Our day started at the Living Sky Casino in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, where our convoy of vehicles parked last night after the shuttle from Medicine Hat. The casino washrooms were made available to us (yay!) and we were served a wonderful breakfast by the casino staff, as a small number of early morning (or late night) patrons played the slot machines…another unique breakfast experience on our magical mystery tour! With a longer distance to cover today, our team of 5 riders, plus our support vehicle volunteers, started early with the ride dedication, as the other team prepared to shuttle further down the road.
James was diagnosed in 2011 with disseminated low-grade glioma, a common form of brain tumour found in children, at the age of seven. He endured nine months of chemotherapy, many brain surgeries and lost his ability to walk independently. Through all of this, he never complained and always had a smile and a high-five for his medical team. James passed away peacefully in 2013, surrounded by the love, hugs and kisses of his parents and sister. Today we will ride for James.
It was a long, tough ride today, as we battled strong head and cross winds and single digit morning temperatures, heading due east to Regina. The sky was sunny with lots of puffy white clouds and the road mostly flat and very straight, but the landscape was pretty monotonous… fields and barren land stretching to the horizon, punctuated by strange massive salt deposits (that looked like glaciers!) and many mile-long freight trains. We rode right on the Trans Canada Highway with a support van driving behind us with blinkers flashing, and large trucks, cars and motorcycles whizzing by. Between the wind in our faces and the loud traffic noises, it was difficult for us to communicate with each other, so the ride was not really very pleasant. Our wonderful support team in the RV did their best to keep our spirits up, driving ahead and stopping to cheer us on with cowbells and costumes on the side of the road.
Our lunch stop today was at the Masonic Temple in Moosejaw, where the family of a 2017 National Rider hosted a terrific meal for us, including some fabulous home baked goods…there has been no shortage of great food on this trip! The balance of the ride was pretty brutal, with the strong winds sapping our energy and enthusiasm. We then got word that our RV had a flat tire, which threw a monkey wrench into our carefully planned itinerary. To nobodies disappointment, we cut the ride short after 212 km to shuttle ourselves and our bikes, retrieve our change of clothes from the stranded RV, and make our way to Regina.
We are staying tonight at the RCMP Academy in Regina, a property of several hundred acres used to train new recruits, arranged by one of our riders, Paul Stevens, a retired RCMP officer. We parked our convoy of vehicles in their campground, showered and had dinner, then sat around a campfire under the stars and full moon.
While we have enjoyed excellent weather so far, the days ahead look wet…hopefully the forecasts will prove wrong, so cross your fingers for us!