Med Hat was an important day for me as it is about 60KM from the Saskatchewan border and I was determined to win my second province. I had become well informed as to where the sign was and how I was going to win the yellow jersey. Russ and Ryan who were still constantly arguing about who won the classic photo finish the night before and were both mentally weak and ripe for the picking, As we started the day I made sure to get some quality time with my guy Russ, Russ and I talked about the fact that I thought he had won and that I was going to write that in the blog. Only on one condition though. If he helped me box in Ryan the last 5 KM before the Saskatchewan sign, Russ with that evil, mischievous smirk on his face agreed willingly. With 7KM left before the sign I moved up to the front of the pack trying to be as sly as possible. Ryan silently pulled up beside me, I looked over and he was smiling at me, staring me down, he did not need to say any words, he knew my intentions and I knew his. All I said were four words, “ Things just got serious”. As Ryan was consumed in our stare down, Russ crept up on his side and bolted in front of him swerving back onto the shoulder to form a wall with myself. For the next 6KM Ryan tried to maneuver his way around us but was unsuccessful, If he tried to go outside Russ would lead him onto the road, Ryan, a very safety conscious rider would never do that, and if he tried to go on the inside I was just going to send him flying into the ditch. Ryan was furious and all over Russ, “ Are you really going to let Scotty Win”,” Is this for real Russ”, “I thought you were better than this Russ”. We had him. He was done. It was over. The province was mine. As you can see for 50 Kilometres either way in the prairies, and there was no threat of any traffic at all, All of a sudden Richy decided to mess everything up by sprinting on his little Nishiki special distracting Russ. Ryan with the sign in sight swooped out to the outside of the road where Russ did a horrible job of trying to cut him off, Ry darted back inside where I missed ramming him with my front tire and then he was gone chasing Richy down, his ox like relentless legs pumping to the finish where he was waiting at the sign with my championship and already wearing his yellow jersey.
After 3 days in the Prairies we are all convinced we are losing our minds. The scenery never changes and melts into a never ending mesh of green and yellow fields that flow to the horizon and look like they drop off the end of the world. The road never turns, you could ride for 8 hours and it feels like you have been stationary as though you are spinning into some alternate universe. Combined with the new heat, muggy air and lack of places to fill up your water bottles we really feel like we are losing it. The roads are lined with road kill, gophers, Raccoons, Birds, animals we do not even know; it makes it seem a little eerie. There is no noise, only the sound of the cars passing us and Russ mooing at the cows. The wind never stops and has a mind of its own, sometimes I feel like it is talking to us. Ryan and Russ are convinced it knows our thoughts. The prairies honestly transfix you into this hallucinogenic state where you really have no idea of time or sanity. An example of this is some of the rare species of animals we have seen.
We were riding along the road quietly without warning Ryan nervously yelped, “Is that a Lion” looking to the opposite side of the road this enormous tanned creature with full on mane, muscles bulging from its body and mean grimace was staring hungrily in our direction. Completely rattled we all stopped and watched this thing. For 10 minutes we stood on the side of the road trying to figure out what it was. Eventually being the older brother I was brave enough to get close to it to realize it had to be some rare breed of a Lion mixed with a buffalo. Ryan following my lead agreed and we decided that we had just discovered the Buffalion. The Buffalion and his Buffalionettes were staring at us mockingly knowing we were out of our element and honestly being much more intimidating than the bears of BC. They looked as though they wanted to eat us. Russ tried to convince Ryan to run inside the cage with his red shorts like a Spanish Bull Fighter, Ry intelligently declined. Do not think the Buffalion would have liked that.
Our second discovery was scary to say the least. Russ and I were so tired by this point we kept on seeing the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. As we swerved to avoid some rumble strips I saw this awkward looking animal knee knocking its way in circles completely lost in the middle of a farming field. Immediately I jammed on the brakes to see what it was, confused I yelled at my brothers who all jammed on their brakes as well. This alien looking animal with a massive snout, long uncoordinated body and completely disorientated looked like nothing we have ever seen before. Having experience in Southern Alberta, I immediately thought it was a coyote, Ryan went with a moose and Russ logically thought Camel. We watched this thing completely confused for about 10 minutes finally concluding it was a hybrid of the three, a Moomel!
Russ has been heart broken since we hit the prairies. He was convinced that he was going to be able to wear his Blue Sherpa jacket the entire way across Canada. Sweating buckets like a boxer trying to cut weight Russ finally relented this morning and took off the jacket. He went into a deep depression for the next 5 hours. Sean Neville being the nicest and most compassionate of the four of us found Rusty a new gift that has Russ on a whole new level of annoyance. Sean got Russ a cowboy hat that has not left his head since he entered Saskatchewan. He wears it when we bike, when he sleeps, when he does anything. Being inspired in McGrath by the legit Cowboys Russ has made it his mission to becoming a full-fledged ranching, horse riding, cow branding, gun slinging man of the old west. He has started by changing the songs he has been singing instead of Bieber’s Eenie Meenie” Russ (Who only knows Top 40) has constantly sung Bon Jovi’s "Wanted Dead or Alive" where he has wittingly changed the words in the hook to “ I’m a Cowboy, on a steel bike I ride, I’m wanted, DEAD OR ALIVE” which will always transition into “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” and something by Taylor Swift.
We arrived on beautiful roads to a small town called Gull Lake, Saskatchewan where the small town hospitality was already prevalent. Within minutes locals were directing us to the only restaurant in town, the snack store and the campsite that only costs 10 dollars. Guzzling water all of us were trying to make out if the events of the day were real or some imaginary oasis of our mind.