Home > Day to Day > Let the prairies reign (and rain they will!) Youngstown AB to Kindersley SK

Let the prairies reign (and rain they will!) Youngstown AB to Kindersley SK

We rose to rain pelting the steel roof and veiled windows. We took our time – no sense to hurry. By 8:30 there was a rainbow and blue patches peeking through the clouds. Landen and I set off, attired to deal with rain.
The terrain was familiar. So were the nasty shoulders of the road. We stepped up our pace. Overtook everyone who started out ahead of us. The reason for this haste? Not just a desire for speed. Nor as insurance against the weather turning nasty again. I was asked to speak at Kindersley’s Canada Day Fair, at 3 pm.
Landen and I rotated lead position regularly. The ride was challenging but simple – spin legs quickly and pick the right gears. This gave me time to reflect. And my mind went to…smells. So I closed my eyes and … just kidding!
Riding in Toronto provided a rich palette of scents. Rural riding is different. Most of the time I only smell clean air! Here this changes in two ways: with a surprise, or with lower speed / stopping.
What is a smell surprise? Two days ago I rode through normal rural air when suddenly I passed through a veil of honey! The aroma was so intoxicating that I whipped my head this way and that, to find the source. To no avail. A little while later this happened again. And the mystery remained.
Other scent surprises come from flowers and trees. Or the unmistakable stench of scorched brake pads, applied in a panic. Or fresh manure spread on fields. And one distinct and sad smell – that of fear. It assaults you when an animal transport goes by. It’s ingredients are urine and feces and terror.

In motion scents are fleeing. When you slow down or stop the smells are anything but transient. First comes the smell of the the weather: the crisp of ‘cold’, the musk of ‘heat’, the clean of ‘rain’ — approaching, and in its aftermath. Other smells thrust forward: the earth, plants and trees, animals (alive and dead), and some that are not familiar. And then we start moving again and leave the scents behind.
We leave many things behind. In a flash its “Alberta, we hardly knew you!” At the boundary with Saskatchewan are endless yellow Canola fields. In the distance is a strange sphere that feels ‘military’; on a hill is a tractor graveyard; ahead is a welcoming sign and…wonderful road shoulders! Gone are the rumble strips and the crudely repaired cracks that jarred our bodies. Now we rode over wonderfully smooth pavement! And the area felt strangely different – more expansive yet more inhabited. In a good way. And the northern wind which had been half-helping, half-hindering our progress now became a full fledged tailwind.
Time was tight. Landen upped the pace and I kept up with him, panting. The superb road climbed and fell. And then we entered Kindersley, with 15 minutes to spare. I verified the destination and kept going toward the tourist information center. And then I saw The Plains Museum, my destination, right next to it!
I met my contact, Wayne, who took me to the grandstand where an elderly crooner belted out a Country & Western ballad. When he finished he handed the microphone to Wayne who introduced me as a special guest who would speak about cycling across Canada. Few of the hundreds of adults and kids milling around the rides and concession stands took notice. I spoke briefly about giving gifts to ourselves and to others and why this ride and SchoolBOX mattered to me. A few more people stopped to listen. When I was done I had an audience of about 20. The owner of the local paper took my photo. And then I headed to the campground.
At night we were treated to a wonderful steak and chicken dinner, with baked taters and salad and two types of cheesecake. And when the mother-daughter team that own and run this restaurant at the golf & country club heard about my ride they each handed me $40, and many God Blesses and wishes for success!
Back at put campsite I am wrapping up my notes. It is chilly and the mosquitoes are feasting…time to turn in. Another long ride awaits.

imageFields of Canola in Alberta
imageMore Canola; this is one of Saskatchewan’s main agricultural products (in addition to mosquitoes)
imageGetting ready to leave the road shoulders from hell…what will Saskatchewan’s be like?
imageStrange (military?) structure on the Alberta – Saskatchewan border (or is it boundary?)
imageThe DMZ (De-militarized Zone — sadly, not the De-Mosquito-ed Zone :-))
imageThe Greater Memorial to Dead Tractors

One more province behind us!!! (Speed now changes to 110 kph.)

“Fueled by Equator coffee!”

Categories: Day to Day
  1. July 10, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    What a beautiful description of the power acute of smell!

  2. July 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    As the weather improves, so are your images….:-)) and your self portrait with a wide grin on your face….. Way to go Ilan…. keep on riding!!! Love, Avi

  3. July 3, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Ilan, this expedition is so much more than a fundraising trip. What you are learning and sharing about Canada is valuable. We are all getting glimpses of new places, beautiful people and special moments. I am inspired. See you soon. Love Daryl

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