Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Highwood Pass

You can talk all you want about all the spectacular rides around the world; Tour De France, Golden Gate Bridge, Colorado Rocky Mountain Park, etc. However the Highwood Pass in Kananaskis is one of the more spectacular. It is clearly a jewel we should be proud of.

Everyone was up early to a chilly breakfast around the motorhome and we were off. It was going to be a big day. The ride from Willowrock to Longview is 156 kms and we have a huge mountain pass to climb. The road is an excellent one for cyclists as there is a very wide shoulder and the grades are not too steep. The road is in excellent shape as the majority of the road is closed all winter. The bright sun of the morning gave way to some ominous black clouds as we climbed higher into Peter Lougheed park but it was near perfect riding conditions. A slight head wind but the broken clouds gave us some shade and kept us from over heating.

Agnes had picked a beautiful spot for lunch and had the motorhome pulled over in a view point which over looked the mountains. Just as we arrived the sun came out and warmed everyone. I don’t think you could have had a more idyllic spot for a great picnic. Lunch consisted of cold cuts, cheese, fresh vegetables, and fruit. WOW.

After lunch was the assault on the summit at 7263 ft. Willowrock camp ground was at around 4600 feet. Tom who had come from San Francisco the day before was definitely feeling the altitude and looked a little gray but it hadn’t dampened his spirits. The climb is about 10 kms of 4-10% grade so it’s a challenge. From there it was down hill, and what a down hill. We were hitting speeds of 65-70kms/hr on the bikes.

About 35 kms out of Longview I blew a rear tire and nearly crashed. It went down so fast that all of a sudden the bike was loose and the rear came around on me and I only just pulled it in. Carl jumped off his bike and took charge of the tire change. Frank had his huge frame pump out and the new tube was installed and inflated before you knew it. Having a pit crew along is great.

However the storm clouds were closing in fast and we had to pull on our rain coats as it was about to blast us with a down pour. After we got on the bikes we hadn’t gone thirty feet when the sky opened up and down it came. The lightning was hitting all around us in huge jagged flashes. Within minutes the road was completely awash and we were tearing though the puddles. We rode as fast as we could go, not that it helped as we soaked to the skin. About 10 kms further along we saw there had been a lot of hail so good thing I had a flat as we would have been hailed on. Ouch. A huge white tailed deer jumped out right in front of Tom, Jim and Juerg. It was a beautiful sight.

By time we rolled into Longview we were spent. However there were hot showers and the sun was out and we had a huge meal. It was a great day.


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