Day 12 – Canyon Hot Springs to Golden

Day 12 – Canyon Hot Springs to Golden. Today was one of the better days that I’ve ever had on a bike. Starting with the weather, which gradually got better and better as the day went on, and then there was the scenery….what could prepare you for the scale and grandeur of the Rockies? My dad has talked for years about how much he loved this part of the world after his time here in the early 50s with the RAF, and my old friend and FOTB Mick Stirling often told me about the amazing months he spent up here at the Banff music school, and now I’m beginning to understand. I should say that today’s blog may well be a little longer than usual, since I have so much of interest to fit in (we’re a bit behind anyway, with Day 10 going missing!). Today I went up over Rogers Pass, then descended for miles into the Columbia River valley, before turning right and following the river upstream to Golden, past the most astounding array of mountains you could ever imagine.

  • Today’s Distance (miles): 74
  • Time in saddle: 6h 25
  • Max/min temp (°c): 28°/10°
  • Climb/descend (feet) : 3,955 / 3,741
  • Calories used: 3.358
  • Cafe time: 3h 27

I slept like a log in my little cabin at Canyon Hot Springs, and awoke to find that the place had became completely full during the night, as an accident on the Highway that closed it in both directions left people stranded and needing a place to stay. They were all fast asleep when I left at 7am. I went up to the office to drop off my key and say goodbye to lovely Agnes, who came back with my deposit and a couple of gifts for my journey:

It was such a simple gesture that meant so much to me, as I headed off to a day of pretty full-on climbing and uncertain weather prospects. I just managed to remember my tiny bit of Korean: Tey danny come sum ni daar! (That is exactly how I phonetically remember it). I gave her a big hug and she wished me good luck for my adventure.

Then it was straight into the long, long climb up to Rogers Pass at the very top of Glaciers National Park, past views of breathtaking beauty.

At almost exactly 3,000 feet, I got to my first tunnel, or “avalanche shed”

Incidentally, I’ve had a couple of questions from yesterday about coping in the rain – I’ve mentioned before that I don’t expect to stay dry. My priority is to stay warm. A few layers of proper gear is usually enough to make sure that you don’t get that horrible chill-feeling, especially on descents. You must stop before a descent and sort yourself out, gloves, zip up, check sunglasses, bandana, drink, eat, and then you can enjoy the ride! BTW, can anyone else with multi-lens cycling goggles remind what the orange lenses are for?? No matter what conditions I try them in, they’re useless! I think it’s something to do with rain, but that’s all I’ve got.

One other thing – I’d like to make a blanket apology for any missing or sketchy responses to blog comments; I do my best to reply but often it’s tricky with bad wifi or little time. If you’re feeling ignored, don’t! I always read them and love to hear from everyone.

So after a long while climbing up to Rogers Pass (I want to put an apostrophe in, but it hasn’t got one!) it was great to finally crest the (very chilly) summit:

At the Tourist Area where the photo above was taken, an older Canadian guy came up to me and said “Where you headed?” I told him, and he said “Where you start?” so I told him that too. He sort of stared at me for a bit, wrinkled his nose making bunny-teeth, and said “Long way, eh?” then walked off. 

On the way up I passed a strange hazard. The construction team were burning huge mounts of cleared cedar branches, creating plumes of dense smoke that smelled gorgeous but was very difficult to see through. I waited ages before feeling the road was clear enough in both directions. Just as I started off, the guys with the diggers stopped loading fuel on and dropped the digger arm down on the fire, temporarily dousing the smoke for me. I gave them a big thumbs up and a shout-out, and they waved back.

Up at the summit I met Johanna who worked at the visitor centre and was a keen cyclist. She wanted to see my bike, and gave me a guided tour of all the fabulous relief maps they have of the region. It was busy, but they made me feel as though a cyclist who has just summited the pass was especially welcome.

I did all my pre-descent checks mentioned above, then launched off into the best downhill section I’ve ever done. Hardly any traffic made it even better. I only stopped a couple of time when the view demanded it:

The sun finally came out and the day turned out to be an absolute beauty. After about 20 minutes of purists’ descending, I passed a Rest Stop and slowed down; there was a souped-up Trans-Am sports car parked up, with one guy relieving himself all over the middle of the deserted parking area and laughing his head off. The other guy, the driver I think, was covered with tattoos, and called out “Hey fella, you wanna race that thing?!” I shouted back “Yeah, come on!”. He replied “Yeah! Let’s be awesome!” . I have reason to believe that both gentleman were considerably under the influence of alcohol. 

Here’s a visual aid for imaging today’s descent (followed by another climb, always the way!)

At the bottom I turned right to go back up the Columbia River valley towards Golden, my final destination today. I have never seen so many mountains lined up in a row for your delectation before! It was life a CGI graphic from a sci-if film about a parallel planet. At one point, a freight train passed me, sounding it’s claxon loudly in response to my arm-pumping gesture. The deafening sound echoed back off the mountains a second later and a semitone lower. Physicists please explain (Sam?)

As ever on these long rides, the last 10 miles are the slowest, however flat and easy. Everything starts to ache and you just look forward to….

I’m now going to pay my bill and find the campsite. It’s 5.30pm and I think I’ll sleep well again tonight!

One Funny Sign

Susie (now a fully qualified ABRSM examiner!) should suggest this popular Canadian discipline to the board. Start all scales on the 3rd note. Tricky.

A bit of a twist on “What Is It, Sam?” Today. I provide three pictures, already knowing the answers, and you try and impress me. Ha!

Today’s Song Stuck In Head: not telling. This is getting ridiculous.

17 thoughts on “Day 12 – Canyon Hot Springs to Golden

  1. Hi Ben this looks like a truly spectacular ride. What amazing scenery in the Rockies! And congrats on reaching the summit of Rogers pass. I bet you will sleep well in your tent tonight. One of Laurice’s students, Bella, is going to be doing a road trip from Oregon to Banff and is going to be climbing a mountain there. I told her if she sees a guy on his own cycling through the national park, then wave. However it sounds like she will be a bit too late! When will you be in Banff? My answers to the “What is it Sam” photos: a) a bird b) an owl c) a rat. All dead and stuffed. Is there a prize? You must be glad to be away from the politics mess in the UK right now. My recommendation for the song to be stuck in your head tomorrow: “Rocky Raccoon.”Ol xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just replied but lost it by mistake! Pressed the wrong button…
      I’m expecting to be passing through Banff tomorrow (Sun) on my way to stay with Stewart and Gill in Canmore. I just spoke to mum and dad who send their love. Susie and Sam just visited them this morning i think. Sam has finished his exams and is all free and easy. How was the basketball? Tennis too? Summer’s here. Thx for the song recc, I’ll give it a go.Well done on the ID-ing. 3/3 Bxx


  2. Yet another blog which had me laughing and also gobsmacked by the scenery, the sheer scale of what you are doing and all the kindness you are being shown along the way. – wow! Reading your blog each day is a like a little moment of ‘another world’; I am completely transformed and fully emersed in this developing story – a wonderful escape from a very busy term! At Beechwood, the ‘houses’ are coming in, some completely full of money, so I will keep you posted on this. There are comments made every day from the pupils, asking where you are now, so I’ve put up a map of Canada on the Charity notice board and a ‘Mr Buckton is here’ arrow which I’m gradually moving along! We’re all right behind you! 🚴🎶xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jane – I’m absolutely delighted to be providing an over-worked HofD teacher’s escape service! It’s something similar for me, as you know. Currently, the rain is falling again and I’m in a lovely cafe in Golden waiting for a good reason to move. A big hill first thing to Kicking Horse Campground (also the name of the best local coffee!). I love the thought of the map. Thanks so much for thinking of doing it. Tell the kids I’m always thinking of keeping my “Mr Buckton” arrow moving. Bx


  3. Hi Ben
    What a fabulous day; you had me completely transfixed and absorbed in your world! Such incredible scenery… thank you!
    The ukes were asking after you this week… small in number sadly but enthusiastic! Lots of love from all at Beechwood! Pxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gasp and gasp and gasp again. What scenery. Great to FaceTime with you today and to spend happy time with Susie and Sam. You got mentioned.xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. very much enjoying the blog each day – as Jane above said, a daily window on another world! Your ascents put my daily strain up Hill Street Birmingham into perspective!! Enjoy the ride today. X

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey Dad! Sorry, I refuse to identify stuffed organisms, it doesn’t count.

    I agree, stunning scenery today, the mountains looking solemn and majestic. Out of interest, what kind of sounds do you hear as you’re cycling along, when there’s a gap without any cars? Is it mostly silent? Do you hear the wind in the trees? (Or the echoing cry of an eagle, perhaps?)

    P.S. Beware the ‘it’s’… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sam, the birdsong is pretty much constant and so varied. I’m seeing so many birds I can’t recognise and sorry not to have pics. Often can’t stop in time, and the iPhone’s no good unless it’s close. Stewart and I watched an osprey eat a Fish on top of a telegraph pole yesterday! Photo to come…Dxx


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