To Selkirk

As far as I can tell, Manitoba is not a fan of the paved shoulder on highways, or repaving bumpy roads. It’s not the end of the world, but it sure would be nice to have a shoulder. At least I’m not on highway 1 without a shoulder – I can’t imagine that would be fun.
It was another day of prairies today. I feel like I’m running out of things to say about actually riding my bicycle in the prairies – it’s pretty much the same as yesterday when I rode my bicycle in the prairies. Except today I rode between Arborg and Selkirk, which is about 30km north of Winnipeg. Riveting, right? At least I have cell service in Selkirk.
It was another one of those overcast days today. There was a bit of wind, which was sort of with me, fortunately, and a little bit of rain. Again, nothing terribly exciting.
I passed through the rural municipalities of Bifrost an Gimli. I feel like I’m in a JRR Tolkien novel. I expect to hit the Shire by midweek.
I stopped in the town of Gimli for lunch. It’s a very Ukranian area that I’m in, still, so I had perogies. They were pretty good, but I think I prefer polish perogies.
I got to Selkirk and settled into my campground and had a much needed (free) shower. When I left the shower to walk back to my tent, an older gentleman said “feel better?” Oh good! I’m so glad that a complete stranger has taken interest in my personal hygiene and how it makes me feel. This was the rest of our conversation:
Me: Yes, there’s nothing better than a shower.
Him: You’ll need one tomorrow. It’s going up to 28 degrees.
Me: Oh well. At least it won’t be raining!
Him: Oh (this is the part where I would have had him spit if he were a caricature if himself), it’ll rain tonight, then be hot tomorrow.
Why? Why do you have to ruin such lovely things, sir? It’s that 90/10 rule – 90% of people are awesome, and the other 10% are another word that also starts with an A.
It started sprinkling as I was making dinner. By this point, I’m so used to the rain that I just sat outside and cooked. Stuff will dry. I’ve also met some RVers, one of whom passed me on the highway. They’re all delightful people.
I think I will spend tomorrow in Selkirk. It seems like a fitting place to take a rest day – there’s stuff to do and civilization, both of which are nice.



To Arborg

What a lovely day that was. I was up and ready to go by 8:20, which meant I had a lot of time to relax and enjoy the ride. It was a pretty uneventful morning – I did about 70 km through the prairies in overcast conditions until I reached a small town with a gas station, restaurant and hotel…in the same building. I stopped there for lunch and had a huge meal. Again, they didn’t like that I asked for milk for my tea (not even coffee this time!) so I drank it black.
I also had wifi there. Which was awesome. I haven’t had cell service or wifi for a few days, and I was starting to feel disconnected. Because of the wifi, and how long the food took to come, I spent about an hour and a half in the restaurant. It was a nice little break for me.
As soon as I left the restaurant it started raining, and then as I got back on the highway it poured for a few minutes. I was instantly soaked through. Oh well. It eventually let up and was windy enough (tail wind) that me and my stuff dried off quite well.
I course, then it started raining again. I stopped at another gas station/convenience store and when I came out (soaked) a local asked me what it was like to ride a bicycle in the rain.
He laughed but I’m not sure I intended it as a joke. I’m outside, riding a bicycle on the side of a highway in a rain storm. What do you think it’s like?
After departing from the Mensa meeting I was back on the highway when a guy in a pickup truck offered me a ride to my destination (only about 30km at this point). No, but thank you for the offer. Unless there’s a bear, or at least a cow that resembles a bear, I’ll ride. That’s the whole point.
I arrived in Arborg early evening and got my stuff set up at the campground. I was thrilled that it wasn’t raining, and the sun had in fact come out! I don’t mind if it rains at night, and I don’t really mind if it rains during the day (usually), but I really love when it doesn’t rain in the evening or morning, so that I can sit outside my tent and cook dinner somewhat dry.
It was a beautiful evening and I got to watch the sun set only partially covered by clouds. Also, I finally finished reading Roots. Why didn’t anyone tell me that it was based on fact! Obviously I knew that slavery, the civil war, emancipation, etc. happened, but I hadn’t realized that it was the story of the author’s family! The last 30 pages were definitely the best part of that book. Perhaps I should read the synopsis in the back cover of the book more closely next time.


To the Narrows

This really is a beautiful country, when it’s not raining.
The thunder started yesterday afternoon. At the time, I had convinced myself that it was just the sound of trucks. Lots of trucks. A convoy of trucks. Driving over sheets of metal.
But it wasn’t. Fortunately I had cleaned up after dinner and was in my tent before the rain really started. There was thunder and lightning and rain all night. Literally all night. From the moment I started reading last night to the moment I woke up, it was raining. At one point the thunder and lightning seemed like it was right above my head and I just lay there hoping that lightning didn’t strike my tent.
I woke up this morning feeling much better than yesterday, and was very glad that I had listened to what my body needed. Even though it was raining when I set out, it wasn’t a particularly heavy rain, so it wasn’t so bad. I rode the 30km or so to a small town called Eddystone. On my way, I realized how much rain this community had had. There were cow fields that were half underwater, and there was a guy pumping water out of his front yard. There was so much water in the ditch on either side of the road that the water actually had a current. I could have paddled a canoe in this water. We could have given it a name and dubbed it a river.
Past Eddystone (which as basically a gas station and some houses), I kept pedalling. The rain was letting up so I was happy. I could hear frogs croaking and hawks overhead. I seemed to startle ducks into flight everywhere I went.
Since I basically broke my ride into 2 days, I only did 70km today and arrived at the Manitoba Lake Narrows at about 2pm, which is quite early. When I checked in I asked the guy behind he desk whether it would rain tonight. He guaranteed that it would, since it had rained every day for a week here.
But he was wrong! After one rather long rain shower the sun came out and it has been shining ever since! He must have jinxed it, but in a good way. It got so warm that I went to find some shade to relax in. The humidity is definitely making it feel warmer. At what point am I allowed to complain about the heat?


To Ste Rose de Lac

I’ve had this day before. This is the day when I need to take a rest. Not because my legs are tired or because my brain is melting down. This is the day that I need to take a rest because if I don’t, I’ll be out of the game for a week.
When I was travelling in Europe I woke up feeling not so great – scratchy throat, headache, all around super fatigued. But I went out anyway and got too run down and was horribly sick for a week. Going around the block to the store for more tissues was almost too much for me.
So, today I did 30km before calling it a day. When I woke up this morning (after hitting the snooze button a record breaking 6 times) I wasn’t feeling amazing. But I thought it was just allergies, as there is so much pollen in the air that it looks like snow sometimes. But after taking an allergy pill and riding to the next town, I had to call it. As badly as I wanted to get those kilometres behind me today, I know that I will be better off in the long run if I save them for tomorrow.
So, I am in Ste Rose de Lac, a lovely little bilingual town in Manitoba. There’s a great campsite right off the highway, and a grocery store and pharmacy. So I’m all set.
Before I decided to stop here for good, I thought I would just grab some lunch (or second breakfast, whatever you want to call it), and then see how I was feeling. I found what I think is the only cafe in town. The daily specials posted outside included mixed vegetables with chicken balls, or a hamburger. First warning.
I went inside, walked past what looked the the inside of an overcrowded tchatzke shop in Chinatown, and seated myself. Second warning. Taking a menu off the next table, I decide to have breakfast food and a salad – no one could possibly screw those up.
When my breakfast plate was finally served, it was on a plastic plate with the image of a rooster, and there were Tater Tots on the plate. Third and fourth warnings. It was edible, although the eggs tasted like they had been cooked on the same grill as the Chinese food being served at the next table.
By this point I didn’t even want to see what the salad was going to be, but I couldn’t find the server to cancel it. Then it arrived.
Now, I make my own salad dressing at home, but I’m ok with most store bought salad dressings – or so I thought. This “salad” had both Russian and ranch dressings on it…I think. It was either that or ketchup and mayonnaise. Actually, both are possibilities.
I managed to eat most of it but eventually had to quit. I hate leaving food in my plate, but this was beyond the realm of food.
I got out of the restaurant, went to the campground and took a 3 hour nap. Upon waking I was very glad that I had not ridden any more today, as I still felt groggy and gross. So I’m here now, hiding from mosquitoes and drinking massive amounts of orange juice. Hopefully by tomorrow I will feel much better and be able to get some mileage!


To Rainbow Beach

Rainbow Beach is just east of Dauphin, a half English half Ukranian town in Manitoba. Yes, there’s a bilingual school in the town.
After my amazing and dry sleep in the motel in Roblin I awoke to find the sun. I was shocked and did a double take. Was the sun really out on a day I was going to ride? I stepped outside and the wind was blowing from the west! This must have been a dream but when I pinched my arm it was reality, and my arm hurt.
What an amazing day it turned out to be! I haven’t had such a great ride since leaving Medicine Hat. I was zooming down the highway. There were some small hills for the first 15 or so kilometres, and after that it was mostly flat or slightly downhill. It was amazing.
48km out of Roblin is a town called Grand View. I stopped there for some lunch and a break. And to reapply sunscreen. That’s right, I needed sunscreen today! I had to dig to the bottom of my bag to find it.
The next big town was Dauphin. It’s quite nice and quaint and, if course, has strip malls by the entry points to the highway.
The scenery has also changed a bit since leaving Saskatchewan behind yesterday. While there are still wetlands on either side of the road, the fields look different and there are far more trees. It’s quite refreshing to be out of the monotony of Saskatchewan’s look and feel.
My campsite tonight is a provincial park, and it’s quite nice. Only very small portions of it are under water, so it’s a step up. I got my tent set up, cooked and ate dinner, and had a shower, and then I got to sit outside and enjoy the sun. The sun! I’m experiencing a perfect moment right now and I love it. I may even do a campfire tonight with dry wood. Dry wood! Awesome day from start to end.


So Far: Saskatchewan

A I approached Manitoba I couldn’t help but sing “Manitoba” to the tune if “Oklahoma”. Now that’s in your head. You’re welcome. So, here’s what I learned about Saskatchewan and travelling in general.
First, some things about Saskatchewan:
It’s not all a flat as I once thought. West of Moose Jaw is actually quite hilly.
In the flat bits, you really don’t need brakes. If you time it right, you can coast to a stop.
You will either love or hate the wind in Saskatchewan. Every day is a new adventure.
Mosquitoes are huge! And they’re mean.
Just because the guide book says that there’s minimal precipitation in the prairies, doesn’t make it true.
The sun will rise as early as 4:45 here. That’s very early, especially when you’re sleeping in a tent.
At all costs, keep the mosquitoes outside of the tent. There’s nothing worse than having a Saskatchewan size mosquito in your tent when you’re trying to sleep.
People in this province are awesome and very nice. I like them.
There are lots and lots of fields.
Snakes just hang out on the road. They particularly like chilling in pot holes. It’s a bit startling.

And some things I’ve learned (or relearned about travelling):
I’ve never regretted taking a rest day. Recovery, both physically and emotionally, is key.
Eat a lot. Burning up to 5000 calories a day means eating up to 5000 calories a day.
A good book will go a long way.
There is such a thing as wet person smell. Just like wet dog smell but with humans.
Stretching while still warm is so good.
A cup of tea and a ton of food will pretty much cure anything.
No matter how bad things are for you (weather wise or otherwise), someone else always has it worse.


To Roblin

I know I shouldn’t be complaining about the weather – a lot if people have it a lot worse than I do. Especially those poor people in southern Alberta whose houses are flooding. But seriously Mother Nature, shut it down.
I was woken up very early this morning, yet again, by the sound of rain on my tent. Who needs an alarm clock when you have a naturally occurring daily rain shower to wake you up? Of course my tent got packed up saturated again, which was not ideal, but there you go.
Since I did not bother to buy bread yesterday, I decided to treat myself to breakfast out today. I went to the same greasy spoon restaurant and had a delicious meal. Maybe someone can explain this to me – why do I get such weird looks when I ask for milk with my coffee instead if cream?
I hit the road at about 10, in the rain and against the wind. But, it was a pretty good ride. I’m really glad that I only did a short ride yesterday, because today was only about 85km total.
I was pedalling along against the wind, quite happy to be on the road. The wind let up for a moment and my bike felt so light by comparison that I actually reached back to make sure none of my gear had fallen off. That’s how much of a difference the wind makes. Riding into the wind is like towing someone on roller blades – the stronger the wind, the fatter that person.
The rain finally stopped and I just had the wind to contend with, which was a nice break. Then, as I crossed the border into Manitoba there was a big, long downhill to the Prairie Lake. There was a campground and cafe there so I stopped for a bite to eat. Of course, for every downhill there is an up, and this one was pretty decently sized. People in the cafe were offering me rides and were shocked that I was taking a bicycle up the hill. I told them that if I could do the Rockies, this small hill was no big deal. And it wasn’t. It was steep but very short, comparatively.
After that it was only another 13km or so to Roblin.
I got the the campground in Roblin and found it to be abandoned. There was a sign saying to go to the office in town, which was only open 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Friday. As it it Sunday at 6pm, this was rather inconvenient for me. Upon further inspection I discovered that the bathrooms were locked and no one else was camped there. The fact that the campground was half underwater may or may not have had something to do with this. The campground was right next to a very swollen lake, which had partially submerged some of the campsites. As there is a rainfall warning of about 50mm for tonight, I decided that perhaps this would not be the ideal place to spend the night.
That’s how I ended up in a motel. I’m drying out my tent, washing my socks, and relaxing on a comfy bed while I enjoy free wifi. It’s not an ideal situation, but I’ve spent enough nights out in the rain to feel ok about this.
The weather tomorrow is supposed to be warm and sunny with a tailwind in my favour, and I’m very much looking forward to that.