Almost exactly one year ago, good friend and fellow HG member Wayne Ferguson and a mutual friend asked if I’d be interested in a 2019 summer cycling trip. What if we met up in Calgary (I live in Vancouver) and did the Rockies? Say, 1,200 kilometres or so?
Let me put this in perspective. I’m no spring chicken myself, but Wayne was about to turn 80. Plus he was scheduled for a second hip replacement in November. Some might consider pedalling 1,200 kilometres through the mountains only eight months after major surgery to be a bit ambitious.
Upon reflection, we did too, and agreed to scale it back to only 500 km, pull a team together, and arrange for a support van. We christened ourselves The Cyclopaths (jerseys and all): me, the lone Vancouver transplant, and Winnipeggers Wayne, mutual friend Mike, and sisters Vi and Val. We were off!
Our itinerary: meet at Calgary Airport July 8th, drive to Sunwapta Falls, cycle to Saskatchewan River Crossing, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Takakkaw Falls, Field, Emerald Lake, Golden, Radium Hot Springs, Vermilion Crossing, and Banff, then drive back to Calgary.
I have to admit, we faced a few tough stretches, like the killer 11% grade out of Radium Hot Springs. But altitude wasn’t the only thing to take our breath away! Takakka Falls, six times higher than Niagara’s Horseshoe Falls, stunning Emerald Lake and Moraine Lake, turned an ethereal green by their high concentration of glacial silt, the 6 km-long Athabasca Glacier, most visited glacier in North America, and on, and on… So much stunning scenery, so little time (and too little space here to list)!
Seven days and four national parks later (Banff, Jasper, Yoho, and Kootenay), we’d cycled just under 500 km and climbed some 4,800 m in elevation (though there were some pretty thrilling downhills too).
Not too shabby for an 80-year-old.