Those who may be reading this blog regularly will know that there was a break in the postings between day 5 and day 6 of this trip. This blog will also look different because I do not have my camera with me to download the pictures I took on the last day. I might have another posting on the ride when I have pictures. The pictures do help me remember more details of the adventures.
The last day’s ride from Lake Louise to Banff was the longest, about 60 km. We left the Icefield Parkway in Lake Louise and got on the Bow Valley Parkway as we headed towards Banff. We biked on a shaded road for most of this section, surrounded by tall pine trees. Off to our right flowed the Bow river. A railroad line ran along the riverside. (The pictures I will post will give you a better sense for this.)
I was not able to take a picture of the amazing encounter that I had with a bear. I was riding at the rear of the group when the black bear ran across the road right in front of me. I stopped the bike, but it had already disappeared into the bushes. There was no time to pull out my camera. The person riding in front of me confirmed that she had had also seen the bear sitting by the side of the road. Wow!
We had our usual stops along the way for snacks and sightseeing. As we got closer to Banff, we got more focused on the riding. A group of the riders were leading with a somewhat fast pace, and a vaguely defined and somewhat ragged Peloton of some of the riders began to take form. I was towards the back. I had one other fast rider behind me, whom I was prepared to slow down if needed.
Then disaster struck just a few km from our final destination. My wheel went off the the edge of the road because I had gotten too close to the side, and the cycle skidded on the gravel beside the road. I could not fight the laws of physics. I took a toss at high speed. The result was fairly devastating. I have seen my helmet after the ride, and I am pretty sure it saved my life. I ended up in a hospital in Calgary (from which I am writing) for a few days. Because of my injuries, I have to take the train home. It will be some time before I get home.
People have been very very kind to me since the fall. It is overwhelming. A riding buddy stayed back to keep me company for a couple of days. My brother arrives to accompany me on the train ride to Toronto. My daughter drives me home to Gaithersburg. Everybody is so concerned. I feel a little bad for ruining the end of the ride for others. But we also did have a wonderful and unforgettable time for the most part, and nobody and nothing can take that away from us. I am so happy we did the ride. What happened was my careless mistake. I am usually cautious, but I let my guard down.
I, unfortunately, did not get a chances to say goodbye properly to most of the others involved in the ride in the end. They all made the experience even more special. They also took care of me when I fell. I owe them all a depth of gratitude.
I will have pictures after I get to my camera.