Monday 9th February – Wednesday 11th February
We woke up fairly late, had some food in the restaurant below the motel we’d found, and left town around midday.
It was overcast and snowing, the temperature was around -12C, and of course there was a headwind. Why is it never a tail wind?! We’d actually done some research before crossing Canada, to check what way the wind tends to blow across the Prairies. Everywhere said west to east, ‘Excellent’ we thought. But then we get here and it’s always blowing east to west. We ended up asking some locals and they said, ‘Oh yeah, it changes in the winter’. Typical.
The headwind did actually change shortly after setting off though, becoming a south easterly headwind/sidewind. Brilliant. It was so windy that it was blowing snow across the road at low level, which actually looked really cool, but the wind was hard work to ride in, and we still couldn’t use that much craved 4th gear.
We stopped in Kenaston for some fuel and hot chocolate, where we met a lovely and very surprised local, by the name of Bill Hanna. He was also a biker, but couldn’t believe what he was seeing, and asked us to take a photo of us and send it to his wife so she would believe him when he went back to tell her.
It was good to chat to him, he was so excited and enthusiastic about seeing us, and we later discovered this article they’d written about us…
With a few extra calories inside us, we continued on our way, taking Highway 11 towards Regina. It was a 4 lane divided highway, so much bigger than the roads we had been taking, but it wasn’t too bad. It reduced down to 2 lanes at Chamberlain, where we stopped to enquire about rooms. They were too expensive, but some locals in there pointed us in the direction of a town called Bethune. There was hardly any light left, and I don’t like riding in the dark, but when we discovered it was only 20 miles away we decided to go for it. And I’m pleased we did. We rolled in to town and found the Bethune Bar & Grill, where we discovered the rooms were only $40, and the owner June proceeded to cook us a free dinner.
While we were sat in there a policeman came in, ignored everyone, and walked to the end of the room, peering over the bar looking for the owner. Not able to find her, he turned around and saw us. ‘Is that you on the scooters?’ He asked. ‘Yeah’, we replied with a smile, ‘They’re ours’. He appeared to be on a power trip and looking for trouble, but upon discovering that they were ours and that we weren’t doing anything wrong, he promptly left. He was probably bored, I don’t think much happens in Bethune.
After getting our fill of tea and breakfast, we went outside to discover it’d been snowing. There wasn’t much, just enough to fill the edge of my muffs, and we subsequently spent 5 minutes or so swapping muff and Regina jokes. I don’t know if you noticed but Regina sounds a lot like…
We unveiled the temperature from under the snow, -10C, and packed up our bikes ready to head to Vagina, sorry, Regina. It was overcast with a very strong side wind from the left, which much to our delight turned in to a tail wind; enter 4th gear and a decent speed, finally.
As we got closer to Regina there was a fair bit of blowing snow on the road. It looked really cool, like dry ice, or spirits, if you believe in that sort of thing. And it looked particularly cool when Ed’s rear tyre cut through it, like scissors cutting a ribbon.
We eventually arrived in Regina around 2.30pm, where we went straight to our hotel. We’d treated ourselves to a hotel as we were off to CBC to do some Radio and TV interviews, and we thought we’d better have a shower and make ourselves look fairly presentable.
They’d already told Ed that they wanted to film us arriving, and not being so good with an audience, I was nervous before we’d even left. I was praying that the entrance road was clear and free of ice and snow, but the roads through the city weren’t filling me with confidence. They were very icy, so I took it easy, concentrating so much on the road that I didn’t see the CBC building up ahead. Ed suddenly turned right without indicating, and not wanting to use my brakes I rolled off the throttle and turned slightly ahead of him, planning on sweeping round, until I noticed that the cameraman was on the corner and I was headed straight for him; not the smooth arrival I’d hoped for.
Luckily I didn’t hit him, and he kindly filmed us arriving further up the road, the short ride of which I spent praying ‘Please don’t fall off, please don’t fall off.’ Thankfully I didn’t, and we got to enjoy a radio interview with the wonderful Craig, and a TV interview with the lovely Adrian.
I thoroughly enjoyed the radio interview, my brother did say I had a face for radio, but the TV interview was a little daunting, especially when you have a massive lens thrust in your face. You’re not supposed to look at the camera, but how can you not look when it’s so big and so close. Must. Not. Look. At. Camera. Needless to say I looked at the camera.
By the time we’d got up, done some laundry and eaten, it was 2pm. It was a gorgeous sunny day but very cold, sitting at a chilly -20C. I knew it was cold as the oil leaking from my bike was very thick, like treacle. I still couldn’t work out where it was coming from, further investigations were required, as was a heated garage.
We decided to take highway 33, which was ridiculously straight and flat, with no natural barrier from the all too familiar wind. It wasn’t long before my helmet was driving me nuts, as cold air was being blasted in and up, freezing my left cheek and forehead. This resulted in brain freeze, like when you drink a slush puppy or eat ice cream, minus the oral pleasure bit.
And as if brain freeze wasn’t enough, my eyelashes kept freezing too. As warm moist air from my breath hit them, cold air instantly froze them, more often than not together. I had to open my eyes wide to get them apart, only for it to happen again seconds later.
Ed on the other hand said he wasn’t having any problems and his helmet was fine, which was funny seeing as his hair was frozen. Oh and his beard was frozen too, to his balaclava.
It was -22C when we stopped in a little town called Fillmore for a warm up; my body was cold and my feet were freezing, bordering on numb. It was interesting as we both had the same socks and boots on, yet my feet were cold and Ed’s were fine. It just goes to show that what works for one person won’t always work for another. There are many factors to take in to consideration, like circulation, what you’ve eaten, metabolism, and whether your boots were dry when you put them on.
We wanted to get to Stoughton, a town around 23 miles away, but there was no way I could continue without eating or drinking something hot, and warming my feet up. I was starting to get a new found admiration and appreciation for explorers that go on unsupported expeditions to places like the north and south pole, they don’t have an option to go in somewhere warm to warm up and have a hot chocolate. They’re constantly exposed to the elements, and have to be completely self sufficient, planning and preparation is a must. They’re on another level and deserve total respect, compared to what they do, our trip is a walk in the park.
We had a hot chocolate, followed by some soup and garlic toast, loaded with some essential calories to get us the next 23 miles. 23 miles doesn’t seem that far, but when you can only travel at around 23mph, and it’s -23C outside, things change. Ed went up to pay and soon discovered that someone had beaten us to it, in the form of a wonderful couple called Suzanne and Glenn. I’d only spoken to Suzanne briefly in the washroom, but that had been enough for her to perform a random act of kindness and pay for our meal. We went and thanked them, and chatted for a while, before fuelling the bikes up and heading off in the direction of Stoughton.
It was -24C when we left Fillmore, and -25.9C when we arrived in Stoughton; I think the technical term is ‘f*cking cold’.
After picking up some eggs from the garage, I’ll talk about those in the next post, we made our way to a bar for some food. Interested in how the body works, especially in cold temperatures, I’d been researching what foods were best for keeping warm. One article focused on protein, so I promptly ordered half a cow and subsequently found myself battling a meat induced food coma.
As we were leaving, a table of guys started chatting to us, interested and intrigued by what we were doing. They were so impressed that they donated $40 to our travel fund, before wishing us well and letting us get on our way, rather flabbergasted.
As we were starting the bikes, three girls left the bar and offered us a place to stay, which we kindly declined. This response was met by confusion and concern, not only for our physical wellbeing but for our mental health too. We’d already decided that we were going to camp, we hadn’t for a while and we missed it. We’d actually planned to camp every night through the winter, but after two nights of camping in freezing temperatures, the novelty kind of wears off.
After reassuring the girls that we were well prepared and weren’t going to die, we found a spot behind a building and set up camp for the night amongst the snow.
I then joined then girls with their concern for our mental wellbeing, as Ed proceeded to lick a tent pole to see if his tongue would stick to it, which of course it did. I’m pretty sure that’s the sign of insanity; repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.