Friday, 16 October 2009

On the freedom of the Prairies

In hindsight, it should have been obvious, but then hindsight is 20/20. Unlike biking in places like B.C. or Newfoundland, you can do without careful accommodation planning in Alberta and by extension, the rest of the Prairies. As there are decent sized settlements every 10 miles or so, (Alberta, at least, was settled during the age of Imperial measurements) where you can find a bed is relatively predictable as well as flexible. Because of the mountains, you could go significant distances in British Columbia without encountering a town, (the stretch between Kelowna and Pringle sticks in my mind) let alone one with a motel or the like. Consequently, I had to plan my trans-montane trip fairly carefully in light of the relative shortage of accommodations and my dislike of camping. Indeed, the failure to find a bed for the night me to have to ride much further than I would have wished on at least two days.

However, once I hit Alberta, the rules by which I had been operating went out the window. For one thing, I hadn't fully appreciated how much of a boost tailwinds are in flat country. Had I not booked a bed in High River, I might have gone significantly further on my last full day of biking. (The corollary of this is that headwinds become much more troublesome. Some locals I talked to said that I was smart to be riding West to East as going the other way you might as well walk!)

In light of this, the next time I am biking on the Prairies, I am not going to have as rigid a schedule and will instead let the day, my energy level and the wind decide how far I will go in a before I need to sleep. I will still be me and have a list of possible places to stay on hand, but I must refuse to plan too rigidly my distances. I must embrace the freedom of movement that the Prairies offer me.

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