The Athabaskan river flows by our side, pale blue and creamy, completely contrasting with the dark green conifers shooting skyward like arrows. It was frozen solid in the Athabaskan glacier hours ago. glacial flour is suspended in the water as it rolls toward the ocean . We roll past the river on our mountain bikes.
Day 1 of our 6 week 1500 mile ride and today, cyclists and even the biker dudes on their Harley’s give us the thumbs up. We feel silly. Our bikes are loaded with stuffed panniers, dry bags and foam pads wrapped in garbage bags giving us an air of homelessness.
We pedal rapidly on the climbs like gerbals on a spin wheel. We did not have our cycling legs yet nor our Canadian Rockies lungs. We were day glow yellow construction worker shirts that practically glow in the dark, wrap around sunglasses for speedy downhills and flying insects. Our Hornet bike horns, loudest in the world are mounted on our handlebars and our bear spray holsters with the quick release are strapped on our handlebar bags. I ride first, then Bryce then Todd with his rear view mirror. ”
Motor home!” Or “bus!” He yells and we move as far over to the far right of the Icefields Parkway as we can We are cycling nearly 200 miles on this “most beautiful road in the world” making this bike ride on the Icefields Parkway the most beautiful too. Bryce is here to break us in before we begin our major trek on the Great Divide Mtn Bike Trail.
First day’s ride we see a herd of elk, a herd of bighorn sheep, Mtn goats and a black bear swam across the Athabaska River, climbed up the bank in front of us and over to the roadside berry bushes. There were 6 rainbows after 6 showers and after glow on the granite peaks that completely made us breathless.
We rode through Jasper & Banff national park past monster granite mountains lined up like walls, glaciers calving and melting light blue water that fills the rivers and lakes making them look radio active . The Canadian Rockies are some of the most beautiful range in the world.
We camp at campgrounds that find space for long distance cyclists no matter if they are filled with large cooking shelters with wood stoves and wood to warm us. We meet cyclists from around the world and wonderful people everywhere.
We got hit with hail twice and rain everyday. It is so cold in the morning that our eyes water on down hills and it looks like we are under water and can’t blink fast enough. We covered about 35-40 miles a day, had a few campfires and only got a flat once so far.
After the first 6 days on the road, enjoying black top with our son’s marvelous company and the exquisite Canadian Rockies he is ready to return to Philadelphia and we will welcome our nephew, Clint Ross who will join us for 10 days down to Glacier national park. We have single track and dirt and gravel roads ahead, as Todd tried to find ways to lighten our load and make it easier on us. Two hundred miles on our tires and a little stronger legs,here we come GDMBT. And on our last day on the parkway, there was a Griz chomping on berries right by the road, we hear they are down low chasing berries and hopefully not cyclists.