It’s all downhill from here

July 21st, 2009 by scott and becky

Our day began with a short climb to the summit of the Sunwapta pass, the highest point on our journey at 2080 meters. We were quite disappointed when we arrived at the summit and there was no sign – we had planned one of our favourite “us and background” pictures with us and the sign. We got a lame picture of the “Do not feed the animals” sign instead.

Once we hit the summit, we had a great downhill ride (with a few minor ups) to Saskatchewan crossing – where the Icefields Parkway crosses the Saskatchewan river. We grabbed an expensive and mediocre lunch there, all made better by the wonderful ice cream cone for dessert.

We turned off the Icefields Parkway at Saskatchewan Crossing and followed Highway 11 towards Rocky Mountain House. We immediately noticed less traffic, and the shoulders were really wide and in much better condition than the Parkway. In many places we could safely ride beside each other and actually have a conversation :).

About 30 minutes into our ride on highway 11, on a nice fast downhill Becky heard a swoosh, swoosh, swoosh. Last time she heard that sound, she had picked up a staple in the rear tire and it was rubbing the fender with each wheel rotation, but it was easily removed without any permanent damage. This time, she wasn’t so lucky. When she stopped, she could still hear the wooshing sound and could see a shard of glass sticking out of her front tire. So, after roughly 14000 km Becky experienced her first flat tire. It took us more than a few minutes to patch the tire and get everything put back together, but in the end it was not nearly as painful as we had feared.

Back on the road again, Wayne and Lynn from California caught up to us riding their tandem. We enjoyed a short visit with them while they were out for an afternoon ride. We did not at all envy them when they needed to turn back into a headwind and the hills leading back to their car at Saskatchewan Crossing.

For the night, Mom and Dad got a suite in the hotel at the David Thompson Resort on Highway 11 about 45 km from Saskatchewan Crossing, which meant we would sleep indoors for the night. Our first sign that things were not going well was an expensive and mediocre dinner at the restaurant. The food would have been OK if it was reasonably priced, but the $19 pasta really tasted like it should have been a $9 (or $6) pasta. Over a hundred dollars later (for the four of us) we were very unimpressed.

The room cost a small fortune by our standards (over $200) and turned out to have almost no ventilation and no air conditioning. There was only one small window in the back bedroom and none of the front windows opened. It was a hot sunny day, so the room had heated up like a furnace, and it was impossible to cool it down, even with the door wide open letting the bugs in. In addition, there was a machinery room below us, containing the hot water pump for the entire building. The pump turned on with a loud thunk and a hiss every 30 to 90 seconds. It was most annoying and made sleep almost impossible. It was so bad, that Dad moved out and slept in the RV and he can usually sleep through anything. We talked to the desk staff about moving to another room, but got nowhere. Our strong recommendation is to drive by the David Thompson Resort and save yourself both money and lost sleep!

94 km, 4h 30 min

20090721_0001

At a pullout midway down Sunwapta Pass

20090721_0002

Our bikes look out over the North Saskatchewan River.

20090721_0003

Scott fixing Becky’s flat

20090721_0004

Quite the hole from a little piece of glass. It must have hit just the wrong way.

20090721_0005

Controlled burns just outside the park – Alberta trying to control the spread of the mountain pine beetle.

20090721_0006

Lyn and Wayne on their tandem

20090721_0007

Becky looking out over Abraham Lake, between Saskatchewan River Crossing and Nordegg

Elevation Profile
Download GPS Track in GPX format

One Response to “It’s all downhill from here”

  1. Friedel & Andrew Says:

    How funny! We were also eating $20 pasta the other night with friends and totally not impressed by the price. We have some good tips for you for Saskatoon east though. Look up WarmShowers hosts in Dauphin MB and go meet Brian. He’s great! Also, it’s a really nice road from there through the narrows, at least when it’s not raining….

Leave a Reply