What do you do on a rest day from cycling? I was planning to wrote a post on things to see and do in Calgary in an afternoon, like visiting Bow Valley Museum, strolling down Stephen Avenue, enjoying the fine cuisine – and I really wish i could – but you’ll have to discover that yourself.
Instead, I climbed Prairie Mountain.
The day started on plan. Dave gave me a ride downtown and dropped me off at one of the Allstream offices. I arrived a little early so I walked around a bit and grabbed a muffin and a latte. It’s a good thing I did because that’s where I got at least a tiny glimpse of what Calgary has to offer, which is a lot. Stephan Ave is very much like the Sparc St. mall in Ottawa. It’s closed to vehicles and it’s lined with lovely cafes and shops. At one end is the theatre district.
Then I headed to the office. I had a super visit and chatted with nearly everyone there. They were reading my blog and had lots and lots of questions. The folks in Calgary are full of spunk and energy and are very proud of the work they do. It’s a fun office and they made me feel very welcome.
The “RAP” room
One thing that really impressed my is the gym they put together. After jumping through some corporate hoops, and making sure they were covered from a liability perspective, they cleaned out a storage room, and through fund raising and donations they purchased all of the equipment, and I’m talking about a very impressive set of equipment. It’s a great example of “if you could do something and you knew you couldn’t fail what would it be?”.
Then Andree, who was showing me around, suggested we go on a hike. I hadn’t seen anything of Calgary itself, which is quite nice, but then a city is a city and we don’t have mountains in Ontario like they do here.
So at around noon we headed back to her house to pick up lunch and I met her husband and kids. They do extreme sports like adventure treks that combine running and hiking and orienteering through the wilderness for 50kms. Her husband Bill won something called City Chase where you basically do scavenger hunts against time in each major city across Canada. They’re both quite insane and some of the stuff they do is not for me.
Just to put into perspective how “crazy” they are out here; in Toronto Andree and Bill were considered at the “elite” level of orienteering. Upon moving to Calgary they almost had to start at the bottom rung.
We drove to the bottom of this mountain, we didn’t have that much time, and then up we climbed. Don’t let the name “Prairie” Mountain fool you. This ain’t no prairie. It was a steep path through the woods and very difficult. I was panting heavily and had to stop frequently to catch my breath while Andree patiently waited for me. And I just cycled over 1100 kms and climbed two major mountain passes by bike!
As we got higher and higher you could see the river valley down below getting smaller and smaller. As we approached the top, above the tree-line, I started to get vertigo (I don’t even like to climb ladders) and I just kept looking straight ahead. I felt like at any minute I would slip and roll down the hill, which is stupid, because a tree or a rock would certainly break my fall (ouch),
The valley below
I’m actually hanging on to this tree for dear life
We finally reached the summit and there we three other climbers up there. You could see everything around you, 360 degrees. But I guess I won’t be climbing Everest anytime soon. I was loath to come even close to the edge. But what spectacular views! Very cold also, and lots of snow of course.
Yes, there’s actually a flag at the summit
This is why they call in “prairie” mountain
Help me, I’m falling!
By now I’m starting to get a little more confident
After 20 mins or so we started heading down. I was really worried I would have a problem going down given my vertigo on the way up, but it was actually easier. You have to concentrate so hard just not to fall on your ass that I guess it’s no problem. I did fall on my ass once actually and my left shoulder is pretty stiff this morning, but then I was climbing in cycling shoes (I could do a commercial on these cycling shoes, a subject for a later post about equipment). This morning, as I write this post, I feel a whole new set of aches and pains.
By the way, on the way down we were passed by two young women climbing up with children on their backs. I’m such a whimp.
Elbow Falls at the bottom – they kayak down that (see, I told you they were nuts out here)
Andree got me back to Dave and Lise’s house for 5pm and Lise had planned a family supper which included myself and Mathew’s girlfriend. It was very nice. They have a lovely family and the banter around the table cracked me up, and also made me very homesick. They tease Dave too much though… ha, ha, I’m just kidding, keep teasing your Dad!
Afterwards I packed and fixed my 3rd flat. I think I located the problem that was causing the flats on my rear tire so hopefully that’s enough of that for a while.
I have a big ride to Drumheller tomorrow, 135kms. I tried to book a hotel online but I couldn’t find anything. It’s the May long weekend. I was just going to wing it but while I was working on my bike Lise called around and found me a room at a Super 8. Apparently, there’s a triathlon in the city. We can’t figure out where they are doing the water part because Drumheller is basically in a dessert.
I’m going to really have to put on some steam now. I realized I’m 1/3 done in time but no where near 1/3 in distance, but these visits have been fun, and this trip has been all about people. And you thought it was about cycling across Canada.
Fooled you eh?