Back on the road
After a wonderfully refreshing stay with Moray and Jose we were up early and ready to see Canada!
Weaving our way through the suburbs of Vancouver we crossed some epic bridges and had a bit of off ŕoad section with narrowly avoided a sense if humour failure from Stevie. We could see the logs being shipped downstream from upriver-a welcome change from logging lorries on the roads.
It was pretty stop start with the traffic lights and the first half of the day seemed to take forever. But the mountains were visible through the mist and the scenery got more and more dramatic. It was also surprisingly warm- well over 25’c and we just about squeezed all our winter clothes into our panniers. A relatively smooth day meant we still rolled into Hope before dusk, with the longest freight train we’ve seen rattling alongside us. Into a motel tonight to rest up before we start some serious ascent tomorrow!
We knew the Rockies would be a challenge… but it is one thing knowing it and another riding it!
Leaving as the sun was still rising and giving an beautiful pink tinge to the mountains around Hope we started climbing steadily early. Winding our way amongst the peaks we gradually gained ascent for the first 20 miles before the road started in ramp up and our average speed dropped well below 5mph. The view back down was rather intimidating and lorries crawled their way down the incline with their exhaust brakes chugging against gravity. We pushed on up though and luckily a lot of roadworks meant we often had a closed lane to ourselves. Reaching the first summit after 4hours, 28 miles and over 4200ft we stopped for a well earned break at a food truck in the sunshine.
Next was what looked on the profile to mostly be a descent to Merrit but not losing all the height we had gained still didn’t feel easy on a rolling road. Some beautifully flat tarmac and time off the highway was a welcome break though and picking up lightweight dinner supplies we were set for the next hill (well mountain pass…). This summit was even higher at 4400ft and we got there just as the sun was setting. Still further to go to our mountain lodge it was a slow ride in in the dark and a very long day in the saddle.
We get a bit of respite tomorrow but the rockies aren’t over yet!
For some reason we were feeling a bit tired and sore this morning…
10hours in.the log cabin wasn’t long enough but we were on the road not long after dawn again but now heading down. Some massive sweeping descents down to the river valley had beautiful sweeping views but too fast for photos! Kamloops was only 20 miles in but needing WiFi after the log cabin had let us down another McDonald’s it was! At least there’s some different breakfast options..
Moving in on the flat alongside the river we were racing massive trains along the railway nextdoor. We stopped at what looked like a trendy retro cafe, which turned out just to be a wonderful stuck in a moment in time sort of place serving homemade chilli and bread instead of superfoods.
The valley got narrower and the mountains higher and the views got better but sadly we were on the wrong side of the road. A few sharp climbs at the end of the day and a brief supermarket stop before getting respite in a motel before we embark on some more serious climbs tomorrow.
A misty cold start to the day as we started off just before dawn for a big day. Winding past lakes and through valleys it took a long time to warm up and the sun had only just made it over some of the summits by the time we got a Revelstoke 45 miles in.
A rather longer stop than we intended but pizza for second breakfast was a treat.
Then the only way was up as we started climbing gradually at first and we’re treated to views of the peaks, some still with traces of snow, that just got better and better.
It was tough going though and the climb ramped up at the end. The summit of Rogers pass was the high point and we then went plummeting down through snow tunnels down an epic descent which left us feeling a bit overwhelmed by the majesty of it all.
One more climb up and over left us getting to our mountain cabin after dark, made even later by the time zone we’d ridden through.
Another sunrise start having got up at 5:30am which now felt like 4:30am given the time difference.
We road through the misty river basin and the temperature dropped in the chilly fog sowe were pretty cold by the time we got to Golden for second breakfast. Knowing it would be a long ride along the mountain road we opted for yet another McDonald’s to save time and try and avoid the wait we had yesterday…we still managed 2 courses though!
We had seen signs that the road to Banff had been closed and was reopen today over Thanksgiving so we thought little more of it as we climbed out of the town. Reaching the road block we were pretty upset to find the road wasn’t open until midday and no, there wasn’t any chance a tandem could slip through ahead of the traffic. Settling down to wait Stevie tinkered with the bike while Laura updated this blog.
Finally allowed to get through not a minute before midday we were squeezed onto the dusty single carriageway with all the other traffic which was now in as much of a rush as us. We had been determined to beat sundown today and it was looking unlikely.
The climbs seemed much tougher than the profile implied and it was already 4pm by the we got to Field, only halfway… the overly chatty trading post owner seemed intent on keeping us there ĺonger and Ste had a small meltdown over non-moustache‐friendly application of peanut butter to his bagel.
We decided to pysch ourselves for what promised to be the major climb of the day and set off determined.
What seemed like a much shorter than expected time later we reached the top “I’m still high on sugar” Laura complained having stoked up on a doughnut in anticipation of something harder.
Then we were finally treated to some of the descent we’d been earning over the past few days and flew down past Lake Louise still surrounded by the beauty and splendour of the mountains- it seems every bend gets more spectacular!
Approaching Banff just before sunset the full moon emerged from behind yet another mountain to guide us into the mountain town.
A chilly bit beautiful start from Banff had us piling into a burger joint called A&W for hot cups of tea in Canmore before peeling off the main highway 1 to highway 1a which was a wonderful stretch of road.
And suddenly the mountains were behind us and disappearing into the distance, we waved goodbye both relieved and sad and Stevie noticed a likeness to his cliff bar wrapper…is this where the image is based??!
A short climb out of Cochrane had us rolling down towards Airdrie to skirt around Calgary with sunny fields and a the sense of the end of a hot Summer here. We got our heads together to power on to our stretch distance for the day and got to Olds at sundown for another motel and supermarket tea before doing it all again tomorrow!
Just the day we’d been hoping for: boring!
No dramas, no mountains,, no headwinds, no route issues…just riding.
Still making good use if the early starts it was still chilly and we wrapped up well. Heading North today yo Edmonton we took the more minor 2a almost parallel to the main highway 2 and made good progress to our firs stop at Red Deer where it took two go’s ordering at Tim Hortons to fill us!
The road was basically flat and miles and miles of farmland lined it with occasionally towns and villages with inevitably traffic lights to slow us down. We still continued to make good progress through and one more short break and after the miles dragging through the afternoon Leduc came up so suddenly we missed the turn. A supermarket sweep at Safeways and a massive motel for the night. We asked where we could put the tandem and after initially kindly saying there was a space down a hall the manageress came to find us and gave us a ground floor room…and an upgrade! A massive suite with a full kitchen, 2 double beds, fireplace and a massive whirlpool bath and we couldn’t be happier!
A beer and oven pizza and jacuzzi before bed I reckon!
Weekly mileage: 809.5 miles
Total mileage: 12364 miles
Pizzas: 4 😍
Punctures: 0 🥳