What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
Some notes from the last week or so.
Another morning. Pack up the stuff, load up the bike, get going slowly but surely. One of those mornings where any excuse would do. Resting sounded like a great option. Things often just seem to fall into place and today was another one of those days.
Whilst cycling past Ross Inn in Lanigan, Tara Ross was doing some work in the yard and we got chatting. She’s one of those people who immediately radiate positivity. She was the owner of the inn and had free space that night and generously offered a motel room to kip in (first rule of cycle touring is never turn down a bed if it’s offered, specially if you’ve been tenting it for a while).
I interviewed her the next day and the conversation became about how faith is very important in Tara’s family. I’m not a religious person (different strokes for different folks), but have met enough people who are, to know that a higher belief has the power to change lives for the better and in hugely profound ways. That was the case with Tara. One thing for sure is there’s been a ton of generosity during this trip on more than a few occasions that has come from the religious community. There’s not always a bunch of time on the road to edit the footage, so instead of keeping a load on hard-drives I’m going to start posting some very quick uncut sections. There’s not much to them but you’ll get an introduction to the characters along the way. Here’s an uncut section from the Tara interview talking about a part of her belief.
We spoke a lot about how Tara’s belief has changed her life, and how many of the toughest decisions she’s made have become less tough because of that belief. One of the things I struggled with for a while on this project is the fleeting, skim-the-surface nature of some of these heavy-topic conversations. I’d love to (and will) come back in the future and remove the travel element, and just focus on some of these stories. There’s always a battle; do you even talk about the heavy stuff? Because without really knowing someone and really taking the time to explore (i.e. weeks / months rather than days), suddenly jumping into a big subject seems a bit superficial. Perhaps a bit tabloidy and even a bit unethical? Alas, because of the looming visa deadline and all that stuff, I won’t settle on this trip, and over time have become ok with the movement and fleeting nature of some of the conversations. But it’s definitely fuel for future, much more in-depth projects. It was another case of amazing hospitality from Tara and if you’re ever in town do swing by because their place is ace.
307: Churchbride, SK to Russell, MB
A lot of people have mentioned the mental game in the prairies. It can feel samey but it’s not been too tough. Could be a lucky streak but the weather’s been playing ball, there’s been no rain and the wind’s been literally an amazing boost. The samey nature can mean that often days are uneventful though. You can have 5 day + spells of: wake up, pack up, eat breakfast, cycle, eat lunch, cycle, eat dinner, pitch tent, sleep, repeat. It’s been a long time since seeing other cyclists – it’s getting a bit late in the season and anyone with any sense probably chooses a more southern trip at this time of year, but in between Churchbridge and Russell, there were two figures in the distance frantically pedalling and quickly getting closer.
It’s nice meeting other cyclists, and one reason for that is that it makes you aware that there are other people drawn to a similar, seemingly bizarre, mission. Alberto and Fausto are from North East Italy and are cycling from the East of Canada to Alaska, hoping to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis before the winter arrives in full swing. Best get pedalling chaps ‘cos it’s getting nippy. Super friendly folks who are loving life in the saddle, and you can follow their progress through a blog and video at www.ibou.it.
312: Gladstone to Portage La Prairie
It’s been the first time in months and months when it’s been chilly at night. The leaves have begun to fall from the trees and suddenly it’s clear that proper autumn isn’t far away. The mornings are getting frosty and I’m digging out clothing from long lost pannier compartments that haven’t seen the light of day for several months. Hoping the Canadian Winter starts off slowly and holds off for a while longer. It gets to -40C so it’s nothing to take too lightly.
The general direction of the wind in the prairies is favourable for anyone heading east. There have been days that it felt like cheating – so easy to cycle, because really there’s not much biking involved. It’s more like sailing. Sit down and get pushed across the flats. That’s reversed in the last couple of days and the last couple of days have been brutal in terms of the wind. Cycling straight into it has been unrelenting. It’s hard to go very far and even a small day done feels like an achievement. It also seems to be the way that maintanence of roads is increased the nearer you get to a city. Means the shoulders are gravel and not conducive to moving at pace.
Super excited for Winnipeg which is just a days ride away. Going to take a couple of days off (to coincide with the incoming rainy streak) to rest the legs, and hoping to film some fun segments over the next few days. Misplaced the LED light a couple of months ago (good job it’s been summer), and haven’t done any night riding since, so am picking up a new light from the always rad Gemini Lights and am stoked to pedal into the night again. Cycling at night seems to generate a different mood entirely, and it seems much easier to get into the zone and bike for longer.