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.
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.