Day 11 / July 12, 2017 – Fort MacLeod, AB to Bow Island, AB

Hills or headwinds? Jeff and I disagreed about which we preferred. I’m a light rider and would much rather deal with elevation. You know what to expect and you can work through it until you’ve reached your goal. The wind, on the other hand, can be relentless and unpredictable. After my full afternoon of headwinds yesterday, I was hopeful that those west winds would kick in. I left early for another A&W breakfast before hitting the road. It was another cool, misty morning – a lingering effect from yesterday’s thunderstorm.

The mountains are definitely gone. So this is what the next 2000 km will be like?

Flat, flat, flat

When I rolled away, the winds were settled and the first 30km of riding were flat, fast, and fun. A hawk swooped down in front of me to catch one of many prairie dogs. I don’t know if the hawk successfully got its breakfast. And then I turned a corner en route to Lethbridge and the familiar, unwelcome east headwind was back. Hello, old friend. I pushed through it, amused by the change in scenery and signs that you only find in Alberta. My favourite was the sign for the “Windy Rafters barn dance”. If you’re looking for it, it’s just outside of Lethbridge.

Cool morning on the way to Lethbridge. More landscape photos…sorry!

There was a confusing interchange of roads leading into Lethbridge so I opted to travel along the west side. It initially had a box store, suburban feel. I took the plunging (aka terrifying) bike lane down “Whoop Up” Drive over the Old Man River. Overlooking the historic bridge, I pedalled past a pioneer village mock up. I headed up the steep ascent on Scenic Drive. I was pleasantly surprised by the life and character of the downtown core. I stumbled upon a gay-themed intersection with the pride flag painted on the crosswalk. Lethbridge, you go girl! The intersection led to a morning farmer’s market where I downed 2lb of blueberries and raspberries (no exaggeration – see photographic evidence). There was also a poutine shop next to the market. I have not been eating enough poutine on this trip, so why waste the opportunity?

Rainbow intersection leading to the weekly farmer’s market.

Before…

And after… I’m going to regret this.

I reconnected to Crowsnest Trail (the Alberta term for highways). It was a bit harrowing in the urban areas since there wasn’t much division between the traffic lanes and the shoulder. The rest of the trip was a lot of repeat from yesterday, minus the thunderstorm. Mostly flat or slightly downhill terrain with full sun and little coverage. I just continued pushing against the wind, determined to make it to Bow Island. I passed through Taber where I stopped at the Co-Op grocery store and restocked on my fluids. Chocolate milk, Gatorade, entire watermelon (again no exaggeration). I pushed off without discovering more of Taber.

Bird swarm at one of the irrigation channels running along the Crowsnest.

I passed through a bunch of others communities – Grassy Lake, Purple Springs – before rolling into Bow Island. The name is actually a misnomer with no island whatsoever. My plan was to stay at the Millennial Park at the south end of town. There was no wifi here, but it was self check-in and only $15 for the night. I plopped my things on a campsite and discovered a pair from Nova Scotia doing the same cycling trip. I was also pleasantly surprised to find my second market of the day in Millennial park. I had 2 pieces of homemade lasagna and a lemon square and raspberry dessert. It was the perfect way to refill at the end of a long day. I slipped off to sleep with the winds continuing to haunt me in sleep.

My campsite at sunset. I seem to like backlit photos.

Beautiful sunsets on the Prairies from Millennial Park in Bow Island.


STATS:

Start time: 08:01

Finish time: 18:58

Riding time: 7 hours, 07 minutes

Distance: 166.19 km

Total distance: 1353.61 km

Elevation gain: 374 meters

Total elevation: 10962 meters

Average speed: 23.4 km per hour

Number of bottles of sunscreen: 2 full bottles used so far

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