Flexibility is key

Stettler to Consort. DAY: 159.24km. ODO: 1,732km. AVS: 32.7km/h. MXS: 57.5km/h. ATM: 4:52.

I was up at 7:30. I made a point of getting up early to see if the wind was less powerful early on, but clearly, this isn’t necessarily the case. The speed of the north-westerly wind seemed to have doubled overnight, and the temperature seemed to have dropped substantially.

After a cup of tea and a muffin at Tim Horton’s (why will they not let you put your own damn cream and sugar in the cup? This isn’t Toronto, we don’t need any of that “double-double” crap in the west), I set out on highway 56, destined for Canmore. After one mile, during which I was blown right off the highway twice by cross-gusts, I realised that this was no longer fun, which contravenes one of my fundamental rules for this adventure. And what is the best way to make it fun? Go where the wind is going.

I returned to Stettler and took highway 12, which just happens to travel south-east, which put the wind directly behind me. I had no idea where Highway 12 would take me, and I didn’t care. The wind was at my back! So much for Edmonton. I guess I’ll have to rest my Achilles in Saskatoon in a few days.

Check out my Average Speed for the day (32.7km). As long as I kept moving, everything was fine. It was warm and it seemed like there was no wind at all, except for the speed I was travelling. As son as I stopped, though, it was freezing and I could barely get the bike (or myself) to stand up.

I don’t know who named the towns along Highway 12, but I detect a certain theme. “Fleet”. “Coronation”. “Throne”. “Veteran”. “Consort”. I stopped in “Castor” for lunch, though I’m unclear on how that one fits the perceived theme. Another of those 19 year old waitresses who barely speak. They had a sign on the wall that said “If you’re grouchy or just plain mean, a $10 surcharge with apply for having to put up with you”. I resisted the urge to ask for a $10 credit.
A few isolated drops of rain had fallen along the way, but nothing to slow me down, until shortly past Veteran, when the deluge started. It poured all the way to Consort. With the wind, and darkness resulting from the thick black clouds, it got rather cold as well. By the time I reached Consort, I was ready for rest.

As it turns out, there is only one campground near consort, about 14km north of the town. That’s 14km into the gale. I was already starting to shiver, and the prospect of finding a non-flooded ditch to camp, and cook, in was becoming intimidating, so I hauled ashore at the first B&B I found, the “Cozy Haven”. You’d think that coasting across central Alberta with the wind at your back would be relaxing, but I was pretty tired when I got there. I’m not so good at taking it easy, so I was pedaling at my normal rate (think ‘gerbil on wheel’) the whole way. I probably did as much work as if there had been no wind at all.

Sign on wall of the laundromat in Consort: “Please do not put liquor in the garbage”.

Where to next? Highway 12 turns into Highway 51 at the Saskatchewan border (about 62km away), but I’m not sure how many services there are along the way. I will have to check with the local travel info office in the morning. Consort does not have high-speed internet yet (big trucks and beer are still sufficient entertainment for many Albertans, according to my hostess, Debora who, by the way, slept with a guy that went to the same school as I in Winnipeg in 1977).

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