Biking Across Canada Day 15—Oyen AB(ish) to Lacadena SK(ish): Rider on the Storm

Today was mostly uneventful, a good thing after the mechanical difficulties of the day before. My wheel has held together so far, so I think I'll make it to a bike shop in Saskatoon.

I was greeted this morning by a beautiful canola field when I opened my tent this morning. After a quick 10km ride I made it to the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, which was mostly unmarked. The only way to tell (besides my GPS) was the road got much worse, and if I looked backwards there were signs marking the Alberta highway number. Still reason for celebration—two provinces done, eight to go!

First SK selfie!

I only had half a bottle of water when I woke up this morning, so after a few hours' riding I was happy to see Neil the farmer who brought me into his house to fill up my bottles. He even offered me a frozen bottle of water which I graciously declined as I didn't want to wait to drink it.

The garbage cans were bigger than the monument

I biked by lots of green fields before stopping in Eatonia for lunch. It's Canada Day, and the woman serving me lunch told me we had to go outside right now because there was a fighter jet from Cold Lake about to fly over town. It was a quick thrill to see it zoom overhead, then back inside to finish eating and blogging.

Everyone was out to see the fighter jet
Better than any roadside welcome sign

After lunch I had to search for my sleeping bag. I'd laid it out on top of my bike to air out, forgetting about the prairie winds. It turned up about 100m away wrapped around a telephone, covered in dust from the gravel parking lot. I was lucky to find it.

Lunchtime is a good chance to catch up on Twitter

As I was leaving I could feel and see a brief thunderstorm coming. I had the sense that if I kept riding fast enough I could outrun the worst of it. That was mostly right. The wind was in the right direction, so if I kept my speed up I'd stay dry; if I lagged the raindrops would start to overtake me. Then the road condition changed for the worse so I couldn't stay ahead of it, plus there were starting to be lightning strikes off in the distance. I found a porch to shelter under, and Fay, the woman who lived there, came out to invite me in. We spent about 20 minutes watching the radar together with her dogs before I felt it okay to move on. Then I slowly followed the storm, watching all the lightning at the horizon. Having grown up and moved away from southwestern Ontario where thunderstorms are routine, this was a real treat.

After the storm

I arrived in Eston around dinner time. Being a holiday, nearly everything was closed. I was luck to find an open gas station where I could buy some provisions. The teenage cashiers were blown away by what I was doing, which never gets old. They told me about a small restaurant still open, so I stopped there and got a burger and fries for $9. While I was eating dinner another storm front rolled past, bringing NNW winds of 40–80kph. I had considered staying here for the night, but my route would be turning south soon, so I decided to hit the road to take advantage of the wind. I just had to hold on through that crosswind for another 20 kilos before I'd be able to turn it into a headwind. It was definitely a challenge, but the roads were empty, and when I turned south it was like the wind disappeared and I'd strapped an engine onto the back of my bike. I rode on until sunset, at which point I set up my tent next to a farmer's field and went right to sleep.

Total Distance: 159 km

Cumulative Distance: 1764 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle