June 11, 2023
Fewer pictures today because I was mostly on the highway and just didn’t feel like stopping to take that many. There’s a lot of great scenery in the video.
I left Revelstoke mid-morning, with aspirations of getting to Golden, then riding south to Radium and back north through Kootenay National Park to rejoin the Trans-Canada Highway west of Banff. Unfortunately, construction delays were worse than I had hoped, and I had forgotten that you lose an hour crossing east into Alberta. The scenery through Rogers Pass was spectacular, but the riding itself wasn’t. It’s a major road with lots of trucks, ongoing construction, and heavy traffic at times. It happens.
I stopped in Golden for a very late lunch and decided that staying on the main road was the better choice. It was hot down in the Columbia Valley where Golden is located and the ride south to Radium would have kept me in the heat, but also because I was tired and already expecting to arrive later than planned. The section of road heading up into the mountains from Golden is even more spectacular than the earlier one, but the long uphill to the Continental Divide is being completely rebuilt and that made for more traffic and delays.
I stopped a few times along the way. Cutting out the detour south made me feel a lot happier about taking the extra time. I missed Kootenay National Park on this ride, but had the chance to check out some of the sights in Yoho National Park, which was a lot less busy than I expected.
It was a long slog up to the summit in first gear behind a convoy of trucks and construction vehicles. As soon as I hit the summit, I ran into a downpour and temps dropped quickly. I was glad for it and didn’t mind the brief rain.
Once I hit Lake Louise, I got off the main road and onto the Bow Valley Parkway for a while. The section closer to Banff is closed for a cycling event, but the section I rode lived up to my expectations. Slow, twisty, surrounded by trees, with occasional views of massive granite towers around the valley.
I entered Banff with some apprehension. I haven’t been here in 20 years and wasn’t quite ready for what has changed. It was always a tourist town, but it’s really become a tourist trap. It’s the kind of place where the main avenue is almost entirely populated by souvenir shops all selling exactly the same cheap junk, which is exactly the same junk as every other souvenir shop in every other town, with only the name of the location replaced. (Seriously, does anybody remember when places actually tried to strive to have their own identities, logos and souvenirs?)
I mean, there’s dedicated parking so people won’t be inconvenienced by walking a few minutes from town in order to take photos next to the Banff welcome sign. Instead, they can park right across the street before queuing up for 30 minutes to take the perfect selfie with.. a sign. I mean, you’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet, but a stylized sign is where you want to spend your time? I guess it could be worse. Some of them might try to go someplace where there isn’t a dedicated parking lot and ruin everything for the rest of us. The lyric “pave paradise and put up a parking lot” was a warning, not advice!
I got to the hostel which is nice, and a bit out of town. This time, I unloaded the bike completely for the first time on this trip and did some basic maintenance and check-ups. So far, everything is running fine.
Too tired to go in to town. The hostel has a small cafeteria/restaurant which was all I needed.