July 31

August 1st, 2007

Another early morning from Whitewood helped me beat the heat. There was already a breeze at 7 am, but I was having a tough time determining what direction it was coming from. It felt like it was in my face, but I was able to maintain a reasonable speed. I could see some gray clouds forming on the horizon, but the forecast wasn’t calling for thunder showers until later in the evening.


If you recall my analogy of the old computer game, River Raider, you should remember the object of the game was to dodge as many stones and as much debris on the pavement as possible. Having mastered the art, I was now graduating to a new challenge. The highways of Saskatchewan had now introduced me to a real life version of Whack-a-mole. But this game wasn’t quite the same as the carnival game you’re thinking about. Instead of moles popping their heads out of holes and me trying to whack them with a paddle, the Saskatchewan 13-striped gopher would dart out from the grass beside the paved shoulder, scurry along the edge of the road almost taunting me, then disappear back into the weeds. My objective was to roll over their tails with my wheels. Let the games begin. Actually, I wouldn’t dare roll over one, even if I could, which I couldn’t. The buggers were like little brown streaks of lightening.


Speaking of lightning, I would have my second encounter with the awesome power sooner than expected. I had already skated about 50 km and it was only about 10:00 am. The clouds that had been forming were now looming overhead. I had slipped into my rain blades just in case the weather turned on me. I had heard that Prairie weather can shift almost as fast as the top of Mount Everest. Sure enough, and without warning, an intense fork of lightning slammed into the earth not far from where I was skating. It was close enough that the flash and the thunder were only a split second apart. I was hoping that I’d be able to see the lightning work its way across the plains, but it decided to begin its fury directly over me. Without thought, I jumped in the RV. We were only about 100 meters from the town of Grenfell, so it was a good opportunity for a break. With any luck, the energy of the lightning would be strong but quick and I could get back on the road.


As quickly as it arrived, the weather system moved on, but not before I had a chance to give a couple of interviews for radio and the Regina Leader-Post Newspaper. It was still morning, so I wanted to get some more mileage under my belt before stopping for lunch. They say that when I storm moves in on the Prairies, the wind comes from the East. They weren’t kidding! I took off down the shoulder of the Trans Canada with the wind hurling me along at an unsurmountable speed. Even my Dad made a smart-ass comment about having to use the gas pedal for the first time ever. My stride felt natural and easy. With little to no effort, I was holding a consistent speed of nearly 40 km/h. After taking my usual 2 hour lunch in Wolseley, I managed to roll over 105 km by 3:00pm! And I wasn’t done yet. Although I stopped skating earlier than normal when I reached the town of Qu’appelle, I had put out one of my best days yet. An awesome 125 km!


People often ask me if this trip has been what I expected. Well, I know bad conditions happen, but today is a perfect example of the way I imagined most of my journey. Call me optimistic. Call me positive. Or maybe just call me naive. I’m a bit concerned with the weather for tomorrow. The clouds are rolling in quickly again. And although the temperature is dropping nicely, the wind is really picking up. We’ll see what happens in the morning.

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