Day 28 Edmonton to Segwick AB
Old style grain elevator in Strome, AB
Today was a good day for riding across the plains: moderate winds that were mostly tail winds, temperatures that the locals call hot - mid to upper 70s F or 25ish C, and 1000 feet of climbing in about 110 miles of riding. The plains were beautiful, all shades of green, with flowers, and some gold from the rape seed fields. The birds were singing, and all that sort of thing. I rode for about 7:30 at an average speed of nearly 15 mph.
Loading my bike in Bob in Edmonton's back yard
Mary, Bob's neat wife who saw me off this morning
I spent the last two days with Bob and Mary and learning a lot about Edmonton and Alberta. The first full day was Canada Day, so Bob and I rode to downtown Edmonton and visited the Alberta Parliament building as well as City Hall. It was a nice ride of about 20 miles round trip, mostly on Edmonton's great bike paths, and great to see a real Canadian Birthday celebration. Canadians, as a whole, are more restrained than folks from the states and also more polite. There are some unfortunate exception to this, as we saw the next morning when we went downtown to shop, but it was quite nice to be part of the crowds of folks celebrating Canada Day in Edmonton. It was also great to see what a pretty city Edmonton is and how friendly and bike friendly it is.
On Monday, July 2nd, we went downtown to shop. I had managed to leave my only pair of underpants and one of my two pairs of biking shorts at my last motel. I also needed a second spare tube to replace the one I used in Kelowna. We couldn't shop the evening I arrived or the next day because of the holiday, and many store were closed today as well. MEC - Canada's version of REI - was open and Bob drove me there to buy replacement for the stuff I left behind. MEC is very nice - I like it better than REI - and, because of the favorable exchange rate, the prices were good.
On our way to MEC yesterday, we drove through a popular bar district in Edmonton. There was a large amount of vandalism evident on that street and this morning we read in the paper about Edmonton's largest riot which occurred after the bars closed on Canada Day. Some very drunk and very un-polite Canadian young men trashed the street, looted stores, and fought with riot police. Some 20 people were arrested.
Bob took me out into the country around Edmonton after we shopped and had lunch. We visited Elk Island National Park and several small towns. The park is doing well, although it cost too much money to visit any Canadian National Park. It cost me $5 per day to ride from Radium Springs to Lake Louise and from Lake Louise to Jasper. I wasted part of the $15 I paid when I entered the national park system by riding east on the David Thompson Highway, which isn't in a nation park, instead of riding north on the Icefields Parkway, which is. It cost us $8 to drive through Elk Island Park. If we wanted to camp there, it would have cost and additional $22. Too much!
The small towns were mostly remnants of thriving agricultural communities. The grain elevators, which were the heart of those towns, are almost all gone as are the other businesses those town once supported. I did, however, get to drink a beer in an Alberta small town Pub and see the Big Sausage in Mundare. Mary, Bob's neat wife, fixed us an excellent supper and then Bob and I did bike maintenance. A good day!
I got up earlier than usual today so that I could have breakfast with Bob before he went to work. After he left I finished my packing and caught up on email. Then I visited with Mary before I left and I took her picture and then she took mine before I mounted my camera on my bike. My route today is a route that Bob has ridden several times. I had planned to ride the Yellowhead Highway (Hwy 16 and the main route to Saskatoon and Winnipeg, but other Canadian riders suggested I do routes with less traffic and prettier scenery. I picked Bob's routing because he could tell me what services were where along the route and he also argued convincingly that this route was better bicycling. The fact that he and Mary are really great people might also have had something to do with my decision ...
My route was: head east to 50th St in Edmonton, take it, AB 814, south through Beaumont to AB 623. Take 623 east and then 617 east followed by AB 833 south to Camrose. In Camrose, get on AB 13 and follow it to Saskatoon. It is about 60 miles, with 800 feet of climbing, to Camrose, then it is about 290 miles to Saskatoon. I'm trying to do the 350 miles in three days which I can do with favorable wind and weather for the next two days.
Once out of the built up part of Edmonton, AB 814 has a good shoulder,
but heading east on 623, there is no shoulder till Rolly View
Rolly View has just that and a store with ice cream
After Rolly View, AB 623 has a shoulder
623 turns south, at a park with service, and then intersects 616
From AB 616, you turn south on AB 834 - smooth road, great shoulders - to get to Camrose.
Camrose is the big town on this route. I stopped there for lunch, then headed southeast on AB 13. AB 13, while not an expressway like AB 16, is a main drag and has much more traffic than the roads I had been on since leaving Edmonton. The traffic is worse near Camrose and became lighter by Bawlf.
Bawlf's grain elevator is visible, in the middle of the road, for more than ten miles.
AB 13 follows the Canadian Pacific railroad line. In that respect, it is reminiscent of US 2 in Montana which follows the High Line. Alberta grain elevators are on the rail lines ad the roads were built for the farmers to take their grain to the elevators, so, in lots of towns, the road runs straight to the elevator and then curves around it. Since many of these roads are quite straight and flat, the next town's elevator is visible, sticking up from the middle of the road, for a long time before you get to town. Similarly, the last towns elevator was often visible in my rear view mirror as I rode.
I stopped for a second lunch in Daysland, crossing the tracks on Main St
I stopped for supper in Kiliam, another neat prairie town, where the town is on the same side of the tracks as the road
I had covered more than 100 miles when I reached Kiliam, but decided to ride on to Sedgwick, 11 km further on. I could have continued to Lougheed, another 11 km east. Bob told me how these towns, in addition to being laid out similarly - one side the tracks, central street is 50th street, central avenue is 50th ave - were located at fixed intervals along the tracks so that farmers could get the grain elevators and back in one day. Segwick is a pretty little town which has a B+B, where I would have stayed if I could have found the owners(!) , a hotel, and a motel - the Burger Barn and Motel - where I am staying. The motel is inexpensive and OK. The B+B would have cost me about the same as the Motel with breakfast and looks really neat. However, I should get an early start tomorrow, and staying at a B+B always costs me extra time in the morning, so I'm better off here. The hotel might be OK, but I didn't want to deal with sleeping over a tavern. Been there, done that, ear plugs really helped....