Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Evidence of the Prairie floods

7th July: Kenaston to Raymore

Odometer: 137 km, Start: 8.15am, Finish: 4.15pm, Avg: 22.6 km/h,
Weather: Sunny then clouds bubbling up, west wind, Temp: 14-23°C
Mosquito Bites: 51, Hills walked: 0
Road Conditions: #15, variable, some parts potholed, rough and bumpy, short gravel sections, road often heaves and sags. 1.5 shoulder (sometimes). Traffic extremely light, though. Services at Nokomis (89km). Ascent: 175m up/250m down.

The terrain on my ride to Nokomis this morning was subtly different. The pure flatness of previous days had been replaced by gentle rolling farmland. Small hills or drumlins gave the landscape a rounded, more intimate aspect. You couldn’t see so far into the distance. There were many ponds by the side of the road. Some of these were undoubtedly permanent features, but some were temporary affairs, the result of the extensive flooding caused by the exceptionally wet spring here.

Drumlin hills during the morning
You couldn’t see as far into the distance this morning
Many small ponds en route (some permanent, some as a result of flooding)

The area I rode through was predominately pasture with cattle grazing all along. There were also some crazy canola fields ducking and diving across the hills. Bird life was much in evidence. I would often be “escorted” across a bird’s territory. Especially by two breeds of birds; a tern like bird that would repeatedly dive at me and a black coloured bird, starling sized, with distinctive bright red shoulder patches. This second bird would fly overhead for around 0.5 km going “chip”, “chip”, “chip” at me. I’ve seen this bird a lot all across Canada. It always performs this same action. I wonder what it’s called?

Cows in pasture

This stretch of the #15 was a bit agricultural as well. The surface was often broken and pot-holed. The road didn’t have very stable foundations and often heaved and sagged. This wasn’t too bad on the bike and was probably worse for the cars! Occasionally the tarmac would disappear and turn to gravel for short sections. The #15 was also a victim of the recent flooding. The road had been breached in several places in previous weeks. Although clear now, there was evidence of hay bales used as temporary dams and there were road maintenance crews attending to one flood damaged section of the road.

The #15 was flooded in several places a week ago (here’s one place I think)
A lot of bumpy, damaged pavement today…
…and gravel sections

I had no services until Nokomis at 89km, so I rode pretty much solidly for 4 hours, stopping only for photo opportunities. I took a lot of pictures of the thistles growing by the side of the road. It was quite difficult to get shots properly focussed. I’ve still got my beloved westerly wind and it kept bouncing and waving the thistle heads, to my annoyance. I resorted to steadying the stem with one hand and shooting one-handed.

IMG_3285 IMG_3289
Thistles by the roadside

At my lunch stop I had a “Smorg” (buffet lunch). These are great. A cheap fixed price meal with the ability to really load the plate up! A great cyclist’s choice.

Nice wild flowers

The land went back to being flat again as I rolled towards Raymore and the #15’s poor surface was beginning to grate a bit. I was glad to reach the small town after 137km.

Another stop tonight in small town Canada


bubba said...

hey shaun,

you won't believe this but bird no. 2 is called a red winged blackbird. you may have seen some yellow winged blackbirds out there as well.

i'm really enjoying your blog. excellent pix. keep them coming!


R & A said...

And you could have been in the storms a week ago, tight planning

Richard Dunn said...

I agree with Allen about the Red-winged Blackbird and the tern like bird is probably a tern, both Common and Forster's Tern can be seen out there. They are very similar to each other