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16 August

last day of the rocky mountain high tour 2012

it was a chilly 4 degrees in banff which necessitated extra layers to keep us warm, but as soon as we hit the sunshine the layers started coming off

there’s this 20kms of cycling path between banff and canmore that runs along side the main highway and has been paved as smooth as gold with good solid asphalt. it couldn’t be faulted especially as most of it is graded around-2 degrees ensuring our average speed through this section was an easy 45kmh. it has to be the best bike path we’ve ever ridden and kudos must go to the planners who put in this great cycling link between the two centres

the rest of the day was spent with a similar average speed heading into calgary on the secondary highway. slight downhill most of the way ensured a quick ride, not to mention the fantastic tailwind most of the way. the sun also played her part in staying bright all day

a few facts on the trip:
distance travelled = 1540kms
total elevation climbed = 18633 metres
max speed = 86.4kmh (a new record)
average speed 28.3kmh
mechanicals = 1 puncture, 1 tyre, 1 chain, 1 bottom bracket (all easily repaired)
no abandonments
no accidents
animals seen = deer, elk, caribou, black bear, racoon, eagle, squirrel, goat, duck, geese, human
post ride rehydration = far too much to contemplate

there’s likely many things I’ve left out and no doubt will remember at a later date – which I will relate on our Facebook page – but for now this particular tour has come to an end

planning for our 2013 jaunt has already begun…..


15 August

the cool mist off lake louise was something out of a fairy tale. with the mass of glacier as a backdrop, an emerald green blanket lake and pine forested walls, the burning mist lingered just long enough for the sun to burn through with crisp morning light

each day on this trip offers up their own special features, today being no exception. with a cool start at lake louise we headed off to banff on what is the shortest day of the trip, but is also one of the most pleasurable. it’s a downhill ride cutting a path along the bow valley parkway which hosts alberta’s first grand fondo in just over a week. adding to our animal list includes a black bear, elk, goats and a few squirrels

once in banff we headed up to sulfur mountain to take in what has to be the most beautiful view in the rocky mountains. after an 8 minute cable car ride and a 100m walk you end with a 360 degree view across the top of these magnificent mountains

today was the first day of net descending and it only took two weeks!

14 August

Warming up with a 15km climb at 6% is not what we had in mind but it certainly is what we got

The highway out of Golden has had a revamp since we were last here taking in the warm-up climb, but then it also has this fast downhill which usually isn’t a problem – in fact you could challenge for the fastest time of the tour – but with the light rain we had it was like a skating rink. Playing safe meant dragging brakes all the way down

I’ve probably mentioned before the rocky mountains are absolute behemouths of stone. They make for great spectacles. However, that also means that in order to transvers them it requires long, slow ascents to the heavens. We must have been going in that direction given the expletives in use

I must share with you one of the best interactions of the tour

us: “do you have a wine list”

waitress: “yes, it’s in my head”

us: “what wine do you have?”

waitress: “red and white. which one do you want”

in other news……..Lake louise stands out as a jewel in the world’s list of heritage protected sites

To try and explain what it is like is useless and would do the lake a disservice.  You just need to be here

13 August

one word can describe today….headwind. or is that two? in any case, that is what can describe today

rogers pass is the highest point of the trans canada highway, which stretches 7821kms from victoria, british columbia to the shores of new brunswick. the pass itself was completed in 1962 and was the final link for what is one of the longest highways in the world. the ride up was always going to be a steady tempo ride filled with false flats, carrying the promise of a quick ride back down. and that is exactly what was delivered, although we didn’t anticipate having to push through the wind so much!

one bright note is the smashing of the previously held high speed record. sorry Neil, but your 82.6kmh has been surpassed to the 86.4kmh mark

we’ve passed a few cyclists on the road this tour with today being no exception. mick is a newly retired canadian riding vancouver to calgary complete with panniers and camping stove. he had a fair bit of weight on his surley (whichwould explain his rather sedate speed) but gave him a true sense of freedom to move where and when he wished. there was no comforts of hotel beds for this bloke, something he used in calling us wimps I suppose! never mind, I like a warm shower and clean sheets each night.

the views were amazing as the rocky mountains continue to deliver on their renowned reputation

 

12 August

most tours have rest days

this is what we did on ours

11 August

Bullwinkle says hello

Bellowing from his position in a patch of food the Mighty One let his presence be known for all and sundry. Perhaps it was something on his plate, perhaps it was a longing for company, but whatever it was it was loud and we sure did notice!

Other animals of note today included more deer, goats, and a coyote (although this guy was a bit flattened on the road). Still, the animal count grows…

Every time I come through these parts I always happen across a mad cyclist riding some pretty extreme distances. Like the Korean rider fixing a puncture on the side of the road on his way to Vancouver from Toronto, approximately 4000kms. He was wondering where the next town was as his pump wasn’t working very well. I tried to help but my spares kit was in the van up the road.

Salmon Arm to Revelstoke was always going to be a steady tempo day. With an overall climb of approximately 900 metres or so recovery was the plan. However, that was until Revelstoke held their first annual city criterium race during their first ever bike week. The temptation was just too good! So, with 100kms in the legs and a short 4-city block course I thought I’d give it a bit of a crack.

Well, getting blocked on the start and then having the entire pack in front of me (most of whom have never raced a criterium before) through the first two corners, it was always going to be a job to get up front. But, try as I might, the front three were just that little bit too far ahead and the race itself just too short to catch them. In the end it was a close fourth place. Not bad considering the shape my legs were in

Tomorrow is a climb to the top of Mount Revelstoke. We’re told the record stands around the 67 minute mark. My previous was in the 89th minute. Sounds like a challenge…

10 August

kamloops has its’ own beach beside a large body of water that we were riding alongside today. it’s a fast flowing river leading down to the pacific ocean (we haven’t reached the great divide yet) that cools the locals down when the temperature remains at 25 degrees at 9pm, like it has for a few weeks. yesterday the area hit 40 which we thankfully missed!

we had a great tailwind heading out keeping our average speed around the 45kmh mark…..that is until we hit dirt! with some deft bike handling, our average speed lowered just 10kmh across packed and loose gravel, corrugated dirt and cattle grates. great effort for everyone to not only keep the speed up and not come down,but to do that for 20kms!!!! sure, we were a bit rattled by the end of it and weren’t too enthused about some of the hills coming up, but what goes up must come down, which we did very quickly!

something i’ve forgotten to mention is some of thewildlife we’ve seen to date. lots of squirrels, a few racoon families, birds (of course). today we can add some deer, an eagle and a snake sunning itself on the road only slightly impeding progress

  

9 August

on the way from cache creek to kamloops is a small village at dead man creek called, funnily enough, dead man village. the guy building this place, matt, said he was doing it “because i like to collect things”

dead man village starts with a row of buildings of miniature proportions, leads through some welcoming ranch homes before settling into main street with a collection of wild west boardwalks for cowboys to tie their horses to. all the buildings have been build by matt and all the items in the shops are original. matt tells us these have been traded with native people whose lands sits along side his. great depiction of days gone by

the ride started with a tail wind and 40kmh+ team time trial on very smooth roads (there’s not enough o’s in smooooooooth to describe these babies), before the wind turned around to hit us in the face on our long uphill climb. nearly a kilometre of climbing today, which is considered a flat day! the ride down into kamloops was a bit smelly from the large semi-trailer that locked it’s brakes on the descent

 
8 August

today was meant to be a recovery day, but with a head wind for most of the journey and a false flat for the first half it was hard to make it one. at about the two thirds mark the downhill helped to pick things ups

cache creek is similar to many country villageswhere roads meet. simply put, a transport hub for two main highways. nevertheless, the second day in a row of some pretty good greek food and more exposure to the western canadian experience this time in the form of a horse and carriage at a historic farm and a mug of a & w root beer

heading to kamloops tomorrow in what should be more recovery through the desert-like area, but will no doubt ramp up a bit

7 August

two kms of vertical climbing + 132 kms distance + 30 degree heat = a low cadence of 47 rpm + max heart rate of 169 bpm + 8 litres of water

today was always going to be a big day, but with the morning cool there was some optimism about the days condition. however, the way the summer weather works here the hottest part of the day tends to be later in the afternoon, coinciding with the final 20kms that included 200 metres of vertical climbing over a 10km distance. ouch!

the road surface has also deteriorated since we last came through which slowed down our descending pace and ensured a nervous ride avoiding the various imperfections in the road. thankfully there was no mechanicals to slow progress

my go pro attempted a suicide jump by springing off the front of my bike at 50kmh. I was a bit worried that all would be lost given the number of bounces that can happen at speed, but it came through in flying colours with the only real damage to the one attachment point, the camera isn’t damaged at all. these things are great!

we are pleased to see that Dina’s Greek restaurant is still pumping away and providing great Greek and Italian food. yum!!!

6 August

it takes 150kms to get yourself out of Vancouver and into whistler

the road undulates at varying degrees, starting out with shortish climbs and descents and finishing on climbs that, combined with the 27 degree heat and blue sky, certainly felt a lot bigger than they actually were

still……no mechanicals and no abandonments

whistler itself has grown immensely since being the hotbed of winter Olympics in 2010. So much so we almost became lost scouting out breakfast in the morning, then ended up walking for 20 minutes

better be good ‘cause tomorrow we need some good fuel!

5 August

vancouver started out strangely empty this morning but soon filled up as the annual pride parade marched through town. thousands lined the road for a conversation held once per year

last day in vancouver was an easy ride out to horseshoe bay and back on a very popular training ground. riders on all sorts of bikes take to this road daily, including Les, a retired 69 year old who recently took up triathlon competition. his next event is the penticton triathlon at the end of the month proving age is no barrier

well done Les

4 August

today’s blog isn’t about the hill climb, mechanical, or parts of Vancouver explored. it isn’t about the 11% climb of 21st street in 30 degree heat or negotiating new streets in challenging conditions (you can see what we got up to on the link below)

today’s blog is about something much more skilful than we can ever hope to achieve

imagine loading up a shopping trolly with bottles and cans, riding it downhill on a city-centre street, all the while steering a ladened wheelie-bin behind it with your legs, past a group of police standing outside their city station, and tipping your hat towards us as you do. fantastic!

3 August

The opening night of the Rocky Mountain High Tour 2012 was not a course of asphalt and rubber (although there was a bit of that earlier today). Rather it was a case of basking in the glory of local accomplishments and accolades.

Gastown is an area steeped in the developmental history of Vancouver and plays a significant ongoing role in providing tourists with an introduction to who/what the area is, as well as giving locals an alternative to the Yale Town upmarket district. Initially you might think these two considerations cancel each other out, but you would be wrong as there appears an unholy alliance has emerged that can give both camps what they desire. Not an easy task, admittedly, but one that is often achieved in many areas of Vancouver.

Dinner in Gastown began with a rather unkempt local riding his souped-up moped with squadron-fighter-glasses-donned-dog on the handlebars and the roar of thrash-metal music blaring from the back rack, and an announcement from the self proclaimed town crier that Metalica was playing in Vancouver in three weeks time. The abrupt announcement was observed by all visiting patrons in a casual acknowledgement of the rather unusual sight. Once the the message was received we turned our attention back to the matter at hand; loading up on proteins and carbs for the riding start of the RMHT 2012 tomorrow beginning with a ride to the top of Cypress Mountain.

2 August

Most major cities you goto will have a park of some description as a local focus point; Hyde Park in London, Central Park in New York, Centennial Park in Sydney. Vancouver has Stanley Park, an island in an island that is the downtown core. Along the seawall you can ride the entire 10km distance or ride the somewhat shorter route on the road, which takes in a 100m climb. The entire course is surrounded by a plethora of local fauna and a few semi-wild creatures, including a bullish racoon who, with great authority, stopped all traffic just to cross the road.

Leaving Stanley Park we cruised through the city and along the southern shores to the University of British Columbia which itself is set in a rolling campus of west coast architecture and cedars. Not a lot of activity as the uni is mostly closed for the summer, the only students present are those engaged in higher level studies that require 12 month commitments. As a campus the U of BC must stand out as one of the nicer ones with well maintained grounds and a building programme in full swing taking advantaged of warmer days and lack of student activity.

Vancouver is very courteous to the cyclist. Every city you ride in has its’ own attitude and behaviours you must learn to navigate successfully. Here it is one of mutual respect and consideration without the hostility found in other parts of the world. A welcome respite for this group of road-hardened cyclists!

1 August

It’s groundhog day only in date, certainly not in location

Swapping the 13 degrees of Sydney for 25 and Sunny in Vancouver has been a welcome change. Canada has really turned on the weather and given me a perfect day to stretch the legs after being cooped up in a plane for 14 hours. Have a look at the stats here

Pre-tour days like this bode well for what is to come

1 August

The Rocky Mountain High Tour kicks off with a quick departure from Sydney airport, sending us off in one of the more cycle-friendly mornings we’ve seen in some weeks. Oh, if only we had these warm(ish) dry mornings to train instead of the cold and wet ones like that of  yesterday! Still, the allure of mid-20s in Vancouver and 30+ from Lillooet onwards is enough to warm the insides.

On this page you will find a day by day blog that is the Rocky Mountain High Tour 2012. All the highs and highers of riding across the Rocky mountains, replete with challenging roads and the allure of the Canadian wilderness struck in the backdrop of one of the most amazing mountain ranges in the world.

So, jump on and let’s ride…