Archive for the ‘Castle Mountain’ Tag

2010 Golden Triangle Day 3 – Golden to Castle Mountain Junction   1 comment

The final day of the 2010 Golden Triangle on May 24th would take us from Golden B.C., through the Kicking Horse Pass, back to Castle Mountain Junction in Banff National Park. It was a beautiful morning that greeted us – sunshine and blue skies. After a quick breakfast out behind Mary’s Motel where we had spent the night, we were off.  My knee felt good enough to start the day but I told myself that if it got bad I’d call it quits and hitch a ride in our support van. As for my bike, I was still missing 4 of the 5 bolts holding my chain rings on but it seemed secure enough to give it a try. If I had mechanical difficulty I had decided I would end my ride.

It was a short ride to the edge of town, onto the Trans-Canada highway and the climb began. Even though traffic was busy (far busier than on the previous day’s ride), it was still early (7:30) and the highway had a nice shoulder for most of the climb, so the ride was non-stressful.

Morning over Golden

And climb we did – it was about 21 km from Golden to the top of this climb. This included a couple of level stretches but basically it was low gear climbing for over an hour. There was some great scenery on the way up as the highway progressed along the steep edge of the Kicking Horse River Canyon.

The long climb out of Golden

At about 18Km we reached the bridge over (way over) the Kicking Horse River

Bridge over the Kicking Horse

The Kicking Horse River Far Below

Another 3 km and we reached the summit and then another 4 K and we were into Yoho National Park. This was a beautiful section of the ride – beautiful snow capped mountains wherever one looks and a good shoulder on the road so that it is safe to take in a bit of the scenery.

Most of the time the EBTC rest stops would be at a different location from the stops for the much larger EVCC contingent, but in this case they were at the same picnic area.

Rest Stop in Yoho National Park

Highway and Mountains in Yoho National Park

It was another couple of hours of beautiful mountain riding  until we arrived at our lunch stop in Field B.C.

Yoho National Park panorama

Lunch Stop in Field BC

It was a this point that I decided to call it quits to my day of riding. The previous hour had not been fun. Sure the air was fresh and the scenery was great but I had a pain in my knee with every pedal stroke. It would have been nice to say I covered the whole 300K distance on my own but I’ve done that before so that bragging point was not important. More important to me at this point was not incurring a long-term injury that could hamper my cycling plans for the upcoming summer. Perhaps amazingly, my other potential ride-ending problem, the 4 lost chain ring bolts, had not been an issue through the morning’s ride. So after making and putting down a couple  cheese-on-bun sandwiches, I secured my bike to our support van with a couple of others who also decided to not ride any more that day. By this time the rest of our EBTC group was already well down the road.

Leaving Field there was another climb, a major pass with a rise of 400m over the next 18K to the continental divide and the border between Yoho and Banff National Parks. Trying to take  photos from a moving van certainly reminded me of why I prefer to cycle. On the bike I can stop virtually anytime, anywhere (particularly on these park roads with generous shoulders). In a motor vehicle you have to stop at a designated viewpoint, picnic ground, etc. Even if the shoulder and the traffic levels would allow one to stop between these sites there is still the fact that by the time you stop you’ve traveled some distance from the point at which you might have seen something that inspired a photo.

In the van we did stop a couple of times before the end of the journey. The first time was when we noticed a lot of other vehicles slowing down or parked in the middle of nowhere. What we saw was a rare sight – a grizzly bear:

Grizzly

While my first thought is to say that I am sure glad I wasn’t on my bike at this time, that would be a bit of an over-dramatization.  This bear looks close (thanks to a telephoto lens and image cropping) but was a long way (200-300 m?) from the highway –  up a slope by some railway tracks – and paying no attention to the dozens of people watching him.

The next stop, was at the cyclist’s last designated rest stop, at Lake Louise. It wasn’t much of a photo opportunity because we were basically in a busy parking lot of a suburban mall. However if one lifted one’s gaze you are reminded that you are at one of the most beautiful places on the planet and a world-class ski resort that was probably very busy just a month earlier:

Lake Louise

Leaving Lake Louise, the cyclists turned onto the quiet old highway, the Bow Valley Parkway, for the final 25K of the trip. While the ride into Lake Louise had been on the traffic-laden main highways, the Bow Valley Parkway runs parallel to the main highway with little traffic, through a shading and aromatic evergreen forest. I regretted not being able to ride this stretch.

By 2:30 on this Monday afternoon we were back at our vehicles at the Golden Triangle starting point at Castle Mountain Junction. I collected my gear and bike from the van and loaded everything into my car. After farewells to my new EBTC friends, I was back on the road for the 5 hour drive back to Edmonton – happy to have participated in my first cycle tour in a number of years – and already planning for the next one.

End of the Ride - back at Castle Mountain

To see more of my photos from this day, please visit my Facebook album.

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2010 Golden Triangle Day 1 – Castle Mountain Junction to Radium   5 comments

The day starts early, up by 7-ish. I’m excited,  I’ve waited for this day for sometime: a couple of months if you count from when I decided I would ride this year’s Golden Triangle (or 23 years if you count from the last time I cycled this route).

We have a group breakfast in the hostel dining room although at this point I don’t really feel a part of the group and I don’t think most of the other EBTC riders had any idea that I am even with them. A quick clean-up of dishes and then the bikes and equipment  are loaded up for the drive to the starting point: Castle Mountain Junction.  I was not exactly sure where to go so I try to follow the group van – but I eventually lose it in the traffic. I then direct my attention to keeping an eye out for the Radium turn-off, which I easily find and then turn into the Castle Mountain Junction hostel parking lot.

It is a beautiful sunny and warm morning (in the shelter of the parking lot) as I  get my bike out of the back of the car, attach the front wheel on and put-on my handlebar (camera) bag and rear rack bag (rain gear/clothing). I decide to start off the ride wearing  my short sleeve jersey – partly because it feels warm and partly because we will be cycling up hill from the start. I take notice of the altitude of 1437 meters about 800 m greater than I am used to at home

We head out up highway 93, across the Trans-Canada The ride starts uphill – nothing too serious just a matter of a lower (but certainly not my lowest) gear, a moderate cadence and patience. The sky is mostly clear and  blue and the mountains deliciously snow-capped

After a climb of about 7K we reach the first summit for the day and 4K later we cross the Continental Divide, the border between the provinces of Alberta and British Colombia. Through this stretch, the vehicular traffic is fairly light but there are many bikes on the road – primarily due to the 300 members of Calgary’s Elbow Valley Cycling Club that are running their own Golden Triangle ride simultaneously along the same route.

The rest of the morning ride is very peaceful with no major climbs. I find myself stopping every few minutes to  take photographs. One fairly long section had obviously been hit by a forest fire in the not-too-distant past and had the skeletal remains of a forest to give an eerie beauty to the landscape

Our group lunch stop was at Vermillion River Crossing at about 40K, I am the second last in our group to arrive but I keep telling myself that it is not a race and I want to take advantage of the journey to take lots of photos (at least some of which will be references for paintings). The after-lunch section is relatively flat. The weather is coolish with a bit of drizzle and a few flakes of snow. This turns out to be a very solitary section of the route in which I see very few other riders. I do pass a couple of deer but do not stop for too many photos.

Randy mid-afternoon on the road to Radium

At about 75K we start the big climb, the second  and last for the day. It is about an 11K climb up from the Kootenay River. We have our last rest stop of the day at a viewpoint 8K up. The far side of the valley is in thin, low clouds showing yet another kind of beauty to the mountain landscape

view from viewpoint overlooking the Kootenay Valley

Another 3K uphill after the rest until we begin the big descent into Radium.  It is a long downhill. It may have been hard work pedaling uphill  but with the traffic and narrow lanes is not at all relaxing going down – riding one’s brakes with full concentration is required.

After a short ride through town we reach the Bavaria Motel, check in to our rooms, relax a bit in the sun and have a wonderful spaghetti dinner in the Gazebo. That evening a ten of us pile into the van for a short drive up to the Radium Hotsprings where we enjoyed a relaxing soak for an hour or so. I must have been pretty tired and relaxed because once back at the motel I fell asleep quickly.

To see more photos from this first day of the 2010 Golden Triangle click here.

Posted July 22, 2010 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Touring

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