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The First Seventy Years: 144 - Bow Summit

Eric Biddulph and his wife Mary conclude their bike ride through some of Canada's most picturesque scenery.

Ericís book The First Seventy Years can be obtained for £10 by contacting http://mary@bike2.wanadoo.co.uk or telephoning 01484-658175.

All the cash raised by the book goes to a water aid project in Malawi.

We continued to have sightings of wildlife as we progressed to the foot of the ascent up to the Colombia Icefields. The climb proved to be tough and we were more than ready to tuck in to a good lunch whilst looking out over this famous glacier.

Although late May it was very cold at more than 2000 metres above sea level. We donned gloves and additional clothing before facing the long descent to Saskatewan River Crossing where we had made a rare advance booking at a motel. After three days riding without a bath or shower we reckoned we deserved to treat ourselves to a bath full of clean, hot water; the dream of every cyclist after a hard day's ride.

The following morning saw us tackling Bow Summit, another 2000 metres plus climb, before plunging down to Lake Louise, so named after one of Queen Victoria's daughters. Alas, we were too early in the season. The Lake was completely frozen over and mist swirled around the mountain peaks which dominate the area. We took a quiet and scenic secondary road which tracked the Bow River until reaching Banff.

The town is more commercialised than Jasper but nevertheless, it provided a pleasant stopping off point. A gondola trip up Sulphur Mountain provided tremendous views of the town and its environs. A prominent landmark is the ornate Banff Spring Hotel. Built in the 1880s soon after the Canadian Pacific Railway line reached the town on its westward quest to the Pacific Ocean.

Sleet and mist greeted us when we woke up on the morning of our departure. It soon cleared however, and we were able to take a detour up to the beautiful Lake Minnopake before joining the road to Canmore. This part of the world continued to delight us. Perfect cycling country, the road was paradise. We booked bed and breakfast at a residence on a secondary road leading to our final destination, Calgary. The proprietors were cyclists and they welcomed us with open arms. The location was superb sitting high on a hillside it had commanding views of the forests and mountains. Our breakfast table provided us with a wonderful panorama.

Our final day of riding on Canadian roads took us through a beautiful wooded area until reaching the suburbs of Calgary, a city of more than one million residents. Fortunately our friends lived on the right side of town and we were soon exchanging stories covering the previous decade since our last face to face encounter.

The last week was spent exploring the many attractions in the Calgary area. The Heritage Museum, Calgary Tower, The Olympic Park host to the 1988 Winter Olympics, Buffalo Head where the native Canadians drove buffalo over the cliff edge prior to slaughtering them. Our host, John, an assistant professor at Calgary University, took us on a conducted tour of the magnificent campus. The third and final packing of my bike on our world tour was completed in readiness for our return flight. Air Canada returning us safe and sound to Manchester Airport; the end of our journey at last.


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