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Aug 15, 2015

Overview – Bike Glacier, Banff & Jasper National Parks

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You can see the full tour plan at Cycling Escapes. They call it an Epic Tour which includes 2 countries and 4 National Parks from Glacier National Park in Montana, across the border into Alberta Canada, and then into Waterton Lakes National Park. From there we have a day of cycling bookended by van shuttles to get us to the last half of our trip. Banff National Park, the Icefields Parkway, and Jasper National Park conclude our cycling. The daily description and maps below can give you some idea of the tour. We did a lot of training to prepare.

Date
Day
Ride
Day
2015 Glacier to Jasper
Elevation
Gain
Miles
16
Sun
AMTRAK Sleeper Car
 
 
17Mon
1
Bike West Glacier
1,500
30
18
Tue
2
Going to the Sun Rd / Logan Pass
5,100
70
19
Wed
3
Many Glacier to Waterton Lakes
4,100′
50
20
Thurs
4
Highwood Pass / Banff
3,350′
60
21
Fri
5
Banff / Lake Louise
RAINOUT
2
22
Sat
6
Lake Louise / Saskatchewan Crossing
3,300′
52
23
Sun
7
Icefields Parkway / Sunwapta Falls
3,300
60
24
Mon
8
Icefields Parkway / Jasper
1,500
35
Shuttle – Calgary Hotel – Flight
Total
20,000’+
    355

Route Map – Glacier Section

Route Map – Banff to Jasper

Aug 17, 2015

Day 1 – West Glacier

Monday, August 17: 30 miles / 1,500 ft. elevation gain

We left Seattle at 4:30 PM Sunday evening. We booked a sleeper car which included breakfast and lunch. Of course we pre-ordered vegan meals. The food was pretty good. Sleeping on the train was not so great, what with all the announcements, rattling and train whistles. But for just one night, it was fine. Today we arrived in West Glacier about 9:40 AM. It was sunny and very cold. Spencer built the bike with only one minor hiccup when he couldn’t find the rear derailleur. That would have been BIG trouble! Turned out it was packed in a different bag which was already at the hotel. WHEW!

Once the bike was built, there was a shakedown cruise into the park. It was just an out and back with other riders from the group. We took a detour on the way home and visited Apgar Village on Lake MacDonald. Very pleasant. Sun shining and comfortable.

We walked into town for dinner rather than choosing the pricey restaurant at our hotel, the Belton Chalet. It was great to stretch our legs after the long train ride. We noticed that in Montana all the signs have a date on the back of when they were installed. For dinner we had pretty good veggie burgers and fries. Spencer reluctantly tried the Huckleberry BBQ sauce which turned out to be surprisingly good. Then, inspired by an “exhibit” (info sign) on the ride, we indulged in some Huckleberry pie for dessert, which was GREAT!

Back to the hotel for a visit with Mike and Chris (our ETC tandem buddies), and to bed for an early start tomorrow.

Aug 18, 2015

Day 2 – Going to the Sun Road

Tuesday, August 18: 71 miles / 5,101 ft. elevation gain /Cumulative climb 6,718′

We woke at 5:50 because it was going to be a tough day. We had to get to the top of Going to the Sun Road (Logan Pass, 6,685′ high) no later than 11. After that we’d be kicked off the hill. It was only 32 miles, but gained 4,000′ in the last 12.

Day 2 smilesDay 2 tandems away

I went to check the bike and the front tire was flat. The rim tape had given out and punctured the tube. Some help from the mechanic and we were ready to go. Sheila took care of getting our breakfast together and bags on the trucks. It was very cool, so we were in tights and long fingered gloves when we rolled out with Mike and Chris at 6:50 AM.

The first 13 miles were very fast. We rode along Lake MacDonald and averaged almost 18 mph. We needed those fast miles in the bank. By mile 13 the climbing gently started and our outerwear came off. By mile 20 we were starting the main climb.

It ramped up to 5 or 6% grade and stayed there. It never got less, it never got more. That meant there were no rest stretches. Just climb, climb, climb. The sky was patchy overcast, so we weren’t baking and that was nice. The road was very narrow, no shoulders and steady streams of traffic. Cars would bunch up behind a bike group, then pass en masse when there was a straight stretch. So the cars came in waves. We didn’t see any big rigs (thank goodness), no trailers, and only one camper. It turns out there’s a prohibition on larger vehicles. Thank you! Of course there were still official park shuttles and touring cars regularly. And on the right side of the road was a one foot high, WPA era curb/retaining wall. Not much between us and a big cliff.

The photos of us in this slideshow are by RayL, a professional photographer with a family member on the tour.  Story continues below slideshow.

Climbing that steadily soon gave us spectacular views of MacDonald River Valley. It’s pretty amazing to see what the glaciers (now pretty much gone) created. But we were also pushing our time limit. We could only ride about 5-6 mph most of the way. So we climbed non-stop for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Sometimes we took turns standing to give our rears a break.

We finally stopped for a pee break next to a mini-pullout with a sunken culvert. It gave Sheila a little privacy and both of us a much-needed break off the bike. From there we only had 2 miles to go.

As we approached the top, the hillsides were crawling with hikers. That’s what the touring cars and shuttles were doing! We snapped a photo of some hikers at the pass sign and they returned the favor. The parking lot was full of all the cars who’d passed us. We found the Cycling Escapes truck and pulled out some warm gear for the ride down. The cold wind at the top had instantly brought our body temperature way down. We had made it to the top with 15 minutes to spare and Mike and Chris pulled in just after us. We had crossed the Continental Divide!

We had anticipated a fast trip down the back side, but the entire road was under construction. Actually, it was all newly paved, partially lined, and they were putting finishing touches on turnouts. But it meant we were stopped several times on the way down and never got up much speed. We rode through a large section of forest which had been recently burned.

shower-instructions fire-tender

We were the last ones to lunch in St. Mary’s. Then we had 20 miles to go. The headwinds were terrific for the next 8 miles. We finally turned off toward Many Glaciers and were free of wind. But we had to climb again. And the road was patchy – just gravel in several stretches. We were tired pups when we got in.

When we got to the room we had the most confusing shower mechanism I’d ever seen. It was a steampunk dream. The directions were just as confusing as the piping. But the shower felt good.

The hotel was nice, right on the water and overlooking a series of peaks. There was a huge wood fire in the center of the lobby maintained by a staff person in lederhosen! Dinner in the hotel was a pair of huge salads made just the way we like them. We sat on the porch afterwards and watched the sun drop behind the mountains.

2015-08-18 15.17.33

 

Aug 19, 2015

Day 3 – Glacier to Waterton Lakes

Wednesday, August 19: 49 miles / 3,359 ft. elevation gain / Cumulative gain 10,017′

IMG_20150819_081554This morning we discovered we hadn’t read the tour offering very carefully and in fact breakfasts are not being provided. Oops. Another unmet expectation. These were going to crop up all week. There must be a lesson here. But we enjoyed bowls of oatmeal overlooking the lake and snapped a few shots of the hotel before departing.

We headed out at 8 AM with beautiful weather and a nice tailwind. The ride back out of Many Glaciers was quick. We saw lots of cows right next to the road again. A little spooky to ride right next to such large animals. The river out of Many Glaciers was lovely. I should note here that there was only one “glacier” still visible at Many Glaciers, a very small patch of snow called Salamander Glacier. Of the 130 glaciers once in the park, only 25 are left.

DSC02786After 16 miles we turned uphill again this time onto the Chief Mountain International Peace Highway. It was steep for the first couple of miles, then a variable grade to mile 20.There was a large group of Backroads Adventure cyclists who had been trucked to the top of that climb and gleefully rode down what took us more than an hour to ride up. A quick rest stop, then up and down in steep increments until we got to the international border at mile 30. The headwinds had picked up again, too. It took us 30 minutes to get through customs. Notice the line of cleared growth that marks the border. Who keeps that cleared?! Once through customs were rewarded with a long spectacular descent at full speed. Got up to 47 mph without pedaling.

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We had a quick run across a flat and then began another long ascent. That was today’s pattern, fast downs with long slow climbs. And headwinds. But the weather milder than yesterday. Some sun, some clouds, never extremely warm or cold. The scenery was again wonderful. Small lakes everywhere, looming mountainous rock formations surrounding us. We saw Sofa Rock, a huge bed of pre-Cambrian rock (600 million years old) thrust over a layer of Cambrian (100 million years old) rock. Very interesting.

Living at sea level, we were noticing the altitude’s impact. The lowest point we’d been at since Logan pass was 4,400′. And all three of the passes we went over today were above a mile high. That seemed to be making us a bit more winded than usual. This third climb was accompanied by headwinds characterized as “brutal” “fierce” and “unrelenting” by those at the lunch stop just past the summit. We were justifiably proud to have made it up the last climb. We gratefully sunk into the camp chairs on the edge of a cliff overlooking the valley of Waterton. We swapped stories with some of the large group of San Diegans on our group and enjoyed lunch.

IMG_20150819_153019After lunch we had an even better descent to Waterton. It was very straight and steep. We got up to 50 mph this time. then we had to fight the headwinds into the town for 5 miles. We saw a bear scurrying into the woods along the bike trail, but failed to capture it in digital form.

We stayed at the world famous Prince of Wales hotel. The hotel sits on a bluff overlooking the lake. The winds actually blew it of center twice during its construction. That’s how fierce they felt today. We went into town for an afternoon of sitting around and reading after we strolled through the shops. Had a lovely dinner of “Hippie Wraps” (kind of a southwestern burrito) before returning to the hotel.

Aug 20, 2015

Day 4 – Highwood Pass / Banff

Thursday, August 20: 57 miles / 3,533 ft. elevation gain / Cumulative gain 13,370

This was to be our most unpleasant day of the trip so far. Unmet expectations were the root cause.

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It was too far to ride from Waterton to Banff, about 231 miles. The plan was to shuttle us to the designated start at the bottom of Highwood Pass. They told us it would be about two hours drive. We got out right on time, grabbed a bite to eat at Tim Horton’s on the way, but we didn’t get to the start for 3.5 hours. That was a long trip in a van for a bunch of cyclists. We unpacked and got on the road quickly.

We slathered on the sunscreen and wore our sleeveless jerseys. It was to be a beautifully hot day up a gradual climb to the pass at 7200′. Count the expectations in that sentence.

It all started off well enough. Pleasant climbing, but a lot more downs than we expected. Which meant the ups were a bit stiffer than expected. We started ahead of most of the riders because of how they loaded the tandems so we got to see everyone pass us by on the hill. That was actually kind of fun. In one set of rollers we played cat and mouse with a few singles. We ended up being the mice.

rocky-mountain-goats-adam-mastersA pair of Rocky Mountain Sheep showed up on the road just a few hundred feet past the sign warning of their presence. They must have to move that sign a lot! They wouldn’t move off the road, so we had to cross to the left to get by them.

We were at the summit (7,200′, highest of the trip) at 2:30, later than expected and looking at another 40 miles before we got to the truck for the second shuttle of the day. We ate quickly and tore down the hill with our wind jackets on. We were in the 40s much of the first 6 miles. The wind chill already made us wish we’d planned better…long-fingered gloves, tights, booties all would’ve been most welcome.

DSC02821The next four were not quite as fast but then the rain started. We had 30 miles left, mostly downhill, with drizzle. Not bad. Then the wind kicked up and tried to blow us back up the mountain. And the rain increased. We hadn’t packed any rain gear. Ooops.

That’s when we started getting occasional very steep climbs. And the clouds thickened. We can handle this, we said. But we weren’t taking into account how late it was in the day, that we’d ridden 4 days in a row mostly with high miles and high climbing, and finally that we were still at altitude.

DSC02823SAG vehicles were roaming the road picking up riders who had enough. It was coming down hard now. We confidently flashed the SAGs a thumbs up as we continued past. The earlier, speedy riders were already down before the rain had started.

We resorted to counting down the miles when we were 12 miles out. Every mile reinforced that we were going to make it. Ten. Nine. Heavy showers. Eight. Seven. Six, STEEP HILL. When we got to five we had one more ridiculously steep hill, then a speedy down to where we could see the vans again. We thought they were cutting the ride short at that point with just two miles to go.

IMG_20150820_182502We stopped and they said there had a been a change in plans. They were going to have to pick us up 5 miles further down the road. Now we were seven miles out again. Sheila spoke for both of us when she quickly responded, “Psychologically I don’t think I can do seven more miles.” I agreed and we tossed the tandem in the truck. We were toast. Yet another unmet expectation.

At the Casino everyone loaded their bikes for the 45 minute drive to Banff. After quick showers we ate at Nourish, for a wonderful vegan dinner. We were joined by two new cycling friends from Ohio, Nancy and Mark. A late dinner, but satisfying.

Aug 21, 2015

Day 5 – Banff to Lake Louise

Friday, August 21: 1.6 miles / 10 ft. elevation gain / Cumulative gain 13,380

The rain that started yesterday came and went all night long. At our 8 AM tour meeting, we were told that the ride was a “go” and we should be ready to leave at 9. It wasn’t raining at the moment although the temperature was 49 F and the forecast foretold a day of rain and dropping temperatures.

Dutifully we packed up including all our rain gear in the pannier. We weren’t going to be caught by that again. We got to the bike and started loading it up. It started raining. We emptied the pannier and piled on the clothes. We hit the road while a half dozen or more riders were deciding not to venture out.

IMG_20150821_141257We got 3/4 of a mile down the road and were starting to soak through when we decided to opt out. We turned around, found our dry shoes and got the tandem in the trailer. More people did the same. We were told we’d hit the road at 10:30 to pick up any other riders on our way to Lake Louise.

We did some shopping, got a treat and a chai, then returned. There must have been half our group taking the vans. The rain was pouring. On the way up we gathered another 6-8 riders. We plucked one 71 year old rider who had gutted out the day before, who was so cold she couldn’t shift anymore. She was stuck in one gear going up the hills. It was absolutely miserable out there.IMG_20150821_115430

Obviously our rooms weren’t ready when we got in around noon, but the hotel was set up as a comfort lodge. We changed clothes and sat in the fireplace room in overstuffed chairs and read. Free wifi meant we could catch up on some goings on. And we read. And I napped. And it rained. It snowed on top of Mount Fairview just outside our window.IMG_20150821_182032

It was great to have a total day off. We needed it. Sheila talked to the chef of the hotel who agreed to make us huge dinner salads like we make at home. They were beautiful and exquisitely prepared. We were in seventh heaven as we crunched our way through that fabulous meal.

Tomorrow we get on the Icefields Parkway. We’ll try to go without expecting anything. Maybe that will make the day’s riding seem more pleasant.

Aug 22, 2015

Day 6 – Glaciers and Lakes

Saturday, August 22: 51 miles/ 2,692 ft. elevation gain / Cumulative gain 16,072′

2015-08-22 08.34.54It was still bitterly cold in the morning when we woke at Lake Louise (top) so Rich decided they’d shuttle us all up to Lake Moraine (bottom) for a look-about. That also would allow us to start riding when it was warmer. Splendid!

2015-08-22 09.32.42

SAMSUNG

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Lake Moraine is a small lake at 6,183′ nestled in a group of mountains above Lake Louise. It was gorgeous and would have been a great place for a hike, had we more time. Frost was still heavy on the info signs describing the different layers of rock in the formations above us. We snapped some pictures and wound our way back down to our bikes.

A Grand Fondo was going to do a turn around at Lake Louise later that day, so the roads were packed with expectant spectators. We took off at the front of the pack for our trip to Saskatchewan Crossing. We rode through Lake Louise village, then let ourselves through the wildlife-proof gate and entered the Icefields Parkway. We quickly had to strip off some layers as we rolled along the Parkway. It was a nice place to ride, usually with wide shoulders and rumblestrips to protect us some. And the scenery was jaw-dropping gorgeous. We stopped often to take pictures, like this of Herbert Lake reflecting some mountains behind it. The mountains had a dusting a white from the snow yesterday and the sky was blue as can be.

herbert-lake

Even with the climbing we were cruising along at 12 mph which is good for us. But the climb was getting tougher. We were passed by lots of the rest of the crew when we came to signs warning of road construction ahead. That combined with the streams of asphalt trucks trundling up and down the pass warned us of changes ahead.

We saw the remnants of many glaciers as we rode up. Some people in cars leaned out and cheered us on. Then we came around a corner and saw Bow Lake. It demanded a full stop. Its waters were aquamarine in a tone I’d never seen before. Stunningly green. We chatted with a family from Italy in the midst of a 15 day vacation. The father (il padre) told us he thought pictures he’d seen of it were water-colored. It couldn’t really be that shade. He was agog. As were we all.

After that we got to the construction zone. A long line of cars waited for a flagger to let them by. A few cyclists were at the head, so we joined them and waited. Then to our joy, the flagger waved us through first to get a headstart. This part of the road was already paved nicely, so we scooted up as quick as we could. The traffic soon followed, but we all made it through the active paving zone with ease.

We were at the top of Bow Pass. 6,787′ high. The day was bright and lovely and we had a lot of down to cover. When the traffic was stopped for the paving again, we took off. Our average to that point was around 12 mph. We headed down at 47 mph. on the very smooth, empty new road. We zipped!

After about 6 miles it leveled some and for the last 20 miles it was all flat or downhill, with another steep drop in the last 4. We were relaxed and moving well when we crossed the Saskatchewan River with an average speed of 15. Unfortunately we lost that average with a steep uphill to The Crossing, our hotel for the night. Still, it showed how much time we can make back given enough down!

I have to say there is just something about riding through the country. You experience it so much more fully. We are actually part of the landscape, not just encapsulated visitors flashing by. On the bike you feel the change in inclination when the road tips up. You feel the wind, the sun, the shade. You notice the little critters, the flowers, the creeks cascading by. The mountains have a presence you can feel. You get glimpses of even more peaks and creeks through the trees.

And it is generally quiet. It is an awesome experience, made more so by realizing that you can ride over 7200′ passes. What an amazing machine we live in.

We had lunch, cleaned up ourselves and the bike, then spent the afternoon sitting in the sun reading. We were surrounded by majestic peaks, half of them snow covered. It was breathtaking just to look around. The whites, the greens, the blues! Even the grays of the Rockies were pretty.

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We won’t discuss dinner that night except to say it was not great. But the day had been splendid.

Aug 23, 2015

Day 7 – Columbia Icefield

Sunday, August 23: 61 miles/ 3,362 ft. elevation gain / Cumulative gain 19,404′

We left this morning at the scheduled start time of 8:30. Somehow it had gotten pushed back to 9 without our knowledge. What the heck, we’ll just get in some early morning miles. It was freezing cold again especially since the first 6 miles were mostly in the shadows of the mountains to either side of us. It was dry and clear, though. We had the advantages of riding before anyone else was on the road and of seeing the rising sun lighting the cliffs on the sides of the road. It was kind of dramatic.

DSC02857We rolled steadily along until we got to the 14 mile mark, Weeping Wall. This huge cliff has small streams of water working down its face and was the first rest stop of the day. We got a snack and some water, then headed out.

Almost immediately we hit the main climb of the day. It was 7-10% grade which is pretty steep. There was nothing to do but gear down and ride up. We peeled off our extra layers quickly and as we did so we were passed by the fast singles of our group. We’d be passed by many more before we reached the top.

Straight ahead we could see where the road switched back above us. We decided to make that our first goal. Steadily we closed in, then we turned to the left to get to the switchback. Unhappily, it also involved losing some altitude before we started climbing again. STEEP! SLOW! And now the road was narrow with lots of vehicles going both directions.

DSC02870We pulled into our overlook after 45 minutes of riding and looked back down the valley. What a climb! Too bad it just kept going up from there. We still felt strong and confident. The scenery was a lot more rocky on this stretch.

We didn’t realize we were over the top until we were. A drop that could have just been a short respite from climbing turned into a deep descent. Woo hoo! Sheila slipped on her wind jacket as we rolled, but I opted to skip mine in favor of getting to the next SAG stop at Columbia Icefield as quickly as possible. I got pretty chilly as we suddenly saw great snowy peaks rise up on the left.

S2-summit-switchbackThe icefield is a large expanse of snow and ice which fills a plateau. Generally glaciers form at the edge of the field and, indeed, we could see the Athabaskan Glacier coming down from Columbia. Even though the sun shone brightly, it was very cold. We snacked, then rode over to the visitor’s center to use the facilities. That’s when Sheila had a moment.

2015-08-23 12.03.09

There must have been at least 25 tour buses in the parking lot. The center was gigantic and absolutely packed with people from all over the world. Different languages flying everywhere. People, people, people. Sheila went in to find the bathroom and almost immediately came out saying she couldn’t stand the crush. She was really shaken. It was like suddenly being in Disneyland. I bravely scouted out the locations of the washrooms and reported back to her. The second exposure went much more smoothly. We chatted with some Aussies about the bike and our trip, then hightailed it out.

Riding past the glacier the winds were so stiff we had to lean into them sideways to stay upright. Then they’d shift and we’d have to recover and brace for the next change. All this while rolling around 35-40 mph. A stiff climb slowed us again which was good because the RCMP were pulling over speeders due to the large numbers of tourists wandering around. It also allowed us to stop easily at a gorgeous waterfall near the top of the pass.

Eventually, though, we were out of the crowds and just rolling down along the river. Another day ending in a long descent. It was a boon. With the river on one side and waterfalls and cascades on the other, it was also pretty.

The only problem was the shoulder turned into a very rough piece of road. Every 8-10′ there was a crack perpendicular to our line of descent. We call roads like that “returning to Wisconsin” after the roads we hit on our cross country tour. Whenever there was no traffic, we got on the left side of the white line where it was smooth. When cars appeared, we went back to Wisconsin.

We ended the day at Sunwapta Falls at the Rocky Mountain Lodge. Sheila stumbled on a computer there and tried to fix some client problems that had popped up while we waited for our room. After we were cleaned up we hiked to the falls.

There are actually two sets of falls. The upper ones force the river to go through a 10′ wide chute in the granite. The noise was amazing, as was the force of the churning water. Sheila opted to return before we got to the second set of falls which were much like the first, narrow chasms filled with hard-charging water. It’s hard to believe the rocks are able to stand up to it.

We’d made dinner reservations as soon as we got there and still had to eat at 7:30. But we made them for four so our friends Mike and Chris could eat before 9. They had bike trouble and came in pretty late. It was a nice meal with a tasty dessert. Our waiter told us about the northern lights he’d seen last night, so I decided I’d wake at 1:15 to look for them. I did. They didn’t show. I went back to sleep. Nothing to see here, ma’am.

Aug 24, 2015

Day 8 – Jasper

Monday, August 24: 35 miles / 934 ft. elevation gain / TOTALS: gain: 20,428′ / miles: 355.5

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We left first today to have time to tear down the bike in Jasper in time for our 1:45 bus ride out. And since it was mostly down, we really rocked. Again, it was very cold. But we were bundled up for it. The day was suddenly smokey. We couldn’t figure out where the fire was. We stopped at mile 14 to look at Athabaskan Falls. This was similar to Sunwapta Falls, a narrow break in the rocks where the entire river tries to get through at once. Even as early as we arrived it was crowded with half a dozen tourist buses. And again we had Aussies interested in our bike and travels. Also met a band of guys who are biking from Lake Louise to Whistler in 7 days. 621 miles and 36,000′ of climbing. Now that’s a big trip! They were fun to chat with and expressed their admiration for our climbs on a tandem.

We left the falls and as we did, a large group of our riders swooped down. We were still in front, but not by much. We climbed out then returned to the fast downhill run. I got it in my head that I wanted to see how far down we could get before that peleton caught us. I didn’t tell Sheila that. She just kept adding power. Found out later that she too had set that same internal goal. Great minds!

There really wasn’t much to look at, either. With the smoke. you could barely see the river, much less do anything bu make out the outlines of the mountains around us. So we just pedaled. Every time we had a hill, I thought I’d see the peleton coming up behind us, but they didn’t. We even stopped at an outhouse and they didn’t pass us by.

We were getting close to Jasper. Now I wanted to beat them in. We rode hard and swung into the train station just minutes ahead of them. Yahoo! Our breakaway stuck! The peleton was defeated!

DSC02883I spent 2+ hours taking apart and repacking the bike. We grabbed some food, said goodbye to our guides, and caught the bus for Calgary. It was billed as a 7 hour ride.

That bus ride was really weird. It went right back along our route all the way to Banff. It was like watching a movie backwards and from the other side of the screen. And in this case, it was like watching a black and white version instead of technicolor. All the vistas we’d seen before were suddenly washed out into shades of gray. Bow Lake was dull as used dish water. We realized how lucky we’d been to see those sights freshly rain-washed when we rode through.

It turned out that the smoke was from the Okanagan Complex of fires in Eastern Washington. We were hundreds of miles from there. It reminded us of the fragility of our existence on this planet and how we shouldn’t take any moment for granted. It may not all be technicolor. We’d best enjoy what we see and do at the time.

red sun due to smoke

In Banff we had a great dinner at Masala, an Indian restaurant on Wolf Street. Highly recommended. You can see from this shot of the sun in Banff how red it and smoke-obscured it was. Then we continued toward Calgary. But a fatal accident west of Calgary had shut down the Tran Can Highway, so we had to use back roads. That worked for a while, then we got caught by the wave of refugees from Highway 1. It took us a couple extra hours to get to Calgary airport. Then we had to get to our “airport” hotel which turned out to be a $40 cab ride away. (What Airport hotel doesn’t have a shuttle? Airport Traveller’s Inn – avoid it.)

That was pretty much our trip. The scenery was exquisite. The cycling was gigantic fun, even when it was really hard. Our fellow cyclists were fun to ride with, even though that only happened occasionally. The tour company was practiced. They moved our gear, set out snacks and lunches along the ride, helped out with tired and wet cyclists. It all worked out pretty well. We certainly wouldn’t have wanted to do this on our own. It was another epic experience.