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Author Topic: One of the Top Ten Scenic Roads in North America... Ride Report  (Read 2315 times)
Olive
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« on: August 01, 2012, 08:49:49 PM »
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This past weekend the weather was gorgeous and I took in some gorgeous scenery on the Bow Valley Parkway (the old 1A highway) and the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93).  Both of these roads travel through the Canadian Rockies and offer stunning vistas of craggy mountains, pristine lakes, ancient glaciers and sweeping valleys.  There are a few curves on the roads as well adding to the ride.

Within two minutes of my house I had the first heart-rate-rising experience of the trip.  Pulling off of Deerfoot and onto the Anderson exit I powered through the curve.  I usually aim to slow down to the 80km posted road speed by the time I finish the the exit curve, but am a little ambitious with the speed going around the sweeper.  As I came around I spotted a car pulled off to the side... the blue and white of a cop standing with his radar trained right on the bike.  I slowed down a lot sooner than planned and was fully expecting to be waved to the side of the road.  Apparently he was in a good mood and only waggled a finger at me as I rode past.  I acknowledged him with a nod and reminded myself that I really didn't want to pay a voluntary tax.

As I headed out from Calgary though Springbank and side roads I watched hundreds of cyclists that were travelling the opposite direction travelling between Ghost Lake and the Glenmore Reservoir.  Police were manually directing traffic at intersections and where the road had multiple lanes, one was reserved for the riders participating in the race.

Leaving the riders behind I continued heading west stopping in Canmore for a morning cup of coffee in honour of G-Spot.  Fuel for the rider is almost as important as fuel for the bike.  



The roads were fairly busy, but that was only to be expected for a Sunday during the summer.  A lot of people had the same idea that I did - to head West for the day.

Passing Banff I noted the hillside that was obviously the site of the previous week's mudslide.  Really glad that I decided to go to Drumheller last week.  Onwards to the Bow Valley Parkway.

Riding onto the Parkway the first notable event was a wildlife jam.  It's a special sort of traffic Jam caused by cars stopping to oogle wildlife.  I was far enough back in the jam that I only was able to catch a brief glimpse of the Elk that decided to cross the road.  By the time I reached the area of interest he was long gone, with only a few brown souveniers scattered on the roadway as proof of his passage.

The irritating part of being caught in a wildlife jam is that it often means you are caught behind a loooooong string of traffic.  The Bow Valley Parkway has a low speed limit to begin with, and tourists often crawl at a pace slower than marked.  Eventually traffic spaced out a bit more and I was on my way.

Quite a few cyclists were out on the Parkway.  Most wearing bright colours and riding with care along the shoulder of the road.  One woman seemed to be struggling a bit as her bike weaved all over the single lane heading west.  Traffic bunched up looking for an opportunity to safely pass.  I was concerned that she was going to tip over right in front of me.  She certainly didn't look the part of a cyclist.  No helmet.  No reflectors on her bike.  She was also dressed in dark brown.  If her goal was to blend in with the surrounding scenery she certainly was doing an incredibly good job of it.  Doubt that she had any idea how invisible she was.

Since my destination was the Columbia Icefields I didn't stop very often for pictures.  The first pause was near Castle Mountain where I snagged these pictures along the hiking path.  I wasn't wearing the right footwear to take on a 5km hike, and the mosquitoes quickly spread the word that I was an especially tasty treat so I didn't stick around for long.

A brook winds though the forest.


I was really struck by this image contrasting life and death. The dead trees really underscored the fragility of life in the vast wilderness where I was riding.



The next stop was at Morants Curve.  I have ridden past this area often and this was the first time I actually stopped for pictures.  The long curve of the railroad below parallels the road and sweeps along the Bow River.  I have seen a train approaching on this curve when I was riding down the road before and can't help but think that would really make a fantastic picture.  It really would be a case of being in the right place at the right time.  The air was a little hazy so I didn't get as clear of image of the mountains as hoped, but is a scenic vista.

The peaks of Morant's Curve: The peaks in the picture from Left to Right: Haddo Peak (10,073), Saddle Mountain (7,982'), Fairview Mountain (9,001'). Just to the right of Faiview Mountain is Lake Louise. In behind Haddo Peak is Mount Leroy (11,230') in the distance.



Another image from a different angle.



Looking the opposite direction the mountains in the distance take on a hazy apperance that really reminds me of the Smoky Mountains.





Continuing on I stopped in Lake Louise to top up my gas tank before heading out on the Icefields Parkway.  Park wardens had the entrance barricaded and were doing brisk business selling Park Passes.  Theoretically all traffic that was stopping in the park or travelling on roads like the Parkway should have stopped to purchase a pass at the entrance to Banff National Park.  Vehicles going straight through on the TransCanada Highway don't require a park pass.

The wildflowers along the road were really striking.  The same assortment of colour was scattered in meadows throughout the Bow Valley Parkway as well.  Pictures don't do them justice.





The scenery along the Icefields Parkway changes dramatically.  Ice and snow glazed mountains rear majestically over the road.  Pulloffs along the road are well populated by tourists taking pictues and gawking at sights like the Crowfoot Glacier. Every so often I had to pull out to pass a motorhome hauling a car travelling at a snails pace.  There was enough traffic that I was expecting to find some RCMP patrolling the road, but they seemed uninterested in the revenue potential.

I stopped at Bow Lake for a few more pictures.  Still hazy enough that the mountains seemed behind a gauze curtain.  The brilliant white of Bow Glacier played havoc with the image colour balance as well.





Continuing on I got caught behind another clump of cars.  The person at the lead seemed to have a gutless wonder.  The person tailgating them seemed loath to pass.  I was polite and waited my turn - each time a passing window opened maybe one car got past.. The leader of the pack seemed oblivious to the snaking traffic jam building up behind them.  Eventually it was my turn to pass.  I put on my signal, checked my mirrors and shoulderchecked as I started to head over on a pass.  Unladylike language erupted as I swerved back into my lane to avoid becoming one with a bright red Ferarri convertable that was impatient and decided to que jump and ignore other vehicles who were taking a pass.  I had noticed him earlier as the vehicle colour caught my eye in my mirrors.  Had noticed that he had moved up in the string of traffic, but didn't think he was dumb enough to start passing on a double yellow and ignore vehicles heading out for a pass ahead of him.

After he passed me, I checked to make sure nobody else was following his testostrone fuelled lead, and pulled out to pass once again.  Finally free of the pack I recognized that the Ferarri was doing me a great favour - he was running sweep for cops.  I picked up the pace a little letting him take on long lead.

(Guess it was the day for red sports cars... notice that Bandit/Nomo and _Will_ also had encounters of the red speedy type).

After a while I pulled off to take another picture of the scenery.



Continuing onwards to the Ice Fields I stopped at the Visitor Center to stretch my legs and take a few more pictures.  The Columbia Icefields are very impressive up close.  Some day I will take a bus tour onto the glacier itself, but there was still sunlight and wonderful roads calling my name.  After a few more images I returned to the road heading towards Jasper.









Just after the Icefields the road winds around mountains.  A construction zone closed off one of my favourite vista points.  Instead I continued onwards stopping at Tangle Falls.  Once again I was captivated by the sheer persistance of nature as trees stubbornly dug in to rock crevices to hold on and prosper in defiance of the scant conditions.







The last photo stop of the day was of these flat faced mountains that form part of the Endless Chain mountain range.



I rode almost to Jasper before noticing the time and realizing that I ought to turn around and head back if I wanted to get home before dark. Parkways have so much wildlife along them that traversing them at dusk can be very dangerous.

For the return trip I set up the GoPro camera to capture some video.  I watched it turn on and start recording, and started riding.  Traffic was a lot lighter heading east providing a much better video opportunity.  I stopped again at the Icefields near the glacier to stretch my legs.  I noticed that a large something had taken a direct hit on the GoPro, obviously hard enough that it had even caused the camera to turn off.  After cleaning the camera and my helmet visor (very routine on this trip), I turned back on the camera and continued.

Back along the Icefields Parkway I stopped again at Saskatchewan Crossing to fill the tank, cringing at the cost of gas - I am certain that this gas station has some of the most expensive gas in Canada, priced with full awareness of their captive market.  I only added enough gas to comfortably take me back to Lake Louise where pricing was significantly cheaper.

After filling up in Lake Louise I pulled back onto the Bow Valley Parkway.  A lot more wildlife around this time, and a lot less traffic.  The only time I actually got caught behind traffic was when I found the good curves.  But that is normal for the 1A - traffic will position itself with the highest inconvenience factor.

The next traffic I came up behind made me smile.  A herd of full grown male Bighorn Sheep accompanied by one juvenile male were trotting east on the road as if they owned it.  I came up behind, keeping a safe distance behind the Rams.  Very impressive specimins with showy curled horns.  I quite enjoyed following them despite their pace.  Although there was no opportunity to pull off for a photo I consoled myself with the thought of sharing the video.

When I reached Cochrane I stopped for a quick burger.  Breakfast was long gone.  Given the setting sun I decided the TransCanada would be safer than the 1A for the run back to Calgary, so the rest of the ride was uneventful except for heavy traffic all thinking about their return for work the following morning.

Finally I pulled onto my driveway as full dark was settling the city in a cloak.

Before shutting down for the night I decided to start downloading the video to my computer. I plugged it in, and a scant minute later it had finished downloading the videos.  Something didn't look right... the files were too small.  Opening them I realized that I had captured a wonderful video of my actions turning on the camera, but due to lack of battery the camera had turned itself off before I had the opportunity to even pull onto the road.  So much for the glorious video I had pictured in my mind. Suppose this just means that I need to make another trip up the Parkways to capture some real video to share.

The following morning I checked my tires before heading off to work.  The front tire had me do a double take.  "Didn't that tire had tread left on it yesterday?".  It appears that this is the time of year to change tires.  This VFR is the one I picked up in Atlanta mid May (TMac).  It boasted brand new Pilot Powers.  They didn't last very long.  For replacement shoes I will be doing Pilot Road 2s, but this time I will NOT be ordering from the same source as I did for the other VFR.... don't want to park the bike for two months waiting for them to get the order right.    dontknow
« Last Edit: August 01, 2012, 09:25:51 PM by Olive » Logged

Veni, Vidi, Vroom
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2012, 07:50:30 AM »
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your pictures certainly change my idea of what Canada looks like, my idea that it's a bunch of mounties ensuring proper maple syrup production during a blizzard seem to have been incorrectly formed.
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2012, 07:54:52 AM »
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Funny !  The Canadian Rockies haven't changed in a coupla years !  How odd !  .... That's a good thing.  Amazing scenery !   Tx for that, O .... !   icon_salut
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2012, 08:49:15 AM »
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 icon_thumleft
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2012, 04:00:15 PM »
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 headbang  headbang  headbang
Thanks O, for reminding me how much the Vegas desert sucks  disgust
Awesome ....... and spectacular!!
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Olive
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« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2012, 06:37:09 PM »
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your pictures certainly change my idea of what Canada looks like, my idea that it's a bunch of mounties ensuring proper maple syrup production during a blizzard seem to have been incorrectly formed.


Well, the blizzard part is accurate a large part of the year... and we do have Mounties... and maple syrup comes out of Quebec.

Hmmm.

Try this:

Canadian, Please ♫
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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2012, 12:25:44 AM »
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it appears there's no need to do further studies on the effects of long term cold exposure  evil5
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Olive
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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2012, 06:15:37 AM »
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It's been a long time since we gave out any site awards... are you real
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Veni, Vidi, Vroom
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« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2012, 07:52:12 AM »
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It's been a long time since we gave out any site awards... are you real

no gold stars?
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Olive
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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2012, 06:35:11 PM »
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It's been a long time since we gave out any site awards... are you real

no gold stars?

Not exactly.
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Veni, Vidi, Vroom
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« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2012, 07:25:49 PM »
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so since I watched your video Youtube recommended this, it lacks the catchy beat but gives a better picture. The population difference is staggering

Tom Brokaw Explains Canada To Americans
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