Up in Smoke

August 28, 2015

What happened…

Andrew writes: It’s been awhile since I’ve written one of these things, so bear with me if I’m a little rusty. Hanging out with friends for the last few days has just seemed like more fun than riding bikes, but here we are, back on the bikes and heading back to Alberta! Mike and Nicki needed to grab coffee at Tim Horton’s anyways, so they drove us up and over Crowsnest Pass. I think I’m really getting the hang of getting rides. Plus we got to start our ride today with some donuts!

After saying our goodbyes, we started down Hwy#3 through the Crowsnest Pass municipality. This includes Coleman, Frank, Bellevue, Blairmore and Hillcrest. Our first stop was Frank, to visit the site of the Frank Slide. What an incredible natural disaster! Back in the way back (early 20th century) half the mountain toppled over onto this poor town, killing dozens. Somehow the slide avoided the Crowsnest River but still has taken up the whole valley with debris. We had climbed 2km up to the Interpretive Centre, but balked at paying $11, so we just took a few pictures and then headed back down the highway.

Next up was the Leitch Collieries, where instead of stopping to view the old lime ovens, we stopped to fix a flat tire. Two flat tires I guess, since I accidentally replaced the tube with another one that had a hole in it that we hadn’t repaired yet. Doh!

About 5km down the road we came to a weigh scale. I hopped on and I am so excited to see that I’m down to 140kg! That means that all of the gear on my bike must be below 45kg! Maybe I should feel a little badly that Amanda has about the same amount of gear now. Somehow I feel like I should always have 50% more weight just so that our speeds are comparable.

We were really enjoying a 40km/h tailwind, and the only thing that tarnished it was Amanda getting another flat tire. It seems to always be happening in the same place, so there must be some debris stuck inside the tire that I just can’t seem to find. Still, 2 flat tires in one day, on top of all of the flats we have experienced in the last week spoil the ride somewhat. We are now out of tubes, except for a few that we can put patches on. Hopefully we can get more tubes in Lethbridge in a few days.

We limped into Pincher Creek, and even checked in at the Walmart to see if they had any tubes, which they didn’t. We did find a sweet wild camp spot out behind the Walmart in a big field that had a bit of a wind shelter for us. We had no qualms cooking out in the open, but made sure not to put up the tent until after the sun went down. The prairies are a little weird, the wind just howls, and there is almost nowhere to seek shelter from it.

Amanda writes: We really took our time leaving today but I’m getting accustomed to that. Spending some more time with Nicki and Mike was a welcomed way to start the day. After the catcharide.ca team drove us up to Blairmore we got some hot chocolate and started on the road again.

Somehow this was a different ride for me because I knew that we would be parting ways in a couple of days so Andrew could go kiting with friends. I really think it is a welcome break as we spend endless hours together. That combined that we’ve been at each other for about a week now and we still have some unresolved issues to discuss with whole blue stick incident.

After we left the pass the prairies just went as far as you could see. Unfortunately you couldn’t see that far because of the smoke from the fires in the USA, but what you could see just seemed to go for miles. The part I found incredibly unique and somehow beautiful was the sound the wind made. It would just sweep past us and howl as it gently combed the tops of the wheat fields. I could hear a gust coming before I felt it. Absolute beauty.

Today’s Photographs

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Up in Smoke