May 27, 2013

Some of our Favorite Calgary Rides - Chestermere

Chestemere Lake is located east of Calgary and is most easily accessed by bike along the Eastern Irrigation District (EID) canal pathway. It is 26km long, one way from the Max Bell Arena to the trails end at Chestermere Lake.  It is completely flat but has the potential to be difficult if the winds are strong.

It is also possible to extend the ride into Chestermere for food/drinks (our usual route) or if you want to ride around the lake back to the trailhead.

The day I rode it was lovely with slight wind out of the east and bright sunshine.  I started from my home in the SW and rode into Chestermere for some lunch.  The return trip was 80+kms.  One of the best aspects of this route is how it is always completely empty of people.  It starts of by taking you through industrial areas in the SE of Calgary eventually leading you out to pasture land.  There are quite a few road crossings along the route and caution should be used at every one of them due to heavy truck traffic.

Once at Chestermere there is a blue bridge that goes over the canal to a little spot where you can sit on the grass and relax or cool off by dipping your feet in the water.

July 2012 evening ride out to Chestermere.

My Strava recording of the ride is here.

May 6, 2013

BikeBike Explores The Legacy Trail, at night!

The Legacy Trail, running between Canmore and Banff, has in it's very short lifespan become one of the most popular trails for cycling in the area.  It basically parallels the TransCanada highway, starting in the east at the Banff National Park gate, and when completed will connect to the #1A highway west of the Banff townsite allowing cycling between the two towns without having to ride on the (scary) highway shoulder.

We've been out to ride it a few times before but this was the first time we decided to ride it at night.  We checked into the Park Gate Chalets, dropped off our gear, and suited up for the ride west to Banff.  With bluebird skies and a setting sun to ride into we turned on the tunes and started the 19kms of steady uphill and light headwinds.

Here is the Strava profile of the ride to Banff.

Rest stop, on our way to Banff, looking east towards Canmore.

Banff Ave is 40kph, felt safe to cycle into town on it.

Eddie's Burger Bar was bumpin' and pumpin' out burgers like crazy.

The ride west to Banff was fun as usual, although not as easy as the ride back due to the consistently uphill profile.  As we got closer to Banff the headwinds started to increase making the last 4-5kms a little tougher than the beginning of the ride, but not hard or unenjoyable, and with burgers waiting we were very motivated to get this segment in the bag as quick as possible.

After fuelling up at Eddie's Burger Bar on one of the best burgers we've ever had we bundled on some extra layers and set off under clear skies, full of stars.

The ride east back to Harvie Heights is slightly downhill and thankfully, a slight tailwind combined with our heavy Dutch bikes pushed our full bellies along for many kilometres with ZERO effort. It was magical to be in your biggest gear, standing tall, and coasting towards home.  At that time of night there is not much traffic on the TransCanads highway making it very quiet for long periods of time too.

Here is the Strava profile of Banff to Harvie Heights.

By the time we got back to the cabin we were both tired from the almost 40km round trip after also working a full (record breaking) day at BikeBike.  But the tiredness was no match for the great feeling buzz created by all that great food, music, laughs, and spooky bike riding in the mountains.

For those who are interested in riding the Legacy Trail, here are a few things to think about...

- Trail info, courtesy of Bike Pirate

- The pathway starts right now at the east gate of Banff National Park but getting safely onto the pathway is still a challenge.  Some people park in the highway median just before the gate and carefully frogger across the highway when its safe.  Others park up in Harvie Heights and ride the wrong way down the exit ramp to get to the trailhead.  Both options suck but it sounds like help is coming.  My understanding is a connection is going in to connect the current trailhead to the Canmore Visitor Centre.  I have no idea when it will be completed.

- There is a bus service that runs between Canmore and Banff - ROAM - and all the buses have bike racks.  If you want to ride the trail in one direction only consider using the bus service.

- You will be in a mountain environment - even if it's beautiful out and the forecast is good, pack extra layers and be prepared for any kind of weather, including snow, even in July.  There are no services along the route, save for one washroom so bring water and snacks.  Stopping along the way is encouraged.