Left to right: Ann Burton, Cathy Watts and Cindi Peterson. Photo by Trent Watts
In mid-July 2015, ten seniors started out on a five-day cycling adventure on The Great Trail in Saskatchewan. Starting in Saskatoon, they cycled close to 300 kilometres through Hague, Batoche, Duck Lake and Blaine Lake, before heading back home via Borden.
It was quite the adventure, says trip organizer Cathy Watts. The Trail experienced by the group was quite challenging, as it was almost entirely on gravel roads with little to no nearby amenities for the long-distance cyclist (food, shelter, water!), but, as Watts says, “The Trail has a unique way of bringing Canadians in touch with one another.”
Case in point, in planning the trip, Watts was unable to find accommodations for the first night’s stop in the Town of Hague. Looking for more information, Watts visited the Town Hall, and on a whim, asked if anyone would be interested in putting up a group of seniors for a night’s stop during their cycling trip. After a few phone calls and emails with Town representatives and even the mayor of Hague, some enthusiastic volunteers opened their homes for the seniors’ cycling group, providing them with home-cooked meals, hot showers, warm beds and some new friends.
And the hospitality didn’t end in Hague. The next four days included an evening at the Back to Batoche festival, the Métis Nation’s annual commemoration event of their culture, traditions and heritage. It is a family event where the Métis memorialize and pay homage to national heroes such as Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont and many others. The seniors cycling group got the chance to experience the songs, dances and stories of the Métis Nation in Batoche.
In five short days, the group of cyclists enjoyed some of the best of what Saskatchewan has to offer via The Great Trail; stunning rivers, magnificent vistas of prairie sky, lush countryside, and the warmth and generosity of the people of Saskatchewan.