Day 34 Russell to Neepawa MB
Birdtail River Valley east of Foxwarren
I called ahead before I started out this morning to make sure that a B+B with and internet connection was waiting for me at the end of the day. I'm at the Garden Path B+B in Neepawa, about 100 miles east and south of Russell. I've just been talking to my host, who is from Halifax NS. He cycled to St John Nfld, and walked from Halifax to Vancouver (!) in 1973. I'm impressed.
Starting out from Russell - the Yellowhead didn't get much better than this for 50 miles
This is TCH 16!
My room at the Russel Inn was very nice and breakfast this morning was very good, so I was i agood mood until I realized that the Yellowhead, which had badly deteriorated coming int Russell, was going to be a bumpy, patched, road without shoulders for a long time. The tail wind was good, and got better, and the traffic was light and polite, so it really wasn't bad riding. It was just a bit tense waiting to see what rivers would do as they approached. I did bail out once when a large truck was coming from the west and a truck pulling a large piece of farm equipment was coming from the east with a train of vehicles behind him. The truck would have waited, but it was a safe place for me to get off the road and let the truck go on rather than force him to wait.
One of the better sections of the Yellowhead before Shoal Lake
A CP train heading west - the Yellowhead follows the railroad tracks
I rode to Foxwarren and stopped for a snack, then on to Shoal Lake where I had lunch at take-out place beside the road. There were small towns about every ten miles and most of them has some kind of services. Most of them were also off the road a bit. There was road construction just before Shoal Lake: they were re-paving a short section of the road. That seemed to be the way maintenance was done. When a section got too bad - very bad indeed - then it was re-paved. As a result, the pavement seemed to change every mile or less. It was a relief to get smooth pavement and a disappointment to go back to rough pavement a few hundred yards later. I got used to not having a shoulder and learned not to keep hoping that one would appear.
The shoulder after Shoal Lake
When I left Shoal Lake, the wide smooth shoulder was back! I didn't really believe it would last; I had been teased to often by short stretches of shoulder near Russell, but it lasted for 35 miles. I stopped once, about 25 miles after Shoal Lake, to snack from my supplies while sitting in the weeds by the road. The wind was pretty strong, and there was a good bit of traffic on the road, but it was still quite peaceful leaning against a sign post and looking out over fields with grain elevators behind them! Then I rode on to Minnedosa for an early supper.
Minnedosa MB, a neat little town
You have to leave the Yellowhead and ride on a bumpy road reminiscent of the Yellowhead near Russell for a few miles. You also have to climb an extra two hundred feet to go over a ridge, down into a valley where the town is located, and back out again. Minnedosa is worth it, as is the view from the ridge before town. I stopped a Chinese-Canadian place for my supper - Greens with Chicken. Nice! I visited with some older men, who had been in the restaurant when I got there, as I was leaving. They told me Neepawa was downhill and there said a friend of theirs had stayed at the B+B and really enjoyed it. I left in a good mood that lasted until, a mile or so later, I got back on the Yellowhead
The Yelowhead after Minnedosa
The good shoulder was gone, replaced with a narrow shoulder, traffic, including too many trucks, was pretty heavy, and, since the road now headed east rather than southeast, I now had to deal with a crosswind coming across the road. The next 19 miles were not fun. I got passed into twice - once on a section with no marked shoulder so I bailed out onto the sand and gravel - and almost blown off the road by the wind blasts of several big trucks coming the other way. I was passed by a semi who, out of meanness I guess, put his tires on the white line as he passed me. He cleared my bags by less than a foot. I decided to leave the Yellowhead ASAP.
After finding my B+B and cleaning up, I discussed routing with my host and I'll be heading south on MB 5 tomorrow. He pointed out that I could have ridden MB 45 most of the way from Russell and then MB 357 followed by MB 5 south. He said that was a much nicer, if a bit hillier, route. I said, yeah, but the Yellowhead was downwind for 85 miles <grin>! Live and learn. I don't recommend riding the Yellowhead in Manitoba!