Bulking up


Banff is the apex of my trajectory, at which point I have travelled about two months and expect a few months ahead. I turn, southward, in coincidence with my birthday. An occasion for a visit from my mother; we toured the Icefields Parkway and Kananaskis Country, stayed at the finest mountain chateau(s?), walked along the toe of the Athabasca Glacier, bathed in thermal springs, and dined atop rooftops and mountainsides. And finally, we spent a night outdoors at about 6000 ft, her first time since pregnant with my older sister.

The Icefields Parkway extends north from Banff to Jasper National Park. About 150 miles of magificent scenery, this is a classic motorist destination like Skyline Drive atop Shenandoah Ridge. Cyclists were out in greater numbers than I have seen since the C&O canal; loaded, supported, and day riders. It’s a “must do” kind of ride, yet I managed to shrug my shoulders at it. We drove the length of the Parkway, so I have experienced some of the scenery, but the “must do” pressure is always a bit of a turn-off. Show me a dotted line on a map that “can’t be cycled”, and I’ll be off with a smile. The Divide is accessible thanks to the hard work of the ACA, but it maintains some of the same attraction to me.

Wish you could eat, carefree? Two months in and a few months left– that’ll do it. Cassoulet birthday dinner, a breakfast buffet at the Chateau Lake Louise, and a rooftop pizza and beer at the Banff Springs Hotel. A fantasy in relation to a mosquito-infested pot of mashed red lentils and rice that I will enjoy this evening (I call it vegan mac n cheese).

With a topping of steamed beets and green beans.

My winter kit has bulged my sack a bit, but not as much as the following stash of food I accumulated before leaving town:

5 apples
5 plums
4 bananas
3 beets
1 lb green beans
1 garlic bulb
…and the usual mix of oats, raisins, nuts and pumpkin and sunflower seeds; rice, lentils, coffee, and jar of honey

There’s more, I can’t even remember it all.

I did settle on a small water filter, in addition to a can of bear spray (pepper sauce, sort of). Some pants, a down jacket, a wool hat and gloves, and a vapor barrier liner ( we’ll see) bulk up my bike.

I am still carrying an extra tire because the Marathon won’t die, and two tubes. Why two tubes? I don’t get flats, I can patch tubes like a pro, and my valve holes are well covered by rim strips to prevent abrasion at the base of the valve. Seemed like the right thing to do, I guess. Except that my front tube– an inspiring Schwalbe tube of very-high quality– was purchased 15 months and 10,000 miles ago. Better safe…

…than have a good reason to hitch a ride. I guess.









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