Well, I would call that a wrap! The snow hit hard and fast in Calgary this week after a fantastic road cycling fall season. We will be back testing and recommending fabulous road cycling routes in and around Calgary in the spring. In the meantime, to keep your mind on cycling join a spin class, set up your basement trainer, join some cycling specific off season training (I am joining Dynamic Cyclist for their winter training online program and no they do not sponsor us), listen to a cycling podcast like The Move (again, no sponsorship), or rewatch some cycle racing footage, what ever it takes to keep learning about this fantastic sport. Consider reading some cycling books like The Midlife Cyclist by Phil Cavell or Maximum Overload for Cyclists by Roy Wallack (both available at the Calgary Public Library).
This summer we challenged our selves to train and participate in the Whistler Gran Fondo. We did it, all 128 km, and over 2000m elevation gain (According to our Stavra stats). This event is enough to make a grown man cry and fall to his knees, especially this year as many recreational riders were met with no food and electrolyte when they reached the first two aid stations. In addition it was 32C in Whistler when we arrived. We experienced quite a few fit looking riders being picked up part way to Whistler by their families and others walking their bikes or taking a break by lying down in the ditch. We both reached out to the event organizers, and they have promised to do better next year. Unfortunately for us, there will not be a next year as this experience has sworn me off organized rides. We are committing ourselves to continue our quest to provide you, our followers, new and safe routes for the enjoyment of the sport.
Great Divide Highway 1A from Lake Louise towards Field
An eighth option is Morraine Lake Road. This one does not make it on the list officially, as usually there may only be a one to two day window to ride this without motor vehicles and it varies year by year.
Did we miss any closed roads that are road friendly? Please let us know.
2022 update: On May 13th we attempted to do the Sheep River Ride (Road closure in effect until May 14th) since we were under the impression that the bridge construction was complete (May 1st was the completion date given). Unfortunately we were stopped 5 Km into the ride since the bridge is still not finished. Please note that the road conditions on the first 5 Km have deteriorated significantly due to the passage of heavy construction trucks.
Ride Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Distance: 35.4 km
Estimated time: 2 Hrs Based on a cycling speed of 20 km/hr
It is possible to connect from Canmore to Lake Louise through bike pathways, low volume side roads, and the Bow Valley Parkway to experience a variety of biking options that are pretty much limitless. The following are just a few of the possibilities.
2022 Biking Season: The Bow Valley Parkway will be closed to motorized traffic for a portion of this year. This is an amazing opportunity to cycle this historic route without having to worry about sharing the road with cars. Please check with Parks Canada to verify the timing of the closure. According to the latest press release (May 3, 2022) ‘the section of the Bow Valley Parkway east of Johnston Canyon to Banff will remain open to public vehicles EXCEPT from May 1 to June 25 and from September 1 to 30 in 2022, 2023 and 2024 where public vehicles will not be allowed (as part of the 3 year cycling pilot on the Highway 1A).’
Canmore through to Lake Louise : Two groups could leave from either end and then exchange keys as they pass on the Bow Valley Parkway. This avoids the downtime required for a car shuttle.
Note: As of June 3, 2021 the road surface is not as good as in past years. For the North gate to Summit route there are sections of rough pavement as well as a few herds of mountain sheep to contend with on your swift descent. Our current recommendation, is to do this route from the South gate to the Summit as the road is in better condition. On Sunday, June 12, 2021 there were cyclists reporting that it was snowing at the summit.
Spring/Summer/Fall 2022: Part of this route is closed to motor vehicle traffic this year which provides a unique opportunity to cycle the Bow Valley Parkway without any motor vehicle traffic. Check the Parks Canada website before heading out. As of the latest public notice (May 3, 2022) the section of the ‘Bow Valley Parkway east of Johnston Canyon to Banff will remain open to public vehicles EXCEPT from May 1 to June 25 and from September 1 to 30 in 2022, 2023 and 2024 where public vehicles will not be allowed (as part of the 3 year cycling pilot on the Highway 1A).’
All Creatures Great and Small!
Bow Valley Parkway cyclist reported both a black bear and a grizzly bear along the trail on the May long weekend. Be prepared and cycle in groups and bring your bear spray. CBC reported that Bow Valley Parkway cyclists are asked to mindful of salamanders crossing the road. So while you are scanning the horizon for the bears also take a look in your immediate road ahead for these little guys.
Ride Difficulty Rating – Beginner or Intermediate. The majority of this ride has grades less than 2%, and as an out and back you can always turn back at any point. It is a nice gradual uphill ride but just 5 km out from Lake Louise there is a steep uphill grade to the turn off to Lake Louise, then a steep downhill grade into town.
Distance – 111 km out and back
Estimated cycling time – 5.5 hours assuming 20 km/hr
Note: as of June 26, 2022 the Big Hill Springs park is reported to be open after being closed all summer 2021. Another development noticed is that Lochend Road has had heavy traffic at times so use caution during these times.