|Day Twenty-four – July 14 Minnedosa 135k
The route we are following on the TdC follows the train tracks. The tracks came first and then the roads then the TransCanada Highway. We stay away from the TCH unless there is no other route. That means that there were trains through the night rumbling through Binscarth. That’s okay, I’m used to them.
I got up at the usual 6am. Breakfast was of porridge, eggs, camp coffee. I was ready to roll at 7:30 and again it would be solo because Obo had to hang around and clean up camp. I rolled my bicycle across the grass. Something didn’t feel right. What? I had a flat tire. A rear flat tire. Was someone playing a game with me? No. I suspected it could be the repair from ten days ago. It was.
When I took the tube out of the tire I checked the patch and there was a small leak coming from it. In Regina I had swapped out the rear tire and put on a thinner tire. That meant the patch was squished in the narrower space. And what with the heat of the previous day and the bouncing against the rocks on the road from hell, the patch shifted. I put in a new tube and then struggled getting the tire back on. Jac where are you when you are needed?
It took me thirty minutes to fix my flat. I’m out of contention for the belt buckle.
The road south from Binscarth was a nice ride. Then we had to turn east after 30k and it was into a head wind. It was still a nice ride but slower. My average speed dropped by almost 20%. The thing to do was find a gear I was comfortable churning for hours on end and go with it.
My first stop was at Birtle. There was a convenience store/coffee shop that I first stopped at after entering the town. It was the local conspiratorial hangout for the locals. They only had flavoured coffee so I moved down the road to a grocery store and got a Diet Coke and some two bite cookies.
A couple riders go past as I sit on the sidewalk enjoying the cookies. Shortly after I continue on my own. The ride is still enjoyable. I come across a large canola field that is surrounding some broken down buildings in the distance. I park my bike and walk into the field to get closer shots. The canola vines clutch and trip me. This could turn out to be a Sci-Fi story. I escape unscathed.
Shoal Lake was to be a destination for lunch. Unfortunately there was no place in town that was inviting. I found Terry and Chris sitting on a park bench in front of the local credit union outlet. I sat with them and had a packed peanut butter/honey sandwich. While there Obo showed up. Chris and he had a verbal go at each other and then Obo went off to find lunch. Chris and Terry took off down the highway and I followed Rosie out onto the road and continued on towards Minnedosa.
The shoulder of the Yellowhead Highway was rough and combined with the head wind it made for slow going. Plus the scenery was starting to get boring. It was push time for riding. I wanted the ride to be over for the day. At one of my stops Obo came into view and we rode together.
We came across Chris and Terry who had stopped for a break. Obo and Chris got into another verbal joust and then they were off racing to camp. Which old timer was the old timer? I tried to catch up to them, then I tried to keep them within sight; I couldn’t. I felt like I was the old timer. At that point, if I came across a bike shop in one of these towns and they had a road bike sale going, I would be leaving town on a road bike, the off road bike would be left behind. I was questioning the choice of bike. Until we hit the road coming into Minnedosa. It was a rough broken road and I rode blissfully over the breaks. I’ll take my victories when I can.
Obo had waited for me at the junction of the highway into Minnedosa and we rode in together. We crested a hill and saw Terry and Chris on the side of the road with an RCMP cruiser parked and the officer out talking to them. Apparently a highway worker had complained to the RCMP about cyclists holding up traffic on the Yellowhead. For much of the day the traffic had been minimal. After Terry and Chris moved off I told the officer that occasionally a cyclist might claim the white line because the shoulder was broken or non existent. He said that was fine because we had the right to be there. Now if only motor vehicle drivers would know that.
Our camp desert for the evening was special. It was provided by a new rider joining our tour. Lil was from Brandon. Had down the TdC a few years past and had done the Tour du Artic last year. That is a hard ride. And she is 60 years of age.
She knew the best way to get to know those of us was to provide a treat of ice cream. A quick way to melt a heart. When third servings were called I had already cleaned my dishes. I grabbed a lid from one of the ice cream buckets and ate the chocolate ice cream with my fingers. Good to the last knuckle.