|Day Fourteen – Drumheller 171k
I knew that this would be a long day. My map counting showed that the ride would come in somewhere around 150km. It would be similar to yesterday but the wind was an unknown
I got up before 6am, made myself a coffee, read the paper, had breakfast. Why it was just like ole times. Then it was time to go. If you are from Bent Knee Bicycle Repair please skip the following. I’ll mark the paragraph beginning with NOW for you to begin reading again.
Obo has the same bicycle that I have. He is riding a Jamis Aurora. Mine is hanging in my garage. He has a 2007 model. My model is 2008. He chides me for riding the Gary Fisher as a road bike and figured that I should get the Aurora on the road. Then we can ride as twins down the highway. Almost like tandem but not quite.
I decided to ride the Jamis Aurora out to Drumheller and then exchange it for the Gary Fisher. That would be as close to close to riding tandem as we would get. Taking the Aurora for the day would confirm the reasons why I rejected it. I couldn’t remember.
I prepped the Aurora with an extra water bottle holder; put a sensor cable on so that I could use the same computer; set the computer for a different bike; adjusted the seat and I was good to go. Some of this was done last night but the seat adjustment was today. By 7:30 I was on the road again. The early part of the route is old hat.
NOW I made it to Chestermere by 8:30. The sun was shining and there was a breeze from the west. Things were going good. I stopped at the Tim Horton’s for a breakfast sandwich, coffee and dcd. Twenty minutes later I was sailing down the TransCanada heading east. And I mean sailing. The wind had picked up while I was doing breakfast number two. On the highway stretch from Chestermere to the junction of Highway 9 there was a few kilometers where I was peddling at a rate of 50 kph without too much effort. Then it ended. In no time I had to turn north.
Highway 9 has been upgraded recently and has a nice smooth shoulder. The wind was coming at me from the side; I had to lean to my left. The wind was holding me until a semi would pass and block the wind. Then I would fall towards the middle of the highway only to be stopped by the resumption of wind after the truck passed. Going down the road like a drunken sailor. There were a lot of semis on the road. There weren’t many photo ops.
I was still making my average speed with the wind coming at me from the side. The Jamis bike was holding up well but I wasn’t. I remembered why I chose the Gary Fisher: comfort. The seat didn’t fit as well, my shoulders took a strain and the right one tired out. Down to drop position, up to the brakes, on to the brake hoods and finally upright. No position kept me comfortable for long. The only time I wasn’t uncomfortable was when I had my head down into the wind and was concentrating on going forward.
I stopped at 70km to have a burrito. Marion had packed a couple of home-made burritos for my lunch on the trail. By the time I finished my first lunch the wind had shifted to the northwest. It was now head down riding. About 20km later I made a turn that I would regret. I turned onto Highway 21. This would take me to the route that TdC was using to get to Drumheller. In hindsight I should have stayed on Highway 9.
Highway 9 has a nice wide, smooth shoulder. Even in the wind it can be enjoyable. Highway 21 has a narrow, broken, gravely shoulder that wouldn’t be enjoyable even with a wind at your back. Plus it had bike bouncers that narrowed the shoulder even more. I had to stay on the highway for about 20km. It was slow going. I didn’t see anything but what was in front of me. Occasionally the bike bouncers would go away and I would get complacent and look to the side. When I turned to what was in front of me it was to steer my way out of the bike bouncers. Good thing I was going slow.
Finally I got to secondary highway 575 and could turn to the east again. This was also a narrow shoulder but the bicycle bouncers were on the centre line. While I would come to question my route to Drumheller, the appearance of some old decrepit buildings made up for it. Finding old buildings falling back into the earth is one of my passions.
My original estimate of how many ks from home to the TdC campsite in Drumheller had been at around 150km. The closer I got to Drumheller the more ks I tacked on.
I dropped down into the Red Deer River Valley as my computer showed 150km. It was a steep drop into the valley and with a west wind on my tail I got up some good speed. There was a RV approaching from behind but the driver decided not to pass and let me have some thrills as I sped down the hill. My top out speed was 69 kph. Thank you RV driver for not overtaking me just to get in front of me and brake.
By the time I got through Drumheller and found the road to the campground I was nudging 160km. There were still ten kilometers to go and they were brutal. I was turned back into the wind and going uphill. This was head down and push type of riding. Fortunately forever is less than an hour. I found the campground and cycled in.
I thought I would be into camp by 2:30 based on 2/3 of the trip done. The extra 20kms and the wind slowed me down such that I got to camp at 3:45. By the time I had changed out of my riding clothes Marion had shown up. She was transporting the Gary Fisher in exchange for the Jamis. I showed Obo the Aurora. Fended off other riders who thought I had permanently exchanged the off road bike for a road bike as per normal activities. NO.
I had a beer with Obo and then Marion and I left. Obo was having problems with the seat adjustment on his bicycle. I took his seat post with me to find a new one. He had looked for one in Airdrie but was told his next shot at a new post was in Saskatoon. We weren’t going that way. And why Saskatoon? We left Old Bob O to contemplate his approaching supper and went off in search of ours.