Supported Tour of a Lifetime
In my early days of cycle touring, I did a couple of supported rides in the Canadian Rockies - the Golden Triangle (supported with the Edmonton Bicycle Touring Club), and the Icefields Parkway (supported by Mountain Madness Tours). Through these, and other trips, I discovered that I don't really care for touring in Canada, and supported isn't my first choice (I'm a die-hard fan of self-supported).
|Traffic? What traffic?|
I have been smarting from not being able to do a trip to Europe, and doing a supported tour in Canada really was not on my radar at all, but the thought of doing the Parkway with very light tourist traffic certainly had its appeal.
I asked Ben if he wanted to collaborate on a tour through the Calgary Outdoor Club. He's based in Edmonton, so catering to folks from Calgary isn't something he normally does, but he gave it some thought, and agreed. We posted it on the COC's website, but alas, we only had one serious taker for it. Time went on, and no one else stepped up to join us, so as I was preparing to cancel, Ben had other ideas. He had spoken with some other people who were interested in traveling from Calgary to do the tour. He was able to drum up four other souls to do the trip, and voila - we had a viable group.
|Group at the Banff end of the Bow Valley Parkway|
Well, this tour did not disappoint. It really was a tour of a lifetime to have the opportunity to do it when the Icefields Parkway was so quiet.
We had near-perfect weather - a little scorching the first afternoon, and a little windy/rainy, for like, five minutes on the second day, but as close to perfect as possible in the mountains.
The e-bike was a really good choice. All the riders, except for the one other COCer, were on e-bikes. It would indubitably have been a less-than-stellar experience for me if I hadn't had the e-bike. .
|Tour Operator Ben|
The highway was, as promised, nearly devoid of tourist traffic! It was a dream highway! And the traffic that there was was extremely conscientious and considerate. Plus, the shoulders had been re-paved and widened since the first time I did the trip. It was perfect conditions for gawking around and just plain enjoying the trip.
As an added bonus, the portion of the Bow Valley Parkway from Johnston Canyon to Banff was closed to vehicles, so we didn't have just light traffic for that section, we had no traffic at all!
Ben was, as always, the perfect tour operator, and everything went extremely smoothly, logistics-wise.
- Day 1: Jasper to Sunwapta Falls via Highway 93 (Icefields Parkway) - 50km
- Day 2: Sunwapta Falls to Saskatchewan River Crossing - 99km
- Day 3: Saskatchewan Crossing to Lake Louise - 81km
- Day 4: Lake Louise to Banff, plus bonus ride to Canmore - 83km
Thanks to Ben for a great tour, and my fellow riders for helping to make this a fantastic supported tour experience!