Day 33 Canora SK to Russell MB
The Yellowhead, one of Canada's main highways
While eating my 'continental breakfast' this morning, and visiting with a farmer from Northern Sakatchewan, I looked at the flag outside the motel and saw that the wind was from the north. My motel was at the junction of SK 5, which I could take east, and SK 9, which I could take south. I went back to my room, checked the weather channel and saw that the wind was supposed to increase and be from the northwest later in the day. I had planned to continue east on SK 5, but changed my plans to go south on SK 9 and, when I got to Yorkton, decide wether to take SK 10 east to rejoin 5 or to take the Yellowhead southeast. The Yellowhead was supposed to be boring and have too much noisy truck traffic, but also have a wide shoulder, and good services.
Heading south from Canora on SK 9
Entering Yorkton on SK 9
It was an uneventful and pretty easy ride to Yorkton. My breakfast, and the large supper I had last night, was enough to carry me the 32 miles to Yorkton. I brought a banana from the breakfast along and ate it with 10 miles left to Yorkton. The winds were from the north - northeast and moderate in strength, so I averaged about 17 mph heading south. Yorkton was a typical agriculture oriented town coming in from the north but, when SK 9 intersected SK 10 just north of the Yellowhead, Yorkton was a strip of services and US stores. In the middle of that strip was a Tin Horton's, so I changed my plans for a second breakfast to a first lunch and had the chilli special. Then, since the wind was still coming out of north-northeast, I left Yorkton heading southeast on the Yellowhead. The wind never did come around to the northwest, so I rode the rest of the day with crosswind which lessened later in the day, but that was better than the cross/headwind I would have had to deal with going east.
Winnipeg 452 km
My legs were tired from the hard riding they've been doing since I left Edmonton, so I decided to take a relatively easy day. I wanted to get to Manitoba, because that would leave me within two good riding days of Winnipeg, but I didn't have an reason to push beyond that. Riding the Yellowhead on a Sunday, was like riding a good quality, low traffic, low speed US highway with good shoulders. It wasn't nearly as bad as riding SK 5 for the first 30 miles out of Saskatoon, or as good as riding that same highway after getting well away from Saskatoon, but it is decent riding with a, mostly, very good shoulder and mostly polite drivers.
I did have the surprising experience, in Saskatchewan, of having two semis pass into me which was not nice, especially the one that used a foot or two of 'my' shoulder in the process! That was less exciting than when, in Manitoba on a very wide shoulder, I looked in my mirror and discovered a farmer cruising down the shoulder behind me at 50 mph or so. I got over to the edge, and prepared to ride off into the bushes, but he swerved around me and then continued down the shoulder for at least another mile. This is a dangerous version of 'Canadian Passing' where slower vehicles drive on the shoulder to let other vehicles pass them. It isn't healthy for bicyclists and it isn't legal - there was a even a sign that effect on the road - but I saw it happen twice in the 10 or 15 miles I rode in Manitoba today.
Entering Langenberg SK
Before getting to Manitoba, I rode about 50 miles of the Yellowhead in Saskatchewan. It was boring <grin>, but otherwise did not live up to its reputation. Traffic noise was not a problem, and the shoulder, although always rideable, was not always wide or good. Services were not as frequent or as good as those on SK 5. I stopped in Saltcoats at the service station for a snack, and in Churchbridge at a restaurant for a late lunch. Churchbridge did have pretty good services. I stopped again at Langenburg to visit the Info center, use the bathroom, and have a snack from my supplies. The info center was for folks coming into Saskatchewan and the lady there was not about to tell me much about Manitoba - a good Canadian bureaucrat <grin>! She did tell me that the Manitoba Info Center was in Russell and "there is a big valley between here and there." It was about 20 miles to Russell and I had covered 75 miles, so I figured I would get to the Info center and find out about places to stay in Russell. It sorta worked out that way...
Coming down into the valley
Climbing out of the valley
Cattle in the valley
It was a big valley. I climbed about 700 feet - this is flat land - in 90 some miles today and 400 feet of that climbing was getting out of that valley. It is also a pretty valley and that river, the Assiniboine, is responsible for a lot of pretty country just north of here.
When I got to Russell, I stopped at the Info Center, got a Manitoba map, and a book of accommodations in Manitoba. There were two B+Bs in Russell, so I figured I'd get my internet access at one of them. I called the better looking of the two B+Bs, but their cell phone was turned off. I rode to both B+Bs, but no one was home. I went to a Subway and had supper, then rode back to the better B+B. No one was home. I rode to the first of the two motels in town. No one was home. I rode to the, much fancier, second motel and, after dealing with a lady who seemed determined not to tell me what a room would cost me until after she had my credit card, got a very nice, but overpriced, room. To be fair, the lady was not used to checking people in. She gave a card to fill out and then, as I was putting the info on the card, she was asking me for it so she could type it in to the computer. I pointed out that it be easier for both of us if she let me fill out the card and copied it from the card! My room is setup for handicapped access, so I just about rode my bike into the room. It also has good room darkening drapes, something I have sorely missed in this north country where the sun goes down at 11 PM and comes up at 4 AM! The Randoneur riders from Saskatoon said they only needed about four hours of headlight use to ride through the night. I just entered the central time zone, so that means that the sun won't come up till 5 AM. It also meas that I'd like to sleep till 8 AM tomorrow. Those drapes will help.