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295 – 302: Lloydminster, AB to Lanigan, SK

First off – a HUGE thank you to everybody who donated and helped spread the word after the last post. Totally blown away, thanks! The game goes on because of you! [If you missed the last post and are able to help out at all, all the details are here.]

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300 days on the road. Nothing like century numbers to make you realise how long it’s been. It’s been a stint of plugging away, making a bit of progress in the prairies, then exploring Saskatoon, then cycling more prairies. It’s been crazy hot – the locals are shocked and say it’s very unusual. It’s not uncommon for the first snow to fall in September so a T-shirt and shorts climate of 27 C+ isn’t a yearly thing. Makes for tiring sweat-ridden days in the saddle, and it’s kind of weird but it seems as though the surface of the road becomes softer and slower. Gloopy tarmac that tries to eat at your tyres. Could just be a placebo effect though.

The approach into Saskatoon definitely was slowed down though – no placebo there. There were road repairs which meant cycling through unset tar, followed by loose gravel and sand. The 20 miles into downtown Saskatoon were so sluggish. It would have been faster to jog as the bike tyres were now a big tarry mess. Saskatoon is an amazing city though. I spent a couple of days exploring and definitely think there’s something about that place that’s appealing. It’s under the radar compared to other Canadian cities and is gritty enough to not feel touristy when downtown, but with a super friendly, young and diverse community to be welcoming. It’s made the ‘one day go back and explore properly’ list.

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Like several people have mentioned, the actual riding is quite samey in terms of landscape. But unlike some reports I’m not finding that to be a bad thing (not yet anyway!) – from Thunder Bay onwards it’s going to get steep again, so for now the flatness is appreciated. The only thing you have to be careful off is drivers throwing apples at you near North Battleford. Just kidding – you just have to be careful of the one driver who does that. Who’d have thought someone who eats fruit would be so aggressive? But it does gives you good practice at flipping the bird.

The prairies make awesome visuals, as the horizon can be so far away. There’s nothing like cycling into the wind all day on the flat plains, having spent the day face down with your eyeballs occasionally looking up for direction, to realise it’s 8pm and a killer sunset has just formed behind you. It’s hard to see how anyone can get bored of the prairies when it’s like this day after day.

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Thought I’d sign out with a quick lesson about all-you-can-eat chicken from day 294.

After the most unsubtle camping session for ages, I woke up in Lloydminster hungry and sore. It was definitely going to be a slow start. The kind of morning where you yawn for the first hour and can barely open your eyelids. But then something great happened, there was a sign, through the blur of half-open eyelids, that read ‘All You Can Eat Chinese Buffet for $10’. Protein – that repairs muscles right? Good for soreness? Unlimited protein? It was on.

I’ve never eaten so much chicken. Unfortunately, upon standing up and leaving the buffet, something was wrong. I’d eaten far too much, and could hardly move. It’s the novelty of something being unlimited. Cue stomach cramps. I kind of figured that maybe it’ll all be ok in an hour or so, and it would be fixed by sitting it out for a while. I sat there for ages, meat sweats dripping down my face, altogether in an uncomfortable and embarrassing way, forehead resting against table.

“Do you think they’ll convince everyone? You know, Obama and Cameron?” 

Talk about a curveball. The chicken greed meant any form of decent communication was impossible, other than through banging my head on the table surface and groaning. It didn’t get better, I didn’t cycle anywhere that day and it was a thoroughly pathetic site.

“Not sure, sorry.”  It was a conversation that didn’t get very far.

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Vague Direction: A 12,000 mile bicycle ride, and the meaning of life.
Available now: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com



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