Leigh & Toma: Cross-Canada Bicycle Tour 2005 travel blog

Flooding in Saskatchewan

Friendly Manitoba!

TS' haircut

Everyone agreed that, although relatively luxurious, an evening under the roof of the Neudorf arena somehow made for an inferior sleep. We reluctantly rolled out of bed around 6am and lined up for fabulous egg muffins. The truck was packed up and we hit the road for our push into Manitoba. Thankfully, yesterday's storm had blown through...although chilly for the better half of today, the sun was back out and the wind was soft.

Nathan, Leigh and I rolled together again today and we were all quite weary. We span our pedals quickly and lightly in a lower gear, sacrificing a little speed for ease on the legs. There was an optional route today through the Qu'Appelle River Valley, adding 32 km of rolling but scenic terrain. We, along with most other riders, opted for the shorter route knowing that this was overall a long set of rides.

Our first stop was at the Co-Op of the village of Dubuc. Leigh and I waited for the store's manager to return from his morning coffee at the senior's centre across the road, then bought juice, went to the bathroom, continued.

Next major break was the town with the funky name of Esterhazy. Forgive me...I am recanting this two days after the fact and it's a little foggy (we have not had a chance to upload in a while due to a lack of Internet connectivity and the distraction of galley duty). In Esterhazy we stopped at a café for a quick bite to eat, a rummage through the local dollar store for some bike rags, and a pit stop for ice cream before hitting the road.

Pushing on, we come across a staggeringly huge potash mine. There is a pile of overburden about half a kilometer wide, a kilometer long and a hundred meters or so high. That's a LOT of fertilizer...

The landscape was beginning to change. There was more flax in the fields. Bald prairie was beginning to thicken with trees. The pancake flatness developed an amplitude of rolling hills, created mainly by the denunded valleys of rivers and streams. Still waters changed the wildlife too. Small ponds and sloughs, skirted by reeds and bulrushes, were host to a dazzling array of waterfowl and gorgeous nesting birds. The little guys swoop and squawk at you, presumably if you've ridden too close to a nest. There seems to be a whole lot more gophers, chipmunks, snakes, dragonflies. Wondering which type of creature will literally jump from out of the woodwork at the roadside becomes a bit of a game.

Almost on cue, the Manitoba border. We take turns snapping each other's photos at a rather unremarkable road sign, but that doesn't diminish the marvel of having bicycled into our fourth province! Oh My Swear-Word God, we're actually pulling this off!

Not much longer, Binscarth. We swoop into our campsite, hastily set up tent and shower, then get onto our call of duty as galley crew. We are serving pasta with spicy sausage sauce. Well executed, except I was the guy scooping spaghetti from the pot, and when I dropped the serving tongs and absent-mindedly chased it into the boiling water, I kinda blanched my fingertips. Ooops. An ice-pack and an extra beer.

After dinner, the cheapest - and shortest - haircut in my career. Thanks to Irish Dave for the very low-maintenance #2 crew cut. Hallski and Simpkins would be proud.

Yawn...that about sums it up. Better nod off now since we have oatmeal to cook and potable water to boil tomorrow morn. G'night.

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