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Classic alpine biking in Canada's Rockies ... on your own or with a group.

Classic alpine biking in Canada's Rockies . . . on your own or with a group Following the spine of the Canadian Rockies between Banff and Jasper, Alberta, a pair of parkways offer outstanding alpine biking for both long-distance and poke-along pedalers. These roads lead cyclists through world-famous scenery without the wearying steep ascents typical of many mountain highways.

Bow Valley Parkway (Alberta Highway 1A) runs 45 miles from Banff to Lake Louise, bypassing the congested Trans-Canada Highway. From Lake Louise, Icefield Parkway (Alberta 93) runs 144 miles northwest of Jasper, traversing Banff and Jasper national parks.

Because of road construction this year, the first 3 miles northwest of Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway may be posted to divert traffic; detours will be on paved roads. Continuing north, you ride on Bow Valley Parkway 15 miles to Castle-Eisenhower Junction, where more road construction puts you back on the Trans-Canada for 18 miles to Lake Louise. There you can rejoin the main route (Icefield Parkway, Provincial 93).

the route gradually ascends a series of rolling inclines. Average elevation is 5,500 feet or more, but only two major passes must be crossed: 6,786-foot Bow and 6,658-foot Sunwapta. with 6- and 9-percent grades respectively, both are easier to handle if you're pedaling north from Banff as most bikers do.

You can make the whole grand tour or sample shorter segments; bring your own bike or rent one there; go it alone or join a guided outing; pitch your tent in a camp-ground or stay at lodges or youth hostels.

On Icefield Parkway, cyclists ride to the right on a paved, marked shoulder that serves as a bike lane. Be prepared to contend with heavy auto traffic this month. Back roads around jasper and Banff offer quieter day-cycling routes.

mountain weather is moody. Expect temperatures from the 70s to the 40s (or lower); days may include cloudy mists, wind, rain, frost, or possibly a snow flurry on high passes. Pack warm clothes and rain gear along with cycling shorts and sunglasses. Campers need reliable tents.

Campgrounds, mountain lodges, hostels

Nearly a score of campgrounds are spotted along the route, and they'll be crowded during peak season. No reservations are accepted, so plan to arrive early; if you're traveling with a support vehicle, sent it ahead to locate campsites (about $6 a night). For details, write to Parks Canada, Box 900, Banff T0L 0C0, or call (403) 762-4256.

About a dozen mountain lodges offer rooms from $40 a night double. Reserve well in advance. for a list, write to Travel alberta, 10065 Jasper Ave., Edmonton T5J 0J4; (403) 427-4321.

Eight youth hostels are open to all travelers. You can reserve beds ahead; cost to nonmembers is about $3.50 nightly. Write to Canadian hostel Association, 1414 Kensington Rd, N.W., Room 203, Calgary, Alberta T2N 3P9, or call (403) 283-5551.

Renting a bike in Banff or Jasper

Local shops rent 3-speed, 10-speed, and mountain bikes, some with child carriers. Fees for 10-speeds run about $2 an hour, $10 a day, $50 a week. Some operators rent touring equipment. Repair service is usually available. Some take reservations. Hours are about 8 to 9 daily. Telephone numbers are area code 403. Banff: Park 'n Pedal, 229 Wolf Street (Box 1116, T0L 0C0), 762-3191; Spoke 'n Edge, 315 Banff Avenue (Box 1506, T0L 0C0), 762-2854.

Jasper: Mountain Air Sports, 622 Connaught (Box 1569, T0E 1E0), 852-3760; just east of town at Jasper Park Lodge is Sandy's (Box 264, T0E 1E0), 852-5708; Jello's Freewheel Cycle Shop, 600 Patricia Street, T0E 1E0, 852-5380.

Guided bike touring

Several American firms that offer guided bike tours in the Canadian Rockies are named on page 39 of the May 1984 Sunset. Here are two Canadian outfits.

Rocky Mountain Cycle Tours, Box 895, Banff T0L 0C0; 762-3477. Late June through early September, eight tours for groups of 6 to 15 are offered. On the six-day camping tours ($375 U.S.) from Banff to Jasper, you spend four nights camping, one night in a lodge. A van carries all camping supplies. On five-day tours ($500 U.S.) from Jasper to Banff, you spend all nights in lodges. Fully equipped bikes rent for $48 U.S.

Canadian Hostel Association (address at left) offers a few outings, with nights in hostels, for individual ang groups of 15 to 20. Write for details.

Bus return, new guidebook

To avoid retracing your route, you can return by bus; fare from Jasper to Banff is $18 U.S. For details, write to Brewster Transportation, Box 1140, Banff T0L 0C0, or call (403) 762-2241. Cycle shops sell cardboard packing boxes for bikes.

A slim booklet with useful maps is A Cyclist's Guidebook to the Canadian Rockies, by larry Barnes (Rocky Mountain Cycle Tours, Banff, 1983; $5.95 U.S.; $6.95 postpaid).
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Aug 1, 1985
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