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Aug 20 2013

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The Icefields Parkway

06-07 August, 581 Miles

06-07 August, 581 Miles

Our plan for today was to ride to Banff where we had booked a room in the Red Carpet Inn. It was only a short ride, a couple of hundred miles or so, and we were looking forward to an afternoon relaxing and catching up on the blog.

It was an uneventful ride with the usual spectacular scenery. The highlight was spotting a couple of cowboys rounding up their herd, the lowlight was having to stop to put bite cream on my arm as something had got up my sleeve and was munching its way round.

This entry is already very photo-heavy so I put the photos from this ride in a separate album which you can see here.

We managed to get a stamp for our National Parks Ride from the Banff National Park Visitor Centre where the lady very carefully changed the date to the 8th August. Unfortunately today was the 6th and I didn’t notice until it was too late. Let’s hope it passes scrutiny when we submit it.

We left early the following day, eager to get to the famous Icefields Parkway which we had been looking forward to for months after seeing video from there taken by Oisin Hughes (who has written a couple of motorcycle travel books that Kevin really enjoyed).

As we left Banff the mountains were still partially covered with clouds, this was to be an indication of things to come.

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We stopped at a viewpoint to have a closer look at the river. There was an industrial-strength fence and gateway, presumably to keep bears out of the car park. While we were here we chatted to a Canadian guy who was on his way to Vancouver to cycle, he took a picture for us.

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As we rode on we were getting tantalizing glimpses of the tops of mountains in the distance as it took quite a few hours for the sun to burn the clouds off. We saw a number of glaciers on the tops of the mountains and were told later these used to come as far as the road.

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Still on the National Parks quest, we took a diversion to the Yoho National Park. We thought we were in British Columbia but all the signs in the visitor centre (VC) related to Alberta so we thought we’d better check. We were in BC but the VC was primarily intended for people travelling in the opposite direction from which we’d come and were just about to enter Alberta.

When I asked where we could eat the guy in the visitor centre recommended a nearby cafĂ© called The Siding, in Field, and, as usual, we had a lovely cooked breakfast of bacon or sausages, eggs (over easy) and hash browns (The Siding is opposite the Kicking Horse Lodge if you are looking for it. We’d recommend it as well).

To get to the Icefields Parkway road we needed to retrace our steps for a few miles through some of the slowest roadworks we’d encountered. On the way down traffic in both directions had been stopped for ages whilst not a lot appeared to be going on. A lorry driver in front of us came up to have a chat and said they were blasting in the area which was why it took so long.

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By the time we’d finished breakfast the sun had done its work and we had a beautiful day ahead of us. The traffic was surprisingly light as well. As I said before, I don’t have the words so here are the pictures:

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b130820 130807 052Jasper is the other end of the parkway and a thriving tourist town. Again I was able to get a stamp (which had the right date) and we had a quick look round. There is the inevitable train exhibit but this time it is accompanied by a working railway station that looks authentic 1950’s style.

The first 75 miles or so of the Icefields Parkway from Banff towards Jasper contains some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever seen. The rest of it isn’t bad either but if you’re going to ride the parkway I’d suggest you ride from Jasper to Banff if you can as that way the scenery will just get better and better.

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We only had about 130 miles to ride to our accommodation at the Mike Wiegele (pronounced Wiggly) Helicopter Skiing resort in Blue River. Once there we found we were staying in a lovely wooden cabin, with a steam shower – very nice. Looking at the prices for the helicopter skiing we decided we preferred motorcycling!

The resort has a restaurant associated with it and we both had very good steaks and lovely desserts. We considered stopping for another day, just for a rest, but Kevin’s first words to me the following morning were “It’s not quite the idyll we thought it was is it” and he was right. It’s a lovely resort spoiled by the noisy freight trains that are coming through every couple of hours throughout the night. The horns sounded like they were sounding right outside our door.

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Evening view from the Mike Wiegele resort

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