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A Ridge Too Far... or the bike tour that wasn't meant to be.

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A Ridge Too Far... or the bike tour that wasn't meant to be.

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Old 08-09-18, 08:02 PM
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Happy Feet
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A Ridge Too Far... or the bike tour that wasn't meant to be.

As the title suggests I tried to head out on short bike tour through the lower east section of the Canadian Rockies this week but events conspired to thwart my plans. This was a trip I was supposed to do a month ago but my wife took ill then and I had to postpone until my next booked holiday week (now).

I set off Sunday to drive 1000km's from Vancouver to Calgary where I intended to park my van at my in laws while I rode west through Banff Alberta to Castle Junction, south along the Vermilion Hwy to Radium and further south again to Cranbrook, there I would turn east to make my way through the Crowsnest Pass and back up the Cowboy Trail (Hwy 22) to Calgary. 850km's in total that I hoped to do in 4-5 days. A pic from the drive:




I began the ride west Monday at 6am but had to work my way through Calgary itself first, which took 1.5 hours via a collection of bike paths and mostly deserted roads. Monday was part of a long weekend so no early morning commuters. Here is the view west towards the downtown I had to transit:




The ride along Hwy 1 to Banff was a real grind with strong head winds the whole way and even using the aeros a lot it still took me a long time. I pulled a pinch flat on my front tire after hitting some solid object jammed in a chip seal crack which I quickly swapped out with the spare tube I carry. Here's a pic of a deserted gas station along the way at Morley:




One nice experience was stopping at the tourist info center in Canmore. They have free wifi, soft chairs and a filtered water dispenser for bike bottles. This is the eastern terminus of the paved Legacy bike trail that spans 21km's from Canmore to Banff which is very popular with both tourists and locals. You can rent a bike in Banff, ride to Canmore and take a bus shuttle (with bike) back to Banff. People also commute between the two towns for work. Here's a shot looking back east along the Rundle Range:




I arrived in Banff at 3:30pm and after a coffee rode up to the Tunnel Mountain campsite where I got one of the last tent sites available. There are no hiker/biker type sites there and it seemed a bit overkill for my one man tent:




I then discovered that the road I intended to travel from Castle Junction to Radium (Hwy 93) was closed due to a large uncontrolled forest fire, one of many burning in the region. That threw quite a kink in my plans as the whole 93 corridor was now filled with smoke even if the road was re opened (it was briefly opened and then re closed until Thursday as it turned out). After thinking over dinner back n town I decided to return to the Morley area in the morning and take Hwy 40 over the Highwood Pass (highest paved road in Canada), coming out southwest of Calgary. And, because I need exercise it seems, added to the fatigue of the days riding there was so much tourist volume in Banff that evening that the shuttle busses were continually full and I had to walk km's up the long steep hill back to the campground. I climbed into bed at 11:30pm and slept straight through the night.

The next morning I made my way back to Canmore along the road instead of the Legacy trail (faster). Here are two pics looking east and west along the way:

Cascade Mountain



Rundle Range



Along the way I saw some wildlife:




And a look back at the smoke now engulfing the mountains and moving east towards Calgary:




As well as smoke, a heat wave began to develop with predicted highs near 95F and I started to question my wisdom in trying to summit the Highwood Pass just then. I decided to bike back to Calgary instead, regroup, and drive out in the next day or so to do the Pass as an out and back day trip. That decided I settled into enjoying the tailwinds that were my headwinds the day before. There's nothing like pedaling along at 40kmh but.. all good things must come to an end and in the mid day heat of the prairie I began to get flats - four in a row due to a roadside radial tire wire that caused undetected weaknesses in the tube for additional pinch flats. As fate would have it I had also forgotten to fix the pinched tube from the day before so it was patch patch patch. Shazzam!

When I got back to Calgary I really wondered what I was going to do with the rest of the week. With smoke and a predicted three day heat wave I was feeling wishy washy about setting out anywhere for a long ride. Then I phoned home and discovered that my wife was sick once again and currently getting tests in the hospital so with kids and dogs and worry for her my decision was pretty well made for me.

The next morning I drove 1000km's back home. In all, 2000km's of driving and nearly 300km's of biking in four days. Some times you bite the bear and sometimes the bear bites you.
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Old 08-09-18, 08:51 PM
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Sorry to hear it didn't go as planned. One of my uncle travels out west on both sides of the border quite frequently, one thing I learned from him is there is no getting around the fires. If they're in your way, tough luck.

Hope it was nothing too serious with your wife, and shes back to good health too!
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Old 08-09-18, 11:10 PM
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Thanks, she's ok so far.

We had a bad fire season last year but I was completely unaware of them currently until actually arriving in Calgary. I rarely watch the news any more.
I have one more kick at the can in September and hopefully will be biking to Tofino on Vancouver Island to try cold water surfing. Watching for Tsunami reports now.

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Old 08-09-18, 11:56 PM
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Still some great scenery though. Jet stream is stuck, drawing dry air into North America north/west & damp Gulf/Atlantic air over the east. Locally it's really bizarre to see weeks & months where winds consistently come from the south & it rains almost every day.
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Old 08-10-18, 04:56 AM
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Your "failure" is cooler than my successes.
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Old 08-10-18, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Your "failure" is cooler than my successes.
Haha.. I doubt it

I usually get 3.5 weeks holiday and this year I took them in separate 1 week chunks with the idea of using 3 of them on faster, lightweight tours to see if I like bikepack style racing.. or just the idea of bikepack style racing. So far it's 1 trip successful (but with some bad friction type saddle sores), 1 trip cancelled, and one trip dnf. Hummm...

On a positive note. The bike and kit work very nicely. If I eat at stores, gas stations and cafe's I can get by in the summer with what is shown on the bike, though for a bit more gear or cooking I might add some very small panniers.

Currently using 28mm gatorskins but from the flats think maybe they are near the end of their touring service life. I like them so far as a good compromise between durability and rolling resistance but may try a 650b conversion which is easy enough due to disc brakes. I'm debating the cost with myself though because the 700c rims are still very new and good but I feel the rougher road surfaces at times. 28's are about as big as I can go currently with fenders which work locally but when you hit lots of miles of rough road you feel it.

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Old 08-10-18, 08:12 AM
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alas, the uncontrollable things in life.
Yup, kinda sucks all that driving and then surprises, but yes, main thing is that your wife's health is hopefully on the mend.
Oh, and I always smile when I see your fancy ass modern bike. Its fun having diff bikes, and remember, I have an old butterfly bar bike thats a cousin of yours, right down to the Flyer.
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Old 08-10-18, 08:21 AM
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re the gatorskins. In the last days Ive been overhauling my "faster" bike that I havent used in almost two seasons now, and I use 28 gatorskins also. You may be right on the wear/puncture thing because in general, I agree with your take on them as being a good compromise of speed and toughness, but I am a light guy so get away with more perhaps.
I know they make a 32 version, but I guess thats why you mention the 650 idea to be able to put wider on it.
My frame is a cross frame that can take big tires, but have never had wider than 28 on it, but after riding so much these last few years on 37-50s on my other bikes, I too am tempted to try to wider, lighter tires on this frame. I too would have to remove my fender if I went much wider though, more because the fenders are narrow ones , although I might be able to skooch them up enough to clear, even if they wouldnt be as effective for coverage.
Riding on wider tires certainly does become addictive when riding over rough surfaces, especially with the proper lower pressure to take advantage of them doing their suspension thing.
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Old 08-10-18, 08:28 AM
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Sounds like a cool tour, too bad you couldn't do it.
I would probably take #1 A to Canmore, if I was riding during the week, the heavy traffic on #1 is bad, even if there is a good shoulder.
I have been waiting for #93 to re open, to drive out that way. The trans Canada west of Lake Louise is bad, there is way too much traffic for the state of the road, and they are very slow at upgrading.
Hope your family is well and I hope you get a chance to do try this tour again.
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Old 08-10-18, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Haha.. I doubt it
What I meant was that I have seen lots of your photos. Amazing sights. I usually try to get out west once/year, but this year my two-weeker was Vermont to Philadelphia. I was going to go to Idaho, but a family reunion caused a conflict.) I did see a bear cub and a snapping turtle laying eggs by the side of road, but not much else in the way of fun stuff. And there were no great vistas. I have a cross-Pennsylvania trip planned for next month. It's a route I have done before. Decent, but nothing exotic. Mostly an excuse to be out on the road.
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Old 08-10-18, 10:47 AM
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Friggin beautiful photos. Consider it like fishing...... worst day fishing is better than all the rest of your days.
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Old 08-10-18, 01:24 PM
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Friggin in the riggin
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Old 08-10-18, 04:34 PM
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Great pics, I especially like them mountain goats. 👍
And I also wish your wife a full & speedy recovery. 🙂
As far as those fires, they sure changed things for me, this year. I was planning on going South, around the Rockies, earlier this year, but that's right near the Durango fire. I've been goofing around & wasting time, but they still haven't put them all out. 😥
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Old 08-10-18, 07:37 PM
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Thanks all for the kind thoughts towards the missus. She is looking a bit better but still pretty worn down. She's been battling a very bad bacterial infection that has nuked her gut compounded by ulcerative colitis. Basically 9 weeks so far of Cholera like symptoms (not Cholera though). It's pretty easy to see how people in the developing world die from it without proper meds and electrolytes etc...


Because people often ask for gear lists I thought I'd add what I have been taking this summer as a minimal but mostly self sufficient kit list.

Cycling clothes:
- short sleeve jersey, bibs, vest, lightweight jacket, knee warmers, sun sleeves, lightweight merino wool socks, cap, helmet, cycling gloves, Pearl Izzumi cleated shoes with walking soles, sunglasses, neck scarf.

Front double ended dry bag attached to drop bars:
- One man North Face tent, fly, Al poles

Dry bag nested between aero bars:
- Thermarest Scout inflatable sleeping pad

Gas tank bag on top tube:
- Olympus TG4 waterproof camera
- cell phone
- lock key
- two Clif bars

Blackburn Outpost frame bag:
- Pump
- tool kit (Park multi tool including chain breaker), spare masterlink, spare rear derailer cable (covers all brake and derailer lengths), CO2 inflator and 2 cartridges, Pedro levers, Patch kit)
- spare tube and spokes
- tissue paper and wet wipes
- knife
- electrical zip ties
- more Clif and Protein bars

Carradice Carradry saddle bag:
- Chouinard Thinsulate overbag
- light weight down jacket
- Personal care kit (toothbrush/paste, Tylenol, Advil, Vasoline, Anusol [for treating saddle sores])
- Electronics kit (wall charger, external storage battery, cables for lights/camera/phone)
- Spare clothes (nylon shorts, long nylon pants, long sleeve synthetic T shirt, second pair of cycling shorts, second pair of socks)
- Rain Cape
- small book

For the shoulder season where cooler conditions might be expected I would add:
- waterproof shoe covers
- fingered gloves
- balaclava
- medium weight merino wool sweater
- medium weight jacket instead of light jacket
- Hot Core 100 sleeping bag instead of overbag

So far this has meant adding a small waterproof backpack but I only put a few light weight items in it.
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Old 08-10-18, 07:44 PM
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Haven't had a vacation in years. I envy you. Retirement is only 10 years out for me, and then it will be vacation time! I run Conti Ultra Sport 28 on my daily rider cyclocross bike. My touring bike has Conti City Ride tires on it. They ride well and are very puncture resistant. Haven't had a flat in 3 years with them. I also commute on routes over 5 miles with it. I like them. Knock on wood, the Conti Ultra Sports have not had a flat either. Going on 3000 miles with the pair. Yes, I rotate them at 1500 miles as with all my bikes.
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Old 08-10-18, 08:39 PM
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hey there senor Happy,
re saddle sores. I have found over the years that a tube of polysporin is great for fast healing of any scrapes, cuts, and yes, saddle sores. I thankfully havent had many problems with saddle sores, not for a long time anyway, but on my longer trips, whenever I have felt the beginning of any small spot at the end of the day, careful cleaning and putting polysporin has had them clear up quickly and never getting to the point of being a problem.

anyway, just thought of this reading your stuff list.
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Old 08-11-18, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
hey there senor Happy,
re saddle sores. I have found over the years that a tube of polysporin is great for fast healing of any scrapes, cuts, and yes, saddle sores. I thankfully havent had many problems with saddle sores, not for a long time anyway, but on my longer trips, whenever I have felt the beginning of any small spot at the end of the day, careful cleaning and putting polysporin has had them clear up quickly and never getting to the point of being a problem.

anyway, just thought of this reading your stuff list.
Good stuff. I'm checking various stuff out. I read that some creams like Vagasil, Anusol and Prep H are good for healing saddle sores as they are medicated, dry the skin and have a topical anesthetic to relive the pain. My problem seems to be mechanical friction on moist skin from long hours in high heat humidity. I decided to try bibs for the first time this year as they are supposed to pull the front panel away from the groin (and improve air flow) but so far they feel about the same as my other bike shorts. Meh. I've also heard good things about tri athlete shorts with more minimal padding so I may give them a try. This is the year of experiments.
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Old 08-11-18, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Good stuff. I'm checking various stuff out. I read that some creams like Vagasil, Anusol and Prep H are good for healing saddle sores as they are medicated, dry the skin and have a topical anesthetic to relive the pain. My problem seems to be mechanical friction on moist skin from long hours in high heat humidity. I decided to try bibs for the first time this year as they are supposed to pull the front panel away from the groin (and improve air flow) but so far they feel about the same as my other bike shorts. Meh. I've also heard good things about tri athlete shorts with more minimal padding so I may give them a try. This is the year of experiments.
re mechanical friction--this aspect is one of the reasons why I took so well to leather brooks saddles, the smoothness and "non grabby" aspect of a leather seat , to me anyway, was an obvious improvement over other seats Ive had, ie less mechanical friction. Yes, the "hammock" effect of a bit more give over bumps probably helps a bit too, but I specifically appreciate the non grabby aspect. Im sure the "forming to your keester area" helps too with comfort and less mechanical friction.
I also found leather seats to be less sweaty in the groin area, and Ive ridden lots now in really hot conditions (specifically my Latin American trips) compared to plastic seats that dont breath at all.
and concerning bike shorts, I dunno, its so person specific re which ones work better, its a hard call.
All I know is that the ones I have that are more comfortable over a long day are more comfortable than some of the others i have owned and still own.
Personally I have used chammy cream before, and noticed a diff, but then have never taken it on long trips, and been ok friction wise. Although I dont do super long days, and take little breaks here and there.
Maybe another factor too is how much one sweats. Im not a big sweater compared to other people, so maybe that helps.

all I do know is that I am very careful of always washing and rinsing my bike shorts each day, and feelthis is super important to avoid saddle sores once you've found a seat/bike shorts/seat position system that works well.

and again, when I've noticed the start of a small pimple or blemish starting, I make extra sure to wash myself carefully, get out of my bike shorts as soon as possible, and using polysporin along with the keeping it clean and dry routine as meant it goes away quickly.

good luck finding the mix of clothes and seat position that reduces and hopefully eliminates any friction issues, its a super important priority to get this sorted.
cheers
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Old 08-11-18, 01:02 PM
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Thanks

It's probably one of the only barriers left for me to overcome in order to do fairly high mile consecutive days like bikepack racing. My equipment is good enough, mental game is pretty good, physical endurance is good for my age so if I can keep my butt from breaking down I will be set... famous last words. I own two leather saddles and one C17 and only find the friction issue when I start to go into the 200km/day range where it's like 12+ hours of saddle time. I really wonder if more ultra endurance riders experience this but don't find a lot written other than the usual saddle sore stuff which tends to revolve around pimples more than friction.
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Old 08-13-18, 11:38 AM
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well, if you only get problems with really far and long days like you describe, it makes me think of the old joke, "Doc, it hurts when I stick my finger in my eye like this" , Doctor-"stop sticking your finger in your eye...."

you know what I mean.
I've never done days that long, and imagine that you just start getting into the area where even the smallest fit, saddle position, bike shorts padding issues/details etc are going to get shown up so much more compared to a more reasonable length day/saddle time.

specifically about friction-this is where I saw the improvement of using chammy butter or whatever. Ive only really used one brand, Chamois Buttr, and a few times one other brand that I had a sample of. I clearly reduces physical friction, and reapplying on a long day would seem to me to be a real help.
Have you ever tried this stuff?
The weight of a larger tube of it could easily be offset by reducing or taking care of friction issues, but as with all this bike stuff, you really need to try it all yourself to see how or if it helps you.
I suspect ultra endurance riders use this stuff a lot, and or are total hard asses and suffer.
I also suspect though that each rider has to put all the various factors together and find combinations of shorts padding, seats, seat positions, riding styles, chammy cream and all that stuff, that will work for them, especially with longer distances and longer hours on our keesters.
I just put a C17 on a bike again yesterday. I bought it used a few years back, and found the leather ones more comfortable. Used the C17 on my winter indoor trainer old bike, and it was ok, but decided to try it again on a real world riding bike and see how my take on it has changed.
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Old 08-13-18, 12:49 PM
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Will be doing a supported tour from Whitefish,MT to Jasper in 1.5 weeks.
Hopefully, the smoke will not screw up plans.

Nice pics!
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Old 08-13-18, 01:57 PM
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I may pick up a tube of the Chamois buttr to see how it goes. I've tried body glide (goes on like a solid anti perspirant) and have vasoline.
I hope I don't just have a weird butt.


Originally Posted by biker222 View Post
Will be doing a supported tour from Whitefish,MT to Jasper in 1.5 weeks.
Hopefully, the smoke will not screw up plans.

Nice pics!
If you haven't been yet you are in for a treat on the Icefield Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper Good shoulders, amazing scenery and a nice mix of civilization with wilderness in between.Here's a little warm up for ya:








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Old 08-13-18, 02:27 PM
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top photo taken 2015
mid photo taken 1971 with Ektachrome with an Instamatic with a cheapo lens and printed crappily at Direct Film
last photo taken 1909 with a Brownie and a red filter held in front of the lens

Happy is older than you think guys (and I think Im funnier than I am.....)

oh, also the chamois buttr stuff isnt gross on the short or bib pad when you wash it. I wash my stuff by hand nearly always, and even with liberal application of this stuff on the few trips I used it, despite what I thought, washing wasn't really any different, no slimey gooey or icky mess at all on the padding.
Basically I tried it to see if it would help, and while it did to an extent, getting some really good bike shorts with well designed padding that works well for me was the bigger factor. I sort of considered taking some on my latin american trips, but in the end, I just had too much stuff anyway and didnt want to deal with it, and in the end my combo of shorts/seat/seat position worked fine, even in the worst heat and humidity of Central America. (but again, without the long hours in the saddle like you mention)

cheers
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Old 08-13-18, 03:45 PM
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This does not look good down in Glacier Natl Park:

Evacuation Order

Alert 1 , Severity ,danger ,,Evacuation OrderEvacuations are in effect for Lake McDonald Lodge, North Lake McDonald Road, and the Avalanche and Sprague Campgrounds. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed between the foot of Lake McDonald (near Apgar) and Logan Pass. Fire Information: (406) 888-7077.
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Old 08-18-18, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Cascade Mountain



Rundle Range
Is it a trick of the lens or is the dropoff from pavement to shoulder that great? Looks like a foot drop that would be treacherous on two wheels. I've driven those roads and do not remember that feature.
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