18th – 19th July 2018
Calgary – Wednesday
This going to bed early caper is a winner. We were wide awake at 5:30am, so got up, made coffee, and did a bit of blogging. Today’s plan was to meet two other cyclists, who will be riding with us to Vancouver. In reality, they will be riding ahead of me. Anyway, Art is a Canadian, and we met him through Warmshowers, in 2016. He had ridden across Australia, on his recumbent bike, and stayed with us for a week. We really enjoyed his company, and now he has opted to guide us over the Rocky’s, and get us safely through bear country. The other rider, is John, he is a friend of Arts’, and comes from Texas. He has flown up to ride with us too. Both these guys have done extensive cycle touring, and are old hands, so we should be able to pick up some good tips. If we can keep up. We’d agreed to meet in a central place, Brentwood Village (no, it’s not a prison, that is in America), at 12pm, so we decided to get some last minute riding training in. It was about 13kms, so that shouldn’t be too difficult hey?
Just down our back path, overlooking the golf course. And our first yellow school bus.
Well, let me tell you. Holy bloody hills Batman! Yep, I am so going to be in pain for about two weeks. There is a maze of cycle paths around the suburbs of Calgary, and they twist and turn, (always going up) and you loose track of your direction so easily. We skirted around the golf course, then through some parks and streets, and somehow found our way to Nose Hill Nature Reserve. On the map, there were heaps of cycle paths criss crossing the reserve, but at our entry point, it was a goat track leading into some dense trees. Oh well, it looks shorter to cut straight through, so let’s go.
Anyone for mountain biking? Nose Hill is a great place for that.
Lesson number one. If it looks like a short cut, it’s not! It was a track, and hard going. The upside (pardon the pun) was the lovely grassy hills, we rode up and over, the wild strawberries growing everywhere, and the billions of dogs and owners out enjoying the reserve. Finally, we somehow managed to get ourselves to the top of the hill, and the views were fantastic.
Getting down the hill to head to the meeting point, was a fun mountain bike trail, which had us both standing on the pedals (not clipped in, it was dodgy as hell) and heavy on the brakes. Woo hoo, what a ride. At the bottom, we just had to head up another hill to make use of the overpass. The road was a super busy one, and sure to cause us stress. The rest of the ride was easy and pleasant, and we arrived before the other two. We found ourselves a Drug Store, and purchased some more Hay fever meds, as the pollen count is of the scales right now, here in Calgary, and yesterday, I was the one suffering the dripping eye and nose, while sneezing every 5minutes. That was uncalled for.
Finally we got to meet with Art and John, and had a great discussion of our needs and expectations. It really feels like we will have a great time with these two laid back fellas. We wondered over to Kilkenny’s Irish Pub, and had some lunch and relaxed, all the while getting little bits of valuable information from the two locals. Eventually, we decided we’d better head home, as thunderstorms were predicted, and we didn’t want to be out in that. My phone was almost out of battery, so we relied on Davo GPS to guide us home. He really is a dick, as he just diverts us for no good reason. But, the truth be known, he did get us home via the liquor store, even though it was an extra two kays. It was so good to get back to the dungeon, I’m buggered and we only rode 29kms. Bloody hell, tomorrow we have to ride 81kms, and it is all uphill. All of it!
A nice lunch, getting things sorted for tomorrow, and the ride home. We spotted a Jack Rabbit eating our neighbours lawn.
Calgary – Willowrock Campground, Kananaskis 85kms
Well what a torturous day. From the very beginning it was just hills. Just to meet up with Art and John we had to ride 18kms through the hilly maze of bicycle trails. Another mountain bike track, that was steep downhill, and this time fully loaded. It was wet and slippery and I nearly came a cropper, but somehow managed to hold it together. I think the slow rider training we did on the motorbikes May have helped. We left on time, but arrived 45mins late, due to confusion and hills. There were plenty of Canadians out walking and cycling, who offered us good directions. When we were almost there, Will stopped suddenly, to ask a lady riding by (who also stopped suddenly), leaving me in the usual fall down situation. Feet cleated in, and having to stop quickly, usually means disaster for me, but this time, my feet miraculously popped right off the pedals, so I could let the bike drop, and just stand up. Winning! Art and John weren’t too phased, when we finally arrived, and after a nice cold coke and toilet break, we finally headed west on the Trans Canadian Highway.
It was good to finally start the journey. Will started with vigor, and John was already loving himself sick.
The highway was busy and noisy, and had a very large shoulder. At least we felt pretty safe. Weather was pretty good, and we had a nice tail wind. I needed every bit of help I could get. This was just the beginning, and I was struggling. At 35kms, we stopped at a service station for some lunch, and I was feeling rather ill. I wasn’t at all sure I could make it to Willowrock campground.
They are all just moving further away from me, so I stopped to look at the cute little wooden shed in the paddock.
A thousand more hills, and at 45kms, I wanted to give up. Holy cow, this is so bloody hard. Up and a little bit down, up and a little down. 56 kms and it started to rain, so we hid under an overpass, and I really didn’t think I could make it. Art, John and Will were super supportive, and somehow, I managed to make it to the camp ground. Unbelievable!
There is no end to the hills, or my pain. Come on, surely it’s not much further?
It was a nice spot, with good showers, and picnic tables, and our first bear boxes. Everything that had an odour should go in these heavy metal containers, that were a fair distance away from us. We slept like logs, as expected. Tomorrow is 55kms, to Banff, and more uphill.
I don’t know how I did it, but I did. Our first night in our new Marmot, Tungsten 3 tent. I reckon I could sleep on a clothes line, I’m buggered.