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Tuesday August 5th, 2014 – Day four on the road for Kirk and I, day three for Hans, and all of us share a common morning issue – coffee required! The morning wouldn’t be complete until we found some, and I think all of considered crashing the neighbour’s campsite where fresh coffee was brewing and the scent of sizzling bacon was wafting our way.

So we broke camp fairly rapidly and loaded the bikes up for a short ride into Banff to find somewhere to fuel our bodies and caffeinate our bloodstreams. When I took the photo below, a passerby stopped and exclaimed “You take pictures of your feet too!?!?”

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After breakfast we fuelled up and headed the wrong way to get out of town. See, it’s a natural thing where Kirk and I are involved, regardless of which one of us is leading, or where we are just part of the pack. It’s a given that there will be a wrong turn somewhere. Minor issue though, and Hans got us turned around in the right direction again.

We did a quick run down the main highway to get back to the Bow Valley Parkway and rode that to the exit for the Bow Windermere Parkway and headed for Kootenay National Park. On the upside, there were no luggage mishaps on today’s ride. On the downside, the Kootenay Highway through the National Park is awful on a bike, particularly up near the Storm Mountain pass at the Alberta BC border.

I used to hate tar snakes. I still dislike them, but this highway could have used some to fill in the snaking cracks everywhere! But the day was gorgeous and the scenery fantastic.

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At some point I started to feel an unusual vibration in my handlebars and it started to concern me. I tried to get the attention of the guys ahead, but it didn’t work, so I started to drop off in the hopes they’d notice me disappearing. That didn’t work either, so eventually I just pulled over to check that my tires were ok. Everything seemed fine, so I continued on to catch up. I didn’t have far to go to find them, they’d pulled off at a rest stop and were waiting for me. Hans and Kirk did a once over on my bike and checked the tire pressures. Everything seemed fine, so I shrugged and chalked it up to hypersensitivity because of the nasty ruts in the road. A little farther on down the road and I decided that the road seemed to have micro-washboards and that when we finally cleared the park the vibrations had abated.

We pulled into another rest stop farther down the road at the side of the Kootenay River. A couple of guys were putting an inflatable in the water and were loading it. One was happy to snap a photo of our trio on our last day riding together.

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The road into Radium is kind of neat in that there is essentially a gash in the rock that the road sneaks through and when you stop and look back, it’s quite interesting that someone actually carved a road through there. As we came through the gash we were met by a pair of female mountain sheep lazily making their way up the oncoming lane, with a line of traffic following along, and one very irritated trucker.

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We passed through Radium and on the other side of town saw more examples of five minute idiots causing chaos over four legged creatures. A pair of rams were wandering along side of the highway, and cars were slowing (and outright stopping) right on the highway to take photos. This when there was a rest stop just metres ahead. We pulled into the rest stop and grabbed cameras and walked up to get a few photos, and were almost witnesses for an accident resulting from a driver almost rear ending another who made a sudden stop to get a closer look.

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The road from Radium to Cranbrook is darned boring. Mostly straight, nothing terribly exciting. The hoodoos are worth a brief look though.

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We made a tactical error according to my brother, and on looking at the Destination Highways map I later saw where we could have had a more interesting ride that the one from Invermere to Cranbrook. There is a road, Westside Road, that runs along the backside of Windermere Lake and it looks like it would have been infinitely more interesting. Oh well, there is always next time πŸ™‚ We stuck on the Kootenay Highway and the air indicated some significant forest fire burning somewhere.

The only little side trip that we managed on this last stretch of road was a deke into Kimberly. All of us were getting pretty squirmy in our seats. It hadn’t been a particularly long day compared to others, but the stops hadn’t numbered as many either. So Kimberly was an opportunity to stop for some fuel, which I particularly needed (my bike is not as efficient as Kirk’s Sprint or Han’s FZ1). It was also a good place to pause for a beer and a bite to eat.

We stopped in at Sullivan Pub in town. Walking in I had it pegged for a so-so pub with so-so food. I was happy to be wrong. Kirk and I shared a Greek platter, which was delicious! Another pair of riders was just finishing up and we chatted for a few moments before wishing them a safe ride.

We did a quick walkabout, really quick actually. Kimberly isn’t very large, so we just walked up to the platzl and had a look around before heading back to the bikes. It was HOT and walking around in boots and riding pants isn’t all that pleasant. It was a pretty quiet place on a Tuesday afternoon. A small child played with a giant chess game while his dad looked on, and a few people wandered in and out of shops.

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From there is was a short ride to Cranbrook and then the ride up to my brother’s home. I had to wonder where Hans thought we were leading him as Derek lives up and out of the way somewhat.

I wondered if Hans and my brother might know each other from school as they went through the same program. There was a vague recollection and they certainly knew a lot of the same people.

After a rest Hans wanted to be on the move again. He was welcome to spend the night, but he was on a tighter schedule than we were and wanted to get a bot mire milage under him before stopping for the evening.

Although it was nice to know we’d be off the bikes for the next day and a half, it was a bit strange to see him ride off without us and left us feeling a bit off kilter.