A glorious sunrise start from the wonderful motel after what felt like a well deserved night’s rest.
We decided to divert from the less straightforward route through Beaumont (and hoped for some Mark Beaumont like speed to be transferred to us ) as the roads were quite due to it being Thanksgiving!
Heading as close to Edmonton as we dared we verved East with the skyscrapers in the distance And opted to take the more minor road East. This made for great scenery and a quiet ride, but no facilities: just as well we had stocked upon motel buffet breakfast! Getting back onto the Highway we were crossing a National Park so we’re still without a break at 40miles but had the widn behind us so decided to push on. Lots of lakes and waterfowl but we also saw what looked like bison grassing and beaver lodges in the lakes. (Look closely at the photo).
The road flattened out and the wind picked up and we were flying! Getting to close to 60miles the next town was off route and we still decided to keep pedalling snacking on the move. 80miles in we had reached Vergeville in record time and finally caved at a Tim Hortons again. Laura was queuing for food when she heard a lady exclaim ” you’re going where?!?” To Stevie. As she got more and more details her incredulity grew and grew and the group of three ladies were really impressed with our trip. They followed us on social media and found us on the tracker and then gave us some cash!
We said we’d add it to the charity donations, but no! They were admanent this was for us and we were overwhelmed with their enthusiasm and support! Another seperate lady who had overheard the whole thing came and gave us another note too- it was wonderful and surreal!
Still buzzing back on the bike we were flying again, the speed frequently in the 20mph now. Waterfowl overhead were psyching themselves up for migration and we had one of those rare moments of reflecting on how far we’d come. Making fantastic progress to the motel we still had plenty of time for recovery after a big day and can barely believe the day we’ve had after so many tough times!
We smashed it!
It was windy to begin with and it only got windier! Every time we stopped it was like we had to hold the tandem back to stop her starting on her own, like an impatient steed. The tailwinds have been epic.
We’d got to the point we never thought this day would come, so many tough times: illness, injury, weather, hills, mountains, road surface, cities, traffic, route issues… sometimes it feel like all we do is complain and we try not to feel hard done by as if these challenges are what cycling around the world is, then it is up to us to take them on. We chose to be here.
But, we hadn’t dare expect this, powered along by the winds that normally hinder us! We’d forgotten that karma works and luck can be on our side (or at least the law of averages…)
Blasting through the first 50 miles to second breakfast in a wonderful classic diner playing country music and serving pancakes we were set up for the rest of the day. The terrain was flat but not boring with little lakes full of waterfowl, the odd field of cows and little villages and farms dotted along the route. We could hardly get our heads around the miles flying by, we are so used to working on a 10mph average. We arrived at North Battleford around 4:30pm, far earlier than we expected and turn off the main road to the town.
The crosswind hit and we slowed to a crawl, hit by massive crosswinds for the last miles across an exposed bridge. Laura ready to bail from the stoker seat of they got blown too close to the edge. In the motel early and a takeout curry to celebrate!
We got up
We rode fast
We had a diner brunch
We rode fast
We hit Saskatoon
We rode fast
We got to the motel early..
Might sound straightforward and 20mph+ and a 157.5mile day is nothing to complain about, but it’s not as easy as it looks on paper!
Firstly and slight deviation from straight tailwinds to slight crosswinds was a huge challenge in winds this strong…especially when it pushed us into the traffic.
Secondly the concentration, especially from Stevie on the front, to hold and steer the fully laden tandem at high speeds is not to be underestimated. The number pictures taken today show it wasn’t an easy ride in the backseat either! We swapped our front panniers around at the brunch stop the help with a speed wobble we’d been having and it took us two goes to get out the exit back onto the Highway the wind was so strong!!
But we have had a massive dayband are rapidly putting ourselves in a great position to catch up the mileage we need to make our original 180day target in Berlin…it’s still a long way off yet but having days like the past few give us confidence of what might be possible.
And also, we hope, show how hard it has been when we’ve struggled average 10mph or stopped at 80miles!!
We change direction slightly tomorrow and the winds change too so our flying run maybe over for now, but we are just so grateful as even just the thought of going the other way is sickening!!
A bitterly cold start had us finally cave and ait we needed to source some warmer clothes-we had had some sent to Dunedin…but they had arrived after we got to Canada!
We still had tailwinds but made more of a steady start today to get to 2nd breakfast at Subway. Laura’s hands were too numb and the winds were too strong to take many photos. Pushing onto Regina we hit cross-tailwinds which were challenging but nothing compared to what we had to come. Stopping at Walmart Laura lucked out with Leggings, mittens and a neck gaiter… but they didn’t have a single pair of gloves for Stevie to go over his current ones (it is pretty cold with the wind chill!)
The search will continue and we agreed to keep options open as we hit the crosswinds proper heading North. We sometimes have a set destination on a day and book in advance but when the distance we can cover is less easy to determine we often have a conservative and stretch distance. In this case we had 3 options: 14, 22 and 44 miles from where we were (at 95miles). Give the past few days the stretch distance didn’t seem ridiculous…until we got on the road!
The crosswinds were thankfully from our left but blowing us into the grassy verge. If it hadn’t promised a soft landing we don’t know what we’d have done as it would have been too dangerous.
We quickly realised that 14miles was plenty in these conditions, especially as the wind is due to drop tomorrow. Struggling all the way we reached the motel with relief.. only to find it shut, the telephone number not working and accommodation looking dubious. We discussed options, the stretch was too far, the middle distance motel didn’t pick up and we were pretty sure it would be a bitter night wild camping affect our performance. The most reasonable option seemed to be to back track 7miles to the last motel. It took a bit if courage to get back on the blustery road, and we took minor roads to avoid the traffic but if was the toughest 7miles of the past 3 days with cross-headwinds/severe crosswinds and both us needed to be on the ball to stay safe, ready to pull over at a moments notice.
Making it to the hotel it was another cosy night in!
A rather chilly start had Laura kitted out in her new wardrobe and Stevie wearing his down booties on his hands…
It is clear you can’t take your eye off the ball for a minute when planning record breaking logistics and after the faff getting a motel last night we’d not tried to book tonight’s until this morning.
And it as full.
And the other two “hotels” on Google maps were a retirement home and possibly a pub?
So Laura searched nearby areas…nothing…until a last ditch at Airbnb found one spot on…until they refused to accept our booking.
With the clock ticking to get on the road and already feeling like we’d had mission Laura eventually found an Airbnb roughly the right distance but more due North than East. Plumping for it we got on the road and rerouted not to back track to it later.
Which went well until it turned into an actual back-track of a gravel road. Feeling frustrated we couldn’t get anything right today we diverted to the original route which not only gave us a stretch of out and back at the end but also made it a 127mile day instead of 107miles and we had left late after all the accommodation faff.
We were just about on track though…then the gear cable snapped.
Working quickly in the bitter cold Stevie somehow managed to keep enough feeling in his hand to get the new one in and got the gear set up spot on first time!
Back on the road we tried to push hard to warm up to Fort Qu’appelle and fuelled up there before pushing hard into crosswinds to try and make up time. It was tough going though and we hit the dark and cold again. Luckily the wonderful Airbnb people left the apartment open for us and after our second A&W burger stop of the day we arrived late but relieved and ready to warm up and make sure we’ve got tomorrow’s plans nailed before bed!
We had a bit of a lie in this morning to 6:30am after having got to bed close to midnight after yesterday’s antics.
We felt vaguely refreshed but rather stiff and sore after the big push to get there last night and had a slow chilly roll out after a light breakfast. Pushing onto Foam Lake for second breakfast it only got colder but with cross tailwinds we made reasonable progress. Over easy egg and pancakes fuelled us up again and it seemed everyone in the restaurant wanted to know what we were up to- one girl even came in especially as she had spotted us on the road and offered us a bed for the night! A less optimistic gentleman speculated whether we’d make our distance today as it was “a very long way” and warned us repeatedly it was very cold… buy he wished us well in general!
It warmed up a bit in the afternoon but we were still feeling pretty tired and I think the endless expanse of the prairies is getting to us a bit. With the wind mostly behind to get to Yorkton in time to go shopping for Stevie gloves. Finally replacing his ever so slightly worn out liners and getting some heavy duty gauntlets. We might need to slim down his glove collection somewhat though…not all of them are pictured!
We made a mistake…
…we thought it has been cold the past few days…
…we were wrong!!
It’s certainly looking like “fall” here with beautiful colours in the trees but it was certainly crisp steeping out the motel room., despite us wearing the most clothes yet. It certainly wasn’t warming up and definitely agreed with @epicrideweather “feels like”, with a weirdly dry cold- no ice or snow and barely any frost.
Surviving the long push to Subway the down booties came out again for Stevie. Thawed put slightly we had a long drag after lunch into a forest area- a welcome break from the monotony of the prairies where the vast landscape seemed infinite. There were small lakes admist the tree and beaver 🦫 houses (aka lodges) amd evidence of their tree felling. Suddenly Laura heard a loud splosh and there was something swimming that wasn’t a duck! With just his eyes and nose sticking above the water there was a trail of ripples as the beaver swum along. Too cold to get the gloves off in time Laura missed the photo opportunity.
We have also made another mistake amd got caught out by yet another time zone! Adding some mileage here and crossing into Manitoba we had lost track a bit but at least it was dark later. Missing the grocery store was a great excuse to order takeout pizza.
Weekly mileage 880.66miles
Total mileage: 13244.66miles
Pizza: 1 (15″ epic of my dreams…)
Punctures: 0 but one snapped gear cable…