To Gleichen

Although not a great day, this day was a hilarious adventure.
I find that getting out of a hostel in the morning is more difficult than getting out of a campsite. With a campsite, I know exactly what needs to be done and in what order. As long a there’s no rain, I can usually make pretty decent time. But with a hostel, there are too many other variables. Breakfast starts at 8 but it’s not quite ready at 8, other people are getting ready to go in your dorm room, etc. Because of this, I didn’t hit the road until about 9:30. At least I didn’t get caught in rush hour.
The ride through Calgary was pleasant, if traffic-heavy. I got back onto highway 1 and continued east. Calgary is a very sprawling city, and seems to go on forever, but eventually I was out. You can actually see Calgary’s skyline for quite some time when heading east, because the land becomes quite flat.
I was making great time – the sun was out, my legs were rested, and there were no big hills in my way. There were a few inclines, but nothing too serious.
Then the wind started. The trade winds blow west to east, the other winds traditionally blow east to west. The winds today fit in neither of those categories and were the worst. They were blowing up from the south, pushing me from side to side. Unfortunately, highway 1 takes a bit of a turn and heads south for about 20-25km. I have never worked so hard for a km on the whole ride, including the mountains.
The 20km I pedalled into the wind took me about 1.5 hours. I was in a gear normally preserved for particularly steep hills. And as icing on the cake, I was going up an incline. This was, hands down, the least fun I have had on this trip so far.
My original destination for the night was Bassano, which is about 150km from Calgary. Once the wind started, I decide that this was no longer my destination. I stopped in a small town called Gleichen, 100km from Calgary – I don’t think they get many visitors.
The campsite is on the north end of town, and is totally un-monitored. Since it is a municipal campground, I thought that perhaps the RCMP, whose headquarters are across the street, might have an idea of who I should talk to and pay. Their office hours ended at 3, though, so I couldn’t talk to them. The police’s office hours.
So I started setting up my tent. No sooner did I got my tent off my pannier rack, than I had been bitten a billion times by mosquitoes. I feel that this is an accurate number. They even got me through me thick bike shorts. They’re powerful.
After setting up my tent in high winds I decided to venture into “town” for some provisions. I noticed 2 RCMP cars pulling into the station, so I thought I’d try to pay again. I told them that I had set up my tent, but couldn’t find anyone who was running the campground. They said they were fine with that. It wasn’t really a question, but ok. Then I asked if the well water was drinkable. They recommended buying bottled water from the store around the corner, but advised me to walk rather than take my bike, as they thought my bike might not be there when I got back. At least they were honest.
The great thing about small towns is that they all have liquor stores. This one has a very cheap liquor store. I got 6 beers for $8. What’s up with that? Can I expect this throughout Alberta?
So now I’m alone at my campsite (there are no other campers), hiding in my tent from mosquitoes. I understand why the guide book doesn’t plan on stopping here for the night.

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