Biking time: 5 hours 30 minutes
836.7 km total
Today was a friggin mess! We woke up at 6am Mountain Time, so 5am for us. It was freezing so we didn’t get up until 8am. We were ready to go just after 9 when Gogi realized his back tire was flat. After all of that, we weren’t on the road until about 9:45. Luckily, the ride into Golden was an easy 25 km with undulating hills. We stopped at a gas station for lunch and looked anxiously at the wall they call a hill coming out of Golden. So that hurt. At the top was the Golden Rim Motor Inn and being the only real Tragically Hip fan of the three of us, I was the only one getting nostalgic.
It was a short- lived trip down memory lane, but I had Gord Downie’s voice in my head for the rest of the day. After the steep climb and the Motor Inn there were a few more short climbs, then a decent descent where Kinger popped his first tube of the day. Gogi had the pump, gave it to Kinger and went on ahead. Gogi’s knee was hurting again, so he biked ahead of Kinger and I when he could, knowing that he’d be slow in the mountains. I stuck back with Kinger and after a few minutes, the tube was replaced and we biked up the next hill only to find Gogi waiting patiently. His tube was completely fucked because it was pinching through the tire bead. He told us that he’d catch up with, or meet us, 15 km up the road for a break, so we left him with the pump and tools. We took our break and waited for Gogi as we were just about to enter Yoho National Park. Forty five minutes later and no sign of him, so we went back to check on him. We were no more than 2 or 3 km back toward Gogi when we saw his bike and him in this lady’s pick- up truck. Apparently, he was just about finished fixing his tire, when this lady offered to give him a ride up to us.
Twenty five kilometres later Kinger was back to popping tires. By now Gogi had decided to ride ahead with the pump. He was far enough ahead that he had no idea Kinger had a flat. Consequently, I had to sprint up to catch Gogi, tell him what happened, get the pump and then race back to Kinger. After all of this and a few more km cycling, we made it to Field only to find the much needed visitor info centre closed. By this point we were all tired, it was a bit late and by the time we bought groceries and made it to Lake Louise, it’d be pretty dark, so we figured we’d camp somewhere nearby instead. There were a few problems with that; 1) no visitor info centre, 2) no grocery store that we could find, and 3) the girl who served us at the small diner wasn’t from there and didn’t know where the nearest campsite was. We looked at our map and we thought we saw a symbol for a campsite halfway up the Kicking Horse Pass climb. We didn’t leave Field until almost 8pm and it was dusky. The climb out of there was immense and we didn’t see any tent signs.
It was a mixture of dusk and night when we made it to the lodge at Kicking Horse Pass (1650 m) and discovered that, like it or not, we were going to Lake Louise,the closest camping around, 15 km away. That was an ironic little punch in the face. We barely left the lodge heading for the Alberta border, when we saw another bear. This one had some size to it and it wasn’t moving. That waiting game lasted at least 20 minutes until some cars stopped. A few gave us some advice and ‘good lucks’, a jeep stopped next to it, the dog in the back seat barked at it and it finally ran back into the bush. By the time we got to Lake Louise and got our tent set up, it was dark, not to mention freezing. Short ride into Banff tomorrow and hopefully we’ll get a to see a bit of the town. It’s cold and I’m tired.
LOOKING BACK, 10 YEARS LATER: I recently asked Gogi and Kinger what they remembered about the day. The first thing in Gogi’s head was the bear (truly a decent sized one too) and Kinger immediately remembered how cold it was in Lake Louise. Both events were very memorable, but I think what I remember most was eating dinner, having no energy and having to climb up to Kicking Horse Pass. I was listless when I walked into the lodge looking for camping info and completely dejected when I came out with nothing. Then a bear! This day was not a lot of fun, but hey, we did it for the stories.