Banff to Calgary: Good thing it's mostly downhill - Finally riding my dream - CycleBlaze

August 3, 2018

Banff to Calgary: Good thing it's mostly downhill

Up early as usual, I had the last of my granola and yogurt in the basement kitchen, finished packing up, turned in my transit pass and key, retrieved my bike from the shed, and was on the road at 0737.

The day started cool, not as cold as yesterday, but I wore my layers because I knew I'd start with a descent. The first part of the route was easy: Tunnel Mountain Road to the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail into Canmore, then the Bow Valley Trail (aka Highway 1A) to Calgary.

The road was scenic but lacking a decent shoulder. In fact, there were periodic signs warning travellers of a "sharp shoulder." And was it ever! In places the fog line was right at the edge of the asphalt and the asphalt edge sloped down steeply for 40 to 60 cm. Luckily, vehicle traffic was very light! Still, I didn't try to stop and take many photos since I couldn't get off the travel lane to do so.

Viewpoint across from Tunnel Mountain Campground
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Looking back at the Rockies
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Emerging onto the prairie
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I looked. I didn't see any!
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I did see this on top of a hill approaching Cochrane
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All very straightforward until I got to Cochrane. Urban areas on both sides of the highway, but no "welcome to" sign, no indication of what town this might be. Approaching the intersection with Highway 22 (the Cowboy Trail), there's a sign with directions to Calgary, Sundre, and Highway 1, but no mention of Cochrane!

I carried on straight across the intersection, along a narrow stretch of roadway, then suddenly there was a sign directing travellers to the "historic downtown." Of which town, no indication! I didn't care. I wanted lunch!

However, the historic downtown didn't present any appealing lunch places. A google search led me to a Guys Café and Bakery a few blocks away in a strip mall. Delicious BLT and a machine dispensing water and ice. What more could I ask?

To answer that question, a more pleasant route to Calgary! I'd seen Joel Emonson's journal on this site and learned about Gleneagles Drive, so I'd made a mental note to take that. Leaving "downtown" Cochrane, the Bow Valley Trail started climbing almost immediately--where was Gleneagles? It was supposed to take off to the right... Oh, there it is. Even if I've climbed most of the hill, this residential route looks more pleasant... but it still went up. When I rejoined the highway, it was now a dual carriageway with lots of speeding traffic. Not fun! How soon can I get off?

At Twelve Mile Coulee Road I exited and started following Google Maps directions on my phone to the AirBNB place my brother had booked. The map in my Garmin wouldn't find the address. I was soon on quiet streets and then off-street paved bike trails, until...

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Having walked down that, I was soon on the Bow River Pathway. Almost there! But Google Maps was confused. "Continue on Bow River Pathway....Make a U-turn...Continue on Bow River Pathway..." Whose bright idea was it to give the same name to routes on BOTH sides of the river?

The civilized Bow River Pathway
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I eventually made it to the house we'd rented and a much-needed shower before the warm-up to the family reunion.

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Today's ride: 146 km (91 miles)
Total: 449 km (279 miles)

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