Sharon Hawley has finished her bicycle trip in Canada for this summer. She hopes to complete the adventure in another year. Please follow her winter adventure at http://sharonswinter.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The Yellowhead Highway (Canada 16) has been a friendly path since I joined it at Yorkton. Its wide paved shoulder has provided plenty of safety and easy riding. On Sunday, traffic was light, although it doesn’t need to be light for pleasant riding. As long as I have my cherished shoulder, riding is unmolested. I assumed it would last all the way to Winnipeg.
I rented a room in Russell, and in the early morning of departure, entered again my private shoulder, my exclusive lane on this major highway, a place on the earth to which I acquired a prescriptive right and on which nobody else rides. I have seen no long-distance cyclists in many days, none since the German back on the Icefields Parkway in British Colombia.
Then the unthinkable happened. My rightful property was confiscated. My paved shoulder turned to gravel. I was deprived of what I had come to expect as a cycling visitor to Canada. At first it didn’t matter very much, before traffic really began. I rode in the driving lane, stopping or veering onto the gravel only when cars came in both directions at the same time. But as the day brightened and traffic increased, I was excluded from the pavement and sentenced like a criminal to the loose gravel shoulder.
I decided to inquire at Foxwarren, which boasts a café and hotel on the internet. But on arriving, I learned that neither exist. I came to the intersection with Highway 83 where the gravel became so loose that riding was impossible. I could walk some unknown distance to where a good shoulder resumed, or I could turn south on 83 and lengthen the ride by going to a road that would continue east. At least I would be away from the heavy traffic. The choice was not pleasant, but it was easy. I went south.
At the town of Birtle, I found an open café and went in. The strangely dressed stranger raised hardly a glance—nobody cared that a cyclist had joined their little circle. When I finished a lonesome breakfast and came out to the bike, the wind had started, and not from the west as forecast—wind pressed into my face from the east.
I rode toward to Shoal Lake, pedaling as slowly as reasonably possible. Wind pressure is lowered with lower riding speed, and to go slow saves energy. Occasionally, the wind would decrease, and I could up-shift to increase speed for a few minutes or seconds before the blast took me back to a cowering velocity.
I came finally to Strathclair, very tired and hoping for a room. The internet shows a hotel, and this time it existed. Otherwise, I would have camped in some field, protected only slightly from wind and mosquitoes.
The Strathclair Hotel was not bad. I carried everything upstairs, above the bar, which they call the beverage room in this part of Canada. My room had a bed and a sink. There was a shower across the creaky-floor hall. I went down to the bar for a beer and a sandwich, and could hardly stay awake to learn that crops are dry, that unless rain comes soon, a lot of money will not be made. Then I lay down on the bed for a few minutes and did not wake up until daybreak. I looked out the window and saw no wind. Surely, I thought this will be a wind-free day.
The dawn mist formed in tendrils, undulating along the prairie in layers, leaving spaces between them—delicate fabrics that melted in the rising sun. Such lacework does not form in even the slightest wind. The lakes still fluttered with birds, the air full of their conversation, the deer never far from view.
But it was not to be. When I began this trip I could not have ridden today. The second day of continual pushing into headwind would have stopped me. Even when I tried to rest beside the road today, I became food to be landed on and consumed by mosquitoes. But over the past six weeks on the road, my body has become tuned for this, and now the trip is almost over. At the start, I would have been in trouble, but now it seems that whatever comes is what I deal with—whatever. I am fortunate to have no physical pains or ailments.
This flower traps small insects in its bowl, scented to smell like me. I thanked it for its kind help along the road.
The wheat is much taller here than it was back west. Still they say it needs rain soon ar the harvest will be scant
I came to Neepawa and took a motel. Tomorrow is Canada’s biggest holiday, July 1. Everything will be closed. I went to the store and stocked up, planning to stay right here until it’s over. I look forward to a relaxing room with lots of internet and no wind.
Wind is Taoist
it makes me like water that bends around rocks
it’s a man who never lets up
where you make do and take the luls
Posted by Sharon
- ▼ June (13)