Back in the Saddle Again ...: Day 19 - Calgary to Drumheller - And Then We Pedalled...... Cross Canada 2015 - CycleBlaze

June 21, 2015

Back in the Saddle Again ...: Day 19 - Calgary to Drumheller

Today was Father's Day, the first day of summer, and the first day of leg two of our journey.

Both Kirsten and I found it difficult to get out of bed and hit the road. The bike was packed and ready to go, but I don't think we were mentally. It was nice to have a few days off, and we were back in our own house in familiar and comfortable surroundings. We wanted to get to Drumheller today, which is at minimum 145 km via the shortest, and least interesting route, so our minds said we should get an early start. Our butts however didn't listen to our minds and they remained in bed.

We finally hit the road at about 10 am and started working our way out to the north east corner of the city. We made good progress through side streets and bike paths until we were within a couple of km's of the airport, and that's when the cycling friendly infrastructure broke down. We finally made it out of the city to Balzac by about noon, and then headed east on hwy 566 and then north at Kathyrn to Iricana.

It was at Kathyrn that we got the true realization that summer had come to southern Alberta. Anyone who lives on the prairies will recognize the following.

The hail was only pea to marble size so it didn't dent our helmets, and the hail and freezing rain only lasted about 40 minutes. We considered ourselves lucky.

After the hail, it turned into pretty good cycling weather and conditions. We had a strong tail and side wind from the SW, and we were travelling north and east on the grid roads. The temp was in the high teens (Celsius) and there was very little traffic on the roads. So all in it was pretty good cycling. We were also back on the tandem, and this took a little time to get used to. Not as manuverable or rigid as our Silk Roads, but with two people and one bikes worth of wind resistance plus a good tail wind, we were flying along with very little effort.

We pulled into Iricanna at about 2 pm looking for something to eat. We spotted the Iricana Family Restaurant and parked the bike. Now just about every town on the prairies has a place like this, and they are mainstays in the community. A western menu (burgers, lasagne, pork chops etc) and the 'Chinese menu', more prairie Chinese than Hong Kong or Bejing, but good none the less. We were still pretty chilled, as we had spent the last hour 'air drying' as we rode, so we orderd up a big bowl of worwonton soup and three others dishes. We were the only people in the place so we ended up striking up a conversation with the owner/waitress/controller/CEO Alice Gee. Like most people Alice found it hard to fathom that we were trying to ride all the way across the country, but she made sure we we stuffed and fully fueled for the effort!

When we set out again the weather had improved considerably and we headed east out of town to connect up with hwy 9, the main highway in the area that leads to Drumheller. Just before we got to the highway we noticed another cycle tourer coming our way. It turned out to be Mark Kraitberg who we met on day 2 and 3 in Manning Park and Princeton BC. We've kept in email contact with Mark and we knew he was in Calgary staying with friends, but we had no idea that he was planning on heading this way. It was nice to catch up on each other's travels so far and I'm sure we'll cross paths again before St Johns.

Once we got on highway 9 heading north we were really hauling on the tandem. The road was busier than what we had been riding but the shoulder were very wide and in very good shape. Dr. Dumbass has stayed clear of Alberta. No rumble strips where you want to cycle! We had a decision to make though. 

Drumheller was only about 60 km away via hwy 9. If we went north to Acme and then east on hwy 575 we would have a potentially much more interesting, quiet and scenic ride, but about 20 km longer. We were feeling good and the strong tailwind helped too so we opted for longer and more interesting. We weren't disappointed. I would recommend this route to anyone cycling to Drumheller.

Since we were on the tandem we had a lot more time to talk. Since it was also Father's Day, we were reminiscing about our very first fathers days 22 years ago. That day we had just purchased one of the first kid trailers that had come out. It wasn't nearly as fancy as current Chariots or Burleys, but we were able to securely strap our 5 month old baby and her rear facing bucket into the trailer and we set off for a ride and a picnic to Bowness Park. We rode about 10 km in total but it still ranks as one of the best bike rides we've ever had. If we tried that today we would probably be arrested or reported to family and child services!

As we pulled into Drumheller the skies had pretty much cleared and it had started to warm up. The forecast is for warm and sunny weather all week!

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Song of the day

You and Me by You + Me ( Dallas Green and Pink) 'cause it's just Kirsten and me together on the tandem for the next few thousand km's

Historical monument of the day 

 Royal Tyrell Museum. This is one of the finest palaeontology museums in the world. Alberta, and the badlands of the Red Deer river valley in particular, is one of the richest sources of dinosaur fossils on the planet. This museum ( it's actually a very hands on and interactive place) is a must see for anyone visiting Alberta. We've been many times ( Cub and Brownie camps, taking visiting friends and relatives etc etc) and it was on the other side of the river from where we were, so we, ahem, didn't go this time.

But you should if you are in the area.

Starting the day (late) in Calgary
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On the bike paths in Clagary
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Kirsten and Alice Gee at the Iricana Family Restaurant
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Running into Mark again outside Iricana
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Getting into the land of 'Put Something Big on a Pole to Attract Attention Land'. I actually think they've done a decent job of it!
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The prairie gives you very cool light
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Here's some more ....
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Eastern Alberta, grain farms and natural gas
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The Badlands of the Red Deer river valley. They don't look so bad to me. Maybe they were named the same way the Vikings named Iceland and Greenland
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Riding along the Red Deer river into Drumheller
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These grain elevators used to be one of the staples of the prairie landscape. Sadly most of them are gone, as are many of the towns that used to dot the countryside. This is one of the only classic elevators we saw all day
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This is not the Tyrell Museum. This is downtown Drumheller. Did Barney ever do this?
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Today's ride: 153 km (95 miles)
Total: 1,581 km (982 miles)

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