Saturday night was awesome because Julia let me tag along to a Jazz Concert a the Banff Center with her and her friends, Erin and Neil (both champion human beings). The Banff Center has all of these amazing art programs and the Jazz director was leaving after 10 years of being there so it was a tribute to Dave Douglas. Also in attendence was Aoife O'Donavan who is a bluegrass/folk singer. She dominated and I will admit I have a slight crush on her now. Super fun night. I love the bow valley and miss having it in my back yard. Definitly one of the places I could live on this planet.
Canmore to Calgary – 104 km
Got up Sunday morning and it was not snowing. It was cold and threating but WAY better than the day before. Most of the snow had melted with the exception of the slowly dieing snowmen made in the field across the street from Julia and Mike's place. Loaded up and said good by to my host and started the short 104 km ride to the Mehrer house. The road out of Canmore is very scenic and with all the fresh snow the contrast between the white mountains and green valley was very cool. You don't really ride out of the mountains, more the mountains just end. Its quite a transition and it is literally a wall behind you and the foothills around you. After popping out on the plains the wind picked up a lot and I rolled in Calgary like a boss with a huge tail wind. The hole ride took under 4 hours which is a bit nuts on a 70 lb bike. If I get another wind like that I am going to make up some serious ground on the two days I have lost.
I ended up staying in Calgary with good friends of mine. I love visiting with the Ed and Elsbeth and their children Greta and Erik. Els feeds me and Erik and Greta are awesome. Its a great family. Ed and I did some "research" on an upcoming video game I might be working on so my afternoon was spent working on my dexterity and apparently it needs a lot of work as Ed kicked my ass all over the place. I am going to blame it on fatigue. Bill Hunt and his wife Eryn Paterson came over for dinner with their kids, Ethan and Spencer (the “I can do it” inventor). It was amazing to be surrounded by some of the best people I know. Ed, Bill and I have hatched a plan for them to come out and ride with me from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay. I will keep you posted.
That night a bunch of people came out to the pub to say hello. It was awesome to see everyone and all the support makes this ride a lot easier. I ate everyones left overs and apparently that was entertaining...I was just hungry.
Here is what I learned yesterday:
- Wind is my friend.
- You don't ride out of the mountains...they spit you out.
- Calaway park is very unimpressive but great to see...means you are getting close.
- Riding in with no rain is so much better.
Calgary to Brooks - 192 kms total
Brett Anhorn had a surprise for me this morning and showed up at Ed's with a sticker that was made from Thomas's signature. Its awesome and its nice to have a piece of him along with me on my ride. With that set up on my bike I met up with Kevin McMahon at Calgary Cycle and we headed out. Kevin was my guide for the first 85 kms of the ride and I am sorry that I was so slow Kevin...my bike is really really heavy. Kevin is getting ready for a race next weekend in Banff and I was totally ruining his training with tank under me. This whole trip has been and exercise in changing my riding style. I am usually ripping around with my 16 lbs race bike and hammering out kilometers at a pace of 35-40 kph. Now 25 kph is a good pace and I stop often to stretch, eat and take pictures (when its not pouring rain). Kevin ruled though for riding out with me and we were able to chat the whole way on the wide shoulder. He made the morning go by fast.
I am at heart a prairie kid. The wide open space with horizon on all 4 sides makes me feel at ease and for the first time I was not wearing knee warmers, gloves and a jacket. It was an beautiful day. Because of this I was cruising and made 192 kms from door to tent today. I do have to make up some time for days lost but I think I will do this over a longer period...today however I just felt like going far.
Here is what I learned today.
- Hang gliders land in fields around Calgary after being towed up to 3000 feet and then riding thermals.
- After 4 days with no Tim Hortons I get the shakes.
- The prairies have a lot more bugs than the mountains and they all seem to really like me.
- If you forget to re apply sun screen and chamois cream you are going to have a bad time.
- Hot damn this thing is itchy
- It makes putting on sun screen difficult
- bugs seem to get stuck in it like some sort of venus fly trap
- My friend Tim, who has the most manly beard I know suggested "The key, as I see it, is to abandon all thoughts that aren't about lumberjackin' or trappin' or moonshinin'." I took his advice today but I see no results. Maybe its because I know nothing about those professions.