I bought strawberries but the carton got squished in my bag and leaked some juices. So now it looks like I killed someone and am transporting their body cross Canada via bicycle to consume at my leisure. But I’m not. Promise.
Today was a long day. It wasn’t particularly long in terms of kilometres (about 140km), it just felt like it took forever. I left Swift Current after getting groceries and was on the road by 10:30. I stopped in the middle of the day to clean and oil my chain, but that was really my only big stop. I only pulled into the campground at about 7:45, so I feel like I was on the road forever. Granted, the wind was working against me for most of the day, and I don’t think I ate enough, so I was tired.
I ran into a couple of people on similar journeys today. Of course their was Case, whose name may actually have been Chase, who I met yesterday. He was moving fast and is probably now in Regina, which is a long ride. Then I ran into Scott on the road this morning. He has been sort of taking his time travelling, and had a trailer with a guitar in tow. He had been camping in parks (free, of course) the whole trip. Although Scott probably did fewer km them I did, he pedalled quite quickly and I lost him. This afternoon I met David, who is also from Toronto and went from Swift Current to Moose Jaw, which is about 35km down the road. He too had been free camping. While he pedalled a bit slower than me, he goes further than me most days.
There’s nothing quite like having 3 people in a row pass you to make you feel like an inadequate rider. Or having 2 people tell you how awesome free camping is (camping on a non campground site) to make you feel like you’re cheating on this ride.
But here’s the deal – I like having a hot shower at the end of a long day of riding. I like having the amenities and safety provided by a campsite. I like taking my time, riding at my own pace and for a reasonable amount of time each day. And yes, I have a guidebook, which I’ve been sticking to fairly closely. That’s how I know what town is coming up. That’s how I know that today I passed the largest salt water lake in Canada. I am ok with this. It’s how I prefer to travel and it’s not cheating. I’m still putting in the hours on my bike – I’m pedalling the same roads, the same kilometres, I just happen to be doing it at my own pace, and being a bit more comfortable at the end of the day.
In fairness, the people I met didn’t try to make me feel like an inadequate bike tourer (with the slight exception of one), these are just the things I’ve been thinking about today, as I saw the 3 other riders pedal ahead of me in the distance.
Photo: salt flats and actual flat prairies.