Day 17 – Into the Badlands (Calgary to Bassano). Today was the day where instead of looking up at the immense scale of the terrain, as I have been doing right through Vancouver Island and then the Rockies, I looked out into the vast rolling space of endless prairie, known as the Canadian Badlands.
- Today’s Distance (miles/km): 101 / 162
- Time in saddle: 7h 14
- Max/min temp (°c): 20°/8°
- Climb/descend (feet) : 1,572 / 2,560
- Calories used: 4,708
- Cafe time: 3h 38
It’s hard to imagine a bigger contrast in terrain from Canmore yesterday morning, to Bassano this evening. I awoke thinking about mileage, and what was reasonable to go for given the very dodgy weather forecast. In the end I decided to “listen to my legs” and see what transpired. I slept so well down in the basement of Ricki and Daron’s, in a bed prepared for me by Libby ( a very tidy job there L) that it took me a while to get going. I wandered around Ricki’s stunning kitchen making my breakfast (coffee and a toasted bagel) then chatted with her and Libby as they got ready for the school run.
On the dot of 7am Dan arrived as we’d arranged the night before, so I said my goodbyes to the Naffins, who were such fun to be with. Daron shared an amazing YouTube clip with me last night (five band members playing ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ on one guitar), and I vowed to put it in the blog today. It’s really worth a listen/watch:
Dan and I cycled together for 1/2 an hour or so of his morning commute taking me to the the city limits in the rain. It was great to have a second ride together, something that makes a day memorable, wherever you are in the world. We discussed overpopulation, rising sea levels, overdue mini-ice ages, cycle routes, all the usual 7-7.30am stuff. Then it was another farewell as I headed out from Calgary into a long spell of travelling with no connections, so far.
Having negotiated the fairly horrendous Calgary highway system out of town (with Dan’s excellent directions), I stopped for rather longer than planned at a Starbucks in a mall having large, strong coffees and muffins, but if I hadn’t lingered I never would have met Rod, a super-keen cyclist in his 60s who wanted to know all about my bike and trip. We discussed bike races, health (he’s had some problems but is getting back into bikes), and he mentioned that his English wife was in the hospital opposite (The South Health Campus) having just had a knee replacement. I thought of my mum, who has just been through the same, and we talked about physio and what to expect. I wish his wife all the best for a speedy recovery.
When I finally left, full of get up and go (thinking how lucky we are when we have full mobility), I got completely bamboozled trying to cycle across a brand new housing area. Actually, it was acres and acres of brand new houses and roads, many of which were not finished, and which sadly did not conform to any map in my possession (in fact the road I wanted had been recently ploughed up by several diggers). The rain was falling, the wind blowing, and I confess I had something of a dip in my spirits, trying every road possible, none of which took me across to the highway. I could go on. What the map doesn’t show is me stopping every other street and staring at a rain-splattered phone/map/street sign.
Once I got moving, it was a long lonely route along the 22X, a parallel road to the Trans Canada. Sometimes these are great, but this had no services or even houses for many, many miles, so I put my head down and got stuck in. Very soon I started passing signs that told me I was now entering the Badlands.
I found my mind wandering a lot, staring out across spaces of such vastness. At one point a very Cormac McCarthy-esque moment occurred (he’s everywhere in this blog!); as I slowly passed a ranch, All The Wild Horses (or possibly th tame ones) gently trotted alongside me for the length of their perimeter fence, having a good look at me and a bit of a whinny. The foal was by far the most curious, but mum wasn’t having it.
As I mentioned when trying to photograph the mountains last week, I’m struggling to get any images that really convey how you feel casting your eyes left and right, sweeping across the view. This one, taken as I left the main highway to track down my excellent campsite this evening (Crawling Valley Campground, on a small lake with boats), I think comes the closest:
So now the sun’s out, the tent’s up, I’ve showered, eaten everything I could lay my hands on, I’ve chatted with the neighbours (Avery, who just lent me a spare camping chair. I offered her a shot of whisky in return, which was just about all I had left except porridge and peanut butter, but she said she didn’t really drink). She and her mum have driven from north of Edmonton (long way) for a wedding in Medicine Hat at the weekend. So now I’ll head up to the office to pick up the wifi and post this, hopefully.
One Sign That Is Funny today:
The tune I’ve had stuck all day is the theme tune to The Odd Couple, which anyone will tell you is the funniest film ever made. Try clicking here: