Last Saturday I did one of my favorite rides... Canmore to Calgary via the Highwood Pass. It’s a long one. I didn’t have my cycle computer, but as I rode I tallied up the road signs and figured it was about 275km’s. The Highwood pass route takes you up pretty high into the alpine. There was still snow up there and evidence of a very recent, very large avalanche. When you turn off the highway into K country it seems like about a 3 hour climb up to the top of the pass.
Ironically, the toughest part of the day seemed to be the 1 hour downhill descent from the pass. It took about 4 hours to get up there and my usual stop is at Highwood crossing, another hour from the top. It’s funny that when you anticipate a break or even the end of a journey it seems to take forever. Such was the case from hour 4 to 5 in this long 10 hour ride. Though it was all downhill I kept looking for the junction where I’d take a short break and have some lunch. When it finally came and I took a short 15 min stop I realized I was just over ½ way done. That thought seemed a little intimidating.
This ride takes you through many eco-zones. From mountain valley (where I live), up to the high alpine, then down into dry foothills and grasslands. It’s an amazing journey. When you’re on the final leg, you look way off into the distance to the west and see the mountains that you had ridden to the top of and they look so far off! It’s quite a thought that you dwell on the fact that earlier in the day that’s where you were. Sometimes I find it astonishing that a body and a bike can traverse over so much distance in a day.
From the Highwood junction there’s a gradual downhill for 44 km’s and though I had a small head wind, this section went fast. When I reached Longview and the prairie I still had a ways to go, but calculated that I’d ridden the equivalent of an Ironman bike leg 180km’s.
As I made my way along the long roller ups and downs I was caught from behind by a somewhat studly looking rider who was visiting from Danmark. He said I was flying and he had to work hard to catch me. I told him I found that hard to believe since I felt like I was in survival mode. On the long downhills though, in my aero tuck and with my tubeless tires I would really pull away from him, so perhaps I was going better than I thought.
As I made my way gradually into the city it was a great feeling to feel actually pretty fresh knowing how many k’s I’d put in. The most frustrating part of the day was when I finally reached the city limits. Finding my way through town trying to avoid the major arteries was tough. I criss-crossed going much farther than needed just trying to safely get to my destination.
Man what a feeling when it’s all done. This is one of the epic rides I wanted to do this year. The other is Revy to Canmore in a single day, a 300km ride. With my not doing an Ironman now, we’ll see if the long rides are still in the plan, but they sure are a fun way to train!