Inspiration Day

June 30


The Bow River in Banff


Bow Falls walking distance from Banff

Such unwanted excitement with United Airlines. Flight cancellations, rebooking and rebooking again left me with three hours of layover at Chicago O’Hare Airport. Texting conversations with Sue kept her informed of my new arrival time. What is it about me and airports? I’m always hungry.

A small world encounter happened on the plane from Wichita to Chicago when a young man sitting right across the isle from me asked where I was headed to bicycle. He said he saw me at the ticket counter with the unusual sized box and wondered if it might contain a bicycle but then saw my tee shirt with a bicycle drawing on it. Safe to assume I was off to cycle somewhere. Turns out he races gravel in the Wichita area and since the bicycling community is fairly small, we know many of the same local cycling icons like Marty Johnson and David Ham. We frequent the same bike shops. I just had to laugh when he told me that Mark Moerner of Apostle Bikeworks told him that a woman had returned a Brooks Cambium saddle. That woman was me as I struggle with saddle issues. Anyway, visiting with him made the flight “fly” by 😎

Once I finally got on the plane to Calgary, the co-pilot announced something that I had a feeling was important, yet I couldn’t quite make out his words due to the muffle of the intercom combined with his strong oriental accent. About that time, the steward began passing out something which turned out to be a Declaration Card. I got hung up with the question of whether I was bringing in various foods. “meat, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, fruits or veggies, seeds or nuts”.  Did my unopened jar of Skippy Extraordinarily Crunchy Peanut Butter fall into one of those categories? What about the various unopened MRE’s? I finally decided that yes, they meant those things too. Gosh I hoped they didn’t confiscate them! Or perhaps even worse, decide I was an international smuggler and warrant that I could not enter Canada by any means.  But then another question, am I “carrying weapons such as pepper spray, guns or switchblades”. The first thing that came to mind was a gun. No, don’t have one with me (yet). Bear spray? Nope, will buy it in Banff. So I mark “no” but then remembered, I have a pocket knife buried deep in one pannier. I would not consider it a weapon though as I expect to cut rope, or a juicy Fuji Apple at some point, but a weapon? I don’t think so, and yet, I scratched out my no and marked yes instead. I wonder if my scratches indicating that I changed my mind might trigger extra scrutiny?

A painfully slow process at Canadian Customs left me constantly watching my watch but when my time finally arrived, it was a few quick questions about which foods and what weapons I was carrying and I was waived off as ho hum another crazy bicyclist.  I was finally on my way to pick up my box and duffles at the luggage carousel but the porter had already gathered my gear and was patiently waiting for me. After casually mentioning to the shuttle driver that I get motion sickness, I was offered shotgun seating for the 1.5 hour trip to Banff.


Two peas in a pod


How absolutely thrilled I was to walk into the YWCA and see Sue coming towards me. I think we may have actually screamed our delight! After spending an absurdly large amount of time putting our bikes back together and sorting our gear last night and again today, we feel we are ready to set out tomorrow.


YWCA where we are staying

We briefly met most of our ride-mates in front of the YWCA last night and are planning on having supper together tonight and one last sit down breakfast in the morning before taking off. One more gal is arriving late tonight. All is well as we anticipate our official start tomorrow. Please stay tuned!



An Unusual Shakedown Ride

On Friday I rode to Offerle to my brother, Mitch’s home for my shakedown ride. This wasn’t so much about the riding as it was about setting up my new one-man tent, sleeping in it and then determining if I have everything I need in my panniers.

The night before we had a good soaking rain so I decided to stay on the pavement for the day (I’m just not ready to get my bike and gear muddy). I did venture North over to Eagle Road to ride some great hills which added a few extra miles. It was a TAILWIND all the way to Offerle and therefore had a nice push up those hills. Nothing like the wind at your back to feel invincible.


Stopped to test out my mosquito repellent at Hain Lake

Upon arriving, I found a nice spot to pitch my tent on some lush grass that would be in the shade later in the afternoon. That was about the only thing normal for what you would call a shakedown ride. Mitch’s wife and I laughed the day away in the air-conditioned house and we worked together to whip Mitch up a baked cheesecake for dessert. Later in the day I found out that everyone was planning a going away party for me. John rode over on his Harley. Jason and Angie and our granddaughters showed up with a couple buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. My nephew and his wife and kids joined in and we had a pool party almost till dark. After everyone went home, we broke out the cheesecake 😎


Too small one-man tent!

It was dark by the time I crawled into my tent to spend the very first night within. Oh my…it was so tight compared to my two-man tent that I have spent the equivalent of nine months in over the past three adventures. You’re probably wondering why, if I was used to a two-man tent, why did I buy a smaller one. The reason is mostly because of my bike. My new bike (Justice) does not have the capability of carrying a traditional front rack. Less bags to carry my gear means I need to go smaller. So here I am, claustrophobic anyway, working to be comfortable laying on my blowup pad and pillow. Nope, not comfortable. In fact I don’t think I slept a wink. I kept looking at my phone to see what time it was and listened to several trains go by and other small town noises. Mercifully, the birds finally began singing and I felt like it was late enough that I could crawl out and start packing up. The wind was still blowing just has hard as the day before (this time it would be a headwind home) and decided to execute executive privilege and hit speed dial to ICE#1 and asked John if he would come get me 💙

On the way home I decided to pull my old tent out of retirement and find a way to make it fit in my panniers. Yep, I squished and huffed and puffed and my old roomier tent is going with me to Canada!

John helped me breakdown Justice and place it in the bike caddy. Panniers are packed and in a huge duffle bag. My plane ticket is confirmed for Wednesday morning. I’m really doing this! It’s really real! That’s a lot of “really’s” and I’m REALLY excited! Woot Woot!