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Published: August 23rd 2020
Amongst other things, 2020 will be the year where international travel ceased to exist. After getting over the pandemic's initial shock, I needed to regroup and figure out what to do for my holidays. I quickly determined that I have some of the prettiest scenery in the world with the Icefields Parkway
, which is only 3-4 cycling days from my home. I then figured out a circle route from and to my home in Edmonton. What was nostalgic about this trip is that the last half will be identical to the last five days of my world tour 30 years ago.
I have cycled to and from the mountains a few times while living in both Edmonton and Calgary. The one thing that ride is known for is the prevailing westerly wind coming off the mountains. I have had some of the toughest and easiest rides of my life in that area. The longest ride of my life was from Jasper to Niton Junction in 1990.
While getting to and from the mountains and cycling the Icefields Parkway was the main goal, there were several towns along the way that I have never really visited. I find all of these
towns have something to offer. They will have an old main street in some degree of renewal. Lacombe certainly won my award for the nicest preserved old town of my trip. A local mentioned that one of the reasons for the state of their downtown is the lack of box stores in town. Since the town is so close to Red Deer, it makes no sense for the box stores to set up in Lacombe. When I think of it, that makes a lot of sense. Main streets can't compete well with the box stores. However, people will always gravitate to food and ambience, so I know it is still possible to have both. Towns that have grown too fast from boom and bust cycles have in many cases forgotten about the pedestrian. Towns like Rocky Mountain House and Hinton have many streets with no sidewalks, which means pedestrians are walking on the road or grass.
August can be a wonderful time to cycle through the farming counties, as crops are looking their best. In particular, canola, flax, and mustard seed flower very beautifully.
While there is some beautiful country in Western Alberta, there are challenges to see
that country on a bike that I am not used to even after 30 years of cycle touring. When I travel to the developing world, my cycling days are full of life in the form of people, animals, villages, etc. I will take people over the scenery on most days. There is no end of life on the roads of the developing world to keep me entertained, fed, and hydrated. This type of life is not the case in most of rural Alberta. On the part from Rocky Mountain House to Edson, I typically had at most one-stop for the day to get food. This did create some food anxiety... Did I bring enough food!? Water wasn't an issue because if I can't drink the water out in the Rockies, where can I drink it?
I had some tough days with headwinds. They are truly soul-sucking. I don't mind hills and mountains, as there always a reward at the end of a climb. Headwinds also add to the food anxiety, because a tough day of headwinds will translate to more time and energy.
I do like trying the local restaurants. Every town has one or two that are
a hit with both locals and visitors. My favourite had to be Neko Sushi
in Edson. It had just opened before the pandemic but has executed very well. Even though I was the only one there for a late lunch, I knew when I came back for dinner; it would be busy even on a Tuesday night. I was right on that count. Once again, food is the draw and not the location. Fortunately for Edson, the restaurant was on the main street.
I will see what 2021 holds, but hopefully, we can see the world again. I have three trips ready to go that were cancelled this year.
Tot: 0.061s; Tpl: 0.027s; cc: 12; qc: 26; dbt: 0.0087s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb