I woke up, ate some granola, and checked the winds in the
forecast while I waited for the two reporters to come. I couldn’t care less
whether it rained or not. Please wind, just one day in the Prairies, give me a
tail wind. No dice; it’s been easterlies so far, and the forecast had the wind
coming from the NE, SE, E every day of the week in every town I searched along
route. There’s this big lazy low pressure system that doesn’t want to move.
Unfortunately it’s in my way. But I’m a determined fellow.
Around 10am, Elise from the local Kindersley newspaper
came and interviewed myself and Gail. It was a good interview. Unfortunately,
the Kindersley newspaper is one of the few papers in Canada which doesn’t have
an online publication so I don’t have a link to the article. We’re learning
that there are some simple, old-fashioned aspects of Saskatchewan culture that
people are hesitant to change. After Elise left, Matt from a local radio
station arrived. He had some good questions prepared as well. I never did get
to hear the radio show; I was on the road pedaling. Elise wrote quite a good
article in light-speed to meet her deadline. In no more than an hour’s time
after she had driven off, Gail had received an emailed copy of the article she
We also learned that morning that Saskatchewan doesn’t do
daylight savings. Half of the year, they’re on Central Time, the other half
(now), they’re on Mountain Time. Apparently, when everyone converted to
daylight-savings a half-century ago, the people of Saskatchewan decided it
would be too complicated.
I started pedaling around noon. I only had to go over a
little over 80km. This was supposed to be a partial rest day placed in between
a bunch of heavy days. The sun was shining, but the wind was blowing in my
face. I tucked as much as I could, until I was forced to change to a different
position because I got stiff. There was a constant 25-30km/hr headwind. Often
there were stronger gusts. Similar to many days before, I was appreciating it
when trucks travelling in the same direction roared by me so I could ride their
drafts. I loathed getting passed by oncoming traffic.
The highlight of my ride was when I came to a
construction site. The woman controlling the traffic through the stretch of
one-lane traffic on gravel asked me if I wanted to follow the pilot vehicle. It
seemed to be moving slowly. I said “yes”. It started at 20km/hr. I tucked in
right behind it, two feet off its bumper, coasting on the draft. I suppose the
driver took this as a sign of aggression or desire to go faster, instead of a
cyclist sheltering himself from the gusts. He sped up to 25km/hr, which was
fine. Then he went to 30km/hr, which was perfect, but about the limit of my
capability on gravel. I was still right on his bumper. He sped up, the wind hit
me, and I had to drop off to the side and let the whole line of traffic dust
me. I was only a couple hundred metres from where the construction ended when I
got ditched, but I had an efficient draft session for a couple kilometres which
saved me some energy and time. I struggled to keep my average speed above
20km/hr. On such a day, if you’re willing to compromise with the wind and lower
your cadence or shift to a lower gear without raising your cadence, your speed
will slowly dwindle as you cycle on. The wind will blow you down to whatever
speed you start getting stubborn at.
Just before I hit the construction, I passed a fellow
cyclist taking a break at the side of the road. He was playing a ukulele and
seemed in great spirits for someone with full gear travelling against such a
spiteful wind. His name was Nathaniel. He was travelling from Victoria to
Saskatoon, and eventually out to Halifax. He wasn’t sticking to a strict
itinerary, and the wind was fierce, so he was unsure if he was going to make it
to Rosetown that night. He had seen Kilometres for Communication support RV
with goofy pictures pass by. I told him to come and knock if he did manage to
make it to Rosetown.
I made it to Rosetown in the early evening. The wind
hadn’t settled at all by then. We camped in quite an interesting campground.
The Rosetown campground is a municipal campground which has all the revenues go
towards people with disabilities. Just as we were finishing up our chicken
stir-fry dinner with a spinach salad (and lots of extra brown rice for me) and
it was getting dark, Nathaniel pedaled into the campground. We invited him in
for a meal. Gail, Nathaniel and I chatted until midnight. It’s such an
experience meeting people on this trip. Everyone I’ve met is interesting. Nathaniel is
a chef, doesn’t camp with a tent, but has instead mastered setting up a
tarpaulin, cycles with a ranch hat, and has plenty of stories to go with his
seasoned traveller’s aura. If you ever go on a long cycling, running, hiking,
paddling, rail road bumming trip (!), or any trip that sets you in new
environments day after day and takes you out of your comfort zone, you will
have stories to tell.
We walk by so many people every single day, not knowing a
thing about them. Odds are, we’ve walked by some pretty accomplished
people—maybe even famous people—geniuses, sports stars, people who have
overcome tremendous suffering, people who have saved lives, and maybe even a
murderer. We don’t know. We just walked by. We’ve probably walked by a city of
people, not knowing a thing about that city of people. Here’s the thing, each
of those people has people who know who they are, what their stories are, what
they’ve accomplished, what they’ve overcome, what experiences they’ve had that
influence the way they act.
There are an estimated 375,000 Canadians without speech.
That’s about the population of Kingston, Ontario or many suburban regions. Many
of these people have a way to communicate through using alternative methods.
These people who have a way to communicate fit in with the crowd that I
described in the paragraph above. They have stories, and people who know the
stories. However, there are many people of that 375,000 who don’t have a way to
communicate because they haven’t been enabled. Who they are, what they can
accomplish, their potential is unknown. Often services are unavailable to young
children and toddlers when they are in their key stage for learning language.
They are locked in. Imagine if services such as speech language pathologists,
funding for devices and communication assistants weren’t available. Imagine if
all the stories, talent, and brilliance of a city the size of Kingston,
Kelowna, or Moncton was undiscovered. There would be a colossal cultural loss.
So, what’s my point? In many places services aren’t available, period. Across
Canada, there is no province which doesn’t have huge waiting lists for funding
of supports and services which enable communication. There are people out there
whose brilliance is undiscovered. Our attitude should be to assume ability
instead of inability when we walk past these cities of people throughout our
lives, because we will meet many of the people we walk by, and by assuming
ability, you may meet someone who profoundly influences you, or perhaps you’ll
be the influence.