Bikepacking Canada's Legendary Icefields Parkway
3 weeks of unassisted cycling through the heart of the Canadian Rockies
The Icefields Parkway is known to be one of the best bike touring roads in the world, running through the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff and Jasper National Parks. I had heard the name years before while biking from Alaska to California but didn’t have enough time to ride the 232 kilometer road at the time, so when my girlfriend recently asked me to join her on the legendary road there was little hesitation.
Having biked the length of British Columbia before I was excited to smell the sweet scent of pines and take in the humbling terrain again. I was excited to ride past bears and elk, to hide from mosquitos, and curse every headwind. I was excited to move my legs, endlessly, for the next three weeks. There was just one problem. We had no touring gear.
Before long though, everything fell into place, albeit slowly. We were to fly into Calgary, bike west to Banff and Lake Louise, head north to Jasper, and eventually continue back west to Vancouver. Seemed simple enough, but we still didn’t have bikes. Over the next week we searched used bike stores and craigslist until we were both able to find some cheap bicycles. Right around this time another friend joined in on the mission, making us a crew of three.
We landed in Calgary and took off. Our plans had ended at the airport and we were now free. Free to sleep when we were tired, to eat when we were hungry, and to yell at all the trees, birds, mountains, and bears that accompanied us on the road. After three weeks of riding and only one rest day we were spent, but we had made it. We had battled wind and rain for the past few days but it didn’t matter any more. It was all worth it. We had seen some of the most beautiful snowcapped peaks in the world, we had scared off grizzly bears, and we had little idea of what may come next.