Posted by: Silver | June 1, 2011

Lacombe to Wetaskiwin via Ponoka

Distance: 69 km
Ascent: 147 m
Cycling time: 3 hours, 40 minutes

Enjoyable as my afternoon at the Ellis Bird Farm was, its notable lack of bugs did lull me into a very dangerously false sense of security… I decided to forego the unpleasantness of covering myself in insect repellent for my ride to Wetaskiwin the next day, and for the first little while, that did seem to have been a good call. As I neared Ponoka, however, a couple of people recognized me from the advance article about my journey that had appeared in the local newspaper, and wanted to chat about SOS Children’s Villages. As soon as I stopped to talk to them, however, the hordes descended and began to eat me alive as I valiantly tried to convey my passion for the charity whilst manically waving my arms around in a vain attempt to swat the insidious marauders. I would have loved to spend more time enthusing at them about the love that SOS Children’s Villages offers to the children in its care, but the mosquitoes were showing way too much love for the exotic foreign cuisine that I was offering them, so I had to keep moving… 😦

By the time I reached Wetaskiwin, it finally became clear to me that I had inadvertently booked my stop in this town at the same time as a province-wide mosquito convention, so I was quite glad that much of my time there was necessarily spent indoors, giving interviews to the local media. There was the usual very enjoyable chat with a gentleman from the local paper in Wetaskiwin, along with a follow-up phone interview with the editor of the Ponoka News. In addition, however – after many months of procrastination – I finally plucked up the courage to do my first live radio interviews here as well! I think I did OK, but of course, you really don’t have any way of knowing with live radio…

Since this journey truly is an all-consuming, full-time job, I’ve had to give up pretty much all my hobbies for the time being, including reading; to lessen the pain of this, I try to avoid bookshops as much as I possibly can, but sometimes, the temptation is just too strong, and so it was that I found myself in a rather lovely independent bookshop on Wetaskiwin main street. I was gratified to see an entirely satisfactory number of vegetarian cookbooks in the small cookery section, and even – gasp! – one vegan recipe collection, but what amused me most was the book on ‘Gardening by the Sea’: at over 500 miles from the nearest body of salt water, I am officially the furthest away from the sea that I have ever been in my entire life!

This is fairly typical of the scenery north of Lacombe

Judging by the number of these sorts of signs that I've seen, the whole of Alberta is criss-crossed by a huge network of pipes

It'd been so long since I'd seen even a half-decent sunset, I was prepared to roll down the window of my host's truck just long enough to take this shot - before sealing myself off from the bugs once more

Wetaskiwin holds the distinction of having the oldest working municipal water tower in Canada, and it's certainly a very visible landmark in the city



  1. Greetings Silver,
    Those throngs of mosquitos are just warming you up for the Canadian Shield. I suggest putting some lead in your shoes for that section, or lighten up your gear-oil viscosity and ride it in winter!!! That’s what any self-respecting, Bug-fearing Canadian would do.

    Good to hear your stories from the road! Glad things are going well.


    PS- you get immune to the mosquito bites, and as for the emotional and spiritual effects- zen or bust baby, zen or bust! Then there are those other little unmentionable blighters….

  2. Silver, on your journey keep your eyes open for a bee keeping supply store – they sell bee keeping hooded veils which may just be the thing you need while pedalling through bug infested rural Canada – either that or lather yourself up before each ride with wonderful smelling repellent. When you decide to wear the bee keeping hooded veil, don’t forget to post a picture of yourself. 🙂


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