Day 17 – June 24th – Weyburn to Redvers – 165 kms
Oh how my fortunes change with the wind! I was all done riding today at 2:00 p.m. I only started at 6:45 a.m., and that included time for the second breakfast stop and a quick poke around a couple of towns that I went through. Of course, the wind did change direction overnight, so I’ve had a nice strong tailwind all day. Early this morning, my odometer turned 2000 kms.
The riding was superb today, with much nicer scenery. The landscape is changing yet again, now there are more stands of trees and the farmhouses are closer together. The area and all the towns are much more vibrant and seem to be going concerns. It was a refreshing change from the impression that I’ve formed in the previous two or three days, that some of towns that I’d passed through ,were declining. Perhaps the oil wells have something to do with it? This area east of Weyburn is peppered with oil wells, so a lot of the benefits must rub off onto the towns’ economies. Each of the larger [figuratively] towns that I passed through today – Stoughton, Carlyle, Redvers – all have nice hole golf courses and well kept towns. The houses are very well kept with yards that are nicely manicured. The campsite, that I’m staying at in Redvers, is part of the recreation complex here; the grass is cut short, the showers are free, the place is clean, the water’s good – all for $10.00 too!
Lots of churches in the towns of Saskatchewan, Redvers is a four church town, seems like a lot for a small place, but Moose Jaw had dozens of them! Maybe that should be my grading system, by how many churches a town has?
The road (Highway 13) was pretty good today, although the shoulder was rough in places; not a big deal though as traffic was extremely light. I had about 11 kms of dirt/gravel road to negotiate between Kisbey and Arcola, which made me glad that I made the tire choice that I had; I had no problem with the irregular surface. The road was being upgraded in that section too, as heavy rains constantly wash away a portion of the roadway. After last nights rains the water at the side of the road was only about two inches below the roadway! I almost had Basil getting the paddles out!
Well I’m only about 20 kms from the Manitoba border, if the wind keeps its favourable attitude, I should get a good way into into the Provine tomorrow. I think that I’ll have a time change to contend with too.
Not much wildlife spotted, but boy, those dead skunks sure stink!
Day 18 – June 25th – Redvers, SK to Souris, MB – 115 kms
I woke up this morning to a thick fog, so after a quick breaky I started riding, and was soaked very quickly with the moisture in the air. Then the sun started to show through the haze making the humidity even worse. Even when the fog cleared, it was a very hot and humid day. Today, the winds started from the Northwest (good), then after about 45 kms I stopped for my second breakfast at Reston, MB. When I left there the wind switched to Northeast (bad).
I did lose my hour too, I’m now on Manitoba time – 2 hours ahead of PST.
Souris is a pleasant town and the community park where I am camped is OK apart from from all the goose poop everywhere. It was hard to find a decent pitch without those curly browny-green things in the way. Anyhow, apparently Souris has Canada’s longest swinging bridge, which I’m about to check out after this email stuff.
Earlier, I stopped at a small country store/post office in Delaugh for an ice cream and a cold drink, and discovered that the store had been robbed just last night. The lady owner was, understandingly, pretty upset about the whole thing. While I was there the RCMP showed up to do the fingerprint thing etc. The thieves mostly took cigarettes and some of the postal stuff. Not surprising that they took the smokes, as a pack here, and in Saskatchewan, costs almost $10.00! You don’t see many young people smoking though! However, I find it so gross to walk into a store or restaurant where people are smoking; it’s quite legal here, unlike in many parts of BC. I guess that they’ll wise up eventually.
I had to buy another book today, I finally finished Pierre Berton’s “The National Dream,” which was about the building, actually more about the political shenanigans, of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was a good book to bring along though, as the railway is almost always visible wherever I’ve been travelling. The book also mentioned our venerable E & N Railroad on Vancouver Island, and how it was the carrot on the stick to bring BC into confederation – interesting reading, especially now that our Island railway is so threatened.
The Red Coat Trail continues in Manitoba as Highway 2. The road is in excellent shape, but the shoulder is, well… non – existent! Once again traffic is very sparse, so not many problems encountered. Perhaps as I near Winnipeg, conditions may change?
Last night, after I finished my email, the park in Redvers started filling up in the group picnic area. Turns out the the locals were having a wiener roast evening. They invited me over, so I went over and chatted for while and had a bite to eat. Anyway, it was a very pleasant hour that I spent with them. What a bunch of go-getters, they have all kinds of community projects on the go and it seems like everybody chips in to help; nice to see!
Well I’d better be off to do the tourist thing and see the famous swinging bridge!
Day 19 – June 26th – Souris to St. Claude – 158 kms
Another good tailwind today, but the temperatures are soaring. I also heard today that it’s going to get even hotter in the next few days – Oh joy!
I stopped in Treherne and checked out the campground; nice place, but within 30 seconds I had at least 20 mozzies clinging to my legs – I was outta there!
So I carried on to St. Claude and found out that the campground here is still a pipe dream! Luckily, there is a cheap motel – $35.00 – so all is not is lost! There’s also cold beer in the attached pub, so after the hot ride and all that sticky sweet Gatorade, there’s nothing like a cold one – or two!
The highway still had no shoulder and was getting busier, but after all, I’m less than 90 kms from Winnipeg. Tomorrow I hope to pass south of the big city, without meeting too much traffic. And if the wind remains favourable, I might get another 100 miler in! We’ll see! I do know that, just as today, I’ll have to be up bright and early to beat the heat as much as possible.
I stopped in Glenboro for my second breakfast, the main street there was called Broadway – The main street in Souris was called Broadway and the main street in Treherne was called… wait for it – Broadway! Not very original these Manitobans! Literally though, they were extremely broad streets!
By the way, the swinging bridge in Souris was long but not very high, I think that the one over the Capilano in BC is more spectacular, but longer???
OK, Basil’s nattering, so I guess it’s time to go forage for food!
Day 20 – June 27th – St. Claude to Richer – 172 kms
(Including 20 kms wandering around Winnipeg! But more of that later!)
As I was sat on the pot this morning, staring at my bike which was outside the bathroom door (yes, I do leave the the door open when there is only Basil to offend), what I was looking at was a broken support stay on the front rack. Great, what a way to start the day! Why it broke, who knows? So I cobbled it together with some zap ties and decided after all that I was, not unlike the guy in the tire commercial after finding out that he was on the wrong flight… “Goin’ to Winnipeg.” It’s funny, because for the last few days that phrase has been going through my head, and I’ve been answering myself, “Not bloody likely.” But I guess something was in the wind as I had to visit the place after all. I phoned MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op) as soon as they opened and found out that they didn’t have a low-rider in stock – great again! But the fellow at MEC was very helpful and suggested a couple of places that might have one. I phoned around and located one at Olympia Cycle – who happen to have four outlets in Winnipeg. I got directions from him to the closest one (I think in fact that it was the furthest, but whatever!), but he may as well been talking Chinese – I don’t do verbal directions very well!
So, Winnipeg is really spread out and I had to go to Portage, which is the main drag through the city, in fact it is part of the TC#1. It was a long haul from where I was on the Perimeter Highway, but I eventually found it after asking many passer-by’s for help. How come most people don’t know where they are? Eventually, I found a guy with a street map, but he couldn’t figure it out, I did though, after almost ripping it from his hands! I think that I found every dimwit in Winnipeg today! When I got to the store, the sales guy pulls out a rack that won’t work, I’ll spare you the sordid details, but I was hot and sweaty and the temp was already in the 30’s – this was before noon too – so I calmly said, “But don’t you have a Blackburn low-rider?” “Oh yeah,” he said, “But I thought that you’d like this one better.” So I proceeded to give him the famous lecture about how the word “ass-u-me” works!
Anyway, after purchasing the aforementioned rack and a new pair of riding gloves, to replace the ones that I had stupidly placed on top of one of my rear panniers, then rode away for miles and miles before I realised that I had bare hands – I thought something felt funny! – I found my way out of the big city, past the legislature, down to Portage and Main etc., etc. Found a grocery store, bought some supplies and pedalled my arse out of town! But my, it was hot! I was tired, but I still had a good tailwind so I persevered until I arrived at a small place called Richer, where I wisely chose an air conditioned motel room, rather than a campsite. I had to do the work on the bike anyway, and it was much more pleasant being able to use two hands, instead of a wrench in one and swatting flies and mozzies with the other, whilst possibly losing bits in the grass etc.
I might add that Winnipeg is not a cycling friendly city, somewhat akin to Toronto; most of the drivers were complete morons when it came to negotiating a lane with a bike in it. I’m glad that I commute with traffic as much as I do by bike, otherwise I would have been very intimidated today.
Otherwise, the rest of today’s ride was fine – still had those tailwinds all day! Highway 2 ended at the Perimeter Highway, hence after leaving town I am back on the TC#1, a divided highway for now, with yippee! a shoulder to ride on! Highway 2 in Manitoba had no shoulder whatsoever for its full length.
Long weekend Friday tomorrow; I’m going to have to get where I’m going early, as the Lake of the Woods area is a favourite weekend place for Winnipeggers and Ontarians – and that’s just where I’ll be! Furthermore, the grades will slowly return to the roads – better check out that granny gear, I haven’t used it since BC!