Day 29 Sedgwick to Provost AB
Flags in front of Hardisty Community Center
Yesterday I had moderate tail/side winds. Today I had moderate to strong head/side winds. Yesterday I covered 115 miles in 7:45. Today I covered 75 miles in 7:52. It was good bit harder riding today! While riding today, I calculated that, riding into the wind, I was putting out the same power, and doing the same speed as if I was climbing a 2% grade. Since I spent about six hours riding into the wind and two hours riding at a 30 degree angle to it, I estimate that the equivalent climbing was well over a mile vertical. My legs feel like I climbed that far!
Heading out from Sedgwick, Provost 113 km
When I started out about 8:30 AM this morning, the wind was at 10 mph or so from the southeast. I was able to average 11 mph and I figured that I could reach Saskatchewan today. As the morning progressed, the wind speed increased and my average speed dropped to 10 mph. I figured I could reach Provost AB, some ten miles from the border. I didn't have any good shorter options since the last services are some 60 km west of Provost and the last place to stay, other than camping, is either 11 or 30 km west of there, depending on your standards for a place to stay<grin>. The wind speed was up to 20 mph or so and my average speed down to 9 mph for the later part of the day. At that point I figured I had to reach Provost despite the wind. Now, at 8 PM, the wind has dropped to 13 mph out of the SE.
Fields of Canola in western part of route
A Ranch in eastern portion
Rolling hills in a river valley
AB 13 climbing out of another river valley
Riding, although hard, was quite pretty. The land was hillier than yesterday (1400 feet of climbing in 75 miles), going through two river valleys with some pretty good hills. AB 13 did not follow the railroad in those areas but rejoined it when the land got flatter. The number of trees decreased going east and the agriculture changed from farming to ranching. Oil was around all day, and the number of big oil trucks on the road was nearly constant.
A large, and growing, oil tank farm east of Hardisty
Coming down towards Hardisty, oil tanks in distance
After 20 miles that took me nearly two hours, I stopped in Hardisty for an early lunch. Hardisty is an oil town a km or so off the AB 13, with all services. I bought a foot long sub and a milkshake and took half of the sub with me. I stopped in an aspen grove - pretty - ten miles later and ate the rest of my sub. I stopped again in Amisk, only 14 miles from Hardisty, but they were hard miles, for desert and to get out of the wind. Amisk has very limited services, so I had to settle for chocolate milk as desert. While I was at the café in Amisk, I read the Edmonton Paper and used the bathroom when that sub - I guess - made me need to run for a bathroom. The café in Amisk isn't much, but the fellow who runs it is very pleasant and helpful.
Riding into the wind and hills about 60 miles into the day
The shoulder was good all day and the large trucks were almost always very polite. Since I had either a headwind or a head/side wind from my side of the road, I did not have much trouble with wind blasts from the trucks. I did, however, have to fight to keep my bike on the shoulder when I had a head/side wind later in the day. When I lost my focus on staying on the shoulder, I was quickly blow into the traffic lane. That happened a number of times, but fortunately traffic was light. Those winds were strong and gusty: I think some of the wind gust were over 30 mph! The wind direction did not change during the day, although the wind speed did, but, after Hughenden, there are several sections of the road which go east instead of south east.
Leaving Hughenden, no services till Provost
Czar Corner, Czar is 5 km south, starting to look like Kansas
I had a real desert at the nice restaurant at Hughenden, then stocked up on water - three bottles - and snacks for the next 40 miles. 40 miles doesn't sound like much, but when you have to work hard to average 9 mph, it is a long way to ride without services. I used two and a half water bottles and part of the snacks. I stopped a lot, once to snack and pee, a bunch of times to rest and drink water - it was too windy to safely drink while riding - and once to visit.
The visit was unique. As I approached the road to Matiskow - no services, three km south of AB 13 ad about 20 miles from Provost - I saw someone standing by the road into Matiskow. It was a woman who lives in Matiskow and walks out to AB 13 and back for exercise. When she saw me coming she decided to wait 'since you probably had an interesting story to tell.' It was strange to have this pretty lady waiting to talk to me 'in the middle of nowhere.' I guess I did have an interesting story since we visited for 15 minutes or so before I rode east and she walked south. She was well educated and we had no trouble communicating. This morning at breakfast in Sedgwick, I realized that I could not understand the English spoken by the farmer sitting behind me. Maybe he came from Newfoundland - the three languages in Canada are English, French, and Newfie <grin> - but I have had trouble talking to several rural Albertans. Some of the speech patterns, especially the rhythms in their speech, are quite different from mine.
It was a long (over two hours) and hard ride from that meeting to Provost. I did it because I had no other choice, not because I enjoyed most of it. Without the strong head/side wind, it would have been nice riding. With it, and after almost eight hours of fighting that wind, it was just getting to a place to quit riding.
Provost - a fairly large town on the plains
The land changed a lot in those miles, becoming much more open prairie. Provost has all services and I'm staying at the more expensive - $55 CND plus taxes - of the two motels. I was hungry when I got here and this motel has a good restaurant. I had 'chefs special mixed vegetables', an excellent wok cooked disk with vegies, shrimp, ham, and chicken. Very well done indeed! I noticed that not only the chef, but the manager of the motel, were Chinese. The best 'Canadian' food I've had, other than that cooked by Mary in Edmonton, has been Chinese. Mary, who is English, cooked Ukranian.
Tomorrow Saskatchewan! The forecast is for wind from the south west at 10 mph, which is not perfect, but certainly much better than today's winds. The route is AB 13 which becomes SK 14. It is mostly east with a little north for the next 70 miles, but, when it heads south at Wilkie, I may leave 14 and continue west. Wilkie is about 100 miles from Saskatoon.