Day 23 Radium Hot Springs BC to Lake Louise AB
Crossing from BC to Alberta
I'm writing this at the Lake Louise Hostel - A very alive place - where I ended my first day in Alberta. Actually it is a bit too alive. This seems to be a 'party' hostel. I hope it calms down a bit by the time I finish this report and crawl into my dorm bed. This is quite a change from the relative peace and quiet of last nights B+B.
Today's ride started and ended with very light rain, but was dry 99% of the time. It was also completely clouded over and rather chilly all day. The high temp I saw while riding was 66 F and the average temp was near 60. That really was pretty good riding weather on a day that saw me riding over two passes and climbing at least a 1000 feet of 8% grade. It would have been very hot on a warm sunny day, Today it was still hot on the steepest climbs, especially when I had a light tail wind, and chilly afterwards until the sweat evaporated from my clothing. Mostly, with the appropriate clothing, it was comfortable.
Sinclair Canyon near the entry to the park
Mostly the scenery was spectacular too, which always helps to make a ride more pleasurable. The clouds were above the tops of all but the highest mountains, so the viewing was good. The wind was light most of the day and a pretty good tailwind when I needed it getting on down the road to Lake Louise at the end of the day. The first part of the ride was the hardest climbing.
This is as narrow as the shoulder got on 93, mostly it was 8 feet wide
Looking back in the middle of climbing Sinclair
I measured he climb up Sinclair at 1800 feet. About half of that was at 6% and there are two substantial sections at 8%. I have gearing down to 17.5 " and I used the my lowest gearing on the sustained 8% parts where I was climbing at 4.5 mph. Much of the rest I did in a 20" ( 6 mph) or 23" (7.5 mph) gears. It wasn't as hard a pass as White Pass, but it was harder than anything I've done in BC. It is a continuous climb for all 1800 feet.
Starting down the other side of Sinclair
The long climb is followed by a short flat section and a long down hill that, at 7%, isn't quite as steep as the west side. Still it is a spectacular downhill, and the mountains that come into view as you swoop down into the Kootenay valley are really fine. They let you know you are in the Rockies.
Heading down into the Kootenay Valley
After reaching the valley floor, the road levels out and then climbs gently for many miles. The views remain spectacular as you ride along the Kootenay River. The riding is easy, but the distances are long and there are no services. There is a campsite about 23 miles into the ride and there are services at Vermillion Crossing, about 40 miles into the ride. That is it for 65 miles.
The Kootenay River along side the road and the mountains above
Roughly midway in this ride, 93 crosses the Kootenay and heads over a ridge - a bit more steep climbing here! - and then down to the Vermillion River. After running alongside the Vermillion River for another half a dozen miles, it crosses the Vermillion and climbs more rapidly.
Before Vermillion Crossing
Tourists heading west
I met a french speaking couple heading west just before I reached Vermillion Crossing. He was towing a Burley trailer. I also passed three young girls riding mountain bikes that were heading for Lake Louise - they are probably at this hostel right now, but it is a big place - when I was climbing Sinclair. I think I saw them again behind me after my lunch break at Vermillion Crossing and again after I took a snack break before the final climb on Vermillion Pass. At Vermillion Crossing, I had to settle for a 'convenience store' lunch since the, up scale, lodge there only serves lunch from 12 to 2 PM. I arrived after 2:30, sigh.
Speeder pulled on 93 - I've seen more of this in Canada.
After lunch, with about 2/3rds of the ride to Vermillion pass complete, it was mostly gentle climbing for the next 20 miles. There were a few steeper bits, one right after Vermillion Crossing, but mostly the climbing is easy. I measured the total climb at 4300 feet, with 2800 feet before Vermillion Crossing.
The final climb to the pass
Crossing the continetal divide gets you into Alberta, but there is still several hundred feet of climbing before the road starts its 7% to 8% descent. In that stretch, I saw my first moose of this trip and a deer.
Moose on other side of lake
Mountains and 93 heading down to TCH
When I got to the TCH, at Castle Junction, I decided to ride it to Lake Louise instead of continuing on to the Bow Parkway where there is a hostel and a campground. The ride into Lake Louise was uneventful other that the bumpy shoulders. I was glad I has a vibration proof computer and a Softride stem! I finished the day with 85 miles and about 4500 feet of climbing.
Riding the TCH
In Lake Louise Village, I asked at a deli - good sandwich! - where the hostel was, and found it was in the village rather than in Lake Louise proper. I don't think I will actually get to Lake Louise since I can get back on the TCH and get to the Icefield Parkway. This is an expensive hostel - $28 CND for a bed in a dorm - but very inexpensive compared to Lake Louise itself. There is a good looking grocery store next to that deli that I will use to stock up for my next two days of riding after breakfast tomorrow.