bikes canada general moosling

A grand Moosling adventure

We set out for a bike ride together, the Moosling and I. I was thinking we’d head out along the Legacy Trail for a few kilometres and then turn back again. The longest ride he’d done on his own bike was just 6km or so.

But once we started riding towards Banff, he was pretty adamant that he was going to ride the whole way there. We’d done it with him on the trail-a-bike plenty of times. And at least one of those times he’d been pedalling pretty much the whole way. I was a little short on snacks, but I figured we may as well ride half way and then see how we were going.

The other concern was weather – it’s been typical June in the mountains weather recently. Unsettled, with random bouts of rain or thunderstorms. We had shell jackets, but not full rain gear, not enough to make it pleasant riding for the length of time it would take us to get to any place dry if there was torrential rain while one of us was riding a tiny bike with 14″ wheels.

But we got to the Valley View picnic area, the trusty half-way point with the red chairs, and he barely wanted to stop. There was a brief snack break, then he was back on the trail and yelling out at me to come on. The boy is fond of Banff.

He spent a lot of time trying to run over the plants on the side of the trail on the second half of the journey, and frequently coming to a stop after miss-steering at super low speeds. He was also getting quite sick of my reminders to keep right, and started yelling at me whenever I mentioned it. While still tending to waver over into the left half of the trail.

We got through it all with increased levels of singing, and he sped up as we rounded the corner and started to draw closer to Banff. And started to yell out “I’m really excited Mama!” and bouncing up and down on his bike.

We pulled in at the Wildflour Bakery just under four hours and twenty five kilometres after setting out from home.

He was filled with joy at the prospect of banana-chocolate muffin, toasted cheese sandwiches and frozen yoghurt (that I told him was icecream, shhh). And was perfectly happy to keep riding around Banff – I think he may have also been ok with riding back home again, but we got a lift back home again instead of pushing our luck.

In the words of the hero of the story, while headbanging in the waffle shop to the tunes of Tina Turner’s ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’: “Mama, this song is making me eat!” … and he hasn’t stopped eating since we got back home.

bikes canada general moosling trip reports

A grand day out

Kat and I hatched a cunning plan – well, she had a plan to hike up Sulphur Mountain. I said I would ride there with the boy, and meet them at the base. She decided to join me for the whole grand outing.

The ride to Sulphur Mountain was in itself quite epic. Getting to Banff takes long enough when you’re towing small children. We made it there, and then had a refuelling stop at Wildflour Bakery (ohh, that place is delicious). There we met Mike and Dwayne, who bravely cheered us on from the safety of the car, as we started the ride up the hill.

And that hill? Up to Sulphur Mountain? I’d never ridden it before, and it’s really quite steep when you’re towing a small boy who doesn’t feel like pedalling.

In the end I was glad he’d decided to save his legs though. As it meant he happily hiked the whole way up Sulphur Mountain once we got there – 655m elevation gain over 5.5km, it was a decent effort.

The older menfolk turned back part way up the mountain, as they had serious business to attend to elsewhere. Or something.

The rest of us forged on to the summit – well, to the point where the gondola takes you anyway, which isn’t the true summit, but close enough. After admiring the view, we caught the gondola back down again – to the great excitement of the boy.

And then ever more excitement, it was icecream time!

And we weren’t even done then! It was time to bike tired boys back to Canmore. Thankfully the return trip on the Legacy Trail is always easier though, and we fairly flew along the trail to be home in time for dinner.

bikes canada general

Biking to Banff with my favourite training weight

Now the boy is big enough to big enough to be pedalling we’ve sold off the bike towing devices, and he’s only ever on the trail-a-bike if we get out on long rides together.

Sadly though, the trail-a-bike we have really doesn’t handle offroad trails that well (at least not the rough rocky rooty ones around here). We’re still torn about what to do as a solution – Tout Terrain make a gorgeous trail-a-bike with suspension, but it also costs close to $2000.

In the meantime, the boy really enjoys riding the trail to Banff, and has taken to suggesting it often (could it be because he gets icecream if we go there?) (and I tend to agree because I know we’ll go to the Wildflour Bakery).

And he’s actually pedalling these days. At least occasionally. Which is helpful when you’re trying to haul a 12kg bike plus however many kilograms of small boy up a hill.

Mostly he just pedals when he really wants to get to icecream or a toy store though, and isn’t convinced he needs to help me pedal into the brutal headwinds that tend to lurk on the route to Banff.

We had our last adventure with Al and Lincoln on a ride to Banff and back – they’ve now disappeared back to Australia, and we have lost some good quality adventuring partners. Sad faces all round.

bikes canada general

Tour Divide on the brain

This has been the perfect winter for biking. The ski season has been absolutely rubbish. But the trails are dry in March! (well, a bit dry… some of them). And because of my plan to ride the Tour Divide in June, I’ve been riding a lot. An awful lot. Ok, nowhere near so much as some other people out there are, but given the constraints of full time work, plus a husband and small child, I’ve been spending a good chunk of my waking moments spinning my pedals.

This is by far the most organised I’ve ever been in attempting to gain bike fitness, and so far I’m feeling strong, and not at all bored or burnt out. It helps that I’ve had some variety in the rides on offer. There’s been snow biking, road biking, trainer spinning, gravel grinding, epic rain rides, dry singletrack, and random loops that incorporate a bit of everything.

Some of my rides from the last couple of months

Most of my riding is from home, so heading to Banff is a pretty common theme, either coming or going via the Goat Creek trail. This is the picturesque bridge that survived the floods of 2013 (unlike the Spray River bridge).

The crusty snow makes for lousy skiing, but easy fat biking (look, not a trace of my passage) (it is quite bumpy though)

I’ve been hunting down the Parks Canada red chairs all over the place. These are the ones by the picnic area on the Legacy Trail.

Rundle Riverside is the rooty singletrack option between Banff and Canmore. It would make for the perfect fat bike loop from the Nordic Centre round to Banff and back via Goat Creek – if only the Nordic Centre allowed fat bikes past the meadow. As it was, I may have snuck out there early one morning, on crusty icy snow, before anyone was up and skiing and able to spot me.

Cascade Mountain from the Tunnel Mountain loop

Rusty golf ball on a giant tee? Banff is full of mysteries.

A dreary cold day of mizzle, drizzle and snow – Lake Minnewanka is starting to look a little melty around the edges.

And finally, my old friend, the pass ride. It’s a really easy way to get in a good climb on gravel. From town, it’s a climb of about 400m over 6km. Or if you just count the gravel section, it’s 230m over 2.7km. Never impossibly steep, but a nice consistent grade.

Apart from the riding, I still have some gear organising to do – I know what I want, but I just don’t have everything yet. The biggest thing is a new titanium frame, from Triton Bikes. It will hopefully be shipped to me any day now, but they’re a swamped small business, and it’s taken longer than I was hoping.

Otherwise, I need to get a final bike fit done, do some fiddling to optimise my electronics setup, bug Scott at Porcelain Rocket for some new frame bags, practice some of my mechanical skills, make a few low priority decisions about what really needs to come with me, maybe track down some better versions (or newer versions) of gear I already have… then it’s just doing the final print of my basic cues, putting the route track on the gps, final bike service, and ride!

Oh, and I need to decide whether I want to ride the extra 28km or so from home to the start line in Banff. It’s tempting, but the first couple of days will already be pretty epic… hmmm.

canada general trail running

A crazy long run

I’d been wanting to do something a little epic on Saturday, but couldn’t decide what. But then I was invited to run along the Rundle Riverside trail from Canmore to Banff. “What a fantastic idea!” I said to myself, “And then if I’m still feeling chipper I could run up and down Sulphur Mountain as well, I’ve been meaning to do that.”

It’s been a while since I’ve ridden it, but I think Rundle Riverside makes a better running trail than biking trail. The Canmore end is horrifically rooty. After a while though, it eases off and becomes a very mellow mossy sort of trail, and it’s a bit disappointing when you’re suddenly spat out onto the golf course roads.

Nineteen kilometres later, and I was still feeling good, so I said goodbye to my running companion and headed out around the slopes of Sulphur to find the trail up the back. Past the Cave and Basin, towards Sundance Canyon, then a sudden left turn uphill, onto an old fire road.

The lower slopes of the back side of Sulphur are a bit un-inspiring. It’s just an overgrown fire road the whole way up, and while you’re down low, there’s not much of a view, just a fire road slog.

But then the view gets better.

And the trail climbs up into the sky.

Until suddenly you’re at the top! There are tourists everywhere, who took the gondola up, and are complaining about having to climb some boardwalk and stairs to get over to the summit peak itself.

I plunged on down the hill, intent on catching the 3pm bus back to Canmore. After running at a decent clip from the gondola base station to reach the downtown area, I made it with time to spare to go and buy a cold drink. Mission successful!

Now I just have to pack my bags to catch a flight to Australia this afternoon, where I’ll be visiting for three weeks.

Distance: 40km
Elevation gain: 1,330m