Friday, August 31, 2012

Riding the Rockies (Canadian Style)

Ten Peaks (not all seen)
by Joe Dickstein

Now that I am fully retired, Phyllis and I felt we deserved a special trip to celebrate this momentous occasion.  We chose to make a cycling trip through the Canadian Rockies, including Jasper and Banff National Parks.  Since time is not an issue, we chose to drive, both to see more of the west (US and Canada) as well as to make bringing our own bikes easier.  We took three days to drive to Banff, which is about an hour and a half west of Calgary.  After spending the first night in St. Cloud, MN we spent the next night (our first in Canada) in the town of Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan.  Primarily a farming and transportation hub, the town has the nickname of "Little Chicago" due to the fact that one of our more notorious former citizens, Al Capone, was known to vacation there.  We stayed there in a lovely bed and breakfast.  The following night we stayed in Calgary.  In both Moose Jaw and Calgary, we were able to take short bike rides and I'm happy to report that both had excellent systems of bike paths.

Mt. Edith Clavell Glacier
We arrived in Banff the next morning, where we were loaded into a van and driven to Jasper.  Both towns are located within national parks and are about 200 miles apart.  With stops for lunch along the way we arrived in early afternoon and spent the next five days riding our bikes back to Banff.  Our first actual ride was later that day in Jasper, where we rode a ten mile loop up to a lake resort overlooking the town.  The first day of riding featured Mt. Edith Cavell, where we were able to get up close and personal with a glacier and later to see several waterfalls, the most spectacular of which was the Athabasca Falls.  We spent the night at a rustic rural inn and rode the next day to the Columbia Ice Field.  Part of a massive system of glaciers, the area is the site of a triple continental divide where the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic watersheds all meet. 
Athabasca Falls
At Columbia ice field
The next day was the Fourth of July and while I later learned that back home there was triple digit heat, the local temperature never even reached sixty.  This was our longest riding day, almost eighty miles to Lake Louise.  The highlight was shortly after leaving in the morning where we had an almost ten mile downhill run.  We stayed two nights in Lake Louise and on the layover day did another uphill ride to a lake with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.  The final day's ride took us back to Banff and the conclusion of the ride. 

We stayed two additional nights in Banff and took one more ride on our own while there.  In this time we only scratched the surface of the multitude of things to do in this incredibly beautiful area.  Coming home, we took side trips to Yoho National in British Columbia, which has the highest waterfall (over 1000 feet) in Canada and to Edmonton, where we again were able to take advantage of an extensive system of bike trails in yet another very bike friendly Canadian city.

Downtown Banff
For the most part we had favorable weather.  We did have one day of rain but were able to shelter in a covered campground for the worst part.  While the first few days were overcast and cool, the last three days were spectacular and had in the afternoon temperatures in the eighties, almost unprecedented for the area.  We were advised to bring gear for almost every cycling condition and were able at some time to use all, including long underwear.  Even on the warmest days, overnight temps would go down to the forties.  
Showing club colors
The tour itself was extremely well organized.  Our cycling companions were three other groups of Americans and two of  Australians.  The tour was organized by Rocky Mountain Cycle Tours.  We had a two man crew to attend to our every need, Peter who owns the company and Dieter, his 72 year old father.  On this trip, Peter rode with us and Dieter drove the van, but usually it is the reverse.  The hotels we stayed in were first class and the food was excellent.  I highly recommend this tour for anyone looking for a truly unique cycling experience.

The group
One final word is that, since the roads are only cleared of snow in June, which comes back in September, these tours are run only in July and August.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Metra bike blackout for Chicago air and water show

In case you're not already aware, Metra will not be allowing bikes from Sat. 8/18 to Sun. 8/19 due to expected crowds for the Chicago air and water show.  The exception is folding bikes in bags, however, trains may be crowded enough to make even folders a tough squeeze. 

If you were planning to take your bike on Metra this weekend, you may want to try CTA or Pace, or find another way to go.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Four Star Bike Tour is coming soon!

Have you registered for Four Star Bike Tour yet, either as a rider or a volunteer?  What?  You don't know about Four Star (formerly Boulevard Lakefront Tour)?

It's a unique Chicago neighborhood tour.  We have four routes, so there's something for every ability level.  For those who are newer riders or less confident about riding on city streets, you can sign up for a special instructional group.  It's a positive learning experience to give you skills you can use on future rides.

Chicago Cycling Club has a special discount code for members.  When you register online as a rider, use the code CCC3 for $3 off.

It's not too late to volunteer.  We still need more, especially course marshals and rest stop volunteers.   The 35 and 62 mile routes go into the western suburbs this year, and we need more volunteers in those locations. 

I hope we'll see you out there on August 26th, either as a rider or volunteer.  It's a great way to spend the day.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

our August meeting is a movie night!

Save the date for next Tuesday. We're continuing the tradition of a social/movie night for our August meeting.

Join us at Montgomery Ward Park with your picnic dinner and enjoy Hugo.  Please click here for more details.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Metra bike blackout for Lollapalooza

In case you're not already aware, Metra will not be allowing bikes from Fri. 8/3 to Sun. 8/5 due to expected crowds for Lollapalooza.  The exception is folding bikes in bags, however, trains may be crowded enough to make even folders a tough squeeze.  If you were planning to take your bike on Metra this weekend, you may want to try CTA or Pace, or find another way to go.