Biking Across Canada Day 14—Drumheller to Oyen(ish): Hoodoo Child

Today had a lot of ups and downs, and I'm not talking about the elevation changes.

Sun rising over the badlands

I spent the early morning riding through the badlands, wondering how to keep myself motivated after the mountains. I'd spent so much time during all those spin classes picturing the mountain climbs, and now that they were done I wasn't sure how keep myself excited. I'm also already past the duration of the longest trip I've ever done, and there's still eight weeks to go. Mostly I was feeling lonely, coming off a string of too-short visits with people I don't see often enough, and heading into a stretch without people to visit. I shouldn't have worried, as a new motivation would rear its head soon enough.

A little ways east of Drumheller are the Hoodoo formations, sort of like mini Hopewell Rocks like I know from the Bay of Fundy. So much of the badlands is made of bentonite clay, just like the cat litter we use at home.

I love old bridges. I don't know anything about this one beyond it being made by the Dominion Bridge Company in Winnipeg, but I had to stop and take pictures anyways.

I also like grain silos. I used to work at a corn refinery that had 10-story-high concrete silos. It's interesting to see the predecessors to those enormous towers.

After climbing out of the badlands, catastrophe struck: I broke a spoke on my rear wheel. Drive side, natch. This was something I was worried would happen, so I was prepared with a kevlar spoke to replace it with until I could get to a bike store. It still took me two hours to make the repairs (and resulting adjustments: removing the brake, & fender, and a tube replacement), but I got it rideable. A cyclist and a couple drivers stopped to check on me, which was nice, and one of the drivers offered to take my picture after I assured him I was okay.

The bike was rideable, but for how long?Now I was left with a dilemma made worse by the holiday weekend. Should I ride back 45km to Drumheller and wait until Tuesday for the bike shops to open? Or push on for 400-plus kilometres to Saskatoon where my planned rest day would give me time to have the wheel fixed? I opted for the latter, figuring that if my wheel failed I'd have less distance to hitchhike to Saskatoon, since waiting for Tuesday would put be far behind schedule.

After about an hour or two of riding, I started to feel better about my choice. I also had a good tailwind, and I knew rain would be coming tomorrow which would make cycling more difficult with only one fender and brake, so I decided to ride as much as I could while the weather was good.

And ride I did. I rode another 160 km after the spoke repair, ending up just shy of the Saskatchewan border.

I saw so much amazing wildlife on the way. All the ponds, marshes, and resevoirs made for a diverse assortment of birds and mammals. The birds were quite different the the variety I'm used to from living Ontario and Nova Scotia. I saw more hawks today than I'd probably seen in my whole life up to this point. And my first pronghorn sighting which was amazing. I didn't even know about them until Warren mentioned them offhand while we were riding out of Vancouver, but still wasn't really sure what they were when I saw them. Because the Internet access was unreliable, I'd text my wife or mom with descriptions of what I was seeing. "I'm seeing these red ducks with bright blue bills. They seem smaller than mallards. Do you know what they are?" I'd ask my mom. "Ruddy ducks," she'd reply, "I've seem them at Point Pelee during migration." It was like a wikipedia-by-text-message service.

The pronghorn are so fast they were really hard to photograph.

Once the sun started setting, I found a quiet spot just off the highway, set up my tent, and slept soundly.

Today’s Distance: 206 km

Cumulative Distance: 1605 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle