Tuesday, June 3, 2008

May 31, June 1, A Century in Saskatchewan! (and other stories)

Assiniboia to Weyburn: 166 km
8:04 time on the bike

We did it! 100 miles, also known as a "century" from Assiniboia to Weyburn. It was a record day for us all. I did 166 km, my highest day ever, Mark did 168 (his highest)and Mike did 165 (also his highest).

Mark and Mary at 100 miles

We pulled out of a very pleasant campground early in the morning and by noon we had covered 82 km. Winds were good, the cycling was through rolling countryside, and the weather was warm, but not too hot.

We stopped at Ogema for lunch and picnicked at a restored railway station. The rails played an important role in opening up southern Saskatchewan, but the consolidation of rail traffic onto a few main lines, as well as a rise in long distance truck traffic also contributed to the loss of towns. Today we passed by at least two towns, Amulet and Forward that were completely closed up and moved when the railway closed down.

We pulled into the Weyburn campground around 5:30 (an excellent campground by the way -- very friendly camp manager and lots of chance to chat with the locals around the FREE coffee and cookies) and noticed another bike camper. This biker was pulling a BOB trailer and we all said -- "hey, that must be Charlie". Sure enough, about 15 minutes later a fellow walks over to our campsite and we all said "You must be Charlie"! Was he ever surprised. Charlie is a friend of Ian Hogg's. We missed him by one day when we stayed with Ian and Elaine in Fernie. We never thought we would catch up with him, but Wayburn was our impromptu rendezvous.

As we chatted with Charlie two other cross-Canada cyclists pulled in -- Darrick and Si. They left from Vancouver on the same day as us. They were riding recumbent bikes and are running a blog of their trip at www.fresh-entertainment.ca. It was great fun to be in camp with three other x-Canada riders. We had lots of routes to compare and stories to tell.

We ended our century evening with a fine buffet dinner at Mickie's Cafe. So, tired, full, and very pleased with both our great ride and meeting new friends, we pulled ourselves into our sleeping bags and looked forward to a good night's sleep.


June 1 - Travels with Charlie
(with apologies to Steinbeck)
Weyburn to Carlyle - 120km
Today we slept in a bit after our long day yesterday and left Weyburn, bidding adieu to the tricyclists and cruised through downtown Weyburn before turning East again onto highway 13 as usual. We rode with Charlie all day today, it was great to have some extra company and chat about all things cycle touring with him! After about 50km the plains that Weyburn sits in the centre of began to give way to the gentle hill country south of Moose Mountain, and we had lunch at Stoughton at Don's at the highway junction. After lunch we entered OIL COUNTRY - Southeast Saskatchewan is undergoing a huge oil boom and we saw new donkey derricks everywhere and the road was fairly busy with oil tankers and oil worker traffic - something new to us on Highway 13. This boom extends all the way to the Manitoba border so we'll see it again tomorrow.

We had a fairly fast day of riding, though the wind was fickle and mostly from the north, so it didn't help much, and the traffic necessitated us mostly riding on the poor-quality shoulder of the highway instead of in the lane as we often had done west of Weyburn when the traffic was very low. We got into Arcola at about 4ish and decided to press on to Carlyle, another 17km, because the campground has a hottub- but of course the hottub was closed! Mary chatted with one of the volunteers who runs the campground who said that every hotel room in town is full with oil workers, and they can't find workers for the campground -- maybe because everyone wants the high-paying oil jobs. We arrived at the campground, behind the ball diamonds, at the end of a ball tournament so there were lots of people around, but they cleared out fairly quickly in the evening and we had a very quiet night.

Tomorrow Manitoba!

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