Riders at the gate

Riders at the gate

A bike trip at the foot of the Rockies

What more can I say. Jasper to Banff. 300 km, 2 days.

By Maddison Pearman

What more can I say. Jasper to Banff. 300 km, 2 days.

Our trip started on Wednesday afternoon with a long drive to Jasper in the Broncs Skills Bus. The trip included three teachers; Kylie Kissel, Darryl Feschuk and Jody McElroy, along with her son Reid, four Grade 12 students; Maddison Pearman, Clinton Rodney, Ruger Dye and Davis Labrie, and two volunteer cyclists; Blake McWilliam and Tyler Fiege.

After arriving in Jasper just after midnight, Thursday morning came a little sooner than we liked, but we took a group picture, got going and left Jasper around 9 am for the beginning of our trip with Ms. McElroy following behind us in the bus. Our first stop was 53 km in at the Sunwapta Falls where we had a little longer break than scheduled as we had to wait for the rain to pass. We got back on our bikes and eventually got caught in the middle of the downpour that we had waited for to pass. The rain was freezing cold, our feet were soaking wet and our hands were beginning to go numb, but we kept biking on. From the start of the trip, it was a steady incline. There were quite a few small, steep hills but nothing compared to the hill we climbed as we headed towards the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre. This hill was curvy, steep and extremely long. Every time we came around a bend, there was another one yet to conquer. We eventually we made it to the top and looking down into the valley, it was crazy just how high we climbed. Riding down to the Discovery Centre, knowing that we had accomplished the hardest climb of the trip was the best feeling that day. We had a quick stop and were back on our bikes, heading towards our final stop of the day, the Rampart Creek Hostel, which luckily for us, was mostly downhill and flat. Not more than 5 minutes into it, it began to snow, then turned to rain, which felt more like hail as we began out trek downhill.  The rain was pouring, and we were just flying down the hills. The faster we got going, the harder the rain was and the more difficult it was to see. We were taking the corners like it was nothing; we had no fears flying down the hills. Eventually we made it to the bottom where we stopped to wait for everyone to catch up and the first thing Mr. Feschuk said to us was “You guys are absolutely crazy.” We arrived at Rampert Creek Hostel around 6pm and it was so nice to sit down around the fire and relax. The four Grade 12s took a nice trip to the sauna, sat by the fire and had some smores.

Day two, we were up and going, with a few of us a little a tired and sore, as can be expected after a long 150km ride the day before. We had a 150km ahead of us but the weather was beautiful and with only two big hill climbs it made the day a lot easier. We were lucky enough to see 3 grizzly bears along the way and the scenery was remarkable. The mountains, lakes and overall view was breathtaking and being able to ride through it just made it that much better. After a constant incline and numerous hills the day before and a few that morning, it was nice to be able to ride downhill all the way into Lake Louise. After the break in Lake Louise, we hopped back on our bikes to start the last 50km of our trip into Banff on the amazing Bow Valley Parkway. We then biked the last 10km near Vermilion Lakes, which was a nice way to finish off the trip and arrive in Banff. We took one last group picture, packed up and headed to meet with the rest of the Wilderness Trip.

It was a hard bike to do in two days that’s for sure but it is also a trip that we’ll never forget. Biking in the rain and snow at times was a little miserable but unforgettable. It was difficult and we were tired and sore but the satisfaction of climbing those hills and the feeling of accomplishment after we finished the trip was very memorable.

We would like to say a huge thank you to Mr. Kissel, Mr.Feschuk, and Ms. McElroy for planning the trip and driving the bus behind us with all our gear, to Blake and Tyler for being two more riders that pushed us along the way and to everyone for making it an unforgettable trip for all of us.