July 26

26 07 2009

Day 50:

With cloudy days forecasted for the weekend, we decided to add a day to ensure better weather once we reach Glacier National Park (we have been told it is well worth the wait) and to avoid weekend traffic. So we planned two shorter days before the BIG climb; to veer off the route towards Waterton, Alberta today, and then head south to Glacier tomorrow.

We all took advantage of the short day ahead to sleep in and enjoy a late breakfast (though it took a much longer than anticipated). We didn’t leave Cardston until close to 11 o’clock, but were eager to knock out today’s forty miles. With the Rocky Mountains visible behind the clouds, we continued to climb the gradual hills, interspersed with some nice down-hills too. We cruised through the first 15 or so miles, winding around the farms and green mountain sides…a great ride! Zach and I stopped outside a general store, and waited for the others. Having broken my second spoke on the way down the previous hill we went to work on the quick repair before grabbing snacks inside. From there we headed out for the last 18 miles to Waterton Lakes National Park. Our ride was briefly interrupted by thunder and lighting, so we pulled over and took shelter under our bike/tarp fort. We waited it out then continued on, just as the rain began to really pour and the thunder picked up…and the cows went crazy. The storm didn’t last long, but the dark clouds lingered over the mountains as we approached the park. Upon arrival, we climbed up to the beautiful Cameron Lake and then coasted downhill into the village. Even with the cloudy skies, the mountains were very impressive, and we can’t wait till the storms pass and the skies clear…hopefully tomorrow! We arrived in the village around 3 o’clock to deer casually walking the streets and wandering about in front of the hotel. We checked in to our room, cleaned up, and headed into town for an early dinner. The food and the view at the Bayside Inn was fantastic! We wandered around town for a bit then headed back to the room for a relaxing night. Tomorrow’s short ride to the base of Logan Pass will allow us to begin exploring the Rockies and preparing for the big climb.


July 25

26 07 2009

Day 48:

Knowing we had our first real “uphill” day since New Hampshire and Vermont and there was actually nothing between Cut Bank and Cardston, we got an early start because of the day ahead of us. After a good breakfast we started our trek towards Alberta, Canada. We made quick work of the first 15 miles because of the little wind we had to fight, but once again Zach had to slow us down. Pulling over to the side of the road we learned Zach had not one, but two broken spokes, I think he’s broken more than me by now. The four of us quickly fixed the spokes (Maggie was up ahead because her ipod was way to loud and she couldn’t hear us calling her) and got back to what we have been doing for 48 days, biking. Stopping at the 30 mile marker we had a quick snack and then continued the rest of the 8 miles we needed to cross the border.

Talk about a welcome to Canada! The two border agents pointed us to a shaded grassy spot for our picnic lunch (we had a 73 mile stretch of no services today ) and called the US agents to let them know that it was OK for us to lunch in “no-mans land”. Apparently there is a 10 foot wide strip of land on either side of the border that does not belong to either the US or Canada but is the responsibility of the “International Border Commission”. The agents also kindly filled our water bottles and took our picture in front of the “Welcome to Alberta” sign.

The great road and riding conditions … NO WIND … smooth pavement … only 20 cars over 73 miles … brilliant sunshine … 70 – 80 temps … started in Cut Bank and continued on our climb into Canada and the Rockies. Our real Canadian welcome came near the end of our ride as we neared our destination of Cardston, Alberta. We stopped to chat with 90 year old Dr. BJ Larson riding his bike on his “regular” 12 miles loop. It was a pleasure to chat with him on the road and a wonderful surprise when a called our hotel room a few hours later and then came to visit bringing with him some wonderful cookies baked by his wife Lois. We all enjoyed the chance to chat with the Doctor and needless to say the cookies were gone in no time. Dr. Larson is a great Ambassador for Cardston and provided a great welcome to Canada. It was our privilege to get to know him.

We had a great view of Chief Mountain as we entered Cardston this afternoon and are looking forward Waterton Village tomorrow.

Jake & Brian