Day 32 Humboldt to Canora SK
Ukranian Church and Grain Elevators in a small town on the prairie
I did another 200 km day today, assisted by the wind 15 - 20 mph from the west, by flat land - 500 feet of climbing in 130+ miles, and the Prairie Randoneurs (sp?). It took me just five hours of riding to cover 100 miles and about six and a half to get to Canora from Humboldt. I saw a lot of pretty prairie, quite a few small towns, almost all of which had some basic services, and a lot of shades of green. One field, just east of Englefeld, was covered with blue flowers!
Engelfeld SK with blue flowers in the field
This mornings breakfast was a disappointment. It is always risky to oder pancakes since the size of a pancake ca vary so greatly. These were not large and the service was not very good either. So much for fancy motels in touristy places. As I left the hotel about 9 AM, a group of riders was pulling in. I spoke with them and they told me they had just ridden from Saskatoon for the first 100 km of a 600 kb brevet. As I write this, I expect they are grinding away into the wind 100 + km north and 100+ km west of here on their 4th 100 km segment. Basically, they go east 200k, north 100 k, west 200 k and south 100k. There were six riders, four of whom have done Paris-Brest-Paris at least once. They were riding a avriety of machines ranging from an upgraded late 70s Raleigh ten speed to a Lightspeed Classic and a Lighting p-38 recumbent.
The strongest rider of the six slowly pulling away from me near Muenster
I rode off and they stayed to eat a second breakfast. Riding was easy and the road, although not as good as the last segment yesterday, was not a problem. Riding east, Humboldt showed its agricultural side. I rode through a bunch of agriculture related businesses that looked like those in other similar sized Saskatchewan towns. As I rode towards Muenster, the next town, the fastest of the Randoneur riders slowly caught up with me and, with a friendly greeting, passed me. He was't going much faster than I was, so I kept him in sight for most of the next 20 miles. Actually, I sped up a bit and was holding about a 20 mph average and he might have been averaging 21. I did stop to take a picture of a field of blue flowers, but other than that I just pushed on to Watson, the next 'big' town. I kept expecting the other five riders to show up behind me, but they never did.
In Watson, I stopped for a second breakfast at the restaurant where the guy that passed me was eating his first lunch. I ordered breakfast and we visited for a while. He was the youngest of the riders and had done PBP only once, in 99. He works as an engineer for a construction company in Saskatoon. He said he might see me in Wadena, the next stop 52 km away. About ten minutes after he left, I finished my breakfast and was getting ready to leave when the other riders pulled in. One of them had a flat tire - there was some beer bottle glass on the shoulder - and the others had waited for him. I rode off as they went in to eat.
Leaving Watson, 52 km to Wadena
Since the fast guy was ahead of me and the other bunch would soon be behind me, I rode to Wadena with a bit more speed than I might otherwise have used. With the good tailwind, the fact that my loaded bike has to push a lot of air out of the way was pretty well negated. I spent most of my time riding in still or nearly still air at 20 to 25 mph. Since the route was very flat, the fact that I was carrying 50 pounds more stuff than the other riders just meant that it took me longer to get up to speed. I guess I had to overcome more rolling resistance with heavier tires and more weight on them, but I also knew I was only riding 200 k today, not 600 k <grin>.
When I got to Wadena, I had ridden the first 100k in about 3 hours. I looked for the fast rider and found him just getting ready to leave a Chinese restaurant. We visited some more and he headed off for 114 km with a bad cross wind. I went in, got the 'smorg' - it took me a while to figure that out since the folks running the place spoke only a little English. Speaking of little, their kids, aged two and four were very friendly and fun to exchange smiles and waves with. I had the smorgasbord - it was good - and the other riders showed up as I was finishing my meal. They sat with me and we talked while they had lunch - it was great fun to talk these crazy people who abuse their bodies with 600 km - and, of course 1200 km - rides with little or no sleep. They were an impressive bunch and good company.
Leaving Wadenda, 103 km to Canora
As they rode north with a nasty crosswind, I continued east with a great tail wind. The land continued to be very flat and the wind blew steadily out of the west. I found myself, without pressure to go fast, cruising at 20 to 25 mph. The shoulder was usually pretty good, and almost always rideable. The drivers, mostly driving pickup trucks, with only a few big trucks in the mix, were unfailingly polite and the scenery was pretty, if, like me, you like plains. It isn't spectacular, but the shading of the different greens was beautiful. The waves the wind created in the grain fields and in the weeds along the road were the best I ever have seen. And the sounds of the birds - I've head more hawks calling on this trip than any other - were easy to hear with little traffic and no wind roaring in my ears. The little towns, located roughly every eight to ten miles along the route were also interesting. I was surprised that almost all of them had hotels and quite a few of them had a motel a well. Were talking low cost housing for travelers, not resort accommodations! There were also a number of camping areas along the route.
I stopped at the restaurant in Margo for a Saskatoon berry pie with ice cream. It was good, but I could have eaten two of 'em. I stopped again about fifteen miles later, at the 100 mile mark, when the road headed south briefly and a hedge offered a good windbreak. I had only ridden for five hours, but all of those hours were spinning pretty intensely and my legs were getting tired. I had been carrying a liter bottle of Coke and a O'Henry candy bar with me all day so that I could eat and drink sitting in the weeds beside the hedge. Then I went behind the hedge and urinated - isn't that what hedges are for?
The hedge I stopped by for my last break
When I rode into Canora, the info service was closed and I couldn't find any B+Bs in the phone book, so I asked a lady working at a grocery store about housing and she told me where to find the two motels. I'm in an inexpensive motel - half of what last nights room cost - next door to the Canora Mall. Unfortunately the IGA store was closed when I got there and the computer store was closing. I had a good visit with the computer store people, but, because tomorrow is Sunday, I still don't have a way to get my ride reports and web pages on the net. Then I went to the restaurant in the mall and had a great Greek supper for about $5 USD. The food was excellent, the service was great, and I left full and happy. Burp.