cycling Jasper to Canmore

On every list of the best cycling trips in the world is Jasper to Banff. (map Jasper to Louise)

To get started, recommended are the Brewster buses from Calgary to Jasper. And the Sundog buses from Edmonton to Jasper. Bikes are free luggage on Brewster.

Instead I caught the 10 hour Greyhound Calgary to Jasper because it was overnight. I wanted to save a day because the weather forecast was looking GREAT. Greyhound is cheaper than Brewster, but they charge extra for the bike.

first light in Jasper

I was terrified of unboxing my bike and finding it damaged.

I’m totally incompetent when it comes to bicycle maintenance and had never boxed a bike before.

I couldn’t mount one of the pedals. Very frustrating.

Finally I decided to hang out at Tim Horton’s until a bike shop opened. I’d pay to have the bike put back together and checked out.

Happily the guy at Source Sports charged only $10 — because any idiot could have done it — reminding me that bike pedals screw on in opposite directions. Doh!

I tinkered with the panniers and packing system for some time.

… and by 11:30am was finally off.

Jasper is wild and rugged. Far less developed than the Rockies near Banff.

Edith Cavell

Traffic is quite light compared to Banff.

Wildlife sightings are always a highlight for visitors here.

I’d checked the elevation profile and knew it was uphill from Jasper. But had no idea just how tough that first day would be. 😦

 

7 hours in the saddle uphill and I was exhausted. I quit at 7:30 pm pulling over to wild camp in the river valley.

Day 2

Days are long in the Rockies in June. There was no rush next morning.

AND it was more uphill to start.

I stopped for every wildlife photo op.

cutie

Of the attractions out of Jasper, I’d say waterfalls are the highlight.

I stopped at the Icefield Interpretive Centre. Swarming with tourists.  The Athabasca Glacier is the most visited in North America. This highway is called the Icefields Parkway.

Originally planning to day hike en route, I’d retreated to survival mode. All my energy dedicated to completing the cycling to Calgary.

Big smile here. Finally I topped Sunwapta Pass, the boundary between Banff and Jasper National Parks. Only 108 km of my 400 route. But by far the most difficult section was behind me.

I enjoyed a long, fast downhill section back to the new river bottom.

More wildlife attracted by the salt on the road.

Weather had been excellent so far. But I’d heard it was going to deteriorate.

My plan was to get to Waterfowl Lakes campground. But I had no GPS and could not be sure exactly how far away it was.

A giant black wall approached rapidly. So rapidly that I didn’t even have time to duck off into the next service road and set up my tent before being hit by extreme hail. My bike helmet and thick coats protected me.

It rained all night. Power went out in Lake Louise village. But I stayed warm and dry.

Day 3

Still raining but less, in the morning I found Waterfowl Lakes to be only 5km away.

I took this photo in memory of Rob and Mark Glaser who were killed by avalanche. This was their favourite campsite.

A tourist couple asked me the best place to see Grizzly. I informed that their chances were almost zero.

The other high point is Bow Pass. It seemed an easy climb compared with Sunwapta Pass.

Weather was improving so I made my first side trip to nearby Peyto Lake.

During the summer, significant amounts of glacial rock flour flow into the lake, and these suspended rock particles give the lake a bright, turquoise colour.

Next I pulled into pretty Num-Ti-Jah Lodge for coffee and a rest. When I get rich I’ll tour the great National Park hotels including this one.

Bow Lakes still mostly frozen

Exiting the parking lot was a … grizzly. One of the few I’d seen in the wild in my life.

When Rangers arrived I asked if this was a rare occurrence, a Griz so close to people. He said it happens all the time these days.

Grizzly bear population is way up in recent years.

I finally stopped worrying about completing this trip … about here.

I could coast home.

I thought I might get a hostel bed in Banff. Then take the bus up for a soak in the Hot Springs.

But the cost of a crappy dorm bed in Banff was $66 + tax in this high season. Absurd, in my opinion.

So I climbed on to the bike for another 25km to Canmore. Weather now perfect.

I surprised my friend Kelly by cycling up to his open garage. He was tinkering with his new bike rack.

Wife Lexi arrived home soon after. I’d warned her I might be showing up that evening. We had a catch-up and planned some adventures for later in the summer. I slept on the basement couch.

Day 4

No rush again this morning. It’s an easy 100km downhill to where I was headed in west Calgary.

Unfortunately a freezing horizontal rain developed quickly. My hands and feet were soaked and cold. On the bright side the howling wind was mostly at my back, pushing me towards Calgary.

I’d make it.

About 20km out of Canmore I got a rear wheel puncture. Merde.

Try to repair it in the gail? Or prop the bike upside down and start hitchhiking?

What would you do? 

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Lessons learned?

• If I were to go again I’d take the bus to Icefield Interpretive Centre and cycle back to Calgary. That’s the best route.

• I truly need to practice boxing and unboxing a bike.

Next cycle touring trips?

I’m hoping to do a multi-day tour of the Canadian Gulf islands this summer. I did most of the American San Juan islands last year.

And possibly the Kettle Valley Rail Trail in B.C.

cycling Rose Valley, Goreme, Cappadocia

Fantastic.

I cycled Rose Valley out of Göreme twice the first time getting it done the hard way.

I went uphill from Cavusin village to the Panoramic viewpoint.

hike a bike

The great single track is downhill the opposite direction.

I rested up at the viewpoint. Then enjoyed one of the best 3km rides of my life.

Soft, rolling, slippery sliding chutes like this. (No I did not crash.)

Glorious scenery, of course.

The second time I rode secondary highways 45 minutes uphill to the viewpoint. Then tried a different line, this high traverse.

Cool. But it dead-ended at a cave.

I traversed all the way back to viewpoint, then took my favourite run again … a little more slowly this time. Stopped to smell the flowers.

I wasn’t the only one out on a bike. There are guided groups.

Some of the best cycling of my life.

I didn’t take any video. But click PLAY or watch some Rose Valley cycling on YouTube.

I met another cyclist out on his own from Washington State. He’s been coming here twice a year for 20 years (May and October). January / February he cycles Arizona from campgrounds. Lives on a boat in the San Juan islands during the summer. His wife seems to like the lifestyle too.

Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die

I downloaded Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die by Chris Santella from the library.

fifty-places-to-bike-before-you-die

It’s not nearly as good as the title might suggest. And wasn’t what I was looking for.

I want to know the best cycle touring routes with the LEAST traffic. Santella’s book is not that.

But I did add a few of their recommended cycling destinations to my life list:

  • Icefields Parkway Banff Jasper
  • North Rim Grand Canyon
  • Natchez Trace  (Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee)
  • Crater Lake, Oregon
  • Mickelson Trail out of Rapid City, South Dakota
  • White Rim Trail out of Moab, Utah

Texas hill country cycling out of Austin or San Antonio sounds great too.

Sandia Peak Tramway, Albuquerque

One of the top tourist attractions in New Mexico.

I took the Sandia Peak Tramway trip on one of the snowiest days of the year.

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Views were cool. But limited.

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The Tramway provides access to a ski hill on the other side of the mountain.

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In summer this is a terrific way to access hiking and mountain biking trails.

Still … I’m glad I saw it. Highly recommended.

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Sandia is wrongly advertised as the “longest in the world”.

The entertaining cable car announcers grudgingly concede that Dajti Ekspres cable car in Albania is longer.

And I’ve been to Merida, Venezuela. That series of four aerial tramways – reopened April 2016 – goes 1640 – 4765 meters making it the highest tourist aerial tramway in the world. It’s 12.5 km long. Far longer than Sandia.

I love cable cars and have taken a number of these – 10 Most Amazing Aerial Lifts In The World

Sandia did not make that list. It did make this one – Amazing Aerial Tramways of the World

What’s unique about Sandia is that it has only two support towers.

cycling the new Coombs to Parksville Rail Trail

It was busy Jan 2, 2017.

The trail only officially opened Dec 23, 2016.

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I rode the 7km from Parksville out to Coombs.

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Checked out the tourist trap. Then returned to Parksville.

Cost is in the $3-4 million range for the Parksville-Coombs stretch alone. Instead of ripping out the rails they built a trail parallel to the rail line.

  • Approximately 7 km of 3 metre-wide tread surface trail finished with compacted high fines gravel.
  • Except for the first 200 m of trail in Springwood which has an 8 % grade, the Coombs to Parksville Rail Trail is fully accessible, that is, no more than a 5 % grade.
  • The Rail Trail is multi-use and NO ATVs, DIRT BIKES OR OTHER MOTORIZED VEHICLES ARE PERMITTED.

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