Yesterday we said good bye to the Yellowhead Highway. For over 1400 km, and two and a half weeks, we have followed the same road. In some ways we are sad to leave it.
The Yellowhead is a major highway. At its western end it is a two lane road with passing lanes up the big hills. By the time it nears Edmonton it becomes four lanes with exit ramps and limited access. Along almost the entire route the road has a paved shoulder which has protected us from the traffic, giving us a safer place to ride.
Almost a third of the traffic on the Yellowhead must be trucks, and at least that many are tourists in trucks pulling trailers and RV’s pulling cars. We wondered if the regular drivers on the road were noticing us. We have not seen many bikers (they might all be going the same direction as us) and there certainly aren’t many tandems. We are a little odd and therefore noticeable.
Well, yesterday we found out.
We were about ten kilometers off the highway, on a busy little secondary road when, at the top of a hill, a tractor trailer hauling pipe pulled up beside us, slowed down, and rolled down his passenger side window. He started yelling over the sound of the truck.
At first, we thought he was telling us to get off the road, then it seemed like he was talking about some other cyclists. Finally we all got slowed down enough to communicate a bit.
“Did you know there is another couple on a tandem riding the Yellowhead” he yells, ” I saw them between Hinton and Edson”
“We were there day before yesterday” I yell back.
“Was it you that rode into Wabamun yesterday?”
“That would be us”
We’ve been taking up the entire road with our conversation and by now there is another transport crawling behind us and a pick up truck coming up the hill toward us. The conversation ends with a shouted “Phenomenal” as the driver gears up and is gone.
We were being watched, and maybe even watched for, as we travelled the Yellowhead, even though we may not have realized it. Now on smaller roads and through quieter communities, we have already found out that there is a more open and obvious interest in what we are doing. More on that later.
We have spent the night in Beaumont, south and east of Edmonton.