Wow, apparently I have a lot to say about my first full day in the prairies.
Get Up and Go
After awakening at sun rise on my patch of grass alongside the highway, I decided to get an early start to the day. Since I hadn’t set-up my tent, and had left most of my gear packed on the bike, it was easy to roll “out of bed” and hit the road.
But first things first, I wanted to explore this little town of Cluny that I was oh so determined to reach the day prior in order to keep my KMs on track.
I also was on the hunt for a good breakfast.
After taking a right off of the highway and very long hill down (that I knew I would have to fight my way back up later), I found the Cluny sign, and even more exciting, the “Pete’s Bakery” sign. Whoever this Pete is, he sounds amazing!!
By the time I arrived at the bakery, it was nearly 7:00am, and they didn’t actually open until 9:00am. I had been so “go go go” for the past couple of days, so it was nice to just take the time to sit down at the picnic table outside of the store, take a breather and catch up on blog posts, and life.
The bakery had opened, and turns out these guys were much more than a bakery! A general store, a restaurant, and yes a bakery. And the very back of the shop was Pete, the legend himself. I was told the man has a heart of gold.
I loaded up on everything, including carbs, and a Gatorade.
And had the pleasure of chatting with two of the employees; the first lady (I didn’t catch her name) who was extremely kind and spent a solid 10 mins trying to get me the wifi password, and Vanessa, who told me a bit more about Cluny’s history.
She informed me that Cluny is in fact not a town, not a village, but a hamlet! With a population of 72. Within a month, you know everyone, and everyone knows you.
And just from sitting there at the picnic table for a couple hours and interacting with a few locals, I could tell it was a very different pace of life. A nice one.
I was also told to check out to the old church that was for sale for $35,000 up the road, which could be converted as a house. $35,000 though!!
The Wind Dance
My friend, Emma, from back in BC (who had already done a sun dance for me when the rain wouldn’t stop earlier in the trip) had taken my new request and performed this simply artful “wind dance” to help me combat the intense prairie crosswinds and headwinds.
Well whatever she told the Wind Gods, it worked. The winds ceased almost immediately. Maybe they’re fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (The band to which she was jamming out to.)
And yes she gave full approval to post this for the world to see hahaha. Thanks for that, Emma. 😂 🙌🏻
The conditions seemed near perfect. Until I realized how savage that sun really is in the prairies, and how shade is so hard to come by. You can go entire 20km+ stretches without a single tree in between.
I had found one of them trees and made the most of the opportunity, to get a good lunch break in. Needless to say, the shade felt amazing.
Even though I was lathered in sunscreen, I knew I was roasting. These prairies are going to be rough.
Gas Stations; Critical Checkpoints
Another thing I’ve learned about this trip is that gas stations are absolutely critical to doing these long treks. Every one you see could be the last in a long time. You gotta be resourceful and opportunistic.
There, you can stock up on water, electrolytes, food, and for this one, even power (randomly found the outlet at the back of the station when I went there to leave my bike so that it wouldn’t get stolen.)
I arrived at my goal destination for the night, Tilley, which this one would classify as a village, with a population of roughly 300. My mission was simple, finding a backyard to crash in for the night.
After some curious looks, and a few no-answers after ringing the door bell, I came across a lady sitting on her backyard porch. I told her about my super random request, and my ride across the country, and she was extremely accommodating!
Her name is Alana. She told me that I could have the section of grass behind the yard. She also later generously offered me a meal, but it was too late as I had already gone to town to pick up a quick dinner! Kinda wish I hadn’t because the bowl of pasta sounded amazing.
Completely exhausted, I didn’t even make it awake past 8:00pm that night.
- Route: Cluny, AB —> Tilley, AB
- Distance: 118km
- Elevation Gain: 350m