My Long Way Round – Part 2

Origin: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Destination: Medicine Hat, Alberta
Mileage: 650

I didn’t wake up as early as I wanted to. I was on the road around 9am, but I imagined myself starting off at sunset. Snooze button wins again. It was a straight shot across Canada on its highway 1. I was very idealistic and wanted to ride 800 miles that day. Manitoba was very flat and uninteresting, but the novelty of being in another country, albeit Canada, made the ride more enjoyable. It took a while to get accustomed to the metric system on the traffic signs. The estimates in kilometers to the upcoming towns appeared farther, so the miles, kilometers actually, went by fast.

Around noon I stopped for lunch in some no name town east of Verdin. I was on a good pace and I shoved off to continue on. I made a left onto a small street to get back on the highway and suddenly my bike lost its acceleration and a loud clanking noise rang out from my back tire. My chain had broke. My dead Ninja sat in the middle of the deserted street. It started raining no more than 30 seconds after this happened. An old and rusty blue, reminiscent of Leslie’s dad’s van, pulled up and asks if I need help. She gave me a ride a couple of miles down the road. I sat in the back with Mary’s two children who looked at me in all my bulky motorcycle gear like I was an alien. The mechanic said he couldn’t work on motorcycles, so Mary drove me back to my bike. I gave the chain a closer inspection. In my excitement from earlier I didn’t realize that the chain was in tact. It had only stretched out, so that when I learned into that left turn there was enough slack to fall off the rear sprocket. I limped for 20 KMs to the next town, keeping my bike as upright as I could. I found a motorcycle mechanic who came out with a couple wrenches in his hand and fixed my bike in 10 minutes right in the dirt parking lot. The guy did it for free as well. Such friendly Canadians. So a potentially drastic delay only set me back an hour.

Saskatchewan was amazing. The landscape was identical to Manitoba, but the skies were breathtaking. I caught some rain, but it was light and the spray from passing cars ended up being worse. The cloud formations were at least three levels high and porous enough to allow sun beams to litter the countryside. I rode and stared at the skies, entertained by each new blanket of clouds I passed under. I understand why they call it the “Land of the Living Skies.”

I passed into Alberta and the clouds immediately disappeared, as if the border hung in the skies. It was nothing but blue skies and I was riding directly into the sun. The roads dipped and swelled and occasionally curved. Live stock was scattered along side the road and it felt like what Texas mike feel like. I called it quits in Medicine Hat and found a motel with a vacancy after four tries. It was dirty and spiders were easily found. I slept in my sleeping bag on top of the bed. Even after three hours of rain and mechanical problems I managed to make it 650 miles. Short of my expectations, but I was happy with my progress. The Canadian Rockies were an hour away, so I got some much needed rest and looked forward to seeing a familiar face in Idaho.

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