It’s written on the faces of everyone along the trail. The joy of cycling in the mountains sounds daunting but by peddling the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail linking Canmore to the town of Banff and beyond is the perfect introduction. It’s paved, it’s easy and it’s surrounded by beautiful scenery. The smiles and the waves say it all. But if you are siblings on a tandem – it’s a lesson in cooperation.
Legacy Trail Celebrates Banff National Park
Built in 2010 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Banff National Park the three-season (13.8 mi) Banff Legacy Trail gave outdoor enthusiasts a 3 m (10 ft) wide lane near the highway safe from the traffic and fenced off from potential interactions with wildlife. From the Bow Valley Parkway to the park’s east gates, the trail was enthusiastically endorsed by and runners alike. When an additional 4.5 km (2.8 mi) extended the trail to Canmore, it just added to the fun. The entire trail is now referred to as the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail.
Convincing the family it’s a good idea
My husband and I ride the roads a lot but the kids…they have other favourite sports, so to convince them to join in was tough. Until that is – someone suggested they rent a tandem bike. Game on.
We rented a tandem from Sports Rent on 16th Ave NW Calgary and headed for Canmore to park at the Visitor Information Centre where washrooms are available for that last pit-stop. If you get there before 10 am., there is usually plenty of parking – especially on weekdays. The trail is easily accessed from that point.
If we were moving at a leisurely pace, it would take us a couple of hours on the mostly flat route to get to Banff. It’s a beautiful trail, although somewhat noisy when it’s next to the highway but the views make you forget about that quickly. The trail does wander in and out of the trees and has a few spectacular rest stops along the way.
The Valley View picnic area at is roughly halfway between Banff and Canmore and is a perfect place for a stop to enjoy the valley…view…get it…valley view? Other spots along the way to break at are the Cascade Ponds, Banff townsite and on the west side of Banff at the Fenland Picnic area.
The highway in Banff National Park is lined with a large continuous fence to protect the animals from interacting with vehicles. Users of the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail will move from the highway side to the protected side of the fence using gates that are either opened manually or by riding over electrified rubber mats through open gated areas. If you roll over the mat, or are wearing-rubber soled shoes, you won’t feel anything. If you are running with the dog, use the side gate to avoid giving the dog an uncomfortable shock.
There’s no room on a tandem bike for bickering
Riding a tandem as a sister/brother takes team work they don’t usually exhibit. They had to argue a bit about pace, peddling styles and how to handle corners but that didn’t get them down the path so the first half hour was a steep learning curve. Shouts of “Peddle!” “Don’t lean!” and “STOP!” were plentiful but once they cooperated and trusted each other, the pace picked up as did the level of enjoyment. Heading to Banff took 1.5 hours due to some rough starts and wobbles but once they found their groove, they were hauling ass. With two people peddling hard, it’s easy to get a tandem beast floating along nicely. They hammered the peddles on the way back and did the trail well under an hour…reaching speeds nearing 50 km/hr.
At the end of the trail our goals were accomplished. We all got in a fantastic ride in the mountains, the kids quickly figured out how to conquer a challenge and best of all when asked if they would do it again, I was surprised to hear them both say they would…well, maybe.
Great resources for the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail: