Posted by: Silver | May 28, 2011

Sylvan Lake to Red Deer

Distance: 30 km
Ascent: 195 m
Cycling time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

To misquote one of my favourite movies: some day, the weather and I are going to have a serious disagreement. It wasn’t my journey that was adversely affected this time, though, but my main awareness-raising opportunity…

As you can see from the statistics, my ride this time was hardly even a warm-up in length, the shoulder on highway 11 was wonderfully wide, and the rain was light enough to be overlookable. Indeed, there would have been almost nothing to say about the journey at all, had it not been for the cycle paths in Red Deer itself…

I’m never going to complain about any community that takes the trouble to put in cycle paths, but I couldn’t help feeling that no-one in Red Deer had ever actually spoken to a cyclist during the planning of the path on which I found myself: not only was the surface composed of separate concrete blocks (causing me to wish – pretty much for the first time – that I’d gone with the full suspension option for Ranger), but, after taking me across a busy bridge on a separate sidewalk (which was much appreciated), the cycle path just disappeared, with no dropped curb or any other safe means of rejoining the road again. I had no choice but to keep cycling along the sidewalk, which veered off round a corner that I didn’t want to go round, and forced me to go quite a distance out of my way before there was finally a safe place where I could get back on the road and turn round. Not helpful! My host later pointed out quite a few other poor planning decisions around the city, which is a shame, as Red Deer overall struck me as quite a nice place.

In addition to my usual awareness-raising activities (talking to the local paper, giving a presentation to the local service club, etc.), I was very excited to discover that I would be in Red Deer on ‘Cruise Night’ – a popular gathering of classic car and bike enthusiasts. Ranger may not be motor-powered, but he generally seems to go down pretty well with all lovers of wheeled transport, and the organizer was very enthusiastic about allowing me to use the event to spread the word about SOS Children’s Villages. My appearance that evening was announced on the radio, mentioned on Facebook, and discussed with the mall that hosts the event: it was going to be a great opportunity to attract a lot of attention for the charity… until a late afternoon shower caused them to cancel the whole thing. Frustratingly, the evening itself turned out fine and dry, but by that point, the caterers, musicians and everyone else had been called off, so the opportunity was lost. My disappointment was compounded by the fact that I had to cycle 5 km uphill to discover this, as no-one thought to alert me to the fact that I was now the special guest at nothing, but like I say – at least it wasn’t raining…

At least the rain was light enough for picture-taking this time: look at the lovely green trees! And look at the width of the shoulder!! With no rumble strip!!!

One of the shopping malls in Red Deer really played on the city's ranching roots

Look! It must be spring! Ickle bitty goslings on the lake - so cuuuuute!

I didn't see any red deer in Red Deer, but I did see this red squirrel snacking away in one of the city's network of attractive parks

Maybe it was just the profusion of green brought on by the rains that made Red Deer seem so lovely, but there certainly was a lot of green...

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