Sunday, 4 July 2010

Land of the Dinosaurs

2nd July: Airdrie to Drumheller

Odometer: 116 km, Start: 9.00am, Finish: 4.00pm, Avg: 23.2 km/h,
Weather: Cloudy with westerly wind, Temp: 10-19°C
Bear count: 5, Moose count: 1, Mosquito Bites: 34, Hills walked: 0
Road Conditions: #567, 1m shoulder good. Traffic light. #9, 3-4m shoulder good until 57km then older road being updated Jun 2010. Traffic light. (I turned off here and took #22N/#575E). Services Irricana (30km) and Besiseker (41km). Ascent: 300m up/700m down.

Hooray! The wind changed around overnight and I had a nice tailwind for most of the day and made good progress to Drumheller - the self-proclaimed "Dinosaur Capital of the World"!

I’m now riding through very flat and featureless land (except around Drumheller). There is no cover on the road; no hedges and very few trees or bushes. Just the road, a straight ribbon of black resting on the green landscape. I’m travelling due east now for about 1,300km across the Prairies, hopefully blessed with the prevailing westerly winds! Any strong headwinds over the coming days would be nothing short of wretched!

Endless straight roads from now on. Horizon 12km away...

I think I averaged 28km/h for the first hour with the wind’s help today. I only had to pedal lightly to maintain my pace. If I’d had a sail, I’d have been even faster!

I had two choices for (early) lunch. I choose Beiseker and had an enormous meal of pancakes and oatmeal and a bottomless tea for C$7! Banff and Lake Louise this wasn’t! And all the better for it.

My cheap lunch stop. Great!

I was expecting a continuation of the fast riding conditions after lunch and at first that happened. Then after 3/4 hour or so (and another 20km) I could see large dust clouds about the road ahead (probably another 10km away). Signs later indicated major roadworks on the #9. I didn’t want to go near the dust and dirt, so I took a left turn and made my way to a parallel secondary road and took that to Drumheller instead. I avoided the dirt, but the secondary road was a bit bumpy and I also missed a view of the beautiful Horseshoe Canyon that I was keen to see.

Quite a lot of storage silos around here

As I approached Drumheller, the road dropped into the river valley. This valley has sedimentary layered cliff faces on both sides. It’s quite a strange looking geological feature.

Dropping into Drumheller Valley
Close to the sedimentary layered cliff
Farming in the valley

After arriving in Drumheller, I managed to get one of the last tent spaces near to town. (It’s Canada’s “long weekend” and tourist spots are very busy). Tomorrow I leave the crowds behind and continue due east. It’s going to get a bit lonely on the road for quite a while. Let the mind games begin…

Welcome to Drumheller!
Reed Deer River, Drumheller
He's behind you...

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