Posted by: Silver | June 7, 2011

Spruce Grove to Mayerthorpe

Distance: 109 km
Ascent: 577 m
Cycling time: 6 hours, 47 minutes

After my helpfully laid back, uneventful time in Spruce Grove, there’s a bumper crop of possible topics to talk about this time:

First, there’s the matter of cycling with a poorly foot. Actually, it was completely fine – even though I’d somehow overlooked the fact that, during a full day’s ride such as this, one does have to get off the trike and go tramping over uneven ground into the bushes the odd time or two… The cycling would have been comfortable pretty much from day one, I’m sure, but as for these other aspects of the journey, well, let’s just say I was quite glad I’d re-jigged my schedule to give my foot an extra day’s rest in Spruce Grove…

Then there’s the fact that I had to wear my winter gear in June. In June! The forecast promised it would warm up from the 3ºC start, but I’m not sure it ever really did. I mean, I know I’m heading north ‘n’ all that, but come on: last June in the Yukon, it was over 30ºC! Still, at least I avoided the snow that many nearby areas got… Yes, snow. In June!

Or how about my closest encounter yet with a bear? There she was, sitting right at the edge of the bushes by the road, just kinda hangin’ out, with her front paws crossed, looking up at me. I’m pretty bad at estimating distances, but I reckon she was certainly closer than the distance across a standard swimming pool (and yes, I do mean the width, not the length…). She was so incredibly, beautifully neat and shiny black that it was easy to see why people sometimes forget how dangerous they can be, but before I’d even had time to remember that maybe I should be a bit concerned by the situation, she’d turned tail and run off into the bush. Perhaps her friends back home had warned her that she wouldn’t make it through her first season without getting eaten by a cyclist…

Then, when I got to Mayerthorpe, I was taken to my first ever rodeo! Not some tourist-trap show, but real live cowboys demonstrating their horsemanship skills for the entertainment of the (mainly) local townspeople. I really was quite taken with it all! The level of skill was clearly very impressive – even to someone whose only real understanding of such matters is a first-hand knowledge of how much it hurts when you fall off – and an all-too-brief conversation with my host gave me my first indication that there’s a whole lot more to bronc* riding than simply managing to not fall off. Rather like figure-skating, points are awarded for style and elegance as well as technical competency; it was all quite fascinating, and I would have loved to learn more, but after my long ride, I fear I was too tired even to get my act together sufficiently to ask them to mention SOS Children’s Villages over the PA system 😦 (They did announce the presence of other out-of-town guests)

But perhaps the most remarkable thing to report from this leg of the journey was the fact that the food van at the rodeo… had vegeburgers! Yes, vegeburgers! At a rodeo!! I was deeply impressed…

* For those of you who, like me, thought the horses were called bucking broncos, I have to report that the final ‘o’ seems not to be favoured around these parts.

Where would we be without velcro straps?! I still didn't think my foot would be up to clipping out of the pedal, so I improvised. At this point, I was extremely glad I'd opted for the M324 pedals, with SPD clips on one side, but an ordinary platform on the other

Now here's a luxury I've never had before: a two-lane shoulder! Clearly so that all those sporty little-boy-racer uprights could overtake me on the uphill...

The final 8km of my journey was along an unpaved road. It's the furthest I've ever had to go on gravel. It took me an hour...

Bronc ridin' cowboy at the Wildwood Rodeo

The post-rodeo party: more cowboy hats than you could shake a stick at

No, not the most amazing wildlife shot ever: I was staying on a bison ranch, and the guys weren't shy

Ranger makes a new friend: Duke, the farm cat



  1. Hi Silver

    Enjoying catching up on your blog this morning. Always a pleasure to read about your on-going adventures.

    Sorry to hear about the trip-up off the step. Ouch! I hope your foot heals quickly.

    All the best to you on your continuing journey.


    WWOOF Canada

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