Anyone who lives in the mountains knows that the weather comes and goes in a matter of minutes. We head to Lake Louise for an event hosted by the Velocity Cycling Club.
“Come to the mountains and ride up and down as many hills as you can handle.” 80 km is the short trip and 200 km is the long one. So at 9am this morning we start out and ride up. Most of the people in our group have not ridden in the mountains before and were quite apprehensive about the climbs and the riding in general.
We head north, our goal, Bow Summit. Weather doesn’t look too good but as I said that is no real determinant in the mountains. Cool yes, but no rain. Out of town and up Hwy. 93. The ride is spectacular. Even with the low clouds you get glimpses of the mountains as you ride. All their majesty shrouded in fluffy white down. This highway takes quite a beating in the winter and is in very bad shape. The government sees fit to keep the car portion of the pavement in good condition but even though people come from around the world to ride the Ice Fields Parkway, the shoulders get neglected. They are still rideable but you must be attentive.
Our group is 13 in number. Our experience varies greatly but the fitness level of each of the riders is very good. Even though we split up, the first riders in the group wait every 10 km and the others catch up. We slinky along like this and no one ever gets too far behind. Our regular ride group is doing exceptional, the spin classes this winter are showing their worth.
We go up and up and up. As we climb we notice the temperature getting a little colder. We reach Mosquito Creek and the dew point. The rain starts. We have 10 or 12 km to our goal and do not know what the future holds in store. If we ride on and the rain continues we have 40 km of fast downhill with wet clothing and a very cold and potentially dangerous ride. Saner heads prevail and we turn around. We are soon below the level where the air borne moisture turns to liquid and we actually dry a bit on our way down.
The weather ping pongs back and forth between sun and cloud but we make it back without getting drenched. The ride down from the summit is negative elevation gain and we go fast. Even the few up slopes are in the big chain wheel and the return trip is only about 2/3 as long as the trip up.
Safely back in the hostel it is time to recoup so we sit and watch the weather from the indoor side of the glass.