What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
So the last post definitely acted as a bit of a release. Setting off from Fort St John after publishing it was like a new beginning. Weird how that works. A healthy (if a bit brash) reset. I didn’t think that posting a blog like that would have such an impact on overall mood but it definitely acted as a big exhale. Ahhh. Being basically a nomad at the moment means every now and then my overall perspective can get hazy, but hopefully that’s the hardest month over with (don’t mention the Canadian winter, ok?) and things are only up from here.
I booked the bike in to a Fort St John shop for repair. After however many miles it’s been, the drivetrain was a mess and needed swapping out – a new cassette, crank and chainrings. Picking the bike up post-repair, and taking it for a 30 second spin, it was immediately obvious that the trip was going to go a lot more smoothly than it had been doing. And that perhaps a lot of the stress in the last month has come from a bike that barely worked. There were no clunks, no skipping, all the gears worked. No tyres with holes in them and daily punctures. It was like a new bike, foreign since Arizona, and it was fast. Much faster than it had been for months. Suddenly, with a vent and a working bike, things were looking up.
The forecast was in and it was looking good for the next 7 days. I decided to intentionally minimise being connected. 7 days straight of moving everyday, taking in the prairies and Alberta, and making a very conscious effort to get things back on a positive track, stopping to chat and film segments with the locals whenever possible and just getting back into it. It worked. It was exactly what had been missing over the last month or so. Consistency and inertia.
The best part about the physical aspect of this trip is the tranquil state you get into when the cycling is consistent. You aren’t concerned about steep hills, mechanical issues, how many miles you’ve got to do or what time it is. It’s hardly about the cycling at all. It’s just simple. And in the prairies, which have just started, it’s amplified simplicity. It’s flat with the occassional rolling hill. Long stretches of fast and sustained movement. Plus going west to east means the wind is mainly pushing you along. Bonus. All that combined brought back a mindset that I’d been missing – less about the act of cycling and more about the state of mind it puts you in. You turn off. The human version of Sleep Mode. Suddenly you can make clear decisions, you’re more creative, more present, happier and less concerned. It’s a meditative state that I’d never personally experienced before this trip and I’d recommend it to anyone. There’s probably tons of other ways to experience a similar thing; running or swimming etc, but if you can find whatever it is that puts you in that place you’d be doing yourself a disservice to ignore it.
In the last fortnight, the landscape has totally changed. From relatively mountainous to now vast green farmland and barley fields. Roads that stretch to the horizon and a stellar magic hour night upon night. It’s definitely getting a lot more populated now, which is very appreciated after 5 fairly remote weeks. Edmonton is the first city since Vancouver that seems really vibrant. It’s refreshing to be in a built up area for a few days before hitting the prairies again, and being a city there’s Warmshowers hospitality available which is awesome, so big thanks to Amie and Alberto for the floorspace.
It’s dark at night again, brisk in the mornings, and the land is new. The Prairies have begun and I think they’re going to provide a lot of stories.