No really, it is…
Today’s ride will wrap up what’s been by far the best cycling trip I’ve been on and probably the best trip of my life. I think the saying is “words can’t describe” but I’m going to try anyways. That being said, the photos are just absolutely breathtaking, if you ask me — so maybe skip the words and look at them instead and then let me tell you about the trip in person !
After Day 3, things remained awesome (you can see the photos from the last post on below in a gallery)…
We had breakfast at the resort and then started out on our ride. It was a bit chilly but when the sun comes up over the mountains, not only is it beautiful, it also takes care of the temperature! About an hour into day 3, I made a trip to the outhouse and realized mother nature was blessing me and making this trip a really special time of the month. Luckily it was all shortlived, but I had to put it in here because holy shit I am grateful (2 times in 3 or 4 years is a blessing even if you ARE wearing white shorts and biking >500km in the week). And it went away shortly thereafter. TMI sorry! My alternative name for this post: going with the flow. Baha. I was grateful because I noticed I looked a little…puffy…in my shorts and had justification.
I had very very tired legs when we got to what my tour guide, Peter, called “The Wall.” It wasn’t that steep but it was challenging for me and I took it pretty slowly but with a smile (most of the way). I got my second wind after we descended and climbed well to lunch at the top of another hill, where we took a detour and a hike to the Athabasca Glacier. As we were hiking down, dark dark clouds rolled in and the rain hit us for a while. Being on a fully supported tour was awesome though because the van could stop and give us our stuff and then take it back when it was balls hot again. Cushy, but much appreciated!
If I’d written this post on day 4, I’d have said I had the best descent of my life after. While it was pretty freaking awesome, I think that the one yesterday might top it (perhaps because I’ve realized how much I like them!). Still, the ride down after all that climbing up was just ah-mazing! We took it quick on the last 40km to our destination at The Crossing and as we were coming in, the storms were coming back. There was thunder and lighting literally as we turned into our destination and I was so glad we didn’t have to ride any further! 108km was enough for me and I don’t particularly like risking my life…it started pouring just as we put our luggage into our rooms. And after the storm, there was a rainbow (that my photos absolutely can’t do justice), so how lucky is that?
Another lucky thing: there was no internet and no cell phone service. I had a realization that a bunch of people I think share when they disconnect for a bit: the world goes on!
Dinner at the Crossing was not my favourite but I made the most of it — we grilled our own at the pub and I did my best to fill up on salad and the veggies from a really salty vegetable soup. After what was essentially a plate of iceberg lettuce, some tomatoes, sirloin, and a bit of soup veggies, I was still wanting the ice cream everyone seemed to be eating around me so like the independent woman I am, I had some on my own. It tasted pretty delicious and I thought to myself “You shouldn’t be eating this alone.” but then I realized that was bull-freaking-shit. Not only is ice cream a-okay alone, all the times in the past I didn’t eat ice cream added up to a whole lot of being miserable — bingeing in response to restriction, being hungry and cranky, feeling deprived.
And I slept like a baby! I’ll attribute it to the ice cream and the 108km combo…even with those “slow” climbs and pretty leisurely approach to the day, I snagged some Queen of the Mountain titles on Strava for the ride. You can check out the ride here but be warned — my elevation data is not working.
Take a breath because here comes day 5 and it was a good one!
I was up nice and early on Day 5 (morning person!) and I had some coffee while I waited for the others for breakfast. After some confusion we figured out how breakfast works (since our meal was pre-paid and things were confusing) and ate as a group. I had a lot of coffee (and a mocha for the hell of it) and even though I didn’t really overeat, my oats/peanut butter/banana plus all the liquid just didn’t sit well. Or maybe it was the fact that we started climbing literally 5 minutes into the ride. The grade was gentle but it was long — welcome for me because I was absolutely freezing when we set out. I wanted to wear my leg warmers and my head band but thought better of it when I saw how everyone else was dressed. It was cold but it wasn’t going to snow…
Luckily the sun popped up and it got warm again for a day of pure beauty. Yesterday was all about the lakes. Our first stop was gorgeous and we continued climbing to the Bow Summit, which is 1km up from the highest point on the Icefields Parkway. It’s the highest paved point in Canada and I can say I rode my bike there with photo proof! I want to do it again because I loved this 6km, steady ascent. I chatted the whole way up with Peter and it was nice to have company!
From the top, there’s a lookout towards Peyto Lake and looking back, we could see the road we came along in the distance and the glaciers we faced at The Crossing the night before. Pretty cool and really neat to see it all in perspective.
The descent from the summit was great, especially since it brought us to another breathtaking lunch spot. We saw another bear (we’re at 12 and the record for a trip is 13 — there’s often some on the last day so I think we may bust through that old record). The afternoon went super quickly and we made it to the village at Lake Louise at a fast clip — this descent was great because we stayed in a group (something that used to make me nervous beyond belief but that I’m definitely getting better at!).
We had perfectly timed coffee in the busy village before starting the 14km climb to Moraine Lake. The turnoff took us 12km away from the turnoff to Lake Louise (2km away), which meant there was a mental “do I have to?” moment but when I started climbing, it was one of those more gradual climbs that just challenges you and that you know is bringing a sweet ass descent. And when we got to the lake, holy shit was it worth it. Along the way there was a sweet view of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and we stopped for some roadside photos. I took the ride in nice and slow and actually cried because it was that pretty. How cheesy is that?
When we were hiking up the rock pile at the lake, which takes you to an even better view of the gorgeous thing, I saw my grade 9 math teacher. Luckily I piped up because I wasn’t sure if it was him but it’s always nice to run into familiar faces when you’re travelling — it’s a small world!
Like I said, the view was great. I didn’t want to leave but the descent back down the 12km road was by far the best of the trip. I followed our guide’s line, we were faster than the traffic was allowed to go, and it was just the perfect way to end the day. The 2km up to our lodge was not too bad and knowing that the rooms were waiting for us here was added motivation. We are staying at Deer Lodge, which is historic and beautiful and very rustic! The view here is also awesome but today I’m hoping to walk down to Lake Louise after breakfast to take some morning photos when the sun is right and the tourists aren’t milling everywhere. We did 109 km according to my record but my satellite messed up so it was more like 111 awesome km for the day!
We had a lovely afternoon after relaxing on our own. There was a patio and some beers and then a really amazing dinner. I had a ceasar salad (traditional, special, yum) with elk as my main course. Dessert was a peanut souffle and oh my gawd I could have eaten it all again. I had bread for the first time on the trip too. I’m not sure what it was but I know this: I have a tummy ache and have been up a few times in the night feeling pretty sick so I think maybe it’s all just a combination of everything (I’m sick over the fact that this trip is almost done). I’ve been eating much better on this trip than on the one to Virginia (largely because it’s been easier to with the support) but I’m still a bit ready to be at home in terms of food…
That being said, the anxieties I have over not fitting in my jeans when I get home might be warranted, but probably because my quads are massive from all this climbing. That’s a good thing! Bring on the strength. I know that if I did gain weight so the heck what! I also gained a once in a lifetime experience and I have to give myself props — no relapses, just a few pep talks to remind myself of what’s important, and proper focus on this trip = huge wins!
I’m sure that there will be more epiphanies to come as this trip soaks in.
How the heck is it Friday already?!
I don’t want it to be over but I have a fine and dandy quote of the day to comfort myself with…
Have you ever gone on a really amazing trip? What was it?
Do you eat dessert on your own?
What’s your favourite part of travelling?