Day 12: Banff to Kananaskis 79k

The name of the game today was to get to Kananaskis as fast as possible so I could start my vacation. Being ahead of schedule meant I could stay and rest as long as I wanted to (within reason).

A good downhill trend and a well paved bike path/shoulder had me at Canmore in 40 minutes. Along the way I started noticing remnants of the famous flood a month previous. The bike path out of Banff had been washed out and was now an expanded shoulder of the highway.

Construction crews made short work of the major highway repairs though, and the trans Canada was back on one piece and safe to navigate.

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After Canmore, headwinds and rolling hills slowed me down a little. Still making good time as I hit the last of the Rockies I turned off the highway into Kananaskis country.

The first thing that struck me was a surplus of dragonflies. Apparently the flooding had created a bumper crop of mosquitoes and the dragonfly population had exploded in response.

The only hill of any substance today was Barrier Hill. Not too bad a climb, but the substantial downhill and favorable conditions propelled me to a speed of 80 kmh, my fastest yet.

After finding my accommodations and having a quick shower I was whisked off to Barrier Lake. There, people had gathered to celebrate a birthday. It was a potluck affair, and Pete got busy grilling up some meatballs.

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After dinner we went for a paddle in the lake.

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Day 11: Golden to Banff 143k

This day played out somewhat of the opposite of Revelstoke to Golden. It looked fairly straightforward on the elevation profiles; gradual uphill for a big chunk of the day, then gradual downhill into Banff.

Instead though the gradual uphill felt steep. Whereas yesterday it often felt like I was going downhill, today had move of that despite there being less elevation gain.

I pulled into the visitors centre in Field to refill my water and caught a glimpse of my first grizzly of the trip. Granted it wasn’t alive and was just a pelt for tourists to check out. It still added a little to the general lack of animals thus far.

I was given a forced break when traffic was stopped just outside of Field for a construction crew doing scaling on the rock face (to prevent slides).

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Shortly after I encountered a confusing sign near a pretty lake.

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In not sure that most wildlife would be able to read the sign. This is where your tax dollars go people.

Eventually I reached the turn off into the Bow Valley Parkway. More of a paved nature trail, I would recommend it as a detour for anyone going through the area that isn’t in a rush. Or for camping.

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As entered Banff I got in touch with my aunt and was shown to the accommodation she had arranged. After being introduced to my host, and showering, I went off to procure some supplies. On my return he had dinner under way for the both of us. We chowed down on steaks and corn, after which I sheepishly admitted I had eaten a large souvlaki and spanikopeda. I am so hungry all the time!

After dinner we had a great evening of chatting and playing guitar, and I learned a fair bit about the area.

Big thanks to Lesley and Dr. Harry.

Day 10: Revelstoke to Golden 150k

I was convinced this would be one of the tougher days of the trip. Rogers Pass is a fairly large climb straight out of Revelstoke. There are also a number of avalanche tunnels which resources said would be quite scary to cycle through. They spoke of poor lighting, noon existent shoulders, and fast traffic.

While not especially easy, it turned out to be far from the hardest. The worst climb seemed to be the initial climb out of Revelstoke. Eventually I just reached the summit after what appeared to be equal amounts of climbing and descending.

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As for the tunnels, they weren’t exactly well lit. But there was some lighting in the longer ones as well as ventilation/lighting slots on the side I was riding. They even had reasonably wide shoulders. Traffic wasn’t all that bad either.

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At the summit it was nice to finally run into some other cyclists, which hadn’t really happened to this point.

I was a bit disappointed that there was another sizeable climb after the summit, but I took it in stride and got to Golden by mid afternoon. I made the mistake of not eating much over the course of the day, and I was really feeling it. Luckily I was able to stay at my uncles house and didn’t have to look for a campsite or set up a tent.

After forcing down a burger and fries I got a chance to hang out with my cousin Thomas. Last time I saw him was about 3 years previous. He’s getting close to finishing high school, has a sweet summer job and seems like an all around kick-ass little dude. I also got a chance to see my stunt Leslie who I hadn’t seen in about 20 years. It’s always a nice treat catching up with family.

My plans in Banff weren’t concrete, but my aunt managed to make a couple of calls and secured a place to stay with a friend of hers. Still hungry from the ride, I ate most of a pizza and went to bed.

Day 9: Revelstoke Rest Day

Despite being a rest day, I ended up doing some manual labor. My sponsor, Revelstoke Snowshoe Company, needed help building a raised firewood pile for the coming season. On the way back down the mountain we stopped to snap a few shots of the impressive view.

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After a busy morning we decided to explore the surrounding area scouting out campsites. It seemed my bad luck with flats (5 in 7 days of riding) had rubbed off on Pete and we ended up having to change one of his truck tires. Tired of looking for campgrounds, we crashed in an incredibly buggy backwoods campground.

Day 8: Summit Lake to Revelstoke 119k

We cleared out of camp as quickly as possible this morning since Pete had to be up in Revelstoke for meetings all day. Today would be shorter than most thus far but still reasonably hilly. Ontario style rolling hills.

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Given the short distance of the day, sparse population, and straightforward terrain, the day was relatively uneventful.

A high point came in the form of a ferry ride across Upper Arrow Lake.

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Upper Arrow Lake

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I'm on a boat!

I entered Revelstoke in the early afternoon, went straight to the nearest restaurant and ordered a huge chocolate shake. Pete was just finishing his work and picked me up. We bought some supplies for the night, a chainsaw for tomorrow, and headed for camp.

We ended up camping in a backwoods campground on Lake Revelstoke, near the remnants of a rave from the night previous. After bathing in the lake, setting up camp, and cooking a huge dinner we hung out with some addled Aussies (stragglers from the rave) we called it a night.

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Hehe… Dick cloud…

Day 7: Rossland to Summit Lake Provincial Park 167k

Like many places in BC, Rossland sits on a big hill. This morning i was lucky enough to start the day going down it. The downhill out of Rossland towards Trail is about 10% grade for 10k or so. Previous hills that were comparable I had hit mid day in traffic and were in poor repair. They were scary hills. Rosslands hill turned out to be quite fun. Well paved with no traffic I was able to rocket down at around 75 kph, my fastest speed yet.

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The rest of the morning was spent following a couple of rivers into the Slocan valley. There were done moderate rolling hills but nothing especially challenging so I took the opportunity to ride easy, save my energy, and soak in the beautiful scenery.

For some reason the views were done if my favorite on the trip so far. Maybe because I took more time to look at it. Maybe the big downhill put me in an especially good mood. Maybe it was the Valhalla mountains keeping me company to the west.

As I rode I noticed a number of signs for the Slocan valley rail trail. I was curious to check it out. But, since the road was well paved, and traffic light, I stuck with the road. Eventually I stopped at one of the trail heads for a break and an old Kiwi with cycle touring experience was adamant I would have an easier time on the rail trail.

Between my experience riding on rail trails in Ontario and BC I can safely say they are awful. Sure, they have very easy grades, and are often quite pretty. This one was perfectly in line with both of those principles. They are also generally hard packed gravel. It isn’t the worst to cycle on, but you really can’t pick up much speed on it. They are also terribly patched. When repairs are needed, someone just dumps a bunch of sand on the uneven terrain and levels it out. They can be extremely treacherous. Again though, quite pretty.

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Eventually I made my way up to Slocan and back onto the highway. Along the way to Summit Lake were quite a lot of old mining towns, many of which were now touristy and quaint. Very easy route in terms of acquiring food and water. North of Slocan things got quite a bit hillier right as the day became its hottest.

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                             No shit.

After dealing with the worst hill of the day I bombed into Silverton and stopped at a cute little cafe for lunch. Food took a little while, but it was tasty and they bulked up my portion to compensate. It all worked out quite nicely as I needed calories and a break.

The rest of the day proceeded uneventfully with gently rolling hills tending upwards. I rolled into our campground thoroughly impressed by its beauty. I asked around for available campgrounds and found one next to a wonderful family who proceeded to inundate me with sodas and snacks when they found out hire far I had come. I’m pretty sure they even waited around to make sure I was OK when Pete was running at tiny but later than I expected (he had stayed to help our hosts in Rossland finish deck building).

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                         Summit Lake

Eventually Pete came through with a cooler of food and we set up camp and went through out usual routine. Grilled polenta and sausages tonight.

Day 6: Rest Day Rossland

Today was a fairly straightforward rest day. We topped up groceries, bought new inner tubes, and refilled the coolers. Pete noticed my tire had gone flat overnight. My third flat in five days of riding. Every time tiny bits of wire stuck in the tire. No real explanation other than bad luck and road debris. I had decided to attempt the 280k to Revelstoke in two days, so I went to bed early to get an early start. The weather had been over 30 degrees every day and the hours before noon are invaluable on long cycling days.