Saturday, 28 June 2008

GlenAbbey, Home of Ian & Carol

Thursday 26th June
I was meeting Kay for coffee at 10am so there was no rush. A cheeky little mouse jumped out of my food pannier and it looked as if it had a very good breakfast!! I had a sou'west wind on my way to GlenAbbey and also I had to look out for Becky who was driving from Winnipeg to meet me. I arrived at the most fantastic place--Ian and Carol's farm, It was a pig farm when they bought it but now a cattle farm and I was so pleased to see the Belted Galloways which originatd from the area where I now live in Scotland. Another evening of merriment ensued with many neighbours arriving. The social life here in the prairies is quite something I tell you. You have to be here to believe it. A couple of days ago I was in a wilderness with not a soul in sight and now I am surrounded. I apologise to the friends I made in Sascatchewan about the roads and the loneliness of the prairies, but they, and the courteous drivers, especially the big truckers, made up for everything.

Feast fit for a Queen

25th June
I moved my tent down by the river as I had pitched it in an enclosure surrounded by a high hedge. I needed new tyres for my bike as they were showing signs of wear and tear. I met Kay who had been sitting next to me the previous evening during supper at Manor house. She had come over from England many years ago and settled in Canada. I told her about the tyres and she said if I went to the hardware shop Scott would sort me out. Scott did not have the suitable tyre but would phone the bike shop in the nearest big town called Brandon. "Come back about 3pm" he said. When I returned, the tyres were there and together Scott and I assembled them. No, there was no charge for delivery just the price of the tyres. What kindness. That evening I cycled to Robin and Yvonne's and you would have thought you were back in Scotland. The Scottish accents and jokes were flying. The meal was out of this world and Yvonne insisted I have seconds of everything. She was worried about about my camping diet. I met so many wonderful people and thank them all for being so kind to me. I was returning to the camp and it was quite dark. A car pulled up and a voice called "Is that Mavis?" It was Ian and Carol Marshall from Glenluce who had ome out here 10yrs ago. They had spent a couple of hours trying to find me. Ian and Peter (son-in-law) had been friends since childhood and Ian had been usher at the wedding of Peter and Katy I had left a message on their answer machine to tell them where I was and was hoping to meet them. They insisted I stay with them on my way to Winnipeg. I was meeting Becky again to do some more filming and they invited her to stay also.

New Friendships

Tuesday 24th June
Reston to Souris
I arrived in Souris with a tail wind and blazing sunshine. The town used to be called Mouse after The Mouse River, but 127yrs ago the residents decided they did not like the name and changed it to Souris, French for mouse!! It is a very lively little town with friendly smiling faces. Within half an hour of arriving I was in the dining room of Manor House (residential flats) sharing a cup of tea with Lynn and Tineke. Lynn was preparing the evening meal for the residents and asked me if I would like to join them. She said they would love to hear about the bike ride and the meal was at 5-30. Yes I could use the computer and blog away as long as I wished. Meantime, Lynn was phoning round some Scottish Friends to tell them about Granny Mave who had just arrived in town. Later after a delightful meal, I cycled off to the camp site. A honed and toned and tanned Sandra came to-wards me. "Hi" she said "You must be Mave. I have been looking for you in the camp." She invited me to her home for a cup of tea and to meet her husband, Bill - Canadian, Sandra was born in Glasgow. Two figures passed the window. It was Robin and Yvonne who were on their way to the camp with home made shortbread for me. She called them in and after, a great blether of an evening, Yvonne invited me to come for supper the next night. What wonderful friendly people--you cannot imagine.
Monday 23rd June
Carlyle to Souris

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The Pub with No Beer

22nd June
Weyburn - Carlyle
I had a long day's ride ahead of me so I was on the road early. In the end I decided to stay the night in a small town called Carlyle 116km from Weyburn. There was no camp site so I had to book into the only Motel. Big flashing signs outside announced Restaurant, Bars, Coffee Room, Cold Beers. I booked in and fancied a cold beer. "Don't sell alcohol on a Sunday" announced the face without expression behind the counter. "Is the restaurant serving now " I asked "I am quite hungry and tired" "We don't open the restaurant on a Sunday". "You'll need to go down town if you want food or drink". Well I couldn't believe what she was saying. All the flashing signs and everything shuts down on a Sunday. So I parked my gear and walked to the town a couple of kms away. There was a saloon bar called The Office and there I met Melissa - bar assistant extraordinaire!! She was a most attractive young girl, wore a cloth checked skip cap on her head, a black dress just covering boobs and bum and sporting a large tattoo on her left thigh. I sat outside with my beer. She came to join me for her coffee and fag break. She told me she had been brought up in the small town I had passed through earlier. She told me she was a country girl at heart and and big cities were not her scene. I asked If I could have a carry out cold salad to take back to the Motel. I said I would have liked something hot but it would be cold by the time I got back. "If you want a hot meal then that's no problem as my friend will drive you back." With a snap of her fingers, her friend was by my side. She was another lovely 20 year old who had brought her tupperware type catalogue along with her. I apologised for not buying but explained it would be difficult with the bike. She called to a ranchman across the bar "Perhaps you would like to buy something for your mum" she said "Well that would be difficult cos she died 3 years ago!!" Oh dear. Soon I was in among a group of youngsters. I asked about the oil and I'll let Kory Williamson tell you all about that. "There are many different ways to bring oil out of the ground, the most common way being the use of a Pumpjock. Different companies make different styles of Pumpjocks and that is why there are trade mark colours. Oil has been produced in Sascatchewan for 50+ years but only recently has the boom begun with the discovery of new oil formations. These formations guarantee at least 10-15 more years of available oil. It is brought to the surface from as deep as 3000meters underground. Drilling rigs are brought in to drill the hole where the oil is thought to be. Following up is the service rig and their job is to bring the oil from the ground. It's changing the whole econmy out here. What a lovely bunch of interesting youngsters who took time to talk to an old granny like me. Thank you all for a great night.

Busy Rural Saskatchewan City

21st June Weyburn
Rest Day At Weyburn
The temp is starting to rise and to-day is 30C - I cannot believe that only 8 days ago I was snowed in at Waterton Lakes with my dear friends Barbara and Dave. I repair my puncture and give my bike a good clean up. Weyburn is a small country town of 9,000 people, There is a museum which hosts one of the biggest silver collections in the world. The collection was gifted to the museum by Charlie Wilson on his death in 1995. He had come over from England with his parents in the early 20th century. They farmed for many years and his mother kept the collection in one of the upstair rooms. On her death, Charlie continued the collection, sometimes bringing in case loads that remained unopened until his death. It is now an enviable collection of the most magnificent silver. Weburn is the Largest inland grain gathering point in Canada with well over a million tons passing through the terminals every year

Rural No 2

20th June
Ogema- Weyburn
Sunny day with a tail wind - Great. I decided to stop to have a breakfast in a little place called Pangman. There was a delightful cafe where a table stretched along the middle of the room. There sat a group of women and a couple of men. It looked as if a meeting was in progress and I wasn't sure where to sit. "Come and sit with us" a voice called out. No they were not having a meeting but do meet every morning for a chat and to catch up with the latest news. I asked about The Red Coat Trail that I had been cycling on for several days. There was a great bustle around me and one lady went off to see how much history she could collect. They were all showing a great deal of interst in my question and I was beginning to feel a little embarrassed. Well this is the story - In 1874 two groups of Mounties left Winnipeg in their covered wagons. One group went South to Fort Macleod and the other group went North to Fort Edmonton. There they set up the Trail which is 1300kms long and called The Red Coat Trail on route 13. The whole scene was re-enacted in 1999 when the all the village folk turned out with their bonnets and covered wagons. I was invited to come through to an adjoining room where a lady asked if I was the cyclist who had been in the library in Ogema yesterday. A friend of hers, one of The Rural at the coffee gathering, had phoned to tell her of the Scottish Granny. They were all such a lovely bunch and I remarked on how sad to think we'll probably never meet again. "I know our paths will cross again" one lady said. I didn't like to ask "where" but somehow I suspect she meant Heaven! During my blogs I know I haven't been pointed out much on historical facts of interest but it is a fascinating country with a great deal of history. I know Janice did that in her book "Bike Ride With A Twist" . She researched so much. I think I am just researching my brain. I do apologise to the blog readers who would like a bit more history, but if you buy Janice's book or a book on Canada, it's all there - or maybe I might just write my own!!
Weyburn, - reputed to be so-called because two Scotsmen on horseback riding across the prairies came upon the River Souris and one said to the other "Oh, there's a wee burn" That is the romantic version and the other is that it was called after a famous rail road worker of that name. I made my way to the Riverside Camp Ground and it was busy. My front tyre was slowly deflating and this is where I got my first puncture . At the office was a decking with flowers and people sat chatting and drinking coffee. They asked me to join them and then started "Where are you from, where are you going. are you alone ??? It was good to spend an evening with people. I decided to have a lay over day as it seemed to be a happening kind of place. I called Penny and she said her flight was booked and she would be flying into Winnipeg on the 3oth June. So that was very good news. Also I had a chat with Laura, co-ordinator for Triple Echo Productions, who did not realise I had lost the camera and that, unless it is turned in - still hoping, there would be no footage from the unforgettable prairies!! All that drama out on the prairies and no record except memories I will never ever forget. Wow-that is bad. I spoke to Becky on the phone and she is coming out on the 25th June to film the last of the prairies!! I will be so happy to see her.

The Rural

19th June
The days are all very similar with long long stretches of road ahead and flat flat fields to right and left. Here is a song I made up to the tune of I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Has Gone. My version. I can see clearly now the road ahead, I can see miles and miles of distant land, And as I cycle along with the wind in my face, I think of the long and lonely day. But, cheer up Mave it will be over soon, The struggle, the pain will disappear, Beyond the horizon is another world, Where friends are waiting for you!! End of song. I arrived in Ogema and found a little library. The librarian kindly gave me the use of a computer to catch up with mail etc. A cluster of ladies were chatting over coffe at a table in the middle of the room. This was a jolly, laughing bunch and certainly no signs of SILENCE PLEASE. When I finished, they invited me to join them and they asked me about the bike ride. They meet every morning and it reminded me a bit of The Rural back home. I camped alone in a field that night. It was a recognised camp site with a toilet block, etc but absolutely deserted. I worried about another thunder storm and decided after the first flash of lightning I'd grab my bedding and make for the loo's. All was quiet and there was no storm that night.

Lost Touch

18th June.
Lafleche -Assiniboia
I left Lafleche and began to worry. I had been unable to make contact with Base Camp (John Ruth) for several days. I had no signal from my tracker or mobile It is impossble to realise just how difficult it is out here. By the time I reach a town at night everything is shut and as I am off early in the morning,everthing is still shut!! I had to find a phone. I saw a sign that said Limerick of all places, and took a sharp right. I noticed an office with Ranch Ins. above it and it was open. I sort of fell in the door with all my baggage and asked if there was a phone I could use as it was urgent. Wendy was the lovely girl who had to listen to this distraught granny. She was so kind despite everything. She took John's number made the call and John rang back - what a relief. After 4 days missing John had contacted the British Embassy who were about to organise a search party.... What a lot of trouble I was causing. Anyway we started catching up on what had been going on when by an amazing coincidence daughter Katy rang John and Ruth on the other line. She is an Eventer and the good news was that she and her horse, Barney, had just won their class at Burgie, a big event near Elgin in Scotland. Ruth put her on the speaker phone so we could hear her ans she could hear me and there was chaos for the next ten minutes. I burst out crying and felt sorry for Wendy who was looking worriedly across her desk at me. When I explained they were really tears of happiness she said she understood as she had travelled a lot too and got really home sick. She lived on a ranch in Wood Mountain with husband and two children. I thanked her so much and off I pedalled. I arrived in Assiniboia and needed to find a library to blog and reply to e-mails. It is quite a big town and it felt strange having people around me for a change. Help; was I becoming some kind of lonesome nomad shuffling from place to place and forgetting what it was like to communicate with people. If I have many more prairie days I may become withdrawn and unable to talk!! Suddely a figure was waving at me. It was Wendy with her children who had come into town to do some shopping. We had a chat and I felt so much better.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Lonliness of the Long Distance Cyclist

Tuesday 17th June
I really do need some human being from somewhere. I think Penny and Janice could cope as they both enjoy solo cycling. I am hoping to meet up with Becky but it is so difficult as once I leave here, communication ends and that is why I have not been able to blog. I hope this makes up for it - [At the moment Mave is sending her blogs in batches by email]
[Mave's mobile has been out of action for the past 4 days - and possibly still is, we will not know until trying it at 4.00 o'clock this afternoon - and she has been out of contact but she has clearly been able to find a computer in Lafleche to which we are indebted for the sometimes heartbreaking story of what took place over that period. JRG]

A Rum Do

Tuesday 17th June
Cadillac to Lafleche
In the end there were no galloping hooves but I did have a rather disturbing night. I wanted to leave at break of dawn for the 86Km to Lafleche so I was on the road at 6-30am. The sun was out and it looked set to be a perfect day. As you have probably read, the perfect days did not exist on this journey so far!! The roads are really bad, with rough red tarmac with huge patches of repair work covered in gravel. My poor old bike, it was all over the place!! I felt a bit better as the sun was shining and I had a tail wind. I arrived in Lafleche, a very pretty little town, and asked about camping. I was told it was a field and the chap pointed over to a very remote area. There were no campers or R V's It was completely deserted. No one to talk to. I need people. I'm losing my marbles. I have come through such a lot and when I am home in my cosy wee log cabin, I'll wonder how I survived. Courage, that is what a friend of Penny's commented in her Just Giving Web Site. I think that sums it up. During the night, I was awakened by a flash of lightening that filled my tent. In the distance, the crack of thunder could be heard. I dread a thunder storm when I am in my tent. The flashing was so bright that I hid in my sleeping bag. The thunder drew closer and the downpour started. A howling wind was bringing my tent down. I hadn't tied it down very well as it had been such a lovely night and I had no thought of a thunder storm. It became intolerable and I was sure the tent would cave in on me. I couldn't get out to tie it down as I would be blown off the planet. Only one thing for it, reach for the rum. Janice had mentioned how, after a hard days cycle , a glass of rum and whatever you wish in it, was a perfect way to end the day. This was no long drink with whatever you wish in it--no it was straight from the neck of the bottle. I lay terrified and prayed for the storm to die before I did. The rum was helping but sleep was impossible. Eventually it settled, and I slept.

Phantom Horseman

Monday 16th June
Eastend to Cadillac
I cycled to Cadillac, a hamlet in the middle of nowhere. No there wasn't a camp site, but there was a Motel. I booked into this seriously run down Motel to find I was the only resident!!! Joy(manages the place) served me a really good steak with all the trimmings. She told me she would lock up after the last drinker had gone. She told me the owners would be in about 10am and to lock my door. I would be here alone all night. A rancher overheard the conversation and told the tale of a gentleman who once stayed - and during the night was awakened by the sound of galloping hooves in the corridor. This was bad news. I wanted to have a good night's sleep and now after this bit of news, I'd be awake listening for the sound of galloping hooves!!!

Good Samaritan

Sunday 15th June.
Maple Creek to Eastend.
I was heading South on the Cypress Hills and it was hilly. Route 21 was busy until a sign said Recreation Park and the road emptied. I was alone on the road, a car passing about every half hour. There was nothing but huge stretches of empty roads ahead. Janice had told me to take plenty of food and water as there is nothing out there. She was right --there was nothing--prairies to left, prairies to right. I entered Frenchman's valley and it was eerie. I was beginning to feel afraid. To see the remains of a tin shed by the side of the road was almost comforting as a human being must have used it at some time. The loneliness was tearing me apart but I had to keep going. On a ship you would shout "Land Ahoy". On my bike it was "Any Mortal Thing Ahoy" I turned off to join Route 13, the so called "Red Coat Trail", where the Mounties took watch on horseback. A North East wind was coming in fast and ahead. the clouds were black. I had a long way to go and I was tired, tired through lack of sleep and tired at seeing the unending road. I decided to sit it out in a derelict barn until the rain stopped. I had been told many times about the prairies but you have to be here to fully understand the wilderness of the Saskatchewan Prairies. What was a 70yr old granny doing out here? I decided there and then that this would be my last challenge. I would spend lots of time with my grandchildren, do some knitting, join the rural, that sort of thing. Yes, this was sheer madness. I started to dream of cycling around the Galloway countryside. The Red Coat Trail is an endless road of roller coaster hills. If a car passes it can still be seen 5 mins later! I was on the edge of Eastend when a truck pulled over. It was Anne,one of the local Doctors. She said she had seen me earlier on the Cypress Hills. I told her I was looking for a camp site or Motel. Well she invited me to her home for a meal and stay over night. Out of the darkness, comes light. I met the family and after a delicious meal we jumped in to the family truck to take to the hills to watch the sunset.The skies over Saskatchewan are reputed to be about the best in the world. It was stunning. The cliffs were deep red from the reflection of the sky and the sky was a blistering red with a lilac shade running round it. They told me of the Dinosaur bone found by an archaeologist in 1998. Many more were found and Eastend now has a museum attracting 10,000 visitors a year.

Disaster en-route to Maple Creek

Saturday 14th June
After the goodbyes I was off with a tail wind from Medicine Hat to Maple Creek. M H has its own natural gas which was discoverd about 100 years ago. I was belting along and it was fairly flat. Early evening I stopped at Eagle Way Camp Site. I wanted to make it to Maple Creek so I looked in my back pack for Janice's book re camping and then I remembered that I had transferred the book into a front pannier. I put the back pack on the grass to read the book. I was 8kms from Eagle Way C S when I realised that I had not picked up my B P!! I about turned to face a severe head wind but cycled as fast as I could. I checked the ground where I had left it - but there was no sign of it . I belted to the office to ask if it had been handed in. Sadly, no. In it were all my personal papers, Meg's camera I was using to record part of the journey and using as a video diary (there was some good footage in it) my flight home ticket and Penny's, my insurance policy and lots of cards I had collected from friends along the way with contact numbers (sorry to those whose cards I had as I won't be able to get in touch) and also my very best rain coat. It is difficult to explain how I felt at this point. The thief who took it will know that Grannymave is cycling across canada as all that inf was in it. Perhaps he is able to read my blogs if so "you are a RAT" I cycled to a camp sit at Maple Creek where the owner listened to my tail of woe. He was sorry for me and phoned the police. It has not turned up. I was the only camper that night as everyone there had an RV that seemed to be without people!! Just as I was about to nod off the RV's came alive to the sound of music. There was great merriment. It was Saturday night after all. On top of this, the freight train came thundering through with horn blasting WOOH WOOH. The trains were passing through every half hour blasting away. It was impossible to sleep. I was amazed Maple Creek had any residents!!

Medicine Hat

Friday 13th June
On my way to Medicine Hat----by car!! Babs has a nephew there whom she hadn't seen for a while so it was a good excuse to visit Brian and his family. What a lovely family they were. Helen, Brian's wife, and their three children, Derek, Ashley and Jamie plus two dogs. Here are strangers I have never met and they are making me completely at home.

Max's Log Cabin

Thursday 12th June
Awoke to sleety rain, grey skies, and snow still lying heavily on the ground. Barbara and Dave are to run me out of Waterton which is off my route. I have the waterproofs at the ready. Barbara is phoning her friend in Cardston for a weather report. What about the shorts, T-shirts that occupy half a pannier? Barbara had phoned around and the report was grim. She arrived at the door. "Stay put" she said "You are staying right here" I wanted to be out on the road but it would be another Max scenario with perhaps some kind person picking up the pieces!! It began to clear in the afternoon and I went out for a bike ride to make up the miles I had missed. Max arrived at his cabin to find us sitting in the garden enjoying some fine wine. He had phoned Babs earlier to find out the position. I was embarassed as I didn't want to be there when he arrived for his relaxing few days but what a great evening we had with more wine!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Temporarily out of touch

Monday 16 June
[Mave's new friends Barbara and David of Waterton Lakes saw Mave safely to Medicine Hat last Friday and sent her off on schedule on Saturday morning in the general direction of Maple Creek. Dave's nephew, with who they stayed in Medicine Hat, is a policeman and he chatted to the detachment in Maple Creek and they were going to be on the look out for her and would send info about her to the next detachment for the following day and so on, so she is hopefully getting lots of attention and TLC. She phoned on the Saturday to say that the weather was much better and that she was making good progress but she will be going through fairly secluded areas so she did not think she would have access to a computer for a while as is clearly proving to be the case. JRG]

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Snowed In!!

Wednesday, 11th June. Waterton
Barbara arrived, big welly boots in the deep snow. She had phoned a friend in Cardston to find
out about weather conditions. The news was not good. Serious wind conditions were coming in from the North East and temperatures were dropping. Heavy rain was also forecast later in the day so definitely not a cyclists dream. "Better stay put" said Barbara. I am now 3days behind schedule but hopefully will make up for it on the prairies!
I'll finish blogging meantime as Dave would like to take some photographs and download them for the blog. I am hopeless at that. At this point may I say thanks to all who e-mail me and to those taking an interest in the Bike Ride. When I have time I'll do my best to reply. It is not easy to find a computer to reply and blog especially in the wilds of Alberta and then into Sakatchewan--prairie country.
(I'm sure everyone will agree that Mave is doing an incredible job for MacMillan Cancer Support struggling on alone, until such time as her good friend Penny is able to rejoin her. She is a person of great determination and courage and earns the respect of everyone who meets her as is abundantly clear from what we read. Although we can't do much to help her with the ups and downs of the journey, so to speak, the one thing that would really give her a boost is to see more donations to her charity. The readership of her blog is increasing and if everyone were to give just £10 it could be quite significant. For those who have not already contributed just log on to and follow the instructions. Thank you. JRG)

Knight in Shining Armour

Tuesday 10th June.
Leaving Pinchers Creek for Cardston.
You would really have to have been with me to see what I endured to-day!!
I had a lot to do this morning before I left and wanted to make it to Cardston-93kms. Janice had said I would face roller coaster hills but not as bad as BC. I was told by one or two locals that a storm was coming in - I always get this negative stuff when I am just setting off. A little into the cycling the rain came down. I was prepared as I had put on my full rain gear. A short bike ride later, head winds and hail stones greeted me. The hail stones were bouncing off my face.I stopped at a cafe in the middle of nowhere. A few cowboys were sitting chatting round a table. There was silence as I entered. They looked at me."Does the sun ever shine in Alberta" I asked "Yes lady, it does but you sure have picked a godam day to ride your bike". As I left to pay for my coffee at the check out the hailstones were bouncing off the tin roof off the cafe "Have a nice day" the lady said behind the counter. I did a MacInroe "you can't be serious" I left in a blizzard. The hills were steeper than I had expected and the head winds became intolerable. The bike came to a halt and I keeled over. I stayed off the saddle as I was no longer in control of the bike. I pushed the bike into the icy wind. I had no feeling on my face and my lips could not move. My fingers were frozen stiff as I wear fingerless cycling gloves. I was heading down the road to hypothermia. I was afraid I might perish and I was worried sick. It's a wilderness with just an odd ranch or two. At that moment a truck pulled up. It was Max and without ado, he simply took my bike, panniers and loaded them on to the truck. "Just get right into the front and get warm" he said I was numb and unable to talk. He had been heading to Pinchers Creek where I had cycled from and turned his truck round when he saw me. He was my saviour." Where are you heading" he asked. At this point I was crying and incoherent. He understood and was so considerate . When normal service resumed, I told him I was cycling to Cardston but if he could drop me off at Waterton I'd find a cheap motel or camp site.He told me his home was in Lethbridge and had a cabin here that he loved and often came to trek in the mountains and golf. We drove on. He asked me about the Bike Ride and where I came from. Later we arrived at his cabin and he said "This is yours". He took me in and showed me round. "Please help yourself to food, drink, shower and laundry and when you are warm I'll take you across and introduce you to Dave and Barbara". It was all too much to take in. There I was, a short while ago desparately struggling against all that nature could throw at me and now I was warm and cosy in this wonderful cabin -- wow!! Later that day, Max phoned Barbara to see how I was and to say that the news was a tornado was expected around the area of Lethbridge not far from here! Oh boy! Later Barbara phoned her friend, Pat, who runs the local bike shop, to ask if he could service my bike. By this time snow was falling, snow upon snow. I can't believe it The tree branches are already hanging from the effect. We checked the bike in and Barbara took me on a tour of Waterton National Park where I am staying. I settled down for the night and aloud thanked Max for saving me.

Farewell to High River

Monday 9th June, High River
I have been staying at the beautiful home of Janice Kenyon, cyclist extradinaire and writer (, . The view from the kitchen window overlooks the magnificent Rocky Mountains and at the moment, snow covers the upper half. I spent the morning blogging and preparing myself for the next leg of the journey. Everyone has gone now so it will be me and the elements. Although I was cycling alone, I was happy knowing that helen or the camera crew were around. Janice drove me back to Pinchers Creek and treated me to a superb farewell meal. Then it was time for her, my new kindred spirit friend, to leave me. I waved goodbye with a lump in my throat as she drove off into the distance. Massive wind farms adorn the surrounding hills and electric trains run around the city of Calgary. Booked into a motel in anticipation of the rigours to come - so expensive and not particularly good.

Monday, 9 June 2008


Sunday 8th June
Rest Day at High River
Becky and Stan would be leaving us in a few hours but Becky decided still had some filming to do. So back up on the roof in the kayak. The neighbours had never seen anything like this before, so out they came for a better view. It was hilarious. We were on our bikes cycling along a quiet pleasant neighbourhood with the red truck ahead with big lens on us. After lunch, they left and when I have more time I'll tell you about Becky - she's quite famous. At night we were invited to Scottish Barbara's for supper and when we arrived I heard the sound of a pipe band playing Flower of Scotland. The tears started. I felt so homesick.

High River

Saturday 7th June
Crowsnest to Pincher Creek/High River
We awoke to dark clouds. Helen was leaving to-day and heading back home. She had been cooking my meals and generally seeing that I was all together. I'll miss her but I did not expect to have the support she gave me as, remember, this was to have beeen an unsupported Bike Ride with my friend Penny - who is this minute languishing in hospital in Inverness waiting to hear when she can have her pacemaker fitted - not a solo, and I do miss her so very much. The rain came down and who was in the kayak on top of the truck? You've guessed it - Becky!! She was filming me in the pouring rain on top of the truck!!!. What an amazing girl. Now I can't remember whether I told you this or not but Penny and I had planned to follow the route that Canadian cyclist Janice Kenyon had taken in 2004 and written a book about it called Bike Ride With A Twist. She was 66yrs at the time and to-day in her home at High River she would be celebrating her 70th birthday. I had been in touch with Janice throughout and, although High River was not on the route, she suggested we put the bike in Becky's van and head North to join the party. Janice has written and has had several books published and at the moment is writing a novel. The party full swing when we arrived and Becky wanted to film Janice meeting me for the first time. After she did the filming we met all the guests. The first guest I met was Barbara who was Scottish and came out to Canada when she was in her 20's. We talked for a while and she said "I don't suppose you will have heard of a small town called Dalbeattie." "Of course" I said "I lived there for 20yrs". Well, believe it or not, Barbara was born there and lived round the corner from my home until she went to Canada. This is happening all the time - like Ian in the Bike Shop in Nelson - Amazing. We had a great time at the party, good food and wine and fell into bed in the small hours.

Border Crossing

Friday 6th June
Fernie to Crowsnest
I left the big mountains and cycled across the border into Alberta. The change was immediate. The rolling hills of Alberta lay ahead, the road surface improved and, guess what, a TailWind, yipee!! The sun believe it or not came out for a few minutes. I had come up and over Crows Nest Pass and been told the worst bits were now behind me. If I had managed the mountain passes in BC then I had nothing further to fear. I was still on Route 3 and heading for the CrowsNest settlements. It is like three small separate villages but all called Crows Nest. I had caught up with Helen and we stopped to have a chat. It would be further along the route that I would rendezvos with the next camera person . I had to look out for a red truck with a red kayak on the roof. You'll never guess what the kayak was for!! More later!! Then it appeared in the distance, arms waving from the windows. This was Becky Bristow and her dad ,Stan.and they turned out to be two amazing people. With lots of hand shaking and and cuddles we hit the road again with the usual downpour accompanying me!! We would camp at Lundbreck that night. When we arrived in the outback town I was freezing and desperately longed for a hot bath and a log fire!! I did not want to put the tent up after a hard days cycle. A local came over to tell us about the free spagetti dinner they were serving in the hall so without further ado we were in there. I did a quick change in the loo and joined the gathering. By this time ,word had got around about the Scottish Granny so when I emerged from the loo cameras were at the ready. Help, all I am doing is pedalling a bike!! The supper was great and a Country Western Band played on the platform. This is an annual get-together of oldies and funded by money from raffles etc. over the year. Becky was filming the scene and I think the locals loved it. "We might be on TV " I heard them whispering. We said our goodbyes and off we went to the camp site. Stan made a roaring camp fire , Helen played the mouth organ, Becky filmed away and I sat taking in the scene with a glass of vin rouge!! Bliss!!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Suicidal Journey

Thursday 5th June
Cranbrook to Fernie
Mountain Time Zone--clocks forward one hour
To-day , if at all comprehendible , was more of a nightmare than the day before. Rain, big logger trucks having fun spraying me and road surface worse than the previous day. I removed my self from the saddle of my bike and wept, A big dark tunnel lay ahead. I was scared to go through it as I have no lights on my bike. If I went through it beside a logger truck then it was curtains for me!! Doesn't this sound fun my dear blogger readers!! Bet you wish you were out here cycling with me!! Well I got through the tunnel risking my life and emerged safely at the other end. Helen had arranged an interview with Pierre, journalist with the local Free Press in Fernie. He arranged to meet at The Stanford Inn, a magnificent hotel overlooking the Rockie Mountains. Pierre is quite a cyclist himself - he and his wife packed their bikes and went off on a 14 month cycling trip taking in Scotland, Ireland, Germany and France! I told him about the horrors of my trip so far and he said "Do you know what", "I would never cycle on that route 3 that you did". During the interview the rain was tumbling down and I aired my thoughts about the putting up of tents in the cold and wet. Pierre had been there before and do you know what - he booked us into the splendid hotel where the interview took place!! Wasn't that fantastic!! Thank you dear Pierre.
PS I haven't been giving you any historical facts about the places I have been through. Apologies for this. There had been a big mining population in most of the towns but that died many years ago and new industries have taken over, mainly tourism. BC has many ski resorts and I am in one at the moment. I will not be blogging for a day or so as to-day I cross the border into Alberta, big prairie country and flat!!! I have been on mountain passes since I started and have one more to go over!!

Rain and mad dogs

Wednesday 4th June
Creston - Cranbrook
The forecast was rain. I set off early to cycle the 110kms to Cranbrook . 15 mins later it started!! I stopped at a filling station to get the rain gear on ready for the big black clouds ahead. There I met a joyless man. He asked where I was going. He told me I shouldn't be cycling alone. He told me it was big bear country -- "be bear aware" he said. "you've got some big uns " he continued. Now he was now talking about the hills I would be encountering. Then without further ado, he was off and so was I. My spirits were sinking well into the pedals on my bike !! It poured. The area to the side of the road was uncycleable. My specs were dripping with rain water and I couldn't see. The big logger trucks were spraying gallons of water over me. A barking from the woods startled me. The barking got louder but a fence stopped the crazy dogs from molesting me. They went berserk at this point. I felt so alone and very unhappy. The friends I had made earlier had been so kind. To-day I felt Canada was a big, cold country. I was homesick. I wanted to go home--home to Whitefield Loch to be with my grand children, fishing, Penny had flown home to Scotland for treatment and I was missing my cycling buddy. I am not sure when she will be joining me but hopefully, soon. Later the sun came out and I felt better. We camped in a forest where we heard a bear had been prowling the night before!! Sweet dreams !!

Ferry to Creston

Tuesday 3rd June
Nelson/Salmo to Creston. We packed and left our friends. Helen had hired a car as she decided to sell her truck. She has loads to do so I set off for Creston, There was a ferry crossing involved with the road surface to the ferry ok for cycling but the other side had big problems. There were huge pot holes which I had to swerve on to the road to avoid. Also huge cracks which would have caused a somersault over the handle bars if I had hit one - happened in Australia when I ended up with a smashed collar bone !! The scenery around me was spectacular, stunning lakes and mountains. It was a long day 127kms and I was tired. When I eventually arrived in Creston the police were looking for me!! Helen had driven a different route from me arriving at the top of the town, I had arrived at the bottom end. She had my tent and gear in the car. I booked into the first motel I saw as I was too exhausted to think about the tent. Eventually Helen found me!!

Hot Springs

Monday 2 June
Cycled with Paula, a 29yr old lady racing cyclist, to Nelson for interview with local press, radio and TV. Paula tols me she worked in the local bike shop and I asked her would be ok to take my bike along to have it serviced. She said "sure"and we cycled to the shop. There we met Ian from Scotland and he said "Haven't I seen you somewhere before"? It turned out we had met at The Strathpuffer Mountain Bike Race. I was in a fancy big camper van looking after the BBC team and Ian and his pals were in a tent beside our van. He said he was envious of the comfort of our van as it was a 24hr marathon and they were shivering in their tent. We cycled on to meet the Mayor, Gord McAdam and the fire station crew. After the interviews we were back to the log cabin to enjoy our weekend. Pat, lovely neighbour of Andrea, Helen and Randy headed off to the hot springs at Ainsworth. Randy did some filming when I was in the cave and then filmed me emerging from the cave. I felt like Ursula Andress in the James Bond film - dream on Granny Mave, dream on !! We ended our stay with Tom and Pat and their wonderful hospitality. They were all so kind.

Monday, 2 June 2008

More Solo Through the Mountains

Castlegar 1st June
Now I am still solo cyclist as Penny is still unwell at the moment and unable to cycle with me. Helen arranged to get in touch with the local cycling club for a bit of support and in the morning(31stMay) we met the local press for an update on the Bike Ride and the usual photos taken. At this point a Tour-de-France style cyclist arrived on the scene. This was Anton who would be accompanying me for a leg of the journey. Anton is 40yrs and leader of the pack. I wonder if he knew the cyclist he was meeting was a 70yr old granny! I approached him with some trepidation and introduced myself informing him that I was a fun cyclist. He didn't seem to mind and it did turn out to be fun with my eyes on the lithe, lean body riding ahead of me. At times we cycled side by side and I did some filming as the camera was on my bike. Randy has come back to do some more filming for Triple Echo and Helen and Randy drove behind us for a while. I had been cycling uphill for a long time although it wasn't as hard as The Anarchist - named for obvious reasons!! The Pass to-day is called Blueberry Poulson. At night we stopped at Jonathan's, son of Helen, and visited Andrea - friend - in her amazing log cabin in the middle of the Bonnington Mountains. We all sat down to an amazing supper joined by Pat and Tom, neighbours from the forrest.
To-day we are relaxing here and just chilling out. Pat invited us over for breakfast.The mist which hung around all day is clearing and we are off to the pub for supper. What a struggle it all is. Tomorrow it's through the mountains on the Crowsnest Highway to Salma and beyond. More later.....
(To see a close up don't forget to double click on the Google map on the Route page of the website and click on the Castlegar place-marker on the list at the LHS. Zoom in and click on Terrain at the top of the map to see the route in detail. Ed)

Solo Rider

Grand Forks 3oth May
Penny has been unwell and having a rest with our friends Mike and Susy. She hopes to join me later but meantime I am cycling alone. There has been a lot of publicity about the Two Grannies but now that I am alone I feel slightly threatened. Some youngsters might read the papers or listen to the news and think" Hey, there's an old lady out there lets go mug her!! Yesterday was a day of uphill, continuous ascent for almost 4 hours. To-morrow is the same. Once out of BC the roads are flatter and I am looking forward to that. Very tired to-night,more when I am feeling bright and breezy......