Are the Prairies Really That Flat?

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A typical prairie gravel road pointing towards the almost infinite distance of the horizon.

I love the southern Saskatchewan prairies. Regina is well-known as one of the cities with the highest recorded annual sunshine in Canada. We also have four beautiful and distinct seasons to cherish and to explore our wide open spaces.

As one who has explored and photographed just about every nook and cranny of this great province, I can unequivocally declare that Saskatchewan is anything but FLAT in its topography and terrain.

Nevertheless, for the hordes of travellers who traverse Saskatchewan via the Trans-Canada highway near my home, the above photograph is typically what they see. The uninitiated often casually comment that the prairies are boring and there is nothing to see. There couldn’t be anything farther from the truth.

The terrain and flora and fauna of Saskatchewan is magnificently diverse. A person only has to open their eyes and look intently.

I enjoy exploring a roughly 150 km radius from my home on my road bike. Some days I stick to the relatively flat terrain or perhaps the rolling hills. Other days, I venture out to the Qu’Appelle valley that surrounds our Queen city to the west, north and east of my home. Some of my favourite routes include steep (7 to 10 percent) climbs around Lumsden, Silton, Southey, and Fort Qu’Appelle. These regions are very picturesque and uniquely challenging to ride on a road bike, or perhaps a gravel or mountain bike. At a body weight of 100kg, I look more like a track sprinter than a road cyclist. Climbing the hills of our province are never easy, but they do prepare me for the long and steep mountain passes of the Canadian Rockies or the mountains of Montana.

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A short but sustained and steep (maximum of ten percent) climb out of the Lumsden valley. This one is gut-wrenching for big cyclists. The flyweight climbers just zoom by like I am standing still. The picture is deceptive as it is already at seven percent grade with the steep stuff behind me and yet to come in the horizon.

 

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Looking back at another steep climb (7 to 8 percent) out of the Lumsden valley. This is one of my favourite hills to climb on a route that takes approximately 2.5-3 hours (easy endurance pace) and a round trip of 65 kilometres from my home.

The typical and perpetually strong prairie winds produce some very strong road cyclists in the south of our province. Some of which have gone on to national, olympic, and even professional teams like Columbia Highroad and Rally Cycling.

This season I am planning on recording my cycling routes and other adventures, via a new Garmin Virb camera, and sharing them with friends and followers on WordPress and elsewhere. Don’t worry, as a reasonably skilled videographer and video-post artist, I promise only to intrigue and entertain you 🙂

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After a tough ride in the hills of the Qu’Appelle Valley, I just want to go home, shower, and get something nourishing to eat and drink.

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Author: arealwookie

Photographer, Writer, Human Rights Advocate, Environmentalist, and Outdoor Sports Enthusiast.

2 thoughts on “Are the Prairies Really That Flat?”

    1. Thanks, the overlays are really cool. Every time I want to go for a ride we have another snow storm 😦 All I have managed to accomplish so far is video of my position on the bike (on a trainer) and reevaluated it in Dartfish (http://www.dartfish.com/) I may have to pick up a vest or headband accessory and take the virb XC skiing! Cheers.

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