CYCLING THE ICEFIELDS PARKWAY
DAY 2: Thursday, August 15, 2002 COCHRANE TO BANFF
This Day started out partly sunny, with less wind. It was cool, at 10ºC. We wolfed down a nice continental breakfast, and were on our way by 8:15 a.m. Our route was an easy one Highway 1A all the way. We were making good time due to the fact that we had a tailwind today. By 11:15 a.m., we had reached our lunch stop in the town of Exshaw, 59 kilometres from Cochrane. We probably would have been quicker, but Paul had to stop frequently to take pictures of the fantastic vista unfolding ahead. Tom and I were worried he might run out of film before we reached Banff.
After a hearty lunch, we left Exshaw after only 45 minutes. We arrived in Banff at 2:00 p.m., travelling the 114.8 km. In 5 hours and 22 minutes (which also includes a slow ride up to Sulphur Mountain for a soak in the Hot Springs). Our average speed was 21.4 kph, and once again I reached a maximum speed of 68 kph.
Since we could not check into our rooms at the hostel until after 1500, we decided to ride up Sulphur Mountain to have a dip in the Upper Hot Springs. We dropped our panniers off in the available lockers. Tom got a bit frustrated, as the locker he selected ate his loonie. I did not know this, and while he was out of the locker area, I deposited a loonie, and locked the locker. Tom needed an item out of the locker, so we opened it up again, deposited another loonie only to have the locker once again malfunction. The frustration had begun! After sorting this mess out, we rode towards the hot springs. Halfway up the mountain, I heard several expletives emanating from the person riding the Marinoni bike - something to the effect of "What the "heck" am I doing this for? I dont need this "funky" aggravation!" Tom never made it all the way up the mountain. Tom never got a "ride" in the hot springs. Paul and I continued the slow grind up, and were rewarded with some great views (including those of the mountain vista), and we were able to rest our weary muscles in the 39ºC pool. All this for only $10.00, including the use of an official Upper Hot Springs towel!
Due to a computer issue at the hostel, our reservation for the night was lost and the hostel was full (it was Thursday night, after all). We were assured by the hostel that they would find us beds after 6:00 p.m. Tom had already checked out a few hotels, so we told the hostel that if they couldnt find a room, that is was OK. Tom called to confirm the hotel room, but he was informed it was already taken. When we were finally assigned a room in the hostel, we found it was already occupied. We waited another 45 minutes before we were finally assigned beds, but in two separate rooms. Paul and Tom got to bunk in with girls from Germany and France. Some guys got all the luck. I got the "Italian" suite three friends from Milan. This room probably would have been better for Paul, as he speaks fluent Italian. The problem was, it took me a while to figure out which language they were speaking. The time was now after 6:00 p.m. Dinner this night was at the hostel I expected inexpensive food, but it was about the same price as anywhere else in town. However, the portions were very large. Actually, I got off pretty light here - after a few beers, followed by dinner, and another beer, I retired to my room. Only after I retired for the evening did I realise I left Cougar Petes Bar and Grill without paying. I had only hoped that Paul was not too upset with me for stiffing him with the bill. I found out the next morning that Cougar Petes had actually charged him for all three bills (even though Tom had paid his portion). This was sorted out, and we were (or should I say, I was) once again on good standing. The Banff Hostel is on a nice setting at the top of a relatively steep hill. It is a large hostel, with a large contingent of mostly young people from around the world. It is also very noisy. The doors are equipped with magnetic card locks. The problem is the locks dont work very well. All during the night, as people made their way to the washroom, one could hear the constant clicking of those plastic "credit cards" sliding through the locks. This was followed by a bit of cussing, and finally, apologies to the person who eventually had to get out of bed to let them in. Not only that, but we found that most people did not retire until after midnight. I can tell you that after a hard day of cycling, I was ready for bed at 2200!