Rodebud Rambler 2018

Connor, Mr. Pillows, and Chris overlooking the Rosebud River Valley

In the never ending quest to ride in new places the 3 of us set off on a mostly-gravel bike overnight to the Canadian Badlands, destination Drumheller, Alberta. Our route was based around avoiding pavement as much as we could and would take us through Rockyford, Rosebud, Wayne, and eventually to the giant dinosaur in"Drum".

Day 1 Strava
Day 2 Strava 


 

But first, we had to get to the edge of the city, and with a very warm day ahead we elected to go multimodal and use the train to get up into the deep NE.

With no resupply or water stops along the days route, we popped into the only gas station we saw just east of the city limits to grab a few last snacks before setting off into the wide expanse of Alberta's prairie.

After about 20 kms or so of beautiful asphalt, our first serving of gravel began. I am always amazed at how different gravel roads can be as you roll over them: Sometimes hardpacked and fast, other times deep and slow - often all within just one kilometre of road. These roads were exactly what we were looking for: challenging and fun. See that little cloud burst in the background...


Idyllic prairie scene before all hell broke loose. Once we crossed Hwy #9 the gravel began and we didn't see a vehicle again until the last pavement section t Rockyford. Just the quiet crunch of tires on little rocks for the next couple hours. Oh, and dogs - big, fast, running dogs. And that little cloud burst in the previous image, it was now chasing us and getting ever larger, blocking out ever more of the western sky. We knew we were probably going to get wet at some point...
...and did we ever! As you can see on Chris, we got slammed pretty hard by a thunder storm during the last 10kms of gravel road, turning the road bed into mush, slowing our progress significantly, and covering us in muddy yuck. This photos was taken in between storm cells and that big black cloud was going exactly where we were going too - Rockyford. But before we got there it unleashed a wall of cold rain that hurt, wind that almost blew us off the road, and a lightning barrage so terrifying we all thought for sure were going to get hit by it. We pressed on knowing that we were running out of time to get to the only store in Rockyford before it closed for  the night, and made it with 10 minutes to spare. WHEW! One thing I can't stress enough: when planning gravel routes, don't expect to be able to cover the same distance as you would on pavement. If you're able to do 20kph, you're doing well.
Home for the night, Rockyford Municipal Campground. There goes the storm too, well, for at least a couple hours. There isn't a lot to recommend about this campground but I will say the warm, clean bathrooms were nice and the fact that the camp host never came around means we had no wood to burn :( but we also stayed here for free :) so we'll call it even. The rains did reappear about an hour after this photo sending us scurrying into our tents for the night, lulled to sleep by the pitterpatter of rain and wind.
Day 2 began looking exactly like day 1 did when we went to bed. Threatening skies had us wondering not if but when we were going to get thunderstormed again. At one point, we were surrounded on all sides by cloud bursts but as luck would have it, we only received a light sprinkle during the last 10kms or so during our descent into Wayne. Today's route was almost entirely gravel and it was definitely a grind, made soft and mushy by the rains from the previous 24hrs. However, the roads we were on were also really beautiful and overlooking the Rosebud valley at times. This is why we're out here.
Lovely scene just east of Rockyford, Alberta.
The Rosebud Valley and Rosebud the town. Such a cute spot.
The last 10kms or so today was all downhill, culminating with this exciting "descent through time" into the Badlands itself and Wayne, Alberta in particular. Wayne is a fascinating place, steeped in history. It's pretty sleepy these days but "back in the day" there were thousands of inhabitants here, mostly underpaid mine workers living in horrible and dangerous conditions. Things got so bad that there was a bloody civil war between the workers and the mine operators that eventually resolved itself with all the workers being unionized. Finishing off our 2 day adventure with a huge downhill was really great.
The Last Chance Saloon and Rosedeer Hotel. I love this place. First things first: a hot meal and some cold drinks to soothe our weary bodies. As a bonus there was a band playing pretty rock'n'rollie stuff to the minivan warriors, including some Rancid and Dayglo Abortion covers. We were the only table clapping for them. "Thanks again, Table 5" said the singer. We laughed.
Bullet holes. Dead animals. And kack from all over valley. There is a ton of history in here. Apparently, the 3rd floor of the hotel is haunted too. We hung out in here until they kicked us out to retire to their own little campground next to the hotel.


Home for the night.We were the only people in the campground - nice! Big shoutout to Paula and her whole family at the saloon/hotel for offering us incredible hospitality. With full bellies we retired to our camp spot for the night for a campfire and lots of laughs. Tomorrow we'd ride into Drumheller where our shuttle pickup would bring us back to Calgary.
The 10X road is a real treat to ride. It scoots up a valley from the Red Deer River and is famous for all the 11? bridges in less than 10kms. Check it out.

Star Mine Suspension Bridge. Note the lovelocks. Really worth checking out if you are in the area.
That was a fun route that I'd definitely do again. If you have any questions, leave us a comment.

Go bike touring!


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