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  1. #1
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    Help getting ready for Northern Great Parks Route tour.

    Since my last thread went over like a lead balloon (most likely due to my uncontrollable long-windedness) I thought I would try again. ( For the cliffs notes/important questions, jump down to 3) and 4) )

    My wife and I are planning to tour from West Glacier to Jasper this summer in late July/Early August. Our proposed route is start by riding the going to the sun road. Next well take 89 to 17 and on into Canada/Waterton Lakes (where it turns into rte 6). We'll then take 6 up to 3, go west on 3 until it hooks up with 93, which we follow all the way on up to Jasper. It looks like this is the route that the Adventure Cycling maps follow (from what I can guess). This brings me to my first 2 questions:

    1) How are the adventure Cycling maps? Worth the buy?

    2) How are the roads? Being major connections between national parks, I'd think they'd be pretty good, but just want to check.

    Now on to equipment. My wife and I both have road bikes we'll be using. The racks are on them, and pannier clearance is not an issue. We are doing a mostly self-supported tour. We'll be bringing everything but cooking stuff (Tent, sleeping bags, clothes, thermarests, necessary bike stuff), and will mostly eat at restaurants. We usually pack quite light (we managed a 2 1/2 week vacation in Italy with only one carry on each). I'd say 25-30lbs of gear each would probably be a reasonable estimation. So this brings me to the wheels. My wheels wont work (16 spokes, bad..). My wife has a set of Ksyrium Elites. One opinion in the other thread (which I share) is that these will work fine for her (they supported my 175lb self for many many miles with no issue). So the next two questions:

    3) My light weight wife (me minus 55-60lbs) + 30lbs of gear + rack + panniers on her current Ksyrium Elites- happy money savings, or broken wheels and stranded in the Canadian Rockies forever?

    4) My (soon to be) 175lb self + 35lbs of gear + rack + panniers on what? I'd like to stick to something roadish if possible. I was thinking something like a set of Shimano 105 hubs (36H) + Mavic OpenSports.. or will my wife be pedaling off with some hunky Canadian Mountie as I try to figure out a way to Calgary to make the flight with a broken wheel?
    Last edited by BlueDevil; 04-29-08 at 10:37 PM.

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    1) I've never seen the Adventure Cycling maps, so I've no idea.

    2) I can't speak about the southern roads, but the road between Banff and Jasper is pretty good. It can be a little bit rough in places because of the weather (erosion, etc.), but there's a fairly decent shoulder.

    3) If something happens to your bicycle between Banff and Jasper, you just have to get to Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper. There are bicycle shops and/or outdoor shops and/or hardware shops in all three places.

    4) About the food ... yeah, I know you didn't ask ... pack lots of money if you're planning to eat in restaurants along the way! Food (and accommodations) in the National Parks is not cheap. Also, there can be some distance between food sources in places. It's not bad, but I'd recommend carrying some food with you - snacks and stuff like that. Also be sure you can carry at least two decent sized bottles on each of your bicycles ..... and don't refill them from streams.

    5) And about the weather ... yeah, I know you didn't ask about that either ... pack a variety of clothing. Bring some warm stuff, and bring some raingear. It can be beautiful in the mountains, but it can also be quite nasty, and we've been having a horrible spring this year ... it's going to snow tomorrow and the next day ... again. <<sigh>> They are predicting 10-20 cm of snow in the Rockies tomorrow ... that's about 4-8 inches.

  3. #3
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    I rode this route last summer and have lots of info and pics on my journal:
    www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/2391

    pm me if you have any more questions. have a great trip!

  4. #4
    Hooked on Touring
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    Route -

    The stretch west of Pincher Creek is famed for its wind farms - thus its wind.
    You are likely to be riding against a stiff headwind here.
    My rec - stay in Pincher Creek and leave as early as possible.

    I think that riding east of the Divide is far more scenic than riding west of it.
    I've done both. Kananaskis Park is stunning - no other word for it.
    The stretch from Crowsnest Pass to Fernie to Radium is only so-so.
    Also, if I remember, Hwy 95 is pretty narrow.

    The eastern option involves turning north on AB 22 just past Lundbreck -
    Then following AB 22 to Longview to AB 541 along the Highwood River.
    This stretch is like riding the Icefields Parkway with 1/10 the traffic.
    The centre of Kananaskis Park has a small store and numerous campgrounds.
    The walk-in campsites on the lake shore are some of the finest in Canada.

    From Kananaskis, you can take AB 40 to the TransCanada or -
    If you are daring you can take Spray Lakes Road - hardpack to Canmore.
    Either way, you will come out at Banff, then get on the old road to Castle Jct.

    Also, I've had drizzly days in late July in the Canadian Rockies with highs of 10C/50F.
    Backroads Tour Groups were seriously underdressed and miserable.

    Have a great ride - J

    PS - Here's a recent ride on the route described - Glacier to Jasper
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=26439&v=Nu

    FYI - Unlike US national parks, Canadian parks allow cyclists to use certain trails that were former fire roads. If you were to ride mountain bikes you could camp in a variety of back country locations.

  5. #5
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    [This stretch is like riding the Icefields Parkway with 1/10 the traffic.
    Well, without the glaciers. It is a scenic and relatively quiet route.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all of the great info/tips!

    Machka- Weather and food are two great things to bring up! It is definitely a tradeoff- cheaper food/bring our own cooking stuff, versus more expensive eating out. We might do something in between, and bring one small pot for boiling water + 1 burner, though I need to see how heavy we will be packing. As for the clothing, we know all too well how quickly the temp/weather can change. When we climbed the Grand Teton, we were stuck standing still on the side of the mountain for a few hours in 15 degree (F) temps. This was at about 5am on a day in the middle of July. Suddenly all that warm stuff came in quite handy! I am guessing that touring is much like backpacking when it comes to clothes- smart use of layering is key.

    Bokes-
    That is an awesome journal, and has my wife and I VERY excited to go! It sounds like the two of you had a blast. I'll probably be in touch with you via PM as the time come nearer.

    jamawani-
    Thanks for the route suggestion. Jen and I looked it over and it is definitely in the running for the route to take! My only concern is the cycling along the trans-canada highway. I guess I have images in my head of a U.S. style Interstate with cars flying by at 75mph.. Is it bikable for that 30 miles or so into Banff? As for going the mountain bike route, that is probably not going to happen. Even the thought of bringing up "lets buy more bikes" to my wife is causing an uncontrollable twitch over my left eye. . So we'll probably need to stick to the roads, but it looks like this is very doable, and still would be an unbelievable ride.

  7. #7
    Hooked on Touring
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueDevil View Post
    I guess I have images in my head of a U.S. style Interstate with cars flying by at 75mph.. Is it bikable for that 30 miles or so into Banff?
    Cars are not flying by at 75 mph in Canada - - ever.
    They are flying by at 120 kph.
    Not to mention that Albertans are considered the Texans of Canada -
    Especially given how fast they tend to drive.

    With all that said, I find Canadian drivers extremely courteous - more so than American ones. If you head thru Kananaskis, then you only have to ride on the TransCanada for about 2 km before cutting over to the old road and into Canmore. There is a wide shoulder (2 to 3 m.) on the TC. As you leave Canmore, you will get back on the TransCanada into Banff N.P. and have to stop at the park entrance gate. Soon afterwards you get off onto Banff Avenue. Banff is a trip - but it is Banff. It will help you appreciate Jasper all the more. Leaving Banff, you get back onto the TransCanada for a few km until you get to the old highway - Bow River Parkway (1A).. There is a wonderful hostel at Castle Junction with a little store right across the road. Make sure to allow yourself at least one night in Jasper. There is no better place to end a trip. Very walkable. Nice cafes and bars. Like a small French town in the Alps.

    PS - OMG!! Are you a Doookie?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
    Cars are not flying by at 75 mph in Canada - - ever.
    They are flying by at 120 kph.
    Touché!

    With all that said, I find Canadian drivers extremely courteous - more so than American ones.
    I am guessing they will be much more courteous than the wonderfully considerate NJ drivers!

    If you head thru Kananaskis, then you only have to ride on the TransCanada for about 2 km before cutting over to the old road and into Canmore. There is a wide shoulder (2 to 3 m.) on the TC. As you leave Canmore, you will get back on the TransCanada into Banff N.P. and have to stop at the park entrance gate. Soon afterwards you get off onto Banff Avenue. Banff is a trip - but it is Banff. It will help you appreciate Jasper all the more. Leaving Banff, you get back onto the TransCanada for a few km until you get to the old highway - Bow River Parkway (1A).. There is a wonderful hostel at Castle Junction with a little store right across the road. Make sure to allow yourself at least one night in Jasper. There is no better place to end a trip. Very walkable. Nice cafes and bars. Like a small French town in the Alps.
    Sounds wonderful! We're going to try to split our evenings between camping, some motels (outside of the parks if available), hostels (we'd prefer hostels that have some private-ish rooms available), and maybe splurge for one night in a nice hotel. I was in Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper when I was 13 or 14.. so things have probably changed. But Jasper sounds like it'll be great!

    PS - OMG!! Are you a Doookie?
    From your spelling, I'd guess I should say "No" if I want to continue to get more great hints... That being said, yes, I graduated from Duke in 2001.

  9. #9
    cyclotourist
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    If you follow jamawani's directions you won't spend much time on the Trans Canada Highway and it does have wide paved shoulders, though I would never recommend it as a preferred route.

    If you take the other route and go from Cranbrook to Radium you will find the 93/95 is a busy two lane highway without wide shoulders.

  10. #10
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    Yes, I think Adventure Cycling maps are very much worth their cost.

    I'd suggest that you bring along cook gear, at least basic gear. Sometimes campgrounds don't have restraunts nearby.

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peaks View Post
    Yes, I think Adventure Cycling maps are very much worth their cost.

    I'd suggest that you bring along cook gear, at least basic gear. Sometimes campgrounds don't have restraunts nearby.
    +1

    I can think of several campgrounds on the Icefield Parkway that don't have restaurants anywhere near them. And I also know that Saskatchewan River Crossing (which has a restaurant, small (expensive) grocery store, and hotel accommodations) does not have a campground within about 30 kms ... there's one 30 kms south of it, and I'm not sure what's north of it off hand, but I don't think there's anything close by in that direction.

    When you cycle through the mountains, you'll want to plan ahead a bit.

  12. #12
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    publiclands.org

    This is by the best site out there that I have seen.

  13. #13
    Hooked on Touring
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    I do not know if these Icefield Parkway map guides are still available.
    They are quite useful in locating campgrounds, hostels, and services.
    I scanned them a while back for crazyguy - full size for printing.

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/resou...ap&context=all

    PS - How 'bout dem Heels?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by jamawani; 05-02-08 at 08:23 PM.

  14. #14
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    "Not to mention that Albertans are considered the Texans of Canada -
    Especially given how fast they tend to drive."

    I'm not so sure about that - there are enough americans there it may well be just Texans you are running into. They have voting booths during US elections...

  15. #15
    cyclotourist
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    Thats an urban myth. There are Americans here, but there are lots in Vancouver and Toronto too.
    The percentage of the population that is American born is 0.7% in T.O., 1 % in Calgary and 1.1% in Vancouver

    There are US voting booths in every city that has an American consulate.

    We had expatriate voting for Iraqis here too, during their election. Nobody talks about that.
    Last edited by skookum; 05-04-08 at 12:56 PM. Reason: added information

  16. #16
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    I just realized there were more posts to this thread. Thanks everyone!

    Our trip is a bit up in the air, as my wife was hit by a car last week while cycling home from work. The doctors say she can get back to some easy exercise in 10-14 days, but it may take a good 4-6 weeks to make a full recovery (so far the extent of her injuries appears to be lots of moderate to severe bruising and some pretty strained muscles). She is very eager to get back on the bike, and still wants to do the trip, but the most important thing right now is getting her all healed up.

    And just another reminder (not that anyone here needs it) to wear your helmet! After looking at the helmet, our doctor said it most likely saved her life.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
    With all that said, I find Canadian drivers extremely courteous - more so than American ones.
    Québec being an exception here. Don't try to cross the street at a pedestrian crossing. For some reason, we don't stop at those.

  18. #18
    Hooked on Touring
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    C'est vrai!

  19. #19
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    Oh my gosh!

    I am very sorry to hear about your wife's accident.
    I am glad to hear that she is doing well -
    and I commend her for her resilient spirit.

    Here's some good news.
    Last summer I was sideswiped just before I was to head out on a tour.
    (And I suspect that I am a chunk older than you or your wife since you are Duke 2001.)
    ((Except for Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore))
    I was stiff and sore and bruised, but I took a lot of hot baths -
    And, most importantly I tried to keep as limber as possible without straining anything.

    I was able to do the trip without a hitch.
    So I have my fingers crossed for y'all.

    Take care - J

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