When I am in the forest, I complain that I can not see anything. When I am in the desert, I complain that there are no trees. And after 2 weeks of riding through the prairie, there is too much dry grass. It gets hard riding for hours every day looking at hundreds of miles of dry, brown, open grassland. The wind rolls over it completely unhindered, picking up speed, slamming against me like the shock wave of a bomb. It's slow going and mentally exhausting.
The oasis of civilization is always a welcome relief from any extreme environment, at least until I get bored of it too. But there really is something so comforting about being in the middle of a bustling city. I become so much more aware of the modern convenience of basic necessities like food, shelter, and support. Things I generally take for granted. And even though I enjoy the silence of the open road, unless I am stopped and there is no wind, all I ever hear is the roar of air moving past me. It comes from the wind, the cars, and my own forward movement. Nothing but a rushing sound all day long. So now that I am standing on a street corner in Edmonton, I can hear people talking and walking, cars breaking for a light, busses accelerating and all kids of other sounds and noises that I never hear out on the open range.
With the snow storm this past week, Calgary and Edmonton seamed like distant refuges from the cold snow. It's hard to ride through snow that is more then 2 inches deep. If I push too hard, the rear tire spins out. If I relax for just a moment the front tire slide out. The snow and sand packs into the gears until the chain just spins around a ball of ice. The entire bike and all of my clothing becomes one giant dirty ice machine, picking up extra weight. If I try too hard, I will sweat too much and develop ice inside my clothing, and won't be able to dry my clothing out in the tent that night. If I go too easily, the bike goes nowhere. As the shoulder and first lane become covered in ice, I have to ride by brail, occasionally running over the rumble strip to feel my way safely down the shoulder so that I don't ride off the edge. As the snow plows or cars go by, I get pelted with a sandy, salt flavored icy. It drips down my face, blinds my glasses, and cakes the bike.