Sunday, 17 June 2012

On my first day on the road

At breakfast this morning, I met a Venezualan cyclist who was going across Canada. He sounded like he was at least a permanent resident having been in Canada for several years. He seemed undaunted by the prospect of Northern Ontario. Afterwards, I wondered if that was because of his immigration status which might make going through the States problematic. As we chatted, he raised the possibility of teaming up at least as far as Winnipeg. I was tempted but ultimately decided against it.

I rode and C-trained to the Southernmost station, playing tag with a CPR freight train on C-train. I noticed that some of the tank cars had the notation that the water capacity of them was on the order of 127,000 kgs or 127 metric tonnes! That is for one car. That number surprised me and made me very impressed at the carrying capacity of trains.

Near the hamlet of Indus, I stopped to change out of my merino jersey into something lighter. As I did, I was passed by a father and daughter team on racing bikes. I caught up with them a few kms later as they were taking a break. We rode in company for about an hour. I believe he was a Brit working in Calgary. This caused a slight communication problem as he was "calibrated" in miles and myself in kms. They turned back shortly before the Siksika First Nation.

Just inside it, I stopped at the Boy Chief trading post and gas station for a late morning coffee. As I sat on the porch sipping the brew and making friends with a scruffy golden retriever, I inquired of the Siksikawan attendant the proper pronunciation of Siksika. This was done in light of experiences in Australia. It is Sik-si-ka which relatively simple.

 The main town on the reserve appeared to be Gleichen. I had hoped find lunch there. Either advertising is a white man's concept or else I made a wrong turn somewhere as I couldn't find a store or a restaurant. At the one place I could have asked I did as there appeared to be some sort of kerfuffle requiring two RCMP patrol cars and as a white guy, I didn't my presence would help. White guilt is easy come by when your last name means "white". As I left the town, two ambulances were heading into the place. I hope it was just a coincidence. It was only a dozen klicks later at Cluny that I found gas station selling sandwiches.

After my late lunch, I noticed some ominous clouds over my left shoulder. They had the feel that they might be heading my way, unlike the rain clouds well to my right. After a few too many nervous glances over my left shoulder, I resolved to concentrate on what was in front of me, while keeping my weather eye on the state of the passing vehicles. Only if they started to be wet would I worry. Thankfully, I made Bassano well before the rain.

I booked into a motel run by cheerful Chinese (?) immigrant who'd rented my room the night before to another cyclist. The guy had arrived at 11 PM from Golden in B.C. 400 kms away by the map function on this iPhone. I find it hard to believe. Not that he was underwhelmed by me arriving "only" from Calgary. He talked as if he gets a decent number of trans-Canada cyclists, which isn't that surprising as his motel is on the Trans-Canada. He put me in a non-smoking room and was positively encouraging me to bring in the bike. He seems to admire us nutballs.

I underestimated today's distance by 15 klicks which a bit alarming. Tomorrow's estimate is supported by the road signs. One sad bit about being on the road is that I see too many flattened gophers.

After abulting, phoning the parents to wish the Paternal Unit a happy Father's Day, I dozed a while listening to the storm. While it didn't last long, I was very glad to be indoors. I later headed into town to find some eats. My choices were limited to a place serving a nasty looking Chinese-ish buffet for Father's Day or a nearly empty Italian place. While dithering (I went with the better looking Italian place), I noticed my back tire was flat. After supper, I walked Leonardo home worrying about whether there was something the matter with that tire as it was the third flat in less than a thousand klicks. I made the back up plan that if there wasn't obviously wrong, I would swap it with the front tire as it gets less weight on it. Thankfully, when I examined the tire, there was an uncomplicated piece of wire at the root of the problem.


Margo and Chris said...

You could have done a "try it" of teaming up with the Venezualan, then made a polite excuse to part company of it wasn't working out.


Bikemoose said...

Yes, I probably should have. However, it was very last minute, he was planning on Drumheller and I too afraid of being embarrassed by the fact I hadn't shaken myself down yet.