My bum… is numb.
That was my second thought once Robbie and I completed the 21.8 km Legacy Trail from Canmore to Banff. I haven’t been on my bike enough lately to comfortably endure that distance.
My first thought was: We did it!
This summer was supposed to be one of many bike rides; however, we just haven’t explored the Calgary and surrounding area trail systems as much as we had intended. That said, the Legacy Trail was on the top of our list. After many days of a smokey haze over Southern Alberta, blue skies were seen on Sunday, and we knew what we needed to do. Robbie and I dusted off our cyclocross bikes, added air to the tires, strapped them onto the bike rack, and headed to Canmore.
We parked at the Travel Alberta Information Centre on the western edge of Canmore, which is where the signpost for the trail is located. Then we set off, eager and excited as we darted down the paved trail through the trees and alongside the highway. On either side were mountains shrouded by clouds: Rundle on the left; Lady MacDonald and countless others on the right. In the distance, the face of iconic Cascade Mountain indicated that we were, indeed, heading in Banff’s direction. It was beautiful and oh so enjoyable. We passed rest spots, but you can stop at any point along the trail, so bringing snacks and water was a good idea.
As time went on, Robbie kept insisting that we must be going uphill, as we began getting tired quickly! And he was right: by choosing to start in Canmore, the Legacy Trail has an elevation gain of 185 metres over the course of the ride, and an overall loss of about 110 metres. So yes, the net is an increase in elevation. And yes. You will feel it. Also, the wind decided to pick up, which didn’t help with our exhaustion. “It’s wind-AY!” I would yell, my voice drowning in the wind. Also also, I didn’t realize how much of the trail is right beside the highway. I couldn’t help but feel like some of those concrete dividers you see on highways should be installed between the track and the highway. It’s not like you’re close to the road, but the sight of oncoming highway traffic was a bit unsettling for my paranoid Final Destination type of brain.
I’m just pointing those out as notables, however; when exhausted, I tend to think of such things. At the end of the day, we were biking into one of the most beautiful national parks in Canada, and I enjoyed every minute of it! I may visit Banff National Park often, but it’s different to approach it by bike. The trail is so worth doing.
After 1 hour and 25 minutes, we arrived at the Legacy Trail sign just outside of Banff High School on Banff Avenue. Hooray! Tired, spent, and ready for food, we took a few celebratory photos.
But the celebration was short lived. Immediately after arriving in Banff, the dense clouds released their 40% chance of expected rain, and it was mos def no drizzle. How could we be so ill prepared? After many years of mountain adventures, surely we would have packed our rain gear just in case. Nope. With the plummeting temperature, we were now freezing… and we have to ride all the way back?? Luckily, for $6 a person, you can take the regional transit bus from outside the high school back to Canmore, so that’s what we opted to do. Despite the cold and rain, we experienced an enjoyable ride in the mountains. Nothing was going to bring us down.
As we sat in the bus, barreling down Highway 1 toward Canmore, we realized that we had misplaced our bike lock. Curses! We looked through our bags and realized we must have just forgotten it on the ground before we boarded. Ugh. We racked our brain some more. Robbie remembered putting the lock on my handlebars as we unlocked our bikes and moved to shelter. But I took them off said handlebars, right? Then we looked to the front of the bus where my bike was attached… to the front of the bus. And oh my God, what’s that?? The lock hung loosely on the right handlebar. Remember my Final Destination fears? Well, they all began playing in my head! How could I have missed that?? We even checked the bike before fastening it to the front of the bus! And then the bus driver checked the bike! It was seriously the most gut wrenching anxiety filled bus ride I’ve had, as the thought of the heavy U-shaped metallic lock flying off the handlebars into traffic was too much to bear. Seriously, if you haven’t watched Final Destination, watch it and you’ll understand the type of premonition I was having in that moment. Somehow, the lock stayed in place for 20 minutes, and I retrieved it at the end of the bus trip. Now THAT could have been a disaster… but thankfully, it was was not. Yay! The End.
For more information on the Banff Legacy Trail, visit the Banff National Park’s website HERE.