There is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction to be able to invest an early Monday afternoon to a hill climbing training session in the Qu’Appelle valley, some 50 kilometres from my home. While many people are just finishing up their lunch at work, I have managed to climb and descend approximately 50 kilometres of relatively steep hilly terrain in a couple of hours. To have the personal freedom to enjoy riding a quiet highway on a normal work day is a luxury. I approach my road cycling workouts and training like I would any job – a conscientious effort to do my best with the energy and time that I have at my disposal.
The best part of any strenuous and prolonged hill climb repeat session is the thrill of the downhill portion of the ride. In my particular neck-of-the-woods, one has to be careful of not only traffic and obstacles on the road, but also wildlife such as white-tailed deer or even gophers darting into our path of descent. To hit a deer at 70+ kilometres per hour would not be a pretty sight – for me or the deer.
Even a tiny gopher can wreak havoc and destruction upon a speeding cyclist in the blink of an eye.
In fact, I have inadvertently hit at least one gopher while descending in another hilly location. Luckily for me, I hit the gopher with my pedal during the downstroke of my crank. I had no time to react, and the poor little thing was crushed in a moment. For me to crash at that point would have meant serious injury or even death, especially at the speed I was descending.
I have seen the wreckage of cars that have collided with deer darting across the highways of Saskatchewan. It is astounding to see how much damage occurs. I have also heard the story of a guy who smacked into a deer with his 1000cc sport bike near Silton, Saskatchewan. He was so fortunate to have lived to tell his tall tale.
As a conservationist, it pains me to witness the suffering and death of animals in our natural environment. The ever increasing human population tends to crowd out a deer’s territorial travel. Climate change has led to very mild winters and a subsequent increase in the population of deer throughout the province. There are also many more predators such as wolves and coyotes to curb these increases. How wildlife managers and community planners address these important issues is, perhaps, a subject for another day.
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