We were so tired this morning! I didn't even hear the alarm go off (for once Michael actually heard it). He pressed snooze, and apparently accidentally turned it off (or we just never heard it go off again and it gave up on us). I woke up at 6:30 and checked the time and realized we slept in! We fell asleep last night at around 9pm, that should have been tons of rest! However, we had a long day of pure headwind yesterday (and the day before, and the day before). But, that only played a small role in our fatigue. The biggest reason was fear. We camped out at the side of the road last night (Bruce told us the other night that it wouldn't be a problem at all through the prairies to northern Ontario if we just camped out at the side of the road and we shouldn't waste our money paying for camping! People are nice in this area of Canada (unlike his experience in Toronto, where he and Lyanne felt people were more like cattle, and even the cattle out here is friendlier). So, that's what we did! But both Michael and I were woken up at midnight (exactly. Michael checked) by someone walking around outside, chanting. It was a weird melodic chant that was a different language (I thought it sounded almost like a native chant). We were freaked because there was NOTHING around (we were just on the outside of a field, but the farm or house was FAR off in the distance (and you can see FAR in the prairies!). There was NO reason for someone to just be walking around in the dark, alone, at midnight. We didn't hear a car start (but one might have) after the chanting was gone. I thought it was a woman's voice (which would be weirder I think), and Michael thought it was a man's voice. It was just so soft and melodic, almost eerie. It was the first time we thought, instead of being afraid of wildlife, we should be afraid of humans while we're sleeping. It sucked too because after the person was gone, because the winds were SO strong, it sounded like someone was walking around the entire rest of the night. I took out my bear spray and had it at the ready (literally right beside me all night), and put on my headlamp to check outside to see if people were actually walking around. No one was there (keep in mind this was probably like 10min after the chanting stopped, so that person would have been long gone. It was to check out to see if people were walking around the tent). As consolation, Michael pointed out that the chanting sounded very non-threatening, so it was as if either, he didn't realize we were there, or wanted to let us know he was there (to not scare us), in a non-threatening manner. Still scared the shit out of us. So Michael and I were awake for a large portion of the night, with bear spray at the ready, and a plan of attack in our heads in case we needed it (and don't worry, Michael checked before we even set up camp, he had cell reception, so we could have called 911 if necessary). But thankfully, it turns out it was nothing! And all it did was scare us, make us lose sleep, and make us re-think staying at the side of the road where we're in plain sight in the prairies (at least in BC, most of Alberta, and Ontario eastward, we can hide in the trees so won't be bothered by anyone, and if we keep food far from the tent, won't be bothered by animals either). But now onto today. We woke up early to get a big, long day of cycling in. We needed to cover some ground! Unfortunately, the wind didn't agree! It was just as bad, if not worse than yesterday (so many times during the night, we were woken by the howling winds, and would wake up with the thought of “oh fuck, we'll have to face that tomorrow!”). It took us just over 2hrs to only do like 33km! In that time, the rain started, and the wind was relentless! We were going to stop at the info center to ask about the weather for the next few days (to plan our route to best optimize tail winds, which we have seen none of lately!). But, we got distracted by a Tim Hortons and decided to stop in to warm and dry ourselves up a bit. We ordered a hot drink (tea for me, coffee for Michael), and a 20 pack of timbits. Outside the weather just got worse! People in the tables beside us were talking to us and impressed with our cycle (and impressed we were cycling through this weather! Everyone recommended just taking the day off because 5 inches of rain is expected for the day, and it's a brutal wind that goes back and forth between a headwind and a northerly wind (traveling at 50km/hr). When we finished our drinks, we weren't ready to hit the road yet so we ordered more food, and with it came another hot drink! In that time, about 2-3 different groups of people came and went in the tables and chairs beside us, and we ended up talking to all of them. Some showed us the weather and wind reports for the next few days. Then, the last group of people we met belonged to the Saskatoon cycling club. They were headed down south of Calgary for a three day, 100km/day tour where their gear was being transported separately and their accommodation was already arranged. One of the guys holds the record for the most recorded kilometers cycled (with the club, he has clocked over 100,000kms!). They also recommended taking the day off. It was fun to talk to them about our trip, and hear about their different experiences! It was great! After they left, we realized if we wanted to cover some ground, we had better hit the road! Once we stepped outside, we realized we should take everyone's advice because the winds were brutal, and the rain was just pouring! We started cycling to the info center to find out the best place to stay, when it felt like something was pulling me back and I realized my rack broke already! When Aaron did it, it took weeks of cycling before it broke, and while it was installed it was SECURE. It didn't move around at all. Even when the duct tape and zip ties were make-shiftedly used, it was secure. But about 100km after leaving Calgary, I noticed the rack was VERY wobbly! And look, it lasted what? Three days after they “fixed” it!? What a waste of $400! I would definitely not recommend that bike shop! But we quickly tied it together with a zip tie, until we could properly fix it somewhere dry (and by properly fix it, I mean without blowing tons of money and using duct tape and zip ties again). We were miserably wet and cold! We found the cheapest hotel room (we asked the girls working at the gas station where they would recommend and they said it's a really expensive town because of all the oil being pumped around here, so the cheapest room we could find would be crossroads or somewhere else. Crossroads was cheapest, so we went there). Let me tell you, you get less than you pay for! That's for sure! The room is shabby at best! The carpet is stained, the bathroom door doesn't close, the wind keeps opening the door leading outside (we put a chair and table in front of it to keep it shut, and we lock it with the chain lock), need I continue? But it's the cheapest place in town (surprised?). So, although we could be very productive out in town, we haven't left the motel because it's so terrible out! The area is expected to have 75mm by tomorrow, with prevalent winds at 50km/hr (with wind gusts at 57km/hr). Did I mention headwind? So clearly, we stayed indoors, called home, watched some TV, updating our blog, etc. So, time for bed before a big day tomorrow! (hopefully...unless there are horrible headwinds again!).
Posted by Nicole