Must have been the fifth consecutive day of blue skies and warmth along the open Prairie roads. But, all else felt changed.
From Kenaston, I turned southeast onto a busier highway, which served as a more direct connection between Saskatoon and Regina. More trucks and traffic. More noise.
The tailwinds I’d enjoyed the previous day had shifted by morning, turning into a frustrating headwind that hindered my progress throughout the day. Pushing back as I pushed down, still never pulling up and around.
I felt further debilitated by the aftereffects of riding in the sun for too long from Kindersley to Kenaston. I’d neglected to use sunscreen, an oversight that resulted in painful sunburns on my forearms and legs. My burns screamed for respite from the sun, begging for shade that rarely came. The blue skies persisted, with no trees or structures for kilometres at a time. Only the beautiful, unobscured expanses of the Great Plains surrounding the highway.
By early afternoon, I felt sufficiently beaten down and physically drained, yearning for a long, cold shower and the comfort of a climate-controlled room. For the first time, I felt the need to cool down rather than warm up.
While resting horizontally under the shade of a tree in the small town of Craik, I resolved to avoid the sun for the rest of the day. The weather was spring-time inviting, and all I wanted was the indoors.
I found a motel in Craik. Yet another manager pleasantly surprised and only mildly curious by my wandering into their life, making up a price on-the-spot. Another more-than-reasonable fee. Following a pillaging of the motel’s vending machine to quench my thirst, I lumbered Sonja into the motel room, shut the door, and closed the blinds.
I’d ridden over two hundred kilometres atop Sonja the day prior, a feat that took only an irritating sunburn and punishing headwind to already neglect. This marked the first full day of riding without taking a single picture; nothing felt quite right. My only chosen consolation: a brief reprieve from the ceaseless streams of thoughts crashing inside. Lying in bed, alone, in a motel room in Craik, I tuned out the world and my mind for a night.