This trip was not only a great “family only” get away, but it was meant to “scout” for my other riding buddies who took the Telluride, CO to Moab, UT trip with me the summer of 2004. This could be our next great adventure, but I was concerned it might not be challenging enough for the “serious bikers” in us. However, the thought was also that it might lend itself to a nice “couples” trip where the spouses who don’t ride can still have a great time each day via the support vehicle and other activities/sights while we ride. That proved to be absolutely correct, since my Dad did not ride past the first half of the first day, and not being able to drive, he always had at least one other person with him. Therefore, it is "official" - this trip is ideal for riders and non riders alike. It will be quite likely the most beautiful experience in Canada that any American can have. Even the cabin in the woods (which outside of no electricity and running water, was phenomenal - see pics from day 3) was impressive. Non riders could hike in and out to this location, or spend 2 nights in Elkford. Only the motel in Elkford was modest - even though it also had high speed internet. The remaining accommodations would all be rated 3 or 4 stars, yet were very modestly priced. While food selections were limited in some locations, the food was outstanding in others. All in all, I would not be afraid to take even the most seasoned traveler on this trip.
Below is a quick "trip summary". Each button above however, will give all the gory details of our trip. Lots of pictures, my diary of what happened each day, and I've posted both the original itinerary as well as the packing list (which turned out to be just right). The map from the Adventure Cycling Association was right on! It only lacked good information about climbing. I've tried to get a handle on that, and once I download my GPS info, I'll update this site with the "real scoop" on climbing. The only thing I would take next time that was not on my packing list, would be a couple of satellite radios if I could get them.
Banff to Mt. Engadine Lodge
Distance = 40 mi , Climbing = 4,700 ft, Estimated departure and arrival = 9:00am – 3:00 pm
Post Ride Summary: The first 12 miles of pseudo single track are phenomenal – even “non-riders” may want to ride this, although they will want to do it in the reverse direction (so that it is all down hill). Beautiful stream and mountain scenery, with a lot of mild grade climbs, but cumulatively, there is a lot of climbing. I did not do the back side of the dam, but the topo map says there is more climbing back there – it should be the hardest day.
Mt. Engadine Lodge to Elk Creek Cabin – Monday, September 11th
Distance = 30 mi, Climbing = 2,800 ft, Estimated departure and arrival = 12:00pm – 3:00 Meet for dinner at Boulton Creek Trading Post, eat at 4pm, get to cabin by 7:00pm
Post Ride Summary: The first half to the trading post offer some “GRAND” views of huge mountains – which you will be ever so close to – perhaps the closest of all the rides. Some very mild grade climbs, but hopefully it will rain the night before so the road will be less dusty. The second half is a bear – very difficult climbs, but they are not very long. Tricky descents, and this will be the last “pseudo single track” of the trip.
Elk Creek Cabin to Elkford – Tuesday, September 12th
Distance = 45 mi, Climbing = 2,600 ft, Estimated departure and arrival = 8:30am – 3:00 pm
Post Ride Summary: This is the most deceptive day – it looks on the profile like a “down hill day”, but it is anything but that. It is rollers the entire way to Elkford. However, there are plenty of straights and descents, so that none of the hills are truly “grinders” by any means. However, the distance will make it seem like the 2nd hardest day.
Elkford to Fernie – Wednesday, September
Distance = 55 mi, Climbing = 2,300 ft, Estimated departure and arrival = 9:30am – 4:00 pm
Post Ride Summary: This is Canyon Road “dejavu”. Just like the ride out of Gateway was a climb worthy of “hiring someone” to help you avoid it, this one starts with a 3 mile hill at about a 7 to 8 percent grade. However, since it’s on pavement, it is definitely easier than the Canyon road in Colorado. After this “monster” climb, the rest of the day is a piece of cake. There are no other hills to really speak of – all small rollers. The bulk of the ride is along a stream, with flats, descents and some nice paved areas. This is the second easiest day after the big hill.
Fernie to Rooseville – Thursday, September 14th
Distance = 55 mi, Climbing = 2,000 ft, Estimated departure and arrival = 9:30am – 3:30 pm
Post Ride Summary: This is first day “out of the mountains. I call it the “Aspen day”. The roads go through some beautiful forests, at the base of the mountains, or in the valleys heading out of the Canadian Rockies into Montana. This day treats us to a variety of terrain, reminiscent of the Telluride to Moab trip; fields of many different colors, rolling hills, small lakes, etc. It’s definitely the easiest day, with 3 “significant hills” interspersed to “keep us honest” J