A quick ride on the Icefields Parkway

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It’s billed as one of the best bike rides in Canada and motorists will remind you of the time their brother rode it in 1988 in a big hurry with lots of stuff and it was really incredible.  It’s also one of the most popular motorable routes in the country, and is an international destination.  You can imagine what I’m going to say, so I won’t, mostly.  Overall, it’s a nice ride with beautiful scenery but there are lots of signs telling you where not to camp and a lot people to say “neat” and tell you that they would never ride their bike anywhere.  What am I supposed to say to that?  Nearby Spray Lakes, Kananaskis Country, the Yellowhead Highway from McBride to Jasper, or the ride on the Divide Route over Elk Pass to Elkford are all equally beautiful with much less traffic, better camping and better swimming opportunities.  There’s a certain magnetism that attracts idiocy to national parks.  I’ve said it.

I left Jasper by night, camped about ten miles out of town and made an early start as joggers jogged by in the morning, whispering about the snoring cyclist.  It’s hard to tell in the dark what daybreak may bring.  High humidity conceals some of the macro-majesty of the area, but there is much more to appreciate.  Some clear skies on the ride to Banff are welcomed.  Rivers run high and the snowpack is unseasonably heavy.  Dozens of cyclists are out riding the parkway.

Finally, I’m far away from Alaska and the Yukon and almost none of the other cyclists know about fatbikes.  How about a “snow bike”?  Surely you have seen them in magazines or on the internet.  Nope.  How much do those big tires slow you down?

I’m a wandering diplomat for fat tires, for the virtues of taking it easy and getting off the beaten path.  Everyone asks about the framebag and the 64 oz Klean Kanteen; the dynamo and the Marge Lite rim (that’s the tube!); the tires and, “where is the rest of your stuff?”.  If possible, I would invest in Ortlieb stock.  Their stranglehold on the market is incredible.

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