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13th Aug 2010 – After the Snow

August 14, 2010

Well since last writing many miles have been covered, by bicycle, motor vehicle and aeroplane. I spent a month being a tourist in Vancouver and learn about its history instead of just commuting through it in haste or viewing it from the top of a mountain. I also mountain biked on Vancouver Island and in Whistler.

I made my planned visit to Europe and stopped in on as many folk as I could fit into the short time I had in England and Sweden. In Stockholm I caught up with Helen and Maria whom I had met on the Trans-Siberian train over a year and a half ago. I then crossed Sweden by train to go to a wedding in Gothenburg before jumping back on a plane straight back to Canada a couple of days later.

Here travel has continued at a considerable pace as I drove to Calgary in my new facilitator of fun, a massive Volvo. I had decided to head to Calgary because the annual Stampede was on, a cultural event not to be missed. Calgary is to Canada what Dallas, Texas is to the USA: Cowboy Country. Organisers of the Stampede are very proud of their “Western Hospitality” and the show they put on. You can see some pictures here.

After all the rodeo fun was over, I headed off to achieve my ultimate aim: find the best places to mountain bike in Canada. I followed up some recommendations from links I made via the cycling touring hospitality website

The only trouble with mountain biking in Canada, especially in this area, is the presence of bears in the places where the trails are. In Alberta there are the more ferocious Grizzly bears and so I was a little nervous and it would have been rather foolish to ride alone. As the saying goes “safety in numbers” is the key to less anxious mountain biking so I had to hope that I would find friendly people to ride with. Thankfully I did and I rode with a couple of ladies in an area just outside of Calgary known as Station Flats. I was certainly relieved to have company. The other advantage of finding friendly locals is that they know the good trails to ride on and so they furnished me with other good places to ride and so the course was then set on my journey to Fernie, in south-eastern British Columbia.

I headed to Fernie via Banff National Park and visited the spectacular Lakes Louise and Moraine with their turquoise waters and glacial mountain backdrops.

Once in Fernie, I struggled to find decent trails, frequently getting lost (getting to where the map said there was a trail and it not materialising) and also not enjoying the length and steepness of the inclines in the heat of the day. After a frustrating couple of days I decided to follow a strategy I had thought of and should have done sooner. I visited the local bicycle shop and asked if they had a local ride going out or knew of any groups I could tag along with. Armed with knowledge, and after recovering in a hostel from a couple of unsettled nights sleeping in the car, I rolled along and met a local group of riders. The group happened to include the guy who designs and builds trails in the area who led the charge and took us on a part of the course for the Trans-Rockies event. This is a seven-day, 500+km (and considerable elevation) off road cycling race/challenge which I had seen featured on a cable adventure channel a few years ago and had wanted to do ever since. Unfortunately entries were already closed for this year but to be able to at least ride on some of the trails that these super-fit folk would be riding on was a huge bonus to me. I hadn’t put much thought into actually planning ahead to be able to take part in this ride because I still had knee trouble upon my return from New Zealand and didn’t know if I’d be able to put the training hours in. Anyhow, long story short, I came to Fernie intending to stay for a couple of days and actually stayed for over a week. Easily persuaded by tales of new trails, I found a place with a comfortable bed and rode as often as my unfit body (compared to the locals who regularly ride 500+m elevation) would let me.

I then made a trip to visit family in Edmonton, caught an Edmonton Eskimos vs Toronto Argonaughts Canadian Football league game, went back to Fernie to catch the start of the TransRockies race, volunteered my services to the support crew, loading, driving and unloading trucks full of kit and bicycles before heading back here (Calgary) to find some work to fuel more adventure.

I will probably be putting more photos up on my Flickr stream soon so check that out by clicking here.

Facebook album here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 5, 2010 4:46 pm

    Thanks for the connect, Helen, I will follow you anywhere.

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