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Michelle's Journal

Alberta

Day Date Entry
12 Wed, July 14


Green mineral-rich water

It's ironic that various people said Rogers Pass (yesterday) was a difficult climb (it was not), but failed to mention today's climb, which was brutal. This was my hardest day since Day 3. We had a great lunch at Truffle Pigs restaurant in Field, which was recommended on a previous cross-country cyclist's Web site. After lunch, I felt sick with indigestion for a long time, climbing in the hot sun on a full stomach. Later I learned that Steve had a similar experience, which somehow made me feel better, like it validated my experience. Reaching the summit, I felt very sick, so I rested in the shade and hyperventilated for about 10 minutes. (Bill said he had had a similar heat exhaustion experience cycling in California.) We think that was the Kicking Horse Pass summit; there was no sign, but there was a tourist display across the road about the spiral tunnels that gave the history of the pass. Upon entering Alberta, we immediately felt a decline in road quality, with cracks and bumps every four feet on the Trans-Canada that were probably even harder on Steve and Sarah's thin racing tires. Steve and Sarah had booked a campsite for us to share at the Lake Louise campground, which had an electrified bear-proof fence all around the perimeter. We all ate supper together at the local restaurant, and enjoyed another evening of camaraderie at the campsite.

13 Thu, July 15 We said goodbye, and left early. The morning ride was exhilarating, an easy downhill ride on the Trans-Canada in sun with a breeze for about 80 km into Canmore. The afternoon became increasingly difficult and long, with a lot of uphill riding in glaring hot sun against strong wind. It was our longest day yet at 147K, watching and racing foreboding dark storm clouds.

Three white-tailed deer sproinged along in the fields on our left, easily clearing the fences and matching our pace. We finally found a suitable place to stop at Ghost Reservoir campground, and pitched our tent moments before being bombarded with gumball-sized hailstones. The tent survived an intense beating, but everything got a bit wet. We were grateful that Arlo and Sheila Musselman from Calgary invited us to their RV to warm up. As my clothes were wet and I was cold, Sheila kindly gave me a warm fleece, and they thoughtfully lent us a tarp to line the wet floor of our tent. It rained all night, and was our worst sleep.

14 Fri, July 16 After a cold, soggy and uncomfortable night, we awakened to hear Arlo's voice outside our tent inviting us for bacon and eggs. Wow! It was good to be back on the road and I felt strong, enjoying pushing it on the downhills for good momentum on the uphills. Unfortunately, Bill's right tendon is bothering him, so we've made it a shorter day and will take a rest day. I don't have any serious injuries, but the fourth and fifth fingers on my right hand are numb, just like Bill's exact same fingers. Bill says this is common among cyclists, and they'll return to normal a week after we stop cycling (in October!) They're still fully useable, but since I'm a classical musician and have been cautioned since childhood to avoid damage to fingers (e.g. no volleyball), it's a bit disconcerting. Also, unlike Bill, each time we resume after a short break, I have intense pain in my thighs for the first dozen or so pedal-strokes (maybe lactic acid build-up?) and then it goes away. Nothing major! Airdrie is a Calgary commuters' satellite city, like Mississauga is to Toronto, and everything is booked at inflated rates during the Calgary Stampede. We visited the Airdrie Museum, and their helpful staff pointed us toward the Crossfield motel.
15 Sat, July 17 We chose not to stop in Banff or Calgary to make faster progress toward Saskatoon, so it's ironic that we're now in a tiny prairie town for 1 1/2 days that doesn't even have any internet access. Apparently there's an internet café in Olds, but that's about three hours of bike riding in 30 degree hot sun - not a good move on a rest day. So we'll live today in a world without city attractions and internet. It's interesting being removed from the sphere of work and societal obligations. Colleagues' insistence that we must see X or Y on our travels don't have the same influence. We don't have to do things we're conditioned to believe we have to do. We've met several former city-dwellers who made a lifestyle choice to move to the B.C. wilds, and I can see why.
16 Sun, July 18 We got up at 5:30 and started riding at 6:45. The first 40K were enjoyable and easy, slightly downhill in a comfortable, coolish climate. Then the hot sun came out and the rest of the ride, particularly doing the uphills while being scorched, was an exercise in tolerance. Today was our highest average speed to date, and we arrived in Drumheller quite early. Drumheller is like a big dinosaur theme park, with a dinosaur museum just outside town and dinosaur statues everywhere - it must be fun for kids! We're staying at River Grove campground, which has the nicest campground bathrooms so far, and many trees for shade. There were more bugs here than we'd seen so far, swarming, crawling and biting. The air in the tent was too hot and thick for me to breathe, so I slept outside on the ground for a few hours until it cooled off. It seems the bugs left me alone, or perhaps I was just too tired to notice them.

17 Mon, July 19 In Sue's coffee shop in Delia, we enjoyed a tasty Egg McSue breakfast. The locals said a group of about 50 cross-Canada cyclists passed through about a week ago, ranging from a 17-year-old to an old gentleman with a long beard. They said one of the cyclists had been hit and killed by a speeding car driver near Beiseker, Alberta (along our route), and all the cyclists were pretty upset.

Post-script, Feb. 8, 2005: Today in the McGill alumni magazine, I saw a death notice that said Colin Krivy died in Beiseker, Alberta on August 22. Although the date was a month late, I had a gut feeling he was the cyclist, so I looked him up. Yes, it was him. Colin from Toronto was 37. He died on July 11. After a decade feeling unfulfilled working in Ontario courts, the award-winning playwright quit his job to make a new start, sold his house, and paid $3,600 to do this bike trip with 32 other cyclists. "He wanted to teach English and dramatic arts. He felt unfulfilled," said his father, Boris, a Queen's Counsel. "We were all so excited for him — and relieved for him," said Tom McGillis, a television writer and producer. "As soon as he made his decision, there was something so active about him." As another who chose to leave an unfulfilling decade in the legal profession to follow the heart and live more fully, I'm glad he escaped, but sad that his experience was so tragically brief.

 
Colin Krivy

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