Travel

Published on July 22nd, 2015 | by Guest Contributor

Cycling Across Canada: Nearing Alberta

Mark Weinstein continues chronicling his cross-Canada cycling journey with this post, which finds him riding through Ontario toward Alberta. With the free CAA Ontario Bike Assist app, you’ll get access to scenic and popular trails delivered straight to your smartphone! CAA Member-exclusive features include being able to add cycling friends and exchange routes, or keep track of their location in map-view. Plus, Members get one-touch access to roadside assistance from CAA Bike Assist. Be sure to stay tuned for more as Mark makes his way west.

In my first update, I spent a little more than two weeks making my way northwest through Ontario, since then I have crossed not one but two provincial borders and I’m now getting close to Alberta. The first province took three weeks, and the next two took only a week each – it was definitely a nice feeling to finally reach that first border.

My last day in Ontario was very wet, but at least there was a somewhat favourable wind escorting me out of the province. After spending some time drying out for a bit at the Manitoba Welcome Centre, I returned to the road where I was promptly greeted with three very distinct hills – how could this be? I’m in the prairies, there aren’t supposed to be hills here!

Undaunted, I traversed those three hills and they did flatten out – and it was beautiful – as if someone flipped a switch and the hills were gone. So were the winding roads and the paved shoulders; the latter wasn’t such a pleasant surprise but one which I would have to face.

As noted in my previous update, the winds are the most notable challenge when cycling westbound across Canada – until you reach the Rockies anyway. And, despite hearing many reports of cyclists experiencing easterly winds across the prairies, I have yet to experience such pleasures. On the upside, there have been a few days of crosswinds. Which are not ideal, but certainly better than a headwind – you quickly learn to appreciate the little things on journeys like this.

So far, the most unexpected element in crossing the prairies showed up on my way to Regina: smoke, and a lot of it. I heard of the forest fires in northern Saskatchewan but it was only when the winds shifted and started to come from the north that I experienced my first taste or – more accurately – smell of those fires.

At first it was almost pleasant, it reminded me of a mild campfire smell – I almost wished I had some marshmallows, or perhaps a S’more! However, as the day passed, the smoke got thicker and what was once a clear horizon started to get hazy, and then it disappeared completely. I found this remarkable since the forest fires in question are more than 400 kilometres away – then again, the smoke has to go somewhere. I have since talked to people who have reported smoke as far south as Omaha and Kentucky!

Since that ride into Regina, the smoke has been an on-and-off occurrence – it hasn’t disappeared completely but it also hasn’t been quite as thick as that first day.

As I near Alberta and leave the smoke and fires of Saskatchewan behind, I know I’ll have new challenges to face. I’ve pedalled over 3,000 kilometres so far – over halfway, but still a long way left to go, especially with the Rockies getting closer every day.

For more daily updates on this journey, visit www.MarksMidlifeCrisis.com.

 

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