Day 26 Rocky Mountain House to Rimbey AB
Alberta, looking north from near Rocky Mountain House
I had a short ride today, because I started late - after lunch - and because I had cold winds out of the north and I was riding north or east all day. The first part, the late start resulted from the time I spent visiting with my hosts at last nights B+B. B+Bs are often hard to leave and this one was particularly hard. My hosts are very good people who taught me a lot about this area and whose company I really enjoyed. Meeting folk like these is one of the important aspects of touring. Most of my B+B hosts in Canada on three tours here, and all of them so far on this trip, have been really worth getting to know.
Since it was lunch time when I left and since I knew it would be a long way to the next town, I stopped at the Subway for lunch on my way through town. The route from the B+B into town is flat, except for one hill in town, but the wind was strong and riding was not easy. Then I rode east on secondary road 598.
Secondary Rd 598 with clouds over a field and Pump Jack
When the road went east, riding was OK, if a bit cold and a bit tilted by the strong cross wind. When the road went north, riding was hard and cold. When the road went south - a few short sections - riding was nice! Oh well, it could be worse, rain could start falling from those dark clouds forming overhead! Perhaps because it was cloudy almost all day, thunder storms, like those that cam through last night, never happened. As the afternoon wore on, the sky partially cleared and I even rode in sunlight a few time. Unfortunately, the temperature dropped during the afternoon to the mid 60s and the wind continued cold out of the north. I rode most of the day with my vest on and a Subway plastic bag over my left knee under my knee warmers. That wind cut right through my worn PI knee warmers. I had the same experience in South Dakota a couple of years ago and improvised the Subway bag fix. It works, but it is a little noisy.
Since I was leaving quite late, I planned to ride only about 70 miles. I figured I could get to Rimbey, which my host estimated at 35 miles, in a couple of hours with one stop for a snack. I was wrong. Rimbey is about 50 miles from Rocky Mountain House and it took me over 4 and a half hours of riding time to get here. I made three food/rest stops on the way and arrived about 6 PM. While eating my good supper at a local restaurant, I asked about roads and routes going east and north from here, and discovered that I'd need to go another 30 hilly and windy miles without services before I got to place with services in either direction. I was cold and tired and didn't feel like another 2 and a half or three hours of grinding either in to the wind (one route) or across the wind, but with 'lots of hills' (the other option). Tomorrow I hope that the wind is more favorable for traveling north.
My route, other than wind, temps, and hills <grin>, was pretty good. Light traffic, mostly a decent shoulder, and polite drivers. It consisted of going east on secondary road 598 followed by north on 761, east on AB 12, north on 766, and east on AB 53. The weather was threatening rain for the first few hours, then gradual clearing. The overall impression of Alberta was very green. It has been quite dry here until the last few weeks, but rainy since then. That may not be ideal for bicycle touring. But it means that the crops and the grass have recovered and greened up nicely.
Heading north on secondary road 761
Heading east on AB 12 - hilly and windy!
North on secondary road 766 - also hilly and windy
And, finally, east on AB 53, not too bad...
I rode into Rimbey in the sun and warm - there is a good hill to climb coming into Rimbey on 53 - for the first time today.
Coming into Rimbey, a typical plains town
One thing that was obvious in Rocky Mountain House: oil and gas drilling are changing this part of the world. In town I saw lots of construction. Out of town, both coming in yesterday and going out today, Alberta reminded me of Oklahoma. Not just the terrain, which is similar, but all of the pump jacks and the oil and gas facilities/pipelines.
One of many pump jacks I saw today
The older Alberta economy was based on lumber, farming, and ranching. Now lots of the fields are producing oil as well as crops. In addition o pump jacks, I saw fields with livestock: cows, sheep, and horses, one refinery, lots of signs warning about pipelines and a few signs warning about logging trucks.
Just before the turn onto 766 - a mixed economy and a 'MS cyclist?'
I did not see any other cyclists, but I did see a sign for 'MS Cyclist' and some routing instructions painted on the shoulder of secondary road 766, so I assume 766 is part of a local MS ride.