Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Bow Valley Parkway

29th June: Lake Louise to Canmore 

Odometer: 85 km, Start: 10.30am, Finish: 4.15pm, Avg: 21.4 km/h,
Weather: Sunny Intervals, Temp: 14-24°C
Bear count: 5, Moose count: 1, Mosquito Bites: 31, Hills walked: 0
Road Conditions: #1A, Great surface small two lane road, no shoulder. Traffic very light (Tuesday). Several restaurants. #1 TCH Banff-Canmore: New cycle-path from #1A junction to 4km west of Canmore. Not yet fully open (June 2010) but mostly rideable. Ascent: 400m up/700m down.

After the couple of days on the Icefileds Parkway and a shortish ride to Canmore to do today, it was a slow start away from Lake Louise. I said my goodbyes to Mirjam and Frans. They’re riding a different route to me over the coming weeks, before heading back to Vancouver and then flying on to Japan. It was great to cycle with them both down the Icefields Parkway. Thanks guys and safe pedalling!

I had a leisurely breakfast in Lake Louise and caught up with the Dutch Girls who also made it to the campsite yesterday. We’re sharing quite a lot of the same route through the Prairies, so we may well bump into each other some more yet. (In fact I met them again at Canmore, this evening).

Bow Valley Parkway map

Most of my ride today was on the Bow Valley Parkway (#1A), a tourist route linking Lake Louise with Banff. It turned out to be a beautiful winding road through the valley’s pine forest, with great views of the surrounding mountains. Traffic was very light and is restricted to 70km/h, so I had very relaxing riding conditions for most of the day. The road was also quite quirky. Every so often the road would split and became two single lanes taking two different paths. While on a single lane section, it felt like you were on some magical mystery tour as you wound your way through the trees before meeting the other lane a little further on.

On the Bow Valley Parkway
Looking down at the Bow River

About half way along the Parkway, in a rest area, a guy appeared to be setting up lunch for a bicycle touring group. I went over and had a chat with Kyle from Bicycle Adventures who was leading their Glacier-Banff-Jasper tour. I got a free lunch out of it as well. A great steak and onion sandwich with salad! Thanks Kyle!

Kyle, cooking up lunch!

I had to do a short stretch of the #1Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) as the Bow Valley Parkway doesn't quite reach all the way to Banff. It wasn't very nice riding on the shoulder of a divided four lane highway, but the views approaching Banff were up there with the best!

On the TCH towards Banff
At the Banff turn-off

I reached Banff mid afternoon and it was heaving. I found a quieter side street restaurant for a second lunch (what else is there to do), before having a quick cycle around the town seeing if I could remember anything from a visit nearly 20 years ago. (Not much actually). After a photo of Banff’s main street I headed back to the TCH expecting a hairy 20km trip to Canmore.

My nice lunch stop in Banff
Banff Avenue

I was in for a pleasant surprise! I’d noticed just before Banff, where the #1A meets the TCH what looked like a new cycle-path running alongside the road. It clearly wasn’t open as there was some evidence of construction and some locked gates barring entry. On the other side of Banff the cycle-path reappeared. This part was useable although again not finished or officially open. I rode along the smooth tarmac cycle lane thankful not to be on the TCH shoulder 20m away. Occasionally I had to hop back onto the shoulder as some bridges on the cycle-path are still to be constructed. The cycle-path went nearly to Canmore (ending at the Banff NP boundary), a length of about 25km in total including the Bow Valley stretch and is clearly a major park project nearing completion. I certainly appreciated it as I’m sure a lot of local and touring cyclists will too.

Part of the nearly finished cycle-path, TCH to the left

I’m in Canmore this evening and I’ll be able to explore the town a bit tomorrow as I’m having a day off here. After a week of riding in the mountains I’m glad to rest up for a while. I’ll be leaving the higher elevations soon and will then be heading out across the Prairies…  


Martina said...

Enjoy your day off - you deserved it. Amazing views. The Prairies will be an interesting contrast. Mx

Jason Dalton said...

I agree! Enjoy your day off… I guess not much room for any shopping - hee, hee!

Bryan said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the Icefields Pkwy despite those very annoying bumpity-bumps every few meters!
I hope the prairies are starting to dry up as they've had some flooding and road closures in the last few weeks.

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Martina said...

Haha Jason. I was hoping Shaun had kept a panier free to buy us all lots of presents - one every rest day?? No? You think not? Well at least we can look forward to all the postcards Shaun will be sending......... Mx

Shaun said...


??? :)

R & A said...

Did I read correctly, you are singing, probably as well you are on the open road!!!!