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Calgary, Alberta

The ride across the praries has been slow and tough, mainly due to strong headwinds most days, plus bitterly cold mornings meaning I have tended to start later in the day, not wanting to get out of my sleeping bag while it’s still below freezing outside.

Each day I’ve been at the mercy of the weather.

I remember speaking to someone a while back – can’t remember when or where exactly – who reckoned they could control the weather. By “they” I don’t mean them, the person who was speaking, I mean (or he meant) “They” – the usual “They” – US Government, military etc. And not just in a small way, but he reckoned maybe “They” created the hurricane that hit New Orleans. Would the Americans do that to their own people? I asked. Maybe it was the Chinese, or the Russians, he said. I remember being skeptical, and at the time the weather wasn’t a big issue to me, but now it is.

It was great to spend last night in a warm bed, even though it’s in a dorm with 4 others. The first night in a warm bed for almost two weeks.

I’ve been camping, mainly in cheap or free campsites – some have closed for the season – but also in a rest area off the highway and outside Saskatchewan’s closed Tourist Welcome Centre.

That’s enough of camping for a while. Apparently there’s snow in Banff, and here in Calgary this morning it was frosty and misty, so for the mountain stretch I will be staying in hostels and motels.

After two days of particularly strong headwinds in Saskatchewan I had one day with perfect cycling conditions as I crossed into Alberta, but still it was a struggle as my left knee – the bit behind the knee really, whatever you call that – which has been plagueing me on and off since Quebec, returned with a vengeance. I had to stop every 10km and do stretching exercises which would keep the pain away for a while, but by the end of the day as I cycled through Medicine Hat (no idea why it’s called that) it was really just my right leg doing all the work. To make myself feel better I shouted abuse at passing cars and trucks, especially the ones which don’t use the outside lane to overtake.

There’s been a four lane divided highway all across the praries mostly with very little traffic, and yet still some cars and some trucks can’t be bothered to pull out into the outside lane in order to overtake a bike. On the windy days, particularly when the wind was coming from the South West, which it was on a few days, this could have a big effect since you’re cycling along, leaning to compensate for the wind that’s trying to push you off the road and then this thing comes along and blocks out the wind and you’re then being dragged into its slipstream into the road and have to fight to stay on the shoulder. The trucks are usuallly good at pulling out into the outside line – it’s the RVs that are the worst offenders. They’re often the size of a coach but they don’t seem to realize it, or they don’t care.