Cycling the Icefields Parkway
By Kevin Rodger
with additional insight provided by
Paul Delconte and Tom Jolliffe
Let me introduce you to the characters in this story.
First, Tom Jolliffe, the "old man" of the group, at the ripe age of over 50. Tom is an accountant, and the manager at a London credit union. Tom has been an avid cyclist for many years with the London Cycling Club, and has completed many bike tours with myself, including tours through Germany and England. Tom and I had originally planned to cycle the Icefields Parkway in 2000, but due to a work requirement, we agreed to reschedule for a later date. We were to find out the wait was well worth it! Tom rides a light blue Marinoni touring bike.
Paul Delconte, the youngest member of our trio, and the only one with any amount of hair, has been a friend for many years. Paul works for the company formerly known as Imation. Paul works for a company called DecisionOne. Paul is an electronics technician, and repairs testing equipment used by telephone and utility companies. We share a common bond in that we both have sons with developmental handicaps. I had joined Paul in the past on small day trips with our respective partners. I have been trying for several years to get Paul to join the London Cycling Club. Last year, I finally succeeded, and Paul was soon engrossed with the idea of cycle touring. Pauls "steed" is a red Norco mountain bike. The gearing on this bike was great for a trip through the Rockies, but Paul falls behind a bit on the flats (understandably so). We are gradually swaying Paul toward the purchase of a road bike. One more year, and I think well have him hooked.
Lastly, myself Kevin Rodger. I am a pilot for Air Canada Jazz. Ive been cycling since I was a kid, but just got back into cycling in a serious way about eleven years ago. I try to combine my love of travel with my passion for cycling. I joined the London Cycling Club, and rode my (at that time) fifteen year old Nishiki 10 speed to many rides. In the second year of my membership, I purchased a Cannondale H-400 hybrid bike, which I still use to do the occasional tour. I have toured Mexico (from Cancun to the border of Belize), Germany, England, Bermuda, Antigua, and most of the province of Ontario by bicycle. The next tour I am planning is from Salzburg to Budapest along the Danube River bike trail. I have been riding a Mikado DIberville touring bike for about five years. My next upgrade a Bruce Gordon Rock n Road touring bike (if I have my way on the home front).
The route we chose from south to north, was picked solely on the availability of flights: there are more flights to the Calgary Airport from Toronto than from Toronto to the Edmonton Airport. Many people have asked me which direction would be easier. While Im no expert on cycling through the Rockies, I would have to say it doesn't really matter there are two big climbs and two fantastic descents no matter which way you go! As for wind, we didnt really have a whole lot of that, except on the first couple days, so I really cant comment.
Originally, I had wanted to make this excursion into a camping vacation. However, neither Tom, nor Paul wanted this I knew Tom was not a camper, but I thought Paul might like to try it. In the end, the decision to use hostels instead of camping was a bit of a godsend, as many of the campgrounds were closed to tent camping due to a problem with bears. Although there were lots of bear sightings, we personally did not see any. We did, however wonder why there were lumps of bear "poop" spaced every 500 feet or so along the shoulder of the Parkway.
The hostels we used were ideally spaced for bike touring. We stayed at the International Youth Hostels in Banff, Lake Louise (our unequivocal favourite), Rampart Creek, Beauty Creek, and Jasper. We were also scheduled to stay at the Mount Edith Cavell Hostel, but my two comrades mutinied (something about showers, or lack thereof), and we bypassed Mt. Edith Cavell in favour of a hotel in Jasper. More about this sad tale later