Day 10: Banff, Reflections on the Ride

Western Canada tour

It was nice to wake up in my tent not thinking of any mountains to climb. I was feeling pretty good given the last 9 days of exertion, crossing 5 serious Mountain Passes (Allison 1342m; Anarchist 1233m; Paulson 1535m; Kootenay Valley viewpoint 1400m+; Continental divide 1640m) and a few other sizable climbs.

Whilst feeling pretty good, the past 9 days had taken its toll. The physical and mental duress I have put my body through, sided up with the AU$ dropping sharply in exchange value (which had happened on my first trip to Canada as well)—my funds dwindling quickly as result, were factors in a decision to end my ride in Banff.

I had initially planned to continue riding across the prairies to at least Winnipeg. I had wanted to detour via Lake Louise (prior to Banff), as I had only visited once (during the winter). I had also initially considered a detour to Jasper as part of my route. One thing I had not looked forward to, and was seeming to be even less enjoyable when relationally contrasted with the experiences of the last week, was riding through Calgary. Recollections of my only other time in this part of Canada did not provide fond thoughts of the city—after descending from the Rockies. I did not really want to ride through any city — the sprawl of industry, strip malls, cookie cutter estates and CBDs.

If I had the funds available, I would have stayed in Banff for a good week or two. I would have hiked around, relaxed and soaked in the atmosphere. Banff is a beautiful place, and one of my favourites. I love Mountains almost as much a l love oceans. I am certain I would have been refreshed enough to want to get back on my bike (around a week after a left Banff I was itching to go on a tour again).

In reflection, I would have done a few things differently on this ride. A friend had expressed some interest on the ride, though was unable to join me. I had also (rather last minute) posted on the MEC’s outdoor gearswap for a travel partner. I had a potential partner, though they would not have been able to join me until I had passed through Calgary.

On my next tour, I will focus not so much on getting somewhere, rather on having plans of what I want to stop and see on the way. I had only made rough plans to enable flexibility, yet when on the bike, I find that I just keep going. There are so many things that I could have stopped off to see on the way, more-so as I reached the Rockies. I should have taken some time out in Nelson. I think if I was riding with someone, I would not have pushed on near as much. I hope to have enough time to devote to another big trip (2 weeks or more). One in which I stop of to enjoy the places and spaces...

There are so many routes in North America I would like to ride. There are also many in Australia including north-south (inland and the two coasts), east-west (top and bottom) and many multi-day (as opposed to week) rides.

I am already talking to North American friends to use a cycle tour in Australia as a reason to come visit I hope to have the time and the funds to join them back here for some as well. I would like to do the Banff-Jasper-Radium-Banff loop. Possibly more of the Yellowhead Highway into the northern BC interior... Who knows what will come next?

around Banff
view from downtown Banff
another view from downtown Banff