Reflections and images from my travels

Archive for October, 2014

Odds, Ends and Stats!

So many little things to tell you about! It has been about a week since I returned from my journey. Plenty of time to reflect.

I felt I packed just about right. As it turned out, I didn’t need the rain gear or the warm gloves because the weather was so spectacular. However, one must always be prepared. The Arkel panniers did their job admirably. It is amazing how much they can hold. Everything inside the packs is also weather protected with a rain proof lining that can be unfurled when needed and then packed away when not needed.

I have already extolled the virtues of my ride, a Co-motion Americano touring bike. I absolutely love this thing. Completely reliable and solid and it didn’t break a sweat with the kilograms of gear in panniers attached to its frame. It was stable at high speed on the mountain road descents and on the flats it ran like a thoroughbred. I think this is going to be a long and meaningful relationship!

My small ultralight tent, the Easton 1 Kilo, was a comfortable home away from home. It is amazing how light it is and how small it can be packed. It didn’t really rain so I did not have a chance to really test out its foul weather capabilities. A comfortable bed is very important and the combination of my Western Mountaineering Versalight sleeping bag and the Xped down sleeping pad allowed for a restful slumber.

The MSR Reactor stove did a great job of heating food/hot drink up very quickly. I basically brought food for breakfast and dinner. I also had numerous snacks as I was biking during the day. Beef jerky, raw almonds, dried apricots, dates as well as protein power bars supplied energy along the way. I tried to purchase lunch, if it was available, along each day’s route. The dehydrated food was adequate for dinner. I have purchased a dehydrator and will try to prepare my own dry foods for my next adventure. It is my hope that this will be healthier and taste better.

The campgrounds along the way were great. Each provided hot showers and heated bathrooms. This really does make a difference when you are out on the road day after day. Each of the campgrounds were well landscaped and very well-managed. They were very quiet for the most part [except for the nearby trains].

The technology [yes, I always have to talk about the technology] allowed me to stay in contact with my family, blog along the way, stay “energized” and provided the photographs you are hopefully enjoying in the blog. I brought the Olympus Stylus 1 along because it is a compact camera. It produces great photographs and has a great focal length range from 28-200 mm at maximum F2 .8 aperture. It also has an extremely long battery life. I never needed to charge it for the entire week. The Delorme SE satellite beacon provided tracking capabilities as well as the ability to communicate with my family and also allowed them to track me [stalkers]. The Garmin GPS provided me with digital maps as well as data regarding the trip and a GPX file which is always helpful for future journeys. A Brunton Lithium Ion battery pack provided me with mobile energy to power all of my USB devices. It did not have to be recharged for the entire trip. Quite efficient!. In fact, at the end of the trip it still had 80% retained charge.

And now, the stats! I really do not spend any time thinking about the technology/stats when I am out on these adventures. However, at the end it is always interesting to quantify what one has done. It certainly adds to the satisfaction and continues to augment my opinion of how amazing the human body is. Without further adieu:

Total distance traveled- 688.4 km

Golden Triangle Cycle Tour October 2014

Golden Triangle Cycle Tour October 2014

Time in the saddle- 43 hours 20 min.

Elevation graph-

Golden Triangle Elevation Graph October 2014

Golden Triangle Elevation Graph October 2014

Total calories burned- 16,645 kcal

Average heart rate = 114

Maximum heart rate = 147

Average speed during the tour- 16.2 km/h

Maximum speed- 59 km/h [downhill, of course]

Total ascent- 6898.7 m [yikes, almost into the death zone of 8000 m]

Total weight lost during the tour = 3 kg

Total joy quotient = immeasurable!

That’s about it for now. I certainly encourage everyone to cycle. It is an amazing way to get exercise and a great way to experience the environment you are cycling through. As I said previously, I certainly plan to do more cycle tours- alongside my other activities- over the next several years. Here’s looking forward to the next one. Until next time.

 

Home!

This blog post is a little late. I am posting on Thanksgiving Monday. I arrived home on the Sunday at exactly 2 PM. It was another great ride of about 90 km from Bow Valley Campground back to Calgary on the 1A. The weather was beautiful again (I am starting to sound like a broken record). I also had the wind at my back. I passed through Morley, the Ghost Reservoir and Cochrane. I had one more hill to climb out of Cochrane but just put my head down and got up it. After that it was clear sailing.

Ghost Reservoir view #1, Bow Valley Parkway Highway 1A

Ghost Reservoir view #1, Bow Valley Parkway Highway 1A

Ghost Reservoir Art Filter view, Bow Valley Parkway Highway 1A

Ghost Reservoir Art Filter view, Bow Valley Parkway Highway 1A

Ghost Reservoir view #2, Bow Valley Parkway Highway 1A

Ghost Reservoir view #2, Bow Valley Parkway Highway 1A

The previous day I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner at Anna’s house. We were eating at 3 PM so I quickly unpacked and got to her place at 3:15 PM just in time for the meal to be served. Yes, a real meal! Greg, Anita and Anna’s mom were there and the meal was just fabulous and so appreciated. Perfectly roast turkey with all the trimmings. What a great way to end the tour- merriment with great friends. I got home later than expected and fell into a well deserved sleep.

Thanksgiving Monday will include unpacking, laundry and organizing as well as another Thanksgiving dinner with my own family. I feel like I have to make up for all of those meals of almonds, dates and beef jerky!

This tour went so well. No glitches and all of the equipment worked perfectly. The weather was very cooperative as well. It has inspired me to get back to venturing out like this more often. Cycle touring is a unique way of travelling and truly experiencing the environment you are in.

Stay tuned for more odds and ends regarding this tour and stats! How far did I go, how many calories did I burn and what was the average touring speed? I know you are all dying to know so check back and I will attempt to post this information in the next 2 days. Now back to unpacking and getting back to regular life. Cheers!

A Glorious Ride!

What a day! I thought I would be fatigued after yesterday’s ordeal. I had a great sleep (that always helps) at the Lake Louise Hostel and this time got an early start at 8:30 AM. It’s not sensible to go too much earlier as it is dark. Much better for cars to hit you. It also warms up the later you go but the price if you leave too late is to run out of daylight.

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As I mentioned in the previous blog, I was able to get to Castle Junction by 10 AM. I seemed to be taken over by some magical force. I felt strong and invigorated. Of course, that magical force may have been the kinder grade and the westerly blowing tailwind but I prefer to believe in magic!

I just sailed, one with the bike. My legs just took over and the road was in great shape so I could just look up and admire the view.

I passed a prescribed burn at Sawbuck near the eastern start of the Bow Valley Parkway. I then flew on the Trans Canada past Banff to Canmore. I know, there is the Legacy Trail from Banff, but, with a fully loaded touring bike the road seemed more appropriate.

Welcome to Canmore

Welcome to Canmore

I had a great lunch and tea (Evelyn, your influence is rubbing off on me) in Canmore (which was open) and called ahead to make sure I would have a campsite at Bow Valley Campground that evening. I did not want a repeat of Lake Louise! They had room for a tent (another advantage of travelling light) but the operator did inform me the campground was full for trailers. Amazing! Calgarians do like to camp and who can blame them with this great fall weather. It is of course a long weekend (I do keep forgetting). Luckily, while in Canmore, I emailed a friend, Richard, who I popped in to visit. Always nice to see him and his girls (including his delightful mum visiting from England) who are much taller than I remember.

I then had a great ride through Exshaw and past a great view of Yamnuska before I turned south on the 1X towards Seebe. Many pictures were taken. The road was quiet.

Art Filter view #4, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter view #4, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter view #5 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter view #5 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

View #4 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

View #4 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter view #6 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter view #6 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

I pulled into the campground having chewed up 120 km and did it in just over 6 hours. Wow! I felt so energized.

The campground is lovely and as I type, the good ole train is rumbling by right on cue. After a nice dinner, I had a hot shower and will settle into bed soon. I prefer not to use too much artificial light and instead fall into the natural rhythm of the day/night.

Evening view of Yamnuska, Bow Valley Campground

Evening view of Yamnuska, Bow Valley Campground

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #1

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #1

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks and Yamnuska, Bow Valley Campground #2

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks and Yamnuska, Bow Valley Campground #2

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #3

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #3

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #4

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #4

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #5

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #5

What a great trip this has been. Challenging yet affirming that I can still do these things. The bike is truly one of man’s/woman’s greatest inventions.

Tomorrow I will finish my trip by riding from Seebe through Cochrane and back home along the remainder of the Bow Valley Parkway. Do yourself a favour, if you have time and are not rushing west on the Trans Canada, take the slower, more considered route of the 1A. You will not be disappointed! Until tomorrow………

Golden Triangle Completed!

Here I am back at the Castle Mountain Junction October 11 at 10 AM. Mission accomplished!

Castle Mountain view, Bow Valley Parkway

Castle Mountain view, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter-Castle Mountain view, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter-Castle Mountain view, Bow Valley Parkway

Castle Mountain junction, Bow Valley Parkway

Castle Mountain junction, Bow Valley Parkway

What a great ride. The last leg is gruelling but worth the effort.

I left Lake Louise early this morning after a great sleep. Skies are threatening rain but it looks clearer as I ride east.

The Bow Valley Parkway is like a tonic after the busyness of Highway 1. It’s going to be a great ride back to Bow Valley Campground. Here’s hoping the skies show restraint!

Kicking Horse Pass Kicks!

I awoke in Golden to a fine wet fog mist and 2.5 C. Golden sits in a valley and the fog had settled there nicely. It was spooky. I was up quite early as I had a big climb ahead of me. For some reason, I had bear on my mind the previous night. I awoke at 1:45 AM and was sure I could hear rustling in a nearby bush. It’s funny once you have an idea in your head you cannot get settled. I have found the best way to deal with this (do not scoff) is to go out and explore the area to convince oneself that all is fine. Of course, this works as long as you do not find a wild animal! Thankfully, I did not and was able to fall asleep again my mind being settled. Of course, the train came through at 2 AM and 4 AM so it was a fitful sleep.

My humble abode, ultralight tent Golden BC

My humble abode, ultralight tent Golden BC

You start climbing right out of Golden. They now have a bike path (steep!) which parallels Highway 1 for a bit. You eventually end up on the Highway and the first 6-8 km are nerve wracking. The road is very narrow with no real safe shoulder and big trucks driving through commonly. I wondered if I had to add dense fog to the mix! Thankfully, as I climbed bright blue sky appeared and I broke free of the fog. It was going to be another brilliant day.

Riding into or out of the fog? Highway #1

Riding into or out of the fog? Highway #1

CPR Railway looking down from Highway #1 Kicking Horse Pass

CPR Railway looking down from Highway #1 Kicking Horse Pass

The only truly scary moment on this section occurred when I was slowly climbing and taking one of the tight turns with no shoulder. A large truck came up behind me and proceeded to cross the centre line to give me more room (thanks). Just then another truck entered the turn coming downhill so the climbing truck beside me quickly swung back into my lane to avoid a collision with the other truck. All I could see was the rear of the trailer closest to me coming right at me. I had no where to go. Tension builds! I slowed down and the end of the trailer corrected to within 6 inches of me! Talk about drama!

Kicking Horse Pass rest area Highway #1

Kicking Horse Pass rest area Highway #1

Welcome to Yoho National Park Highway #1

Welcome to Yoho National Park Highway #1

The rest of the leg was uneventful except for incessant climbing. Boy, I did not remember so much climbing. It seemed to settle within 5 km of Field. I was tired and my pace was slow. I stopped in Field and yes they had a restaurant that was open. Glory be! I needed energy. Imagine my dismay when the waitress said they were “transitioning” from lunch to dinner and could only offer soup! I played up my bike touring saga and showed a little mountain pass honed leg definition and she agreed to bring me a deconstructed beef brisket sandwich. It was the best sandwich I have had in a long time. I also had the soup. Trust me the energy was needed for what lay ahead!

Field BC...a great place to stop for a rest!

Field BC…a great place to stop for a rest!

Just when you think you had clear sailing, I rode out of Trail and suddenly remembered the “other” pass I had to climb. Kicking Horse Pass. An unrelenting 10-12 km up with no breaks in grade. It is not the lungs that get you it is the butt pressure. You keep readjusting position to reduce the discomfort. This is where cycle touring is psychological. It can break you. I am thankfully very stubborn and was able to conquer the pass without a break! Yes!

I neglected to mention that when I got to Trail at 3 PM I called ahead to see if Castle Mountain Junction Chalets had room. I forgot it was a Friday long weekend. They did not! This led to my first backup plan. I would camp in Lake Louise. A shorter distance was welcome as I was tired and I would have arrived at Castle Mountain at 7:30-8 PM!

Beautiful clouds as I cycle along Highway #1

Beautiful clouds as I cycle along Highway #1

I pulled into Lake Louise at 5:30 PM and proceeded to the campground which was closed for tenters! Yikes. I then quickly rode over to the Alpine Centre HI Hostel at Lake Louise. As I walked in 10 guests were checking in! I was not hopeful not having a reservation. When it was my turn I again explained my predicament. I must have looked worse for wear as she agreed to open up the second wing and got me a private room. Perfect! I had a great hot shower and a great meal at Bill Peyto’s Cafe and then a nice walk around the town centre.

Back in Alberta!

Back in Alberta!

Lake Louise welcomes me!

Lake Louise welcomes me!

I am in bed as I write this blog. It will be a long day tomorrow as I have to make up an extra 30 Km to keep up with my schedule. A good night’s sleep without trains and not needing to camp will help me get an early start.

I have not quite completed the Golden Triangle as I have to get back to Castle Mountain Junction before I can claim that accomplishment.

I am on my way back. I am so thankful for the weather which has been amazing. I will saunter along the Bow Valley Parkway to get home. The hardest part is behind me! Adieu.

Golden Triangle….the saga continues!

Hi all! I left Radium Hot Springs this morning. I awoke to frost on the tent but I was nice and toasty in my tent. It is an ultralight Easton 1 Kilo aptly named as this is how much it weighs. Amazing! My sleeping bag is a Western Mountaineering Versalight. It is light and very versatile. It lives up to it’s advertising. It sits on top of my Exped 7 down sleeping pad. As warm, but not quite as comfy, as my own bed. The black bear did not get me although he did have a chance later in the day (foreshadowing).

Beautiful farmhouse along Highway #95

Beautiful farmhouse along Highway #95

Beautiful morning fog along Highway #95

Beautiful morning fog along Highway #95

Close-up farmhouse along Highway #95

Close-up farmhouse along Highway #95

What the hay? Highway #95

What the hay? Highway #95

The second leg of the Golden Triangle is very different from the other two. There is no big pass. The grade is rolling but not flat. It is very pastoral with beautiful mountains on either side with ranch land and a very long water land management area running 270 miles through the Columbia Valley. You pass Mount Ethelbert (at the forefront of Bugaboo Park) whose top is lightly frosted with snow. The trees are still in fall colour bloom here as this valley is always warmer than the eastern slopes of the Rockies. You just peddle and peddle and admire the expansive views.

Mount Ethelbert along Highway #95

Mount Ethelbert along Highway #95

It is very quiet along the highway at this time. There are logging trucks and everyone local seems to drive a truck. The logging trucks give of the scent of pine as they pass in the opposite direction so they are not entirely unpleasant. The drivers are kind and give plenty of room as there is really no shoulder to speak of. It is best to be just left of the right road market as the road is smooth there.

Nothing is open on this road and everything is for sale. It seems the realtor to have is Bob Tegart who seems to have a monopoly as a real estate agent. You see you notice things like this on a bike.

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Again, I had to do without a proper lunch. I was hoping to eat at “The Spilli Bean” but it is seasonal. I tell you those protein bars, beef jerky and almonds just don’t make the mark! I am not keeping up with my caloric expenditure. Oh well, it’s always good to drop a few pounds.

About 13 km out of Golden I looked up and about 100 m in front of me a black bear strode across the highway (a bear’s idea of an extreme sport) and looked at me. The Radium campground bear had followed me! Ha! A car coming from the other direction which encouraged him into the bush and out of sight. Good bear!

It does seem like it takes forever to get to Golden. At least things are open here. I stopped at the Overwaitea to replenish snack supplies. It was warm and 17 C. Wow the weather has been just great! I then did a tour of historic downtown Golden (5 count them 5 minutes) and then proceeded to the local campground. Every campground, and even the chalets I stayed at. have been conveniently placed beside active railway tracks. The goods must be delivered which accounts for at least 3 awakenings during the night!

The campground is lovely and quiet with falling leaves on the tent. I had a hot shower (oh the joy of it) and have settled into my tent to write this blog and then read a bit of my e-book before fatigue envelopes me.

Tomorrow is the tough third leg. Kicking Horse Pass! At least I should be able to get lunch in Field or Lake Loiuse. I am back on Highway 1 on a Friday! If all goes well I should be back at Castle Mountain Junction tomorrow night. Adieu until tomorrow.

Golden Triangle 3.0

After a great nap in a comfy bed at the Castle Mountain chalets, I had a decision to make. I had experienced some adductor cramping the evening after Day 2 and was wondering if I was up for the Golden Triangle or if it was better to just cycle to Field and back. My head said choose the latter and don’t be a fool! This is just a holiday.

My cozy chalet at Castle Mountain Junction

My cozy chalet at Castle Mountain Junction

This morning as I cycled to the junction of Highway 1 I really was meaning to turn west and follow my head but my heart said go towards Highway 93 South. And I did.

Off to the Golden Triangle! Leaving Castle Mountain Junction.

Off to the Golden Triangle! Leaving Castle Mountain Junction.

Castle Mountain

Castle Mountain

I call this trip 3.0 because I am sure I have done it twice years ago with more oomph in the tank and definitely more hair! I recall one of the last attempts with my brother Ed during a hot fall. We did not know what to expect and thought the campgrounds would be open with water available. They were not. I still recall Ed having a psychotic (OK dehydration) meltdown as we climbed towards Olive Lake at the top of Sinclair Pass. I screamed don’t drink the water as he plunged his head into a roadside stream. You will get Giardia! He did not care! Profound thirst had to be quenched. He survived Giardia free. We then descended to Radium Hot Springs where we ravaged (yes, that is correct ravaged) an ice cream cone with worried onlookers.

So here I was. Wanting to conquer this Golden demon again.

The ride up to Vermillion Pass was steady but pleasant. Storm Mountain Lodge is at the top. I am always threatening to stop in but I did not on this occasion. You are rewarded for your hard work with a glorious descent. Weeeee just like coming down Highwood Pass. I stopped at the Continental Divide for some pictures and to rest my forearms ready for the great cycle ahead. You see this is the direction to do the Golden Triangle. Your reward is what appears to be an almost steady descent and/or level cycling at quite a clip for what seems forever. The best feeling in the world as the Kootenay Valley opens before you and the pale turquoise serpentine Kootenay river travels beside you. On the right until Vermillion Crossing when it switches to the left side. I was thrilled I chose this option. The weather was great with no wind. Again, nothing was open so I had to forego a proper lunch. There still was nowhere to get water but I paced myself with what I had.

Vermillion Pass Information

Vermillion Pass Information

The Continental Divide

The Continental Divide

Kootenay National Park Beckons!

Kootenay National Park Beckons!

Welcome to BC!

Welcome to BC!

Of course, there is no free lunch, did I say there was no lunch at all! An ascent of Sinclair Pass is required admission to Radium Hot Springs. It is a tough climb and it plays on your mind. There are no roadside signs to tell you how far you have to go. It just climbs and climbs. My lack of a proper lunch caught up with me and I had to stop to eat a snack 200 m from the lookout. You figure there I am done, climb over! Not so fast. There is still a climb to the true pass at Olive Lake. This part breaks many men and women.

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #1

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #1

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #2

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #2

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #3 Art Filter

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #3 Art Filter

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #4 Art Filter

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #4 Art Filter

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #5 Art Filter

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #5 Art Filter

What follows next can best be described as a roller coaster ride down. 10 km of pure adrenaline rush if you do not apply the brakes. You get to Radium Hot Springs in a flash. I stopped in to ravage another cone but to my dismay the shop closed 30 minutes before my arrival! I had a back up plan, I always have a backup plan. At the junction in Radium is a gas station with ice cream. I had my ice cream! Funny, what little rewards you come up with as you climb.

Radium Hot Springs

Radium Hot Springs

I planted myself at the most beautiful campground for the night. The Canyon RV Park. I know a RV Park! It was so quiet and the grounds so lovely with trees in full fall colours including red! The campsite is also on grass!! Only those who have slept on gravel pads know what I am referring to. It is here that I am writing this blog post as a orange red sunset blossoms before me and four deer quietly eat grass in front of me. Not all is bliss. Apparently a black bear is in the vicinity. Here’s hoping he keeps his distance!

Guests at the Radium Canyon Campground!

Guests at the Radium Canyon Campground!

I am so glad I chose the Golden Triangle 3.0. These older legs still have some oomph and I am sure the lack of hair makes me more aerodynamic!

By the way, today was 109 km and about 7 hours in the saddle. About 3100 kcal were consumed. Now I know why I missed that lunch so much!

Until tomorrow, 103 km to Golden B.C..

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