bikes canada general

one and a half hours of very little adrenaline and a nice cup of tea

Friday was supposed to be a climbing day, but a sick climbing partner meant that instead I lazed around the house for hours, then eventually took my bike out for a ride to the Nordic Centre, where all the madness of the 24 hours of Adrenaline was just beginning.


My bike narrowly avoids falling off the cliff as it admires the view out across the Bow River and Canmore from near the Nordic Centre

It’s too easy sometimes to be overcome by inertia and stay in the house, but as soon as you leave you wonder what on earth you were doing sitting inside, and then have trouble making yourself turn around for home. Half the cars round town seemed to have 2 or 3 bikes strapped to them, and the Nordic Centre was rapidly becoming covered in bikes, tents and shade shelters. It would have been tempting to enter the event, but for the fact it was also the World Solo 24 hour Championships, team entry cost $750, and it tends to sell out within a couple of days anyway – I just wasn’t fanatical or fit enough. I miss all the more casual MTB enduro events round in Australia though, and the dirt crits in Melbourne. It’s a pity there aren’t more bike events around here (or are there, and I just haven’t been able to find out about them?).

canada climbing general

after-work cragging at grassi lakes

Grassi Lakes – it lurks on the edge of town, with its soft grades and its buckety holds and its tendency to always be ok to climb at even if it’s threatening to rain. The outdoor gym crag of Canmore, with shiny ring bolts on sport climbing routes as easy as 5.5 (and up to 5.12a, but I may have had to check the guidebook for that number), nicely set up stairs and flat areas to stand on, and a lovely view. There’s even the kiddy wall section of Gardener’s Wall, where precocious children can learn to lead climb on bolts 1 metre apart. Realistically this is more commonly used by scared fully-grown lead climbers who have to struggle to avoid Z-clipping at every clip.


Wet from the rain shower, Ha Ling Peak glistens in the setting sun (as seen from the Graceland area of Grassi Peaks)

And there’s a good view.

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riding home from sunshine

I’d meant to do this for a while, but just not gotten around to it – the ride home from work. Theoretically I should be riding there as well, but it’s a 42km (26mi) ride including a nice 7km hill climb tacked on the end. So instead I took the easy way out, and ferried my bike into work this morning in one of the work trucks.



The coast down hill I was expecting for the first 7km turned out to include two of the three biggest hill climbs of the whole ride – that’s what you get for making assumptions about a road you’ve never biked before. But from then on it was off the road and onto trails – soggy horse trails at first, then the wide packed hiking/trail-riding trails out towards the Cave and Basin at Banff. Through the back ways of Banff, past the golf course, and onto the single trail on the east side of Mount Rundle. At which point I started wishing I had a dualie instead of the trusty hardtail, as the trail had a consistent mix of pine tree roots and rocks. I rode along dreaming of the smooth trails of the Gravity 12 hour near Myrtleford back in Australia – ahhh, the land of no pine trees, where all single trail is perfectly smooth (at least in my daydreams).



So I rode along doing my best to cushion the bumps, and yelling sporadically to keep the bears away. I have a bruised tailbone now.

canada general trip reports

grotto mountain

I started off on this hike with the vague idea that it would only take a couple of hours. I mean, the mountain’s just there! In my backyard! Surely it shouldn’t take too long to walk to the top. As I stumbled out the front door, I noticed snow on all of the surrounding mountains – ooohhh, that’s right, it was raining last night, I guess it must have been colder than I realised – curse this ‘Summer’ of the Canadian Rockies. And then I could have turned around and picked up my gaiters, but it seemed warm, surely it wouldn’t be too bad. Perhaps the snow would melt before we got there.

Meandering across from home and through the Benchland trails, we eventually hit the northwest spur of Grotto Mountain and started the hike up. The trail was obvious, and kept zig-zagging up the spur until we reached this white lurking presence which hung in the trees, and covered the ground making it all slippery and wet. With a bit more backsliding we wandered on up to the edge of the scree slope and on towards the false summit. Ahhh, snow covered scree, my favourite thing. Wind-blown snow covered scree is even better.


Canmore and its many mountains

Hitting the ridge the wind picked up, which didn’t make our snow-soaked shoes and pants feel any warmer. As we crossed the kilometre of ridgeline between the false summit and actual summit, the wind veered between ‘chilly breeze’ and ‘oxygen-stealing force of doom’. Following the ridge along, I tried to pick the line of least snow (and avoid being blown off). Summit – quickly take photos then retreat. Must escape wind. Cold wind. Views! But wind too cold. Descend, shelter from wind, devour sugar, drink water.



As we hit the treeline my brain started to function again. The snowline had crept a long way up the mountain since we’d started out this morning, and as we dropped further into the valley the wind died away and the temperature slowly crept up, until eventually I was warm.

It was about then that we came across these odd birds… the female Dusky Grouse (no, I didn’t know what it was at the time, I had to ask the internet afterwards) was herding about her flock of three chicks, and looking at us suspiciously, while her male friend sat in a tree nearby, before jumping out to parade past us.


Female Dusky Grouse

Male Dusky Grouse

On arrival home I discovered that the summit is at 2706 metres (8878ft) – so an altitude gain of 1300 metres or so. That could be why it took a while.

bikes canada general

the benchland trails