June 21, 2008

6/21/08 Calgary, AB

132.5km/1193km

Mike and I must have been real tired as we both slept late. George woke up early but didn't want to wake us, so we got a late start.

Alot of climbing to get out of Canmore (but I think Mike was temporarily lost) but what struck me was how fast the scenery changed as we left the mountains. The evergreens thinned out, leaving space for other types of trees. The land was dryer and we passed more and more ranchlands.

A last look back at the mountains


More open land for farming and ranching

Compared to what we'd been biking through for the last week, the scenery wasn't the best. We passed by several cement factories plus a few rock mines.

The road wasn't in good shape and there wasn't a shoulder. Unfortunately for us, there was a ton of traffic because of the start of the weekend. We must have passed several hundred motorcycles on this secondary road.

We stopped for a quick lunch in Cochrane. And as luck would have it, there was a bike shop nearby. I asked Michael at Bike Bros. (www.bikebros.ca) to take a look at my handlebar stem as I thought I needed a new one to improve my position on the bike. Instead he saw immediately that my seat had moved way too far back to be correct. A quick adjustment and the bike felt a thousand times better. And it saved me from buying a new stem. Michael was great and I highly recommend the shop to any cross-country cyclists who find themselves on this route.

Much to our shock, there was a huge, steep, long climb out of Cochraine. It seemed to take me forever as I watched Mike and George speed up the incline. It was just one of many 'environmental' challenges we had trying to get into Calgary. We had a strong headwind and Mike tells me we had climbed almost 3000 feet today. And, in the end, it would be our longest day, both in mileage and time in the saddle for the whole trip.

Traffic in Calgary was murder and it wasn't even the weekday rush hour. A lot of the busier streets had on and off ramps which proved quite dangerous to us. You just can't move or change directions fast with a loaded touring bike. And to top it off, I had a slow leak in my front tire. Decided to take a chance and just keep pumping up the tire instead of changing it with all this traffic speeding by.

Finally, after almost eight hours on the bike, we arrived at Judy and Pete's house out past the airport. What a relief. Judy and Ellen had everything prepared for us so all we had to do was shower, change and find a chair so we could eat the feast they had prepared.

Judy had also invited her sister Janelle and her family to join us. Her husband is Jerry, and she has two kids, Logan and Taylor. Taylor is a few years older than Sedona, so they spent most of the evening together doing crafts. Janelle also brought her and Judy's mother to help us eat all this food. Also, Ellen's nephew Jason is with us too.

George with Ellen and Sedona

It was a great end to a long day, complete with good food and good conversation. Tomorrow, Mike and I take off without George who is going back to Sacramento with his family. It will definitely be different without him.