Biking Across Canada Day 10—Kicking Horse to Banff: It’s All Downhill From Here

Lotsa mountains today

I started out the day by visiting the two spiral tunnel viewpoints. They’re railway tunnels carved deep into the mountain to reduce the grade of the climb from 4.5% to 2.2%. Having biked the non-spiral-tunnel climb I can vouch for their need.

The infographic at upper spiral viewing site, which is located lower than the lower spiral viewing site. Got it?
Can you spot the upper spiral tunnel?
Lower spiral tunnel
A fun 3D model of the tunnels

After a few more kilometers of climbing I reached the top of Kicking Horse Pass, which at 1643 metres is the highest point on the Trans-Canada Highway. The pass serves triple duty, as it also marks the divide between Yoho and Banff national parks as well as British Columbia and Alberta.

The view from the top
There wasn’t a BC sign at the Victoria airport. I’ll have to settle for this picture.

After heading down from the pass I rode into Lake Louise. The climb from the village to the lake proper was steep, and at 1750 metres it’s higher than Kicking Horse, but it was worth it. The lake and hotel are both beautiful.

I dipped my feet into the waters of the lake, and heard someone say “cold feet again?” It was the German couple who camped next to me last night, and who came down to the Kicking Horse River as I was dipping my feet in last night. We seemed to be on the same schedule.

Leaving Lake Louise I opted for the Bow Valley Parkway instead of the Trans Canada, and was rewarded with the best riding of the trip so far. A two-lane highway with great scenery, paved shoulders, no trucks, and the only drivers on that road are also there for the scenery so they tend to be patient. Oh, and nearly all downhill! I loved it. Partway through I caught up with a cyclist named Bruce, and we road together for an hour or so into town. Bruce grew up in the prairies, moved to Banff 20 years ago, and bikes nearly every day he can.

I spent about ten minutes waiting for the road to clear for this shot
View from the Bow Valley Parkway
This bust stop reminded me of My Neighbor Totoro. I imagine if I waited long enough the cat bus would come and get me.

I got to Banff in the late afternoon. My brother was waiting for me with a beer. We haven’t seen each other in a few years, so it will be nice to spend a rest day here tomorrow catching up.

Photo credit: Bruce
My big little brother

Today’s Distance: 96 km

Cumulative Distance: 1078 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle