The bulk of my summer ride schedule was set back in November. 2015 being a Paris Brest year the randonneur schedule was jammed into May and early June leaving the 1000 for the first week of July. With a few weeks off I figured the I would ready for Challenge #3 the first week of August. Then one by one we all bailed on the 1000, bad knees, bad weather, too hot, all good excuses not to ride a 1000 km in less than 75 hours. So when Hal suggested I join him for the Summer Challenge the second weekend of July I was ready.
We rolled out of Morden Saturday morning ignoring the weather warnings of heat and storms.
After a bit of backtracking to recover a dropped Spot tracker and a hot climb out of the Pembina Valley we made it to the first waypoint.
Along the border there is a bit of American hillbilly leaking north. Trailer home on pallets, NASCAR, beer belly and unfriendly glares. A few on the fly route changes, a creek to cross and a wheat field and we made it to Cartwright. Food water and a short nap and we headed off into the late afternoon.
About 20 km from Turtle Mountain a storm started to build, nasty enough we needed to take cover, I only have a bivy this is gonna be interesting. Get in and settled and a hell broke out hard rain, lighting you could read by and wind. At one point it was raining so hard I had to stretch the bivy tight to keep from getting bruised. I managed to stay dry and even get a bit of sleep. Morning dawned hot and humid the storm hadn’t broken the weather at all. Loaded up quickly while fending off some of the worst mosquitoes I have ever seen. Breakfast at Max lake then the jeep trail into the West Cabin.
The decent out of Turtle Mountain is fantastic.
Refueled in Boissevain then off to Ninette. Made a few odd turns and a bit of backtracking but still made good time. A quick stop in Ninette and off to Glenboro. The rail trail out of the valley was nice. Got onto a rough track that looked like it would go where we wanted to, a few swamps and low spots but not that bad. We pop out on a paved road and I start to question our direction, 4 miles later after seeing the same mile marker at three intersections we realised we were headed south not east. Somewhere along here it had started raining and we could see storms brewing off to the southwest. We backtracked again and ended up in a farm yard just as the storm caught up with us. After a bit of discussion Hal decided to call for a ride, I wanted to keep going, the farmer, Alfred, offered to drive Hal to Glenboro. I took off into the unsettled evening, a bit later I noticed a pickup shadowing me turns up Alfred decided to follow along in case one of the storms decided to pick me off. There were big storms off to the north and west but looked clear to the east around Glenboro. Shortly after I turned east I got to watch a storm develop about 5 miles south, a few clouds collected and in 10 minutes it became a full on thunderstorm. Seeing the speed those storms were moving scared me and I waved Alfred up and quit.
Back to the original date.
Ian and I left Morden Friday evening accompanied by a handful of local riders. Tailwind and good company rolled us quickly to the first waypoint.
In the dark we missed Snowflake and the rednecks. Managed to avoid dropping things and backtracking made it to Cartwright about 2:00 bedded down on a table in the park.
Stopped to take a pic where Hal and I spent the night in the storm.
West Cabin again.
A storm caught us about 10 km out of Ninette, sheltered in a farmers shed.
Ian was feeling a bit off so we stopped for the night in Ninette. Noisy campground and rain made for a restless night. In the morning Ian called for a ride and I continued on my own. Took the same route out of Ninette without the detour south.
Passed through Alfred’s farm in daylight.
I don’t have the skills or tools to capture the views.
A second breakfast in Glenboro and off into the park. I have ridden the west part into Jackfish lake cabin and had a good idea how to get in there. Gravel roads turn to sand then I’m better off on the ski trail. The ugly drop into the cabin, waypoint 3. Took a short break then off to find my way out of the park.
I had mapped out several routes, there are a few park roads leading north, and a rough track that looked like it might be usable heading east. The road north was unrideable sand, walked a bit to see if it got better. There is a cutline heading east on my map, it looked better than the road I was on so I took it. About 2 km in the track connected with a sled trail that took me all the out of the park.
Picked up the sandy roads along the edge of the Assiniboine valley again I can’t seem to capture the scope of the landscape.
Out to hwy 34 to cross the river, nice decent followed by a nasty climb out. Trehern for a coke, ice cream and fill up on water. East out of Trehern to avoid the Tiger Hills (gravity sucks). Some of the roughest roads of the ride came next, night fell between Roseille and Miami. One more hill and an dog chase and Morden I think the night staff at Tim Hortons are starting to recognize me. 530 km 52 hours I need a nap.