Wednesday, August 21, 2013

MS Bike Tour: Waterous, SK

My Time in Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan

2 months ago, James decided that he wanted to do the MS Bike Tour in Watrous, Saskatchewan. I thought he was nuts for a couple of reasons.  He’d already done the MS Bike Tour Airdrie to Olds this year and Watrous is in Saskatchewan, but I encouraged him anyway. Then I found out we'd be staying on Little Manitou Lake. I saw a show about it years ago so that was exciting. It’s supposed to be a mystical healing lake don'tcha know. The natives say it's true so it must be true. I know this to be true - I am after all native.

We stayed in the Manitou Springs Hotel and Spa. They advertise the heck out of the spa but never seem to have an appointment open. I think they have exactly one person working in that spa. So I didn’t get to experience the spa, that's not really the point anyway.  I really wanted a mani/pedi though, and maybe a relaxation massage.  A facial wouldn’t have been too much to ask.  Okay, I wanted some spa time dammit!

So, in the last 2 months, James gets on it and raises $2,001 for the MS Society Regina chapter.  His goal was $5000+, but the flood so rudely interrupted his fund raising capabilities.  Even we donated a whack of money to the flood so it’s all good.  Not the flood, the donation choices.
The Boss

I decided to volunteer as a SAG driver and a photographer for the first time so I was responsible to Gord.  Gord has been responsible for safety for the rides for the past 24 years and I can see why.  He has no doubts about anything and he knows his stuff from the first minute to the last.

6 rides, first actual signed form volunteering.  Actual official volunteering was a little weird.  I’m generally a team or support driver for specific cyclists, but as I only had one cyclist to support, it seemed a little redundant.  I could have driven with him, pulled ahead, waited for him, and repeat.  SAG driving seemed more interesting.  Oh, I’m wrong, I was the driver for a media photographer for the cancer ride in 2010!  Driving a Dodge truck in 1800 cyclists was a little intense!
My Sweetie on Day 1

For the Watrous ride though, they seemed to want pictures from point & shoot cameras and not me so I'll keep my photos, but the driving was cool. For First-Aid, this chapter uses the Canadian Ski Patrol.  This is my first experience with them and they are awesome people. Very personable, like to answer questions and even when I said this SAG stuff is boring (and in all reality, you want it to be) they took it in good humour. As a team driver, I'm used to being out on the road all the time with my cyclists, not sitting around hoping nothing will happen but it was good. I got to see a marathon from a different point of view.

The Regina MS Society was also very helpful. They didn't mind 1001 questions and didn't treat their cyclists like a burden. They wanted the cyclists to be involved. The more the merrier! The only problem (un-problem?) was day one of the bike tour was on game day. Everyone was trying to finish so they could watch the 'Riders smack some other team down. I understand that other team was Montreal so that's okay. I could cheer for the green team this weekend. I may have to change my team of choice, Riders fans make Stampeders fans look like Sunday churchgoers.
My Jeep looking all official

Day 2 was very laid back. The cyclists were tired (and some were very hung over) but they got out there. Day 1 was 100km but day 2 was 50km so not as intimidating. James finished day 2 in 2 hours so not a bad day riding. We thought flat would be a nice change of pace.  OMG was he ever wrong. Flat terrain is like riding on a trainer, there is no mercy. On hilly terrain you know you get to rest on the descents. The hills that are in Saskatchewan are half percent grade but 50 km long, in both directions! I wish I was kidding. AND the wind! It is always windy!  And no light wind either!  The trees don’t move, so it fools you, so you look off into the distance, then you get on your bike and move at a nice brisk 15 kilometers per hour!

After all was said and done, we went back to the hotel and decided to take a dip in the lake. They say you can't sink and it's true. I went to the deep part and just stayed there. It was pretty awesome! James doesn't usually go into water (no interest) but I got him into the lake. He was having some fun. The water tasted just awful though! I mean it was just gross. The chemical content of the water will tell you why:

Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salts): 308.38 grains/gram or 4,410 milligrams/litre
Magnesium Bicarbonate: 63.42 grains/gram or 907 milligrams/litre
Sodium Sulphate: 50.92 grains/gram or 728 milligrams/litre
Potassium Sulphate: 116.62 grains/gram or 1,670 milligrams/litre
Sodium Chloride: 1405.6 grains/gram or 20,100 milligrams/litre
Calcium Sulphate: 104.96 grains/gram or 1,500 milligrams/litre
Iron Oxide and Aluminium: .28 grains/gram or 4 milligrams/litre
Silica: .69 grains/gram or 9.9 milligrams/litre
Sulphur – some
Specific Gravity – 1.06
Tap Water – 1.00

Little Manitou Lake is called the Dead Sea of Canada.  This lake is so chemical intensive because it doesn’t drain anywhere.  Creeks and streams drain into it then the water just stays here.  Due to the geology under the lake, it also doesn’t seep into the ground.  I think there are only 2 lakes like it in the world.  All kinds of beauty products are made from the lake too. The pool water in the hotel is straight from the lake, just heated up.  You can tell, the water is very “golden” as they put it.  I even got James into the pool for a short time, mostly because our room wasn't yet clean at 3:30pm. Yes, we have one or two issues with this hotel. Either way, we enjoyed our stay and the Bike tour.

Comparatively, the Regina chapter of the MS Society is much more accommodating than the Calgary chapter. They are nicer (and not fake nice, truly nice), far more approachable, and appear to be far more organized. There is no doubt about who does what. They have an answer for everything or knows who can answer your questions, even people who are first timers.  They don’t fake their way through it.  It was fantastic. The dinner was edible, more than edible, it was tasty and seconds were offered once everyone was fed. After dinner, they talked about the fundraising and what it actually provides for people with MS.  This is the first time I’ve heard this.  I only knew before this ride because I looked it up myself but I still appreciated that they spoke about it.  I did have a minor issue with the 2 hour long speech. When the speaker was talking about the people who raised more than $2000 she gave a bio of everyone except the last 4 or so people. I felt like the last few people were insignificant comparatively.  I am married to a professional speaker so I pick up on things like this.

All in all, going to Watrous was a fantastic experience. I'm glad we went out. It certainly gave me a different perspective on how things are different between the chapters. Given a choice, I'd give to this particular society year after year even if we can’t make it out for the ride. The Calgary chapter will still benefit from us but Regina, given their organized, accepting, and friendly attitude will certainly benefit from our fund raising as well.

MS Society Regina, SK: good job!

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