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Hi y'all! 

 If it's not abundantly clear by now, I'm terrible at posting. Just really truly awful. But I'm going to fix that! Regular updates from now on.

Instead of going back and describing everything up to this point, this post will just be a snapshot of where I currently am and how things are going. In upcoming posts I'll try and retrace where I've been to catch you all up to the present. 

As I write, I'm in Regina, taking a rest day. I'm staying with a lovely couple who have opened their doors to me for two nights. Tonight, my partner is driving out from Calgary and we'll be spending the weekend camping at Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, then on Monday I'll be dropped off at the edge of Regina to continue my ride eastward. Next major stop is Winnipeg, which I'm hoping to hit in just over a week.

It was an incredible feeling yesterday to see a sign for Winnipeg on the highway. I'd driven through BC a couple dozen times, and lived in Toronto, seeing a good portion of South Ontario, but I've never physically moved through the space between Calgary and Ottawa. That space always seemed nebulous, in flux. I visited Winnipeg a few months ago for a wedding, but flying in, seeing a small portion of the city, then flying out, Winnipeg had no sense of place in my head. It could have been anywhere in that vast gulf. Seeing a sign for Winnipeg, I feel like I've threaded a ribbon from Calgary through the prairies, pulling these places from abstract dimensions and tying them into a concrete architecture. It gives me a greater respect for the spaces we inhabit and the environments in between; gives me a greater sense of place in my country. 

 Prairie thoughts:

In a lot of ways, the prairies are more difficult to ride than the Rockies. True, flatness is a boon, but I'll take an uphill ride over a headwind any day. About five days ago I was battling a headwind/crosswind combo, in 30+ degree heat; a major contender for the worst day of my life. Not only is it physically taxing, but gusts of wind on a unicycle, when you're trying to balance and move in a straight line, are utterly infuriating. By the end of the day my throat was raw from screams of rage and cursing - the only viable way to let out my frustration while riding. Normally it takes me just under three hours to ride 50km. That day it took nine hours.  

Tailwinds provide a nice balm for that hell. For the past three days I've had strong tailwinds that push my average speed from 20km/h to 23-25km/h and the day sails by. 

Regardless of wind, you also have to contend with the view. I can appreciate what people say about the stunning nature of the prairies, the expansive, dramatic skies. Growing up in the mountains, however, being constantly cradled by peaks all around, I've developed mild agoraphobia. The prairies are practically the antithesis of a comfortable environment (prairies and open ocean, which I can't stand) and I find myself always slightly on edge, exposed, irrationally hoping to see a ridgeline appearing on the horizon to mark some, any, boundary to the edge of the world.  

Overall though, the journey has been tremendous. I'll make sure to tell more stories soon.  

 

A Bad Day? Spoke too soon

I've never blogged in my life, so y'all are probably going to have to suffer through some initial stumbles before I get better at this.

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I keep expecting to see a Viking longboat round the corner. The sound of voices shouting in unison drifts across the lake. Undefineable shouting punctuated by the occasional "One! Two!" Oarsmen straining to the commands of the war chief, striking out to attack the shore of this small BC lake. Oh, there they are. Not fierce Norseman, but still exciting: two long canoes piloted by ten rowers each, very slowly making their way over the water, very slowly becoming defineable. Little caterpillars creeping across the surface, legs flailing for purchase and propulsion. And then they're gone, the slow crawl only slow from a distance, their speed deceptively fast as they soar by. 

I'm sitting on the edge of this lake where I've pitched my tent for the night after riding 70km today, relaxing before I continue the ride tomorrow, another 60km to Hope where I'll spend the night.

Two days ago I packed up my unicycle in a box and took an uneventful bus trip from Canmore to Langley, where I was staying with a family friend. Yesterday my ride officially started. I was driven out to Vancouver (without my stuff - an easy first day to start), and rode to Port Moody where I dipped my tire in the Pacific. From there I rode a few hours back to Langley - all in all, about a 50km journey in three hours. Then I prepared myself for my first 'actual' day, leaving the comforts of a house and riding with everything I'll need strapped to my uni. 

Day 2 started in the rain, which eased then increased for 35km, from Langley to Mission. Along the way, I heard a snap. Shit, a broken spoke. Particularly troublesome when the length I need, 369mm, is not common stock for bike shops. No replacement in sight. I carefully carried on. Got to Mission cold wet hungry; found a cafe on main street and stayed for an hour until the rain stopped. Patted myself down with paper towel from the bathroom in an attempt to dry off. Sun out, I headed to the only bike store in town on the off-chance they carried the spokes I needed. They didn't, but the owner had the ingenious idea of screwing two spokes together with a spoke nipple to get the proper length. Worked like a charm so he made me a few more as spares and charged me nothing for the lot (thanks a million, Bruce!). Got directions out of town and hit the highway smiling, dry, warm, and with my crisis averted. 

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I rode for a few hours along a beautiful stretch of highway 7, on the north side of the Fraser River, singing loudly most of the way (you end up talking to yourself and singing an awful lot. Partly to drown out the cars roaring by. Or at least that's what you tell yourself), until I decided I had had enough riding for the day. Came upon the Kilby campground (also a historic site from the mid-1800s the more you know) and set up my home. Spent a bit for the site instead of wild camping but hey, this is my first real day riding with full weight and I deserve this view. Plus the nice man a few campsites over gave me a bag of his homemade pepperoni sticks, so totally worth it.   

Delays and Changes

This an unfortunate first blog post to be writing, but it's an important one!

After a lot of thought and frustration, I've decided once more to postpone the beginning of my unicycle trip for a couple of weeks. Of all the Aprils I could have picked as my start, this year's is one of the worst in terms of weather. With winter hanging in so long in the interior of BC and in the Rockies, I'm forced to wait a while longer until I can start riding. I'm disappointed that I'm not on the road yet - partly it feels like a letdown to y'all following my trip and those who have contributed so much effort to get me riding already - but I'd much rather postpone things for a few weeks than be stubborn and end up on dangerous roads or in an exposure situation. 

That being said, stay tuned for the (finally) actual beginning of my ride! I'm now aiming to be on the road at the beginning of May. All my plans are still moving ahead, everything is in place and I'm geared up, we're just shifting the timeline back a few weeks. In the meantime, I'm heading down to Utah for two weeks to get some sun and mountain unicycling in. 

Keep an eye open for further updates!