Almost Eaten by a Bear

Canada’s Rocky Mountains are one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Soaring mountains iced with snow and evergreens, icy turquoise lakes lay like puddles at their bases, connected by rushing rivers and babbling creeks.

Athabasca Falls

This past weekend I rode over 800km through the Canadian Rocky Mountains, from Calgary to Jasper, and back again.

I was volunteering as part of the race timing team for the Banff Jasper Relay Race. It was a great weekend and the odometer on my KLR passed 12,000km. (And I’ve nearly ridden 1,000km of them!)

Whilst overall I really enjoyed myself, I learnt a few very good lessons doing this “preparation ride”.

#1 – I am a happy rider until it gets below 7 degrees Celsius. At that point I get cold. The coldest I rode through was 4 degrees C when riding past the Columbia icefields. I was frozen and quite grumpy at that point. Then it started raining.

I am looking forward to my heated handgrips kit arriving!  (I also bought new waterproof/windproof gloves in Jasper because my fingers froze so much on Saturday.)

I may look happy but being so close to snow makes for chilly riding!

#2 – I want a larger windshield. I want it both to protect me from constant buffeting from the wind, and also to reduce wind noise on my helmet.

#3 – My butt goes numb after a couple of hours, and my current seat is too square. The corners press into my thighs and whilst not injury causing – it is annoying. A round seat would be better I think.

#4 – It was great to be able to speak to my dad in his car who was driving with me. We were using ham radios, with pretty basic headsets that dug into my ear (not made for wearing with a helmet). I need to get a comms solution for Phil and I that is comfortable and functional.

#5 – It’s easy to just keep going, and not stop for drinks and food. This isn’t a great idea. We need to remember to stop and refuel ourselves, not just the bikes.

#6 – It’s possible to track where we’re going. I used a new iPhone app to track my journey home yesterday from Jasper to Calgary – here’s the route I went:

416km – Not bad for a Sunday ride

#7 – Good gear makes a difference. My new jacket was great. Waterproof and breathable. I also like my new gloves!

Waterproof and breathable – although I didn’t go under the falls to test it!

#8 – I need to cut my hair. It gets into an awful tangled mess on the bike.

#9 – Need an easy way to take pictures from the bike. We saw lots of wildlife including six bears! This was one my dad managed to get a picture of from the side of the road.

Nice place to take a bear nap

One of the bears we saw was hanging out in the ditch beside the road. We stopped to get a good look and then he wandered behind another car so my dad took off again. Dad hasn’t figured out that I can’t just ride off, I need to have helmet and gloves on and everything organised before I can move. So I was there, adjusting my gloves, while the bear walked right behind me. I didn’t realise this, but Dad and my sister thought it was hilarious that I was almost eaten by a bear.

#10 – Don’t get eaten by bears.