Posted by: Silver | May 10, 2011

Pincher Creek to Fort Macleod (and beyond!)

Distance: 81 km
Ascent: 293 m
Cycling time: 3 hours, 42 minutes

As I know I have mentioned before, Ranger is a beautifully engineered bit of gear. As I know I have also mentioned before, the fairing is not. So it didn’t really come as any great surprise to me that the first thing to break on my journey would be the fairing. I’d noticed on my previous ride that the hinge (which allows me to tip the fairing forward for easy entry and exit) was a bit loose, but the moment I tried to tighten the bolt, it just gave up completely and my fairing developed the most inconvenient case of brewer’s droop. With no facilities for re-tapping the thread at that point, my only option was to tie the floppy fairing mount to the main chassis of the trike in order to hold it upright (please note: this is not a recommended procedure for other cases of brewer’s droop…). And the only item I had on hand for making this repair was… a spare shoestring – which seemed somehow entirely appropriate, given my budget for this journey. Anyway, once Ranger was suitably strapped, the journey proceeded uneventfully (if somewhat inelegantly whenever I had to try and extract myself from behind the fairing without being able to tilt it out of the way). It was rather longer than I’d been expecting, though: entirely my own fault for forgetting that, when a Canadian says they live ‘near’ a town, that could easily be 30 km or more from the town itself!

Fortunately, however, I had an ally. Before I even started this journey, I had an inkling of what might lie ahead: “You will be going west to east, won’t you?” advised a Canadian friend. “There’s a lot of wind turbines ‘round southern Alberta,” another informed me, “and there’s a reason for that…” Within Canada, if nowhere else, the prairie winds are famous. And from my extremely limited experience thus far, I am happy to report that they do indeed normally seem to blow from west to east. It’s not just the flatter terrain that’s been bumping my average speed up by around 50%!

I took this photo en route as I'd never seen so many horses in the same place at the same time; when my host later pointed out the large horse butchering plant outside town (for export to France, apparently), the pieces sadly started to fit together...

Some people say the prairies aren't beautiful, but I say they're just not looking up high enough

I'm not quite sure how Ranger felt about being herded into a cattle truck, but I certainly appreciated my host sparing me from having to cycle 4 miles down a gravel road to get to his house

The Fort that gave Fort Macleod its name (although, apparently, they dropped the 'Fort' bit for a while, because they thought it didn't sound posh enough... or something!) But, in keeping with the fort's origins as the centre of law enforcement in these parts, proper order was eventually restored, Macleod went back to being Fort Macleod, and the fort became a tourist attraction

Apparently, Noble is the name of the chap who invented this plough blade (specially designed for prairie soils), not a comment on its moral character...

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