Off to the races, inadvertently


Leaving Canmore by the only dirt road, I wasn’t sure if I was headed to Banff via the Goat Creek Trail, or south toward the Kananaskis Lakes and back toward Hwy 1 and Calgary. Turns out, the Goat Creek Trail is closed due to diverted waters from Spray Lake Reservoir, and thus my mind was made. I had my first “dirt road and mountains” camp that night with colorful remnants of Calgary’s Farmer’s Market, as I pondered my impending destiny of life on similar dirt roads in similar settings. It wasn’t until the next day at a water stop at a restful, upscale inn when I was asked if I was cycling “the Divide” by the proprietor (who certainly doesn’t make his money selling bottomless cups of coffee and offering me free wifi, brownies and pumpkin muffins: $3).

I was on the Divide. That’s it! It’s just a dirt road that goes some places you might otherwise go anyway. What luck– I had made progress toward my goal, and cured the great feeling of “unknowing”. Even better, I met a woman from Missoula who referred to herself as “grandmotherly”, and managed to drag along her husband, son, and a family friend for a section trip along the trail. When rain brought them inside after 14 miles, they decided to spend the day viewing the weather from several panoramic window settings. I would have too if I’d had two-hundred or more dollars to burn. This was a supremely restful establishment sandwiched between two very rugged and wild provincial parks, run by the nicest inn owners possible– people with a passion for kindly serving others.

I managed to peel myself from comforts to hit the road, with luck, about thirty minutes before a downpour. I matched pace with storm clouds for those thirty minutes, and was propelled over gravel and wasboard at an alarming pace (I now have a computer, it was about 25-30mph). Somehow, with underinflated tires and a void of white noise– the second gift of tailwinds– the experience was serene. Was I planing? The world may never know.

Eventually, I got soaked, it got cold, and the sun folded behind those rocky curtains. I stayed awake much of the night finalizing cold-weather gear; brain activity was the little bit of electron activity needed to keep me from feeling cold. Every time I fell asleep, I woke up chilled. No help that I was sleeping on a gravel and cobble drainage, which milked snowfields above.

A day of dirt riding, rain at 5500 ft, and a cold night at a spectacular campsite connected by 7km of single track; without fanfare, the Divide has begun.

I returned to Calgary today under icy blue skies and a familiar, uninhibited sun…and a wicked tailwind that powered me the 80k in two hours. It’s nice to finally be “touring”.

The final two images show: my view from the tent, and my ride down the driveway on the way to work.20110816-071412.jpg20110816-071214.jpg20110816-071151.jpg20110816-071245.jpg20110816-071632.jpg20110816-072207.jpg

7 thoughts on “Off to the races, inadvertently

    • I hope I’m going south. I hear it’s colder up north.

      My mom flies into Calgary for a birthday visit tonight, so Monday is the official southbound day. Looking forward to it, and luckily I got all the newness worked out on my local tour of the Kananaskis Valley. Old hat now.

      Check this out, a friend from my brief Maryland days rides PCH:

  1. Now THAT was sweet. My Son lives in LA and so I have a serious desire to fly to BC and pedal South to Baja. I hitchhiked all that territory in the ’70’s and yearn to see it once again. Keep Pedaling. Lad, and keep posting. It gives me strength. Happy B-Day.


  2. Dude, I was busy racing some of that area you’re in. 2005 or so..the trans-rockies. One of my competitors got eaten by a bear later that year, training in Canmore i believe. \She had a kid, too.. ouch. ANyway the pix make me wonder: was I actually there? or did ihave my head down, racing and fail to pick up the view|? I usually think I’m taking it all in, but after looking at yr blog, I wonder ifI was asleep at the handlebars. Damn. Must do it as a tourist, that’sall.

    • Canmore’s pretty rad, but it’s time to hit it. Urban fever and anticipation
      of life ahead are setting in with fury.

      I’m coming to terms with bears; however, the thought always lingers. Even “touring”, many of us ride with our heads down. I often remind myself that no one cares if I can ride 120 miles in a day. If it feels right, I’ll allow it, but I’m perpetually fighting to have more “ice cream and swimming” days. Too many years in school learning to live hard and fast; rather, I wish to live well.

      Uhhh, holy shit, Jacquie’s reading my blog. Thanks, (wo)man.

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