By Heather Pardon
This has been my first time to experience cycling in the Rockies and it is world-class. After leaving Lake Louise, I drove to Jasper along the Icefields Parkway. The Icefields Parkway is rated as one of the most scenic drives in Canada as well as being known as a mecca for cyclists. I can understand why cyclists love this route, as well as cycling through the Rockies.
Along the Icefields Parkway, you are in the heart of the Rockies, surrounded by the magnificence, power and majesty of the mountains. It is indeed a route that will leave you feeling awestruck. As I savoured the drive along the Icefields Parkway in “Miss Daisy”, I was also eager to get out and experience the journey by bike. I saw many cyclists en route, having read that most travel the Parkway from Jasper to Lake Louise or Banff, completing the journey in 3 – 5 days. While visiting Jasper, my plan was to cycle a section or two of the Parkway during my three day stayover.
The first morning I awoke at my campsite just outside of Jasper and drove the 100 kms down to the Athabasca Glacier for a tour of the glacier via “Snobus”. It was breathtaking to be able to stand upon the slopes of the glacier, take in the history of its evolution as well as bask in the grandeur of the surrounding landscape.
I parked Miss Daisy at the Icefields Centre and took off for an afternoon ride on my bicycle, heading south on an out and back route. What goes down must come up was the thought I kept in mind as I enjoyed a long, winding 13 kms downhill at the beginning of the ride. The scenery is worth the effort of the climbs however, which allow you to keep your pace nice and slow to be able to enjoy it all!
I was so enamoured with the day’s adventures and ride that I went back to my campsite and booked myself in for two additional nights so I that I could enjoy more riding in the area. The next day I set my sights on heading up to Mt. Robson.
Never being 100% sure of the terrain, my modus operandi has typically been to “drive, park and ride” in these parts, a method which has served me well thus far. A 100 kms ride back in my hometown of Ottawa can be very different than 100 kms in the Rockies. And I don’t like to upset my quads by over-extending them. It’s also generally safer, I’ve felt, to park at the major visitor centres in the National Parks than risk the smaller parking lots at the hiking trailheads.
I was happy to have made the side trip up to Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, even in the 32C heat. Mt. Robson is a gorgeous mountain, quietly nestled amongst its neighbours, catching you almost by surprise as you arrive at the visitor centre. The visitor centre offers a great starting point for a ride as well as a large picnic grounds, where you can spend some time relaxing post-ride and enjoying the view of Mt. Robson.
My last two days of riding took me venturing east of Jasper, along Highway 16 towards Hinton and one last ride on the Icefields Parkway. I don’t imagine one can ever tire of the scenery in the area, each route offering something different. To the east of Jasper, the road is rolling, where you’ll experience riding in the foothills of the Rockies. It was during this ride that I saw an elk, two coyotes and a group of approximately 60 sheep that stopped traffic 2 kms outside of town. Wildlife abounds in this area so I am always sure to have my camera ready as I did the following day when two mountain goats, a mom and her kid, were feeding by the side of the road.
I don’t know that words do justice to the beauty that is cycling in the Canadian Rockies. It is something to be experienced. Guaranteed, you’ll enjoy rides that will rank highly in your cycling memories of a lifetime.
Heather’s Cross-Canada Cycling Adventure
Join Ottawa author, personal trainer and life coach Heather Pardon who recently sold and packed up her home, downsized her life, bought an RV and is taking her belongings and bicycle for an adventure across Canada this summer. Each week, Heather will be sharing photos and stories from her cycling adventures en route. You may also visit her personal blog at http://wilddaisy.ca/Blog/ for more frequent updates from the road.
Read Heather’s Previous Posts:
A Day with the Gurlz
A Day on Manitoulin Island, Ontario
There is Cycling Gold in Thunder Bay
Muddy Waters 100
A Prairie Perspective
Cycling in Banff National Park: The Mountains Will Take Your Breath Away