Early on a Sunday morning, 16 cyclists gathered at a neighborhood diner for what has become an annual event, the Tour de Perogy. Starting in central Edmonton, we ride 60km east to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village for their harvest festival, gorge on perogies and other Ukrainian delicacies, and ride back before dark. This would be the farthest I’ve ever attempted to ride in a day, and knowing that vegan Ukrainian delights would be few and far between, I packed pretty heavy on the food.
Photo by Keith. He powered ahead of everybody (on his Twenty!) so he could take photos of us passing, and then powered ahead of us again so we could draft him.
Partly cloudy, not too hot and not too cool once we got moving, and with a bit of a headwind (that teased a tailwind for the way back), the weather couldn’t have been better on the ride out. The leaves are just staring to turn, and the prospect of being the last big ride of the season was pushing the riders to their limits, whatever their skill level.
Stop at a country intersection, refuel & wait for the stragglers.
When a group of roadies turned into our peleton on a country road, it became obvious what a motley crew of cyclists we were. Besides the touring bikes, there were hybrids and mountain bikes, a recumbent tricycle and Keith’s folding Phillips Twenty. There was a little bit of lycra here & there, but nothing compared to the kitted-out roadies who aggressively passed through the pack like the country back-road was a racing course.
Bringing up the rear. I uploaded this photo full size, so you can click on it to see details like the riders' hats, and the confused looking horses.
Some of the group turned back before we got to our destination, and when we finally arrived, we got an unexpectedly cold welcome from someone directing traffic who didn’t seem to know what to do with a group of cyclists.
Even the bison drove to the harvest festival. We're definitely not in the city anymore.
After eating some of the vegan kielbasa I’d brought cold, and watching everyone else down copious amounts of deep fried dumplings and cheese, I set off to explore the living museum. Actors in period costume tend the animals and gardens, operate the grain elevator, blacksmith, run telegraphs, make quilts & pillows, harvest the fields – basically do everything that the early Ukrainian settlers and townspeople would do in their day to day lives. The actors really get into their parts, and invite you to ask questions about their lives and characters (who are based on real people) and join in with their daily activities.
Most importantly, there were kittens.
Kitty in clover!
The village was quite busy with tourists taking the same touristy photographs over and over again, and I just wasn’t feeling it, so I never actually took any pictures of the buildings or the actors. I found the field of flax and the chicken pen more interesting.
Vegans like flax very much. The fatty acids in flax seeds aren't found in very many other plant sources, and are essential for a healthy body. Also, it's what linen's made of.
This chicken kept trying to attack my camera, ruining any potential hen photos.
As we prepared to head out, dark clouds began gathering to the south, and we weren’t on the road long before light rain began. It became a full fledged rain storm by the halfway point, and was with us the rest of the way home, leaving me soaking wet with numb hands and feet when I walked in the door, with plenty to reflect on as I hit the shower.
I don’t have a bike computer, but according to those that did, we rode about 120km altogether, with a respectable average speed of 27km/h. It was my first century, and I found myself quite a bit behind the main (lead) group at times, leaving me to work harder without someone to draft. Thankfully, Keith slowed his pace down to mine, and let me draft him for a good chunk of the way back to town – talk about class! If I hadn’t packed so much, or been riding upright, or been wearing cycling shoes instead of my canvas No Sweats, maybe it would’ve been easier to keep up with the front of the pack (or maybe I just would’ve seen a lot more ass and a lot less countryside), but I think I’d have preferred going even slower, making more stops, taking more pictures, because what’s the point of riding in the country if your chief concern is how fast you can ride back? The next day, I was pretty stiff for my usual 10km commute, but I’m happy to report that I felt strong as ever by the next day. I wonder if the speed demons at the front of the pack all ride can say the same thing?