cycling the icefields parkway
DAY 1: Wednesday, August 14, 2002 - CALGARY TO COCHRANE
We left our hometown of London, Ontario on the 7:00 a.m. Air Canada Jazz flight destined for Toronto. Check-in was routine, our bikes were loaded up, and our boarding passes were issued. We left behind temperatures in the mid 30's (and those are Celsius degrees, not Fahrenheit) and the first hint of rain since the end of July. Our flight from Toronto to Calgary was uneventful.
We arrived in Calgary greeted by blustery winds of over 50 kph, and cloudy skies threatening rain. It took the better part of 30 minutes to get our bikes assembled, tires pumped, and changed into our cycling attire. We left Calgary International Airport at approximately 1:30 p.m., bound for our first day’s destination of Cochrane. We selected Cochrane because we originally were unsure of what time we would arrive in Calgary, plus we thought 150 km in one day on fully loaded touring bikes was not much of a holiday. As I mentioned, the weather was partly cloudy with a few very light showers along the way. The route we took us north of the airport through two street lights on Barlow Trail for (approximately 2 km). We then turned left (west) on Country Hills Blvd. This route was generally uphill through the northern part of the city until turning south west on Stoney Trail to connect with Highway 1A (running north-west) for the remaining 19 km. into Cochrane. The route we selected was generally gently undulating terrain, with some very pleasant scenery. We enjoyed a fairly wide shoulder about eight feet wide, narrowing to about four to six feet during the last 10 kilometres of the ride. In the last 3 km. Before you enter town, this road takes a very nice, steep downhill "dive" into the city. On this section of road, I obtained a top speed of 68 kph. Not bad, considering we were combating a 30 kph headwind, and were riding fully loaded touring bikes!
Just after arriving, we were greeted by a rather large rain shower. Timing is everything! We checked into the Super 8 Motel, where we were well received by the staff. We were allowed to keep our bikes inside the locked boardroom for the night. Our room was very large, and included three queen size beds. The price was perhaps a bit high, at $150 for the night, but after splitting the price three ways, it was reasonable. The price included an ample continental breakfast in the morning.
That night we ate at the Boston Pizza restaurant just across the road from the Super 8 Motel. Total distance travelled for the day: 43 km, total time on the bike: 2 hours, 26 minutes, for an average speed of 17.6 kph. I know it sounds slow, but the wind was brutal!