Day 8: Goodbye mountains

Day 8: Goodbye mountains

Today was a good day. I knew that halfway through the day I would hit the Great Divide, watch the rivers reverse direction to the east, and with it start rolling downhill. Of course, nothing is that easy, and today threw a couple of challenges at me.

The last of the Columbia Mountains show their snow-capped peaks behind Golden, BC as seen from the Trans-Canada Highway
The last of the Columbia Mountains show their snow-capped peaks behind Golden, BC as seen from the Trans-Canada Highway

After a slow morning in Golden, I hit the road at 8:45. (Note: all of my stories involve late starts. All my stretch goals involve early-afternoon arrivals and I miss them all. You’d never guess that I typically wake up before 5am to go running.) Anyway, to get out of Golden requires a bit of backtracking and then a steep climb. Thankfully this climb affords some great mountain views. Next was a climb through two construction zones, which provided lots of peace and quiet between packs of cars. The long packs of cars reminded me of the ferry letting out in Cape Tormentine. A short drop brought me in to Field, and as I thought, the end of the climb. I enjoyed a slow lunch on a patio on Field, then soldiered on.

On the way out of Field there is a steep climb for 10km, rising another 400 or so meters. This felt brutal but doesn’t even count as a climb under Union Cycliste Internationale rules. I guess I am not ready for the 100 Cols Challenge. Finally, a sign. The sign. The border between the Banff and Yoho National Parks, the border between Alberta and BC, the Great Divide. In plain English, it’s all downhill from here. As luck would have it, campsite mate Paul had solved his tire troubles and caught me here, so he snapped a photo. Ben pictured at the Alberta and BC border

Standing at the Alberta-BC border

Photo in hand I moved the gears aggressively forward. Today’s 75k of climbing were behind me, it was time for a 70k descent to Banff. From here the few highlights were an ice cream in Lake Louise, and some beautiful mountain views as I took the Bow Valley Parkway between there and Banff.A mountain rises above the Bow Valley Parkway

A mountain rises above the Bow Valley Parkway

Unfortunately there were some ascents to interrupt this downhill cruise, however they are too small to show up on Strava after having climbed 900m earlier in the day. I coasted in to Banff around 6:30, a few hours behind schedule, tired, and too late to bother heading for the hot springs. After confirming the rates at the Banff Springs Hotel I selected a decent hostel close to downtown and went to find a well-earned burger.

Today’s lesson: riding on busy roads leads to really black legs.

Post-script: today I got up close and personal with a black bear and two mountain goats. Two mountain goats beside a road near Banff

A black bear near the Spiral Tunnels outside Field, BC
Two mountain goats beside a road near Banff

Today’s distance: 145.6 km

Cumulative distance: 982.9 km

Today’s climb: 1,620m