Posted by: Silver | May 8, 2011

Hillcrest to Pincher Creek

Distance: 43 km
Ascent: 255 m
Cycling time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Weeeeeeeeeeee! So, it’s all downhill till Ontario now – isn’t it? Actually, as you can see from the fact that I still climbed over 250 m during the course of this ride, it isn’t all downhill now, but the change from British Columbian cycling was certainly immediately noticeable. When I decided to go with the hydraulic disc brake upgrade for Ranger, the main reason I cited was my desire to still be able to stop when careering down the Rockies. Once again, however, the Rockies laughed in the face of my expectations. Instead of the sinuous, vertiginous descent I imagined, the route out of the Crowsnest Pass was actually fairly straight and gentle; I topped 60 km/h a couple of times, but nothing to break any speed limits… which is just as well, since Ranger was once again attracting attention – this time from the local RCMP officer. Having a police car pull up next to you on the road may strike fear and irrational assumptions of guilt into many people’s hearts, but I knew I had nothing to worry about: “That’s a really neat rig y’got there! How far y’goin’?”. He was suitably impressed with both Ranger and my journey, and I was suitably impressed that, for possibly the first time ever, a man managed to get through an entire conversation with me about my trike without asking how much it cost…

Pincher Creek was my first prairie destination, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps it was just the novelty of such a sudden and complete change of landscape, perhaps it was just the novelty of seeing so much blue sky, but whatever it was, I did like it. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of wildlife I saw and heard: my visions of endless, sterile, monoculture fields were shattered by deer, elk, moose, prairie dogs, frogs and birds of many shapes and sizes still reassuringly roaming around like they owned the place.

Not that I had huge amounts of time for wildlife-watching: the reporter from a paper further along my route rang for a phone interview just as I was battling with the projector for my presentation to the local Rotary Club, and another emailed to set up a photo shoot at my next destination while I was being interviewed by a chap from the paper in Pincher Creek; in a different world, I might have thought it was all a bit stressful, but in this abnormality that I’ve come to call normal life, it was just a very happy sign that my journey is working 🙂

"I don't think we're in BC anymore, Ranger..."

And I thought I was the strangest thing on the road

We headed south - and it was still winter down there! Waterton Lakes National Park is evidently a little higher up than Pincher Creek

It may still have been winter in Waterton, but I wasn't about to let an 8ft snowdrift stop me getting to the chocolate...

I may have seen plenty of elk on the elk ranch in the Yukon, but these were my first wild ones

And then, only a few minutes later, the first moose that I've managed to take a picture of as well!

The Rockies may be big, but the Albertan skies are even bigger...

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