Monthly Archives: July 2013

Segment 3 – Golden to Drumheller

It’s tough to roll out of the sack after a relaxing, rest day when you’re cozy and comfortable, savouring a real bed.  What added to the difficulty was the thought that immediately into the ride we’d be heading uphill.  But, our day would include riding through an area which is a favourite of mine, an area which includes the Kicking Horse Pass, the Spiral Tunnels, Emerald Lake, and Field in beautiful Yoho National Park among other scenic spots.

After enjoying good service and a good breakfast, we slowly and reluctantly left the comfort of our B&B of the last two nights.  Our ride began with an incline, which would take us over a fantastic stretch of highway having been reconstructed and re-routed in the past ten years.  It offers good riding and great vistas.  The hills, aside from going up, were gradual, presenting easier, more consistent pedalling.  At the top of this hill, a prelude to the Kicking Horse Pass, was a perfect “Kodak moment”, a group shot of those who ascended the hill with us.

DSC_0383pictured above:  Bill and Joyce ascending above Golden in background

DSC_0388pictured above:  Bill and Joyce descending on new part of TCH east of Golden, BC

DSC_0390pictured above:  one of several mini-falls from holes in the hilside

DSC_0398pictured above:  Joyce heading for the summit with Irene and Bob following closely


pictured above:   “Kodak moment” of Bill, Mike, Joyce, Irene, Bob, Larry, Gee, Dan at first summit above Golden, BC

Like much of the mountain riding, pictures were a must.  It was tough not to stop regularly to record the scenery, the ride taking longer than normal.  But, it wasn’t long before we were in Field, a small town on the Kicking Horse River, established in the 1880s as a community for the construction workers of the Canadian Pacific Railway.  The CPR still runs adjacent to the town, but the railway is not as prominent in the town as in years past.

DSC_0408pictured above:  morning dew on flowers on roadside west of Field

DSC_0412 pictured above:  Joyce approaching Field, BC dwarfed by Cathedral Mountain

DSC_0422pictured above:  CPR train westbound toward Field; Kicking Horse River in foreground

Due to a storm the previous night, power had been knocked out, so we were out of luck for services, primarily, a coffee break.  It was even tough to get our water bottles filled for our continued journey on this hot day.

Up we pedalled to the Spiral Tunnels, then the summit of Kicking Horse Pass.

spiral tunnels

DSC_0293pictured above:  b&w photo of yesteryear compliments of Field website; both photos of the Spiral Tunnel

Kicking Horse Pass and the adjacent river were named by James Hector of Captain John Palliser’s expedition in 1858. Hector, a naturalist, biologist, and doctor on the expedition, was kicked by his horse while crossing the pass.  In 1989, the Canadian Heritage Rivers System Board recognized the Kicking Horse River as a Canadian Heritage River. The designation recognized the heritage values of geology and earth history, exploration and transportation history, and scenic and recreational valuesKicking Horse Pass is the highest point on the Canadian Pacific Railway, at an elevation of 5,338 feet (1,627 m).  (Parks Canada)

DSC_0428pictured above:  Joyce just east of Kicking Horse Pass summit

This eventually led us to the old highway, which we traversed, first crossing the Great Divide, the BC / Alberta border.  After a photo op, and contrary to a sign at the entrance, our group of six stayed together and made plenty of noise for bear reasons on our way into Lake Louise.   Some opted to continue up to the famous lake.  Others, including Joyce and I, continued to our campground for the night in the village of picturesque Lake Louise.

DSC_0433pictured above:  Bob, Bill, Fred, Irene, Joyce, and Dan 

DSC_0436pictured above:  riders including Joyce  on right heading toward Lake Louise on old highway

Mike, one of our tour riders, had heard about the “Great Divide”, and decided to go there,  … alone.  From England, he knew little about bears.  On route, he “flew” by a grizzly grazing by the side of the road.  Shortly after, another bear, which stood up on his hind legs, confronted Mike.  Mike turned tail and rode away quickly, contrary to recommended procedure.  He never did see the “Great Divide”.  Oh yes, and he got back safely.

Our next day, Monday, 01 July was a short day, scheduled so that we could enjoy the area.  Joyce, Bill, and I headed for Banff on the TCH.  Bow Valley Parkway, our planned route, had a sign at the beginning, “closed” due to damage by spring flooding.  We learned later that it was not passable by car, but navigable by bike.


Stupendous scenery, again!    With a tailwind at our backs, we rode along at an average speed of 29 kph., not fast enough to keep us from stopping to enjoy our surroundings knowing that we’d be out of the mountains tomorrow.  Our 52 kilometre ride only took three hours to downtown Banff by 11:20 am.

Our bikes allowed us quick passage on the main street, crowded with holiday traffic.  After enjoying lunch and a coffee like tourists, the iconic Banff Springs Hotel was our next stop.  What an impressive edifice!  Joyce and I sat on the lawn across the street and admired the hotel, built on the initiative of Sir William C. VanHorne who stated, “Since we can’t export the scenery, we shall have to import the tourists.”.  A visit to Bow River Falls, quite the torrent, below the hotel ended our day as tourists as we proceeded uphill to Tunnel Mountain Campground.

DSC_0456pictured above:  Banff Springs Hotel

DSC_0466apictured above:  Bow River below hotel

Leaving Banff, the devastation from the spring flooding was quite obvious.  Culverts easily heaved by the surging water lined river banks and ditches.  Crews were putting the finishing touches on pavement in the Canmore area.  And, leaving Banff, we were leaving the Rockies, a beautiful part of this country, this world.


DSC_0475DSC_0480pictured above:  recreational trail washed away; culvert carried away by torrent

DSC_0478 pictured above:  new blacktop on TCH, Canmore; sediment deposit at right of picture

The flooding closed Hwy. #1A from Canmore, the lesser trafficked, more scenic, secondary route of previous years, necessitating biking along the TCH.  We eventually did shift to #1A further east to watch the mountains slowly, begrudgingly, fade from sight to our rear.  The route led us to Cochrane, Alberta, a Calgary ‘burb, thence north and east to Airdrie, another ‘burb.  The tent site was in a local park near Airdrie arena and facilities.  Our 3:10 arrival allowed us to refresh and relax prior to preparing dinner which was our cooking group’s responsibility that night.

Our ride on the day before rest days always begins with anticipation.  The night of 03 July, we would be rolling into Drumheller where we could relax and catch up on personal concerns the next day.  The day began with cooking breakfast, clean-up, and packing the truck.  Once done, the five in our cooking group were the last to depart.  Biking that day was tough.  Much of the day was cycling into headwinds.  The days’ efforts were ultimately rewarded with a ride into the valley near Drumheller.  Joyce and Bill decided to continue through Drumheller to shop for rest day breakfast groceries.  Mike (he of bear fame who preferred company now) and I took the alternate route to a lookout, and then a river crossing by ferry.  The awesome scenery at Horsethief Canyon Lookout came at a cost, two hellish hills one kilometre plus long at 12%

DSC_0494pictured above:  Mike, Bill, and Joyce entering valley near Drumheller

DSC_0504DSC_0509pictured above: view from lookouts on both sides of the river near Drumheller

Mike and I arrived in camp simultaneously as Bill and Joyce did.  They had enjoyed gallivanting around town.  But, Mike and I were the more fatigued from our trek on the longer, harder  course.

Rest day, Thursday, 04 July, our labours were directed toward sundry needs.  Joyce cooked a great breakfast of bacon and eggs for many to start the day.  Then, bike maintenance, laundry, our blog, and a huge order for pizza consumed our time.  Simultaneously with delivery of the pizza, our group learned of a “tornado watch”.  A tornado did not materialize, but a severe thunder storm entertained as we gorged on pizza in the campground rec hall to end a great day.

Segment 3:  Golden to Drumheller

Location  /  Date Time camp to camp Time on bike Max. speed Avg. speed Distance Trip to date
Lake Louise / 30 June 8:00 5:19 49.0 16.5 87.5 844.1
Banff  /  01 July 6:26 2:39 45.1 22.9 60.7 904.8
Airdrie  /  02 July 7:30 6:14 54.9 23.9 148.1 1052.9
Drumheller  /  03 July 8:45 6:23 57.5 20.1 128.9 1181.8



Segment 2 – Merritt to Golden

Packed, fed, and caffeinated, our route for the first day of our second segment was the secondary highway between Merritt and Kamloops.  In yesteryear, however, it was a wagon road, the main connection between the two communities.  It wasn’t long before we made our first stop in history, Murray United Church, and shortly thereafter, Quilchena Hotel and Quilchena General Store.  All were integral parts of the communities that sprung up along the route to serve travellers.  Neither the church nor the hotel served us, but Joyce satisfied here penchant for spending money on her grandchildren by patronizing the store.  In the future, we’ll likely return to the hotel to reminisce our tour and its era since it’s still operating with period furnishings.


pictured above:  Murray United Church established 1886


pictured above:  Joyce on porch of Quilchena Hotel


pictured above:  period sitting room of Quilchena Hotel

During the day, different riders joined us to take pleasure in the terrific landscape, which varied from grassland to lakes.  The day ended with another tough climb to our campground for the night in Knutsford.


pictured above:  Myra, Joyce and Jackie on road from Merritt

After a tough, twelve-kilometre downhill through Kamloops to begin our day 26 June, we relaxed at a Tim Hortons for a bagel and coffee.   Treats did not end there.  Later that afternoon, Larry and Gee, Joyce and I pooled our finances to buy an out-of-the-oven fresh, apple raspberry pie with ice cream.  Scrumptious!  The pie slid down easier than the ice cream, which the proprietor donated when she heard of our travels.  Sandwiched between treats, Joyce tested my mechanical skills to fix a flat caused by a staple near Pritchard.


pictured above:  Larry, Gee, and Joyce enjoying pie

Light rain, actually refreshing on this hot day, accompanied us into Salmon Arm.  We chose the “scenic route” into camp.  I‘ve never seen, nor ridden, so many horrendous hills in such a short distance as I did this day.  A shaded campsite by a creek among giant cedar was welcomed.

Thursday, 27 June started similarly as the day before with a coffee and bagel at Tim Hortons in Sorrento, not long into our day’s mileage.  Shortly after, Craigelachie, scene of the “Last Spike”, which Donald Smith drove in to complete the “iron ribbon” across the country in 1885, is a must see, historic site many of the riders enjoyed.

last spike

pictured above: Donald Smith driving the “Last Spike” 1885; from P. Buron publication


pictured above:  train passing “Last Spike” plaque

Our cook crew of five was responsible for supper that night, our second of many to come.  Somehow, we five ended up riding together later in the day into our Albert Canyon Campsite.  The scenery was stunning again, Three Valley Gap and Revelstoke still being two of my favourite areas.  Coffee at Tim Hortons in Revelstoke provided the necessary and refreshing  rest for our final push.  Our preparation of chicken and angel hair with Rice Krispie squares for dessert nicely ended another hilly day.

The previous night’s supper, and breakfast of porridge and pancakes, was good fuel for our impending ascent, Roger’s Pass.  It was the third of four, the “Big Brother” of them all, the first two being the Coq, then Eagle Pass near Revelsoke.

Starting at 9:05 am., it wasn’t until 11:55, after many water, food, and pee breaks that we crested the summit.  The day was clear and sunny, unlike our 2009 ascent of cloud and rain. The striking panoramas kept us constantly awed to keep our minds off the gruelling uphill.  Our celebration at the top included hand-slapping with many other riders, alot of water, and the usual PBJ sandwiches.  The descent toward Golden included five snow sheds, and more fantastic vistas, although we had to keep our wits about us with the fast downhill speeds.


DSC_0371pictrured above:  Joyce finishing a climb in Roger’s Pass area

Once in the valley, the day was hot and scenically uninspiring compared to Roger’s Pass.  Our water had run out with no services for the last ten kilometres into Golden.  Our pre-arranged meeting with Bill was welcomed with a celebratory banana split at the Dairy Queen.  From there, it was not far to our rest day accommodations, Country Comfort B&B, which Joyce had arranged months back without any argument from me.  Besides the usual rest day responsibilities, Joyce and I indulged in massages.  What a tonic!  Our day ended with a thunderstorm, which we enjoyed with Bob and Irene during dinner at eleven22, a local eatery.

Segment 2  -  Merritt to Golden

Location / Date Time camp to camp Time on bike Max. speed Avg. speed Distance Trip to date
Knutsford / 25 June 6:30 4:00 52.4 22.2 89.1 384.4
Canoe / 26 June 8:45 6:44 46.5 19.7 132.7 517.1
Albert Canyon / 27 June 8:51 6:29 ? 20.5 129.7 646.8
Golden / 28 June 8:50 6:02 53.4 19.7 118.8 756.6



Segment 1 – Vancouver to Merritt

Segment 1  -  Vancouver to Merritt

The cycling route, well marked on the pavement with bicycle markings, on busy roads eventually lead us to quieter back streets and recreation trails.  With our daily map / directions, we easily navigated cycle-friendly Vancouver to end up on Vancouver’s east side.  With only minor deviations, Hwy. #7 showed us the way to our first night’s campground in Mission.  Our cooking group of five TdCers were responsible for cooking supper that night, so we couldn’t dawdle.  Hungry cyclists are not particularly patient.  With the campground admission came a fresh trout.  The trout on a rice bed was a hit for supper.


pictured above:  Joyce preparing trout dinner with Bill’s helpful eye, another of our cook group


pictured above: Fraser River with mountains in background

Our following day to Hope was also in the Fraser Valley.  It was a hillier itinerary, an indication of days to come.  The Fraser River, the major river in BC and vital to its economy, was a scenic backdrop for the day.  Lunch with other riders in Agassiz was a great interlude.  At the end of


pictured above: Myra, Joyce, Dan, Louise, and Neil during lunch in Agassiz, BC

the day’s journey, we enjoyed our first treat, a banana split at the DQ in Hope.  I had passed four to that point and wasn’t going to be denied again.

Our second treat of the day was passage along the Kettle Valley Railroad bed.  Starting in the late 1800s, the KVR was constructed at great cost and hardship for economic reasons to service mining interests in the southern regions of British Columbia, and politically, to keep BC from considering joining the United States.  In 1989, the last segment of the railroad was abandoned eventually becoming the scenic trail it is today.  We moved slowly to enjoy the sights and sounds that our short journey over the rail bed offered.


picured above:  railbed (upper left) leading through a 100 metre tunnel, blasted and picked by hand; you can see fast flowing river bottom right


pictured above:  Joyce, Dan, Bill, Gee, Mike, and Larry on trestle between two tunnels with the river flowing beneath (below


Bed was early since we had a hard day ahead of us, the Coq.  A clear, bright, sunny day greeted us the following morning.  Fuelled and hydrated well, our legs warmed up nicely over the first seventeen, level  kilometres to the base of the Coquihalla Pass.  Our climb up the eighteen- kilometre CoquiHELLa (Joyce’s terminology) started at 9:10 am., and lasted for the next two hours with stops only to refuel and rehydrate.  That was our second, successful ascent, the first being in 2009.


pictured above:  no caption necessary

Actually, the Coq seemed to be the easiest part.  After a considerable downhill and rest, our legs felt like lead weights as we attacked numerous hills leading into camp.  Additionally, there was some concern as we saw rainstorms in the near distance, but we only experienced light showers ourselves.  Fortunately, the sun prevailed.  We had neglected to pack our raincoats.


pictured above:  rain in centre right kept ahead of us;  Joyce making the turn

An overwhelming feeling of relief overcame us once we arrived in camp.  A tough, hilly day was behind us.  Merritt was our designated rest day on 24 June.  During our quiet day, we would reminisce the previous three days, and prepare for our next segment by resting, eating, connecting with family, eating, doing the wash, and eating.  Of course, we socialized and became more familiar with our co-tourers, primarily by dining at the hotel in town, recommended by locals.  They were bang-on since we enjoyed breakfast and dinner there.  A co-tourer from our 2009 attempt, Art Ecker, visited us from Penticton to recollect the good times of our 2009 tour.


pictured above:  tent row Mission Municipal Campground

The rest day, meals, and socializing did wonders to prepare us for our next segment, Merritt to Golden.



Date  /    Destination Time camp to camp Time on bike Max. speed Avg. speed Distance Trip to date
21 June  /    Mission, BC 5:45 hours 4:11 hours 46.3 20.2 84.3 84.3
22 June  /    Hope, BC 7:25 4:48 ??? 20.8 99.5 183.8
23 June  /    Merritt, BC 8:45 5:55 58.2 18.9 111.5 295.3
24 June  /    rest day