me riding in. A good day of riding in some wet conditions. 137km.
June 15th - a planned day off
After a comfortable sleep in Greg's guest room I got up and enjoyed a bowl of Holy CRAP with milk and raspberry yogurt and then a bowl of frosted mini wheats - forgot how good those are. Then Greg had a meeting on the south end of Calgary so he gave me a ride to the MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop) where I had some supplies to pick up including a couple of new inner tubes, some travel food, chain cleaner and lube, and a wind barrier for my ears. Prior to leaving for MEC I called Dee who is the chapter president for the Calgary Huntington's Society. The timing worked out perfectly and she picked me up at MEC when my shopping was done and we went to Joe's Pub for lunch and to meet some of the other Huntington's society club members. In addition to Dee, I met Jacob, Joe, and Susan. All very nice people committed to finding a cure and supporting the Huntington's society cause. Once lunch was done Dee and I hung out at the restaraunt for a couple more drinks before heading out to meet Greg and his girlfriend Tia a the mall to see the A-Team movie. We met in the food court and of course, the availabiliy of food meant that I had to eat - got some sushi and when that wasn't enough I got a big roast beef sandwich. Greg joked with me that when this whole thing is over if I continue to eat like this we could open a sumo wrestling shop. The movie was way more than any of us expected. Some nostalgic moments and some really funny lines. Overall good entertainment. After the movie we bid Dee fairwell, took Tia to her home, and then went back to Greg's house to clean up my bike, re-pack my bags, and get some photos taken in Greg's fancy photo lab. By the time that was all done it was 2am and time to sleep.
The day started out pretty good with blueberry pancakes and bacon from chef Greg. The rain looked like it would hold off but a couple of hours in to the ride the rain started to pour. I thought it would only be a few drops but by the time I could have gotten my rain pants and shoe covers on I was already soaked. Luckily the raind waited to really come down until after I was past a 4km section of road that was all torn up and made up of simply dirt, clay, and gravel. That would have been a real mess. The wind didn't really cooperate this day either so it became a tough ride. My plan was to get about 30 km to the south of Drumheller but that wasn't in the cards. I got to Drumheller, set up camp and called it a night.
Earlier in the day before the downpour Vern and Janice Groszko caught up to meet me on the road. I got connected to Vern and Janice through their son Wayne who rode his bike across Canada a few years ago for the Huntington's cause. Wayne's mom Janice is in the final stages of the disease, is in a wheel chair and has difficulty speaking. Wayne has been giving me some pointers about what to expect as I make the solo trek across the country. Vern had called me earlier in the day to say that he wasn't going to be able to make it out to meet me and wished me the best of luck. Then he and Janice surprised me by tracking me down on the road out of Airdrie. We took some pictures and Vern provided his support by giving me some cash for my expenses and then bought me lunch at the little town of Irricana. That was a really nice break and a wonderful gesture. Thanks Vern and Janice!
June 17th - an unplanned day off
I was planning to get a early start on the day and a good shot a 150km but the rain didn't let up until almost 3pm. Instead, I regenerated some energy by bundling up in my tent and sleeping with some good tunes. The weatherman was calling for 4 inches of rain and 90km/hr winds to the south where I was planning to go, so I decided that another rest day would be more productive than fighting the elements. I'm finally mobile again and getting some laundry and writing done before I head over to the museum to learn about dinosaurs - Drumheller is the dinosaur capital of the world - largest model of a dinosaur and the origin of many dinosaur fossils and bones. Guess I should eat some more too... my appetite hasn't taken a break :)
So after writing what I wrote above, I met Sebastian (Seb) and James who are also riding their bikes across Canada. They arrived at the campsite in Drumheller while I was talking to another couple (Jim and his wife) who were testing out the new camper that their kids had them buy. While Seb and James were setting up their tents Jim and his wife came over and offered us a ride with his truck (and our unloaded bikes in the back) up to the Tyrell dinosaur museum (about 7km). The museum was really great - $10 to get in and $3.50 for a bottle of orange juice :) No really, the museum was excellent. I had no idea some of them were so big. I'm glad they aren't still out there roaming on the plains waiting for me and my bicycle :)
After the museum we rode back to the campsite and bought some out of date hot dogs, a loaf of bread, some ketchup and mustard, and some firewood. The hot dogs were great and we got a good shot of the three of us in front of the fire.
Got what looked like an early start - packed up and ready to go by 7:30 - and had arranged to meet with Seb and James at the McDonald's for breakfast prior to leaving Drumheller for a short detour to the Hoo Doos (interesting rock formations). We then hit the road from McDonald's by about 10:00 and reached the Hoo Doos by about 10:45 (after a short stop at Walmart for a memory card for the little video camera my friend Tim had brought for me). When we got to the Hoo Doos it wasn't super evident where they were but we found them, had some pictures taken and walked up the pathway around the rocks. They look pretty precarious sitting on top of the dirt that hasn't been eroded away. Annie and her parents were visiting the rocks too and said that they had seen me earlier that week at Lake Louise. She took some pictures for me. Thanks Annie!
So we were finally off toward Brooks AB and the climb out of Drumheller was quite long and initially steep. The wind was blowing from the south and, given we were on a south heading, this didn't aid the climb. The peak of the climb was 3150 ft from about 2100 ft. I was riding faster than Seb and James so we decided to catch up later. I was trying to get back on my schedule after loosing everything I had gained from my marathon to Banff. Brooks was my goal and I ultimately made it after adding an extra 19km to the ride to find a campsite. It was a 170km day. Prior to that I stopped at the gas station in Bassano to get some food and Pascal, a former Olympic skeleton athlete now RCMP stopped to talk to me and gave me $20 for my cause. Thanks Pascal! Also saw the biggest pickup truck I have ever seen at this stop - wish I'd snapped a picture.
Well, the rain held off for most of this day until I arrived at the campsite about 15km south of Brooks. The site was completely waterlogged but I managed to stay dry.
Didn't hear from Seb and James this night. Slept hard.
Got a late start this morning - 11am - and a text from Seb saying they were on their way to Brooks from Bassano. Turns out James had a flat that prevented them from going further than Bassano. We met at the McDonald's (James likes McDonald's) in Brooks just off the Trans-Canada highway. They had met two more guys riding their bikes across the country and they also showed up at McDonald's so we had 5 fully loaded bikes in one place. That was cool. After two Big Mac's, some fries, and two apple pies we were off for Medicine Hat. I arrived in Medicine Hat about 40 minutes ahead of the rest of the group and got set up at the campsite. Then Seb and James arrived and we picked up yet another TCBC - Tim who also shared the campsite with us. More campfire and hot dogs.
It seems I'm not suppose to catch up to my schedule since the Trans-Canada highway between Medicine Hat and Saskatchewan is closed due to the flooding and the detour will add at least 200km. The sun is shining so maybe I'll go explore Medicine Hat today.
With lots of time to ponder thoughts here are two things I've written down:
"I've been complaining about the weight of my pannier bags and I realized the trouble isn't with the weight, it's with the complaining"
"When I get to the end of every day I say "wow, that was awesome, I wonder if I can do it again tomorrow?" .and then I do.