Our travelling caravan spent last night in a parking lot next to the Subaru dealership in Lethbridge. We awoke this morning to clear skies and a delicious pancake breakfast prepared by the Subaru staff, served up in the service garage, where they had arranged tables for us…each morning has been pretty unique so far on this journey!
Getting ourselves organized to ride each day is a massive undertaking. We have bags for everything…our laundry from the day before goes in one bag; anything we need during the day goes in another; our shower stuff and a change of clothes goes in another. After 4 days now I think I’ve got it figured out…sort of. There is a passenger van following each group of riders. There are RVs leapfrogging ahead of us on the road to organize rest stops, do laundry and buy groceries and supplies. There are two cube vans for transporting bikes and tables, sandwich boards, and other stuff. And then there is a transport truck which is our rolling dormitory. Riders sleep in the transport; volunteers sleep in the RVs…there are so many moving parts to this circus it is mind blowing! And we are on a very tight schedule as there are volunteers and people from the communities waiting for us at each stop we make.
Once we get ourselves organized to ride – shoes, helmets, lights, Garmins, water bottles, sunscreen, chamois cream (a.k.a. butt butter!), tires pumped – we have our morning “ceremonies”. First, we select and honour a rider or volunteer who has gone above and beyond the call of duty from the day before – our “Hero of the Day”. Then we do the ride dedication.
This morning, our teammate Omar Pricca from Calgary did the dedication. His daughter Jocelyn was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2017 when she was 13 years old, plunging Omar and his wife into the fearful world of childhood cancer. Fortunately, Jocelyn is a beneficiary of today’s breakthroughs in cancer research and is a survivor. Today we will ride for Jocelyn.
We rolled out of the Subaru dealership by 8:00 a.m. and headed east, on a very straight and very flat main road, passing fields of crops, grain elevators, and oil pipeline pumping stations. Our team of five riders was working well in a single pace line, with each rider taking a turn at the front and then rotating back. Our morning water and food break was at the Taber Community Centre, at which point we headed north along quiet rural roads to our lunch destination…Hays, Alberta (population 600). We were greeted by John, the “self proclaimed” mayor of Hays and posed for a photo in front of the Taber sign. We were then treated to a great meal at the Hays Family Diner!
After lunch, the riding got difficult as the Prairie winds kicked up. We battled nasty head and cross winds for several hours which really beat us up. While we were averaging 35+ kph before lunch, we were barely pushing 20 kph into the winds…and working much harder! We were exhausted by the time we made it to our afternoon stop – Premium Sausages in Seven Persons, Alberta – for some delicious fresh-made barbecued sausages, cold beverages and freezies! The rest break (and sausages!) gave us a second wind for the 30k remaining to our final destination￼…GoodLife Fitness in Medicine Hat, for a hot shower and change of clothes.
After a quick dinner, hosted by some Coast-to-Coast friends (and 2017 NKCR riders) at a neighbourhood pub, it was back into the RV for the shuttle to Swift Current. Saskatchewan, where our day starts tomorrow and the adventure continues…