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Banff, Alberta

I’m surrounded by snow capped mountains. They arrived very suddenly.

The ride yesterday from Calgary to Canmore was tough, not because of the hills because it was relatively flat, but the wind. I had thought wind wouldn’t be a problem when I got to the Rockies but I was wrong.

I set off at about 11am, thinking I had to do about 100km, found a cycle path along the Bow River which runs through Calgary, stopped and chatted to a few people (that is, they chatted to me) and it was all going quite well. There was a bit of a steep hill leaving Calgary, but just after that, as it was flattening out, there was a sign showing that there were still 96km left to Canmore. I’d already done 24km, so realized it was going to be a long day. But at that point there was very little wind, and what there was was behind me, so I was speeding along at 25 to 30km/h.

It was only at about the 60km mark that the wind changed direction and became quite strong – not as strong as I’ve had it in the praries, but enough to slow me down to less than 20km/h. It was getting late in the day and I realized I would be cycling the last bit in the dark.

But I could now see the mountains, finally, after days of expecting to be able to see them but only being able to see clouds on the horizon, which sometimes looked a bit like mountains, but weren’t definitely mountains. Now what I was seeing was definitely mountains, with snow on them, and pretty soon they were all around me.

I eventually got to Canmore at 10pm, having done the last 3 hours in the dark, and with the wind easing off for a while around sunset but then getting a lot worse – or maybe it just seemed like that because in some places I was sheltered from the wind and in other places I wasn’t.

Today I just had to do 30km up to Banff, which even though the wind was still blowing, was an easy ride. Still no major hill climbing, but a lot more mountains.

I’m in the Alpine Centre in Banff, which is like a five star hotel except for the fact that I’m sharing a dorm with several other people. It has wireless internet access though, and a bar with a free pool table and I’ve signed up for the Thanksgiving pool competition so better go now.