FROM: Best Western Red Deer Inn, Red Deer
TO: Crown Plaza Chateau Lacombe, Edmonton
LEG DEDICATED TO: Shawn Lagasse, besides sharing a birthday with us, also shares an affection for Courtney. We are hoping to see Shawn when we are in Edmonton but he could be out fighting forest fires as that is what he has been doing far too much of this year. If he isn’t fighting fires then maybe he will cook us dinner, which would be a real treat because he is a wonderful cook. We appreciate his generous donation and look forward to seeing him soon.
EXPECTATIONS: Another flat day, though there is a little bit of a climb going into Edmonton apparently. Still, we loose more elevation than we gain but it isn’t going to feel like a downhill slope. We will be lunching at Boston Pizza in Ponoka, but won’t linger too long over our coffees as we’ll be motivated to land early in Edmonton since Courtney will be waiting for us. Maybe she will even do the right thing and bike out to meet us. Or maybe she’ll be so busy arrange the keg party that she won’t be able to do that. We’ll want to borrow sweaters from her for the evening though. Average lows in Edmonton on 18 June are 8 °, dipping down as far as 2 ° in some years. Average highs of 20 ° are acceptable, and they sometimes even see 29 ° so we can hope for a warm day. We’ll have to hope much harder if we want it dry though – the POP on 18 June is 80 %, and there’s a 53% likelihood of cloud cover . No wonder they complain about the weather out there. Winds are pretty steady at 13 km/hr but they can reach 24 km/hr and that only works if it is coming from behind.
ELEVATION: start 856 m, highest 882 m, ascent 279 m, descent 470 m
DISTANCE: planned 149 km, actual __30____, lost > 5 km detour _______
SPEED: average __14____ , top (downhill) __22____ top (flats) __22______
WEATHER: rain _yes___, temperature low __9__ temperature high __15_
headwind _25__, tailwind ________ other _____________
FLAT TIRE: Lori ______ Nancy ______ other mechanical _N derailleur____
PROBLEMATIC ANIMAL: wild ____ domestic (dog) _______ human _____
Rain again today, and wild winds gusting up to 35 km an hour. But that was not enough to stop us. We headed out from the Best Western in Red Deer this morning bright and early, in our yellow ponchos and yellow florescent safety gloves, garbage bags under our socks. We expected a long day and were prepared for it, but my bike wasn’t. The crank was full of mud and grit, and the rear derailleur was bent to the point that none of the 20 possible gears worked without clicking. This problem had been building since I dropped the bike in Golden, but we had thought we could make it to Edmonton without service. We got to Lacombe and had to reconsider, since I was seriously concerned I would break the bike. Fortunately Shawn Lagasse (yes, this Shawn Lagasse) was back for the weekend from his forest fire fighting job and very kindly came to pick us up. He dropped us, and our bikes, off at the Red Bike store, where they immediately started to work on the filthy beasts.
The Red Bike mechanics repaired the bent derailleur, took the crank apart and cleaned all the grit out, plugged it full of grease and put on a new chain, pretty much while we waited. And then they set out to fix Lori’s bike, which also needed a new chain and a new cassette. They cleaned everything up, got all the gunk off and made sure the bikes were perfect again. And they did this without appointment, on a Saturday afternoon, with the shop chock full of bikes, and regular customers waiting patiently for them to finish with us. And then, as a sign of good will and support for our cause, they didn’t charge us labour and gave us 30% off the parts. Wow! We were already thrilled that they’d fix us up so quickly, and so competently. Now if it would only stop raining for a few days, we’d be able to keep the dirt and grime off, and keep them in the good repair we got them back in. This has to be the best bike shop in Alberta, if not in Canada! In light of the magnitude of their generosity we have added them to our list of sponsors.