Welcome to the flatlands

Posting from Cochrane, our first stop out of the mountains and second stop in Alberta.

So here are the last couple of days:

May 13

Kootenay National Park -> Banff. As mentioned in my last post, the weather for this day was not looking overly promising. This held true. We started out in a drizzle, which turned into rain from time to time, it was also damned cold. Alas. 20 or so km of gentle uphill slog, then we took a right turn and began our final mountain pass, the Vermillion pass which took us over the continental divide and into Alberta.

The climb was fairly gentle and brought us through some rather interesting terrain, specifically, the end of winter in a forest fire wasteland. Everything was brown and dead, though the forest floor should be green in a few weeks. Again, we saw snow on the ground. And once again, we descended into a headwind, which was highly unplesant given the temperature of something like 3 or 4 C.

This was my toughest day so far I think. I was getting shelled on every little climb of the awesome Bow Valley Parkway. It's a shame the weather was so terrible and I was feeling so bad on this ride since the 1A in Banff is among the more awesome riding roads I have ever been on. No huge climbs, lots of twisty stuff, it's just built for pedalling. Alas. I will go there again with a road bike someday.

Stop location: Banff - Tunnel Mountain

lat 51.18900N
lon 115.53821W
alt 1473m

May 14

Rest day in Banff. Laundry, sleeping, eating and walking. Nothing to complain about here. I love this little town.

May 15

Today, up to date, is this true? I think yes. We headed out from Banff very gently since Hillary was feeling stiffer than the last couple of days. That didn't mean painful though. The highway down from Banff is just that: down. Gentle grade, but that just means you can sustain 30-35km/h for long periods at a time. This contributed to our fastest day yet, 103km at and average speed of 27.5km/h.

We had planned on going all the way to Calgary today, an extra 20-30km, but ran into a bit of a snag. A tractor trailer overturned a km or two ahead of us on highway 1A about 4okm west of Cochrane. Hillary and I were the second people on the scene, and the wheels were still spinning when we arrived. Since we had a cell, I got the honour of making the 911 call. By this time, the driver of the truck was out and walking around, banged up, but no serious injuries.

The road is not designed for trucks, it's narrow and with no shoulders, so what likely happened was he dropped a wheel off the edge slightly and that was all she wrote. We learned from a local (the first on the scene) that this was a somewhat popular alternate route that skipped the scales on highway 1.

Long story short, this killed something like an hour where we had to stand around until the emergency crews arrived and asked us the usual questions. By the time we got going again, the wind has shifted into a minor headwind and I was just looking forward to food. We met up with the RV in Cochrane and decided to call off the rest of the day and call it good there. So here we are:

Stop location: Cochrane

lat 51.17508N
lon 114.45703W
alt 1140m

And our cumulative totals to date: 58 hours 34 minutes of riding time for a total of 1330km at an average speed of 22.7km/h.

Today, we head towards Drumheller with our likely stop in Acme or Carbon.