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Jasper to Banff (or vice versa) over 3 days

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Jasper to Banff (or vice versa) over 3 days

Old 06-26-19, 08:17 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
If I read it correctly it sounds like the "Canadian" has a rack that accomodates up to 12 bikes without a box. It also states that "A box must be used if the journey includes a transfer". If you board at Quebec City that will likely require a transfer.
Thanks.

We'll probably avoid transfers, i.e. get off the train at several stops along the way, most likely where a transfer would occur (e.g. Toronto)
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Old 06-26-19, 08:29 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by skookum View Post
but be aware the western VIA rail service
can be pretty mediocre. Not what you are used to in the east.
as a matter of fact, we are not used to the quality of service they offer in the East, precisely because it is... probably not much better than in the West. (I know of a few business people who like to take the train between Quebec and Montréal. Edge cases where endpoints are conveniently located, and they like to add that they "travel first class".

A cross country trip sounds appealing, but when I called, out of the blue, on a Sunday evening, I was quoted 6,000$ by a very nice attendant who explained to me that a sleeping car would be preferable. Well, at that price I couldn't possibly sleep. But then it dawned on me that we could probably break the distance into manageable chunks and at a reasonable price. I'll start looking into this seriously this fall.

I like the idea of a lower carbon footprint (50% lower, it seems). I like the idea of a longish train ride. I just wished they were like the TGV or Shinkansen, where longish refers to distance rather than time, but then again, we are on a bike tour, not a motorized tour. We have the luxury of time. Things to teach to the kids.
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Old 06-26-19, 09:17 AM
  #28  
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Upon review it seems I have done the Vancouver - Jasper run three times, plus the southern route Bob described before it was privatized as the Rocky Mountaineer.

I actually board in Mission, an unmanned station about 80km's east of Vancouver. Some points:

Dealing with VIA is a little chaotic as no two people give the same answer but the service is good and friendly. I subscribe to the "better to ask forgiveness than permission" model with them. Conductors and attendants have all been top notch.

The rule for unmanned stations is you have to hand the bike up to the baggage car attendant, they can't/won't lift - so panniers etc.. have to come off. Manned stations like Jasper, they unload and put it on a wagon to be collected by the gate like an airport.

Don't count on a bike rack car. They list some trains as having them but seem to move the cars around so it's a crap shoot.

The first trip I boxed the bike. The second trip they bagged the bike with a large clear bag. The third trip I bought a mattress bag from CT for $9. There are no transfers for me and they were fine with it. I think the bag is so you don't get grease on other luggage. This will be my go to solution from now on https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/m...6155p.html#srp

Sleepers etc... are expensive! I buy economy and sleep in the seat. Usually the train is not too crowded and there is the observation car too but my trip is only 24 hours.

The train is super slow.


I have to say, an open ticket that allows reboarding along the route would be a great way to do a modified hub and spoke tour of Western Canada! Imagine getting off in several areas, doing small loop tours, and then reboarding to the next region... man - now I'm going to be looking at maps again

Last edited by Happy Feet; 06-26-19 at 09:21 AM.
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Old 07-11-19, 12:07 PM
  #29  
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Riding- need help in packing!

Ok, it's official. I got a buddy to go along and we'd be riding! The modified plan (based on the hostel availability and luggage logistics) is to do it over 4 unequal days in the northward direction:
Day 1: - fly to Calgary in the morning, air-porter shuttle to Banf. Assemble (me) or rent (my buddy) the bikes, leave suitcases in the hotel quick lunch in Banff and then quick afternoon ride to lake Louise, Alpine hostel. (60km/37miles, very little climbing)
Day 2: Ride to HI Rampart Creek hostel. Early lunch in Num-Ti-Jah cafe, dinner (or buy food for dinner) around Saskatchewan River Crossing (93km/58miles, 800m of climbing, mostly in the morning)
Day 3: Ride to HI Beauty Creek with stop-over in ice-field center . (55km/34miles, 950 m of climbing). probably have the main meal of the day in the icefield center and probably take a glacier tour if space available.
Day 4: Ride 86km/53miles to jasper, mainly downhill. Early lunch/water refill in Sunwarta resort.Get there before 5pm to allow us to get a car we reserved one way to Calgary airport. Drive to Banff to spend a night. My buddy is flying back next day, i stay for a few more days for the meeting.

Overall -- looks challenging and doable especially if the weather cooperates. However, I definitely need help from more hard-core touring forum members of what to bring along in terms of food/water. My touring was credit-card touring with gourmet lunch stops. Perhaps a picnic here and there. It looks to me that the longest stretch without water/food services is 55 km from Sunwarta to Jasper (mainly downhill) and from Hostel to Icefield (40km but major climb, perhaps will take more time). Will 2x25oz cycling bottles be sufficient or perhaps an extra one in the pannier would be a good idea. aside from the usual energy bars, electrolyte concentrate, nuts/jerky - what would be a good food to carry? We will have two breakfast in the hostels - they will have purified water/gas stove - what is a good option - ramen? portridge? instant soup? ...

What are your advice with regards to the clothing. Seems like the temperature can vary greatly. I am thinking 1-2 base-layer shirts, jersy, sleeves, and Marmot PreCip jacket. Do I need another layer? Do I bring both shorts and bib-pants or just stick with one. Regular shoes or cycling sandals with warm socks and waterproof socks?

What emergency supplies to bring?
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Old 07-11-19, 02:02 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by riceowls View Post
Ok, it's official. I got a buddy to go along and we'd be riding! The modified plan (based on the hostel availability and luggage logistics) is to do it over 4 unequal days in the northward direction:
Day 1: - fly to Calgary in the morning, air-porter shuttle to Banf. Assemble (me) or rent (my buddy) the bikes, leave suitcases in the hotel quick lunch in Banff and then quick afternoon ride to lake Louise, Alpine hostel. (60km/37miles, very little climbing)
That portion is very scenic. You will enjoy it! To maximize riding time make sure you have all your ducks in a row and are good at reassembling.

Day 2: Ride to HI Rampart Creek hostel. Early lunch in Num-Ti-Jah cafe, dinner (or buy food for dinner) around Saskatchewan River Crossing (93km/58miles, 800m of climbing, mostly in the morning)
Another nice ride. Yes the big hill is in the am and then a fun downhill run. Num TiJah cafe is very expensive but good. Sask Crossing has a cafeteria and small store. Lot's of tour busses but the wait for food was not that bad.

Day 3: Ride to HI Beauty Creek with stop-over in ice-field center . (55km/34miles, 950 m of climbing). probably have the main meal of the day in the icefield center and probably take a glacier tour if space available.
Super day of scenic riding. Yes there is a cafeteria at the summit center with fair priced good food. If you don't take the tour at least plan to ride/walk up to the toe of the Athabasca glacier across the hwy. Park bikes near the kiosk where the guy rents boots. Walk up is 15-20 minutes but it's worth it.

Day 4: Ride 86km/53miles to jasper, mainly downhill. Early lunch/water refill in Sunwarta resort.Get there before 5pm to allow us to get a car we reserved one way to Calgary airport. Drive to Banff to spend a night. My buddy is flying back next day, i stay for a few more days for the meeting.
Lots of gradual downhill. Stop at Athabasca falls to see the river there.


Overall -- looks challenging and doable especially if the weather cooperates. However, I definitely need help from more hard-core touring forum members of what to bring along in terms of food/water. My touring was credit-card touring with gourmet lunch stops. Perhaps a picnic here and there. It looks to me that the longest stretch without water/food services is 55 km from Sunwarta to Jasper (mainly downhill) and from Hostel to Icefield (40km but major climb, perhaps will take more time). Will 2x25oz cycling bottles be sufficient or perhaps an extra one in the pannier would be a good idea. Two water bottles are enough. There are enough stops. aside from the usual energy bars, electrolyte concentrate, nuts/jerky - what would be a good food to carry? Plan to buy snacks at the stores along the way as you see fit but just expect higher prices. We will have two breakfast in the hostels - they will have purified water/gas stove - what is a good option - ramen? portridge? instant soup? ... To each their own but my go to breakfast is: 1/2 cup oatmeal, raisins, brown sugar and hemp hearts in a zip lock sandwich bag. Borrow a kettle from the hostel and add 1 cup of hot water. Close the bag for 5 minutes and eat. No dishes or kitchen to pack other than a spoon.

What are your advice with regards to the clothing. Seems like the temperature can vary greatly. I am thinking 1-2 base-layer shirts, jersy, sleeves, and Marmot PreCip jacket. Do I need another layer? Do I bring both shorts and bib-pants or just stick with one. Regular shoes or cycling sandals with warm socks and waterproof socks?
Hope for the best but plan for adverse cold weather. Last week of June they just got 25cm of snow at the icefield summit. Even in summer it is cold and windy around the Summit Center. If it rains it's easy to become hypothermic there. I would ask myself: If I broke down in the rain and had to fix my bike or walk for a couple of hours, what would I need? In the mountains for a trip like that I would take: merino wool socks x2, riding shorts x2, a wind/water resistant shell pant, jersey + sleeves and long sleeve shirt, light weight sweater, Wind/water resist jacket and a compressible light down jacket for cold/storm emergencies. Shoes or sandals are a personal choice. add toque and mitts.

What emergency supplies to bring?
My response in bold. have fun
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Old 07-11-19, 08:48 PM
  #31  
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I'd concur with HF's advice. Make sure you have adequate clothing.
Hope that the weather is good and that you have a great trip!
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Old 07-12-19, 05:09 PM
  #32  
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One more thing. Bring a small padlock for the hostel and a cable lock for the bike. The chain hostels are cool but Banff, L Louise and Jasper will either make you park bikes outside or in a common store room and there is all kinds of foot traffic. In you room you get a locker and most rooms are 2-4 persons. Chains are big dorms. Its fun though if you are open to meeting other travellers
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Old 07-15-19, 12:46 PM
  #33  
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Thanks for all the feedback - yes, living in TX summer it is easy to under-appreciate adverse cold weather chances. Noted - better safe than sorry in this...

I will be riding my ritchey breakaway cross currently setup with 622x35 tires, 52x34 in front and 11x36 10spd in the back. Does gearing look adequate? Should I go for skinnier tires?
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Old 07-15-19, 05:21 PM
  #34  
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Gearing is fine as long as you are not seriously weighted down, which it sounds like you're not. FWIW, my touring bike is 50/34 11-32.

Tires are also ok. There are some sections of the parkway in the middle that have joints every 30 feet or so that become very annoying clunk clunking over. Some cushion will be welcome. I've done 28mm Gatorskins for a few years and they were ok and this year bumped it up to 32mm and like the ride a bit better. It's not a a race, the cush is nice and I value the Gatorskin flat protection.

It's a world class route that lots of people do on rented road and hybrid bikes so don't sweat it too much. you'll have fun!

Last edited by Happy Feet; 07-15-19 at 06:49 PM. Reason: adding data
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Old 08-04-19, 02:29 PM
  #35  
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I am back and can't imagine there's a more scenic route one can do in 3.5days with moderate effort. (Seriously, if you know of any, let me know). A few messages for those bump into the tread and following our plan:

- I think it makes more sense to ride Banff to Jasper. The road gets more beautiful and impressive every day. I couldn't imagine it could after the first day (Lake Louise ride) but it did the next day (bow lake was amazing) and then came the glaciers.

- HI wilderness hostels are great. Kitchen is very well equipped. I wish we brought some food we could cook for breakfast instead of just trail bars...

- Don't miss a chance to do a few short hikes right off the road. For me Bow lake to waterfall (only did 1/3 of it), glacier toe in Columbia icefields and Mistaya canyon were the favorites.

- Carry warm/ waterproof clothes. We were lucky with the weather but even showers for half a day plus glacier winds make for a very cold descents.





Last edited by riceowls; 08-04-19 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 08-04-19, 03:10 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by riceowls View Post






I am back and can't imagine there's a more scenic route one can do in 3.5days with moderate effort. (Seriously, if you know of any, let me know).
I recently completed Calgary to Vancouver. The best scenic routes that I encountered with a lot more effort were Roger's Pass and the Coquihalla Summit. I was able to do both with little training before hand (casually biking to and from school mostly.)

There's something about being up so high on the shoulders of giants by your own strength. I might tackle Banff-Jasper later this August since the tour bug is bothering me to complete another trip.



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Old 08-04-19, 05:07 PM
  #37  
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And... they're hooked

Congratulations guys! Great photos.
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Old 08-04-19, 08:11 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post



Beryl Lake from Campus Pass trail, Jasper NP ^
That is amazing! Doesn't look like a photo. Maybe a Bob Ross painting,
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Old 08-04-19, 08:17 PM
  #39  
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Long thread. Did the OPs question get answered? Banff to Jasper or the other way around. Which is easier?

I want to do this but want to end in Jasper then take the Via to Vancouver.

I would do the tour supported I think. A lot less mess with hotels and someone has your back. I really like that idea.
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Old 08-04-19, 09:11 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Long thread. Did the OPs question get answered? Banff to Jasper or the other way around. Which is easier?

I want to do this but want to end in Jasper then take the Via to Vancouver.

I would do the tour supported I think. A lot less mess with hotels and someone has your back. I really like that idea.
See post 35. Banff to Jasper is better. Supported or not, do it. I think it is as good as it gets for 3-4 days tour. Since you can stay in hostels and don't need camping gear, it is a great one for self-supporting. However, if significant other would not be interested in riding, driving/hiking along could be a good option and you get a SAG car. However, please note that cell phone reception is not working in 50+% of the way. So clever arrangements for SAG required...

Last edited by riceowls; 08-05-19 at 08:28 AM. Reason: mistype
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Old 08-05-19, 08:29 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
That is amazing! Doesn't look like a photo. Maybe a Bob Ross painting,
Thanks Spinnaker. I miss my Honeywell Pentax! I cleaned some dust off and re-posted that pic at a slightly higher resolution at original location on previous page. Looks about the same though. Can't seem to get that smudge off in the middle of the lake. Still learning to use the slide scanner.
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Old 08-05-19, 10:01 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Long thread. Did the OPs question get answered? Banff to Jasper or the other way around. Which is easier?

I want to do this but want to end in Jasper then take the Via to Vancouver....
Better yet, just do it both directions, then you'll know for yourself. Seriously, it's a different type of spectacular in each direction and is less logistically complex in that you could probably store your bike box and clean clothes in Jasper, maybe even for free if you were staying a couple of nights each end at a nice hotel. From Jasper you can make an easy ride over Yellowhead Pass (the lowest crossing of the continental divide anywhere in the big mountains) and get a glimpse of Mt. Robson if the weather cooperates. Two vertical miles of mountain exposed with snow on top. You can board the Via train at several little communities along the way to Vancouver, e.g., Valemount and Blue River. The Yellowhead highway down the North Thompson River has a 90-km stretch south of Valemount where there are no services of any kind so be prepared if you strike out on your own that way. Long-distance trucks use it in preference to the Trans-Canada because is has better grades and is actually shorter to Winnipeg. But riding just as far as Valemount would not be a stretch. Also remember there is no Greyhound bus service anywhere in Western Canada anymore if you were thinking of that as a Plan B.

I can't say from memory that it's any easier either way but it's not agonizingly difficult anyway. As someone said, lots of casual cyclists do it on hybrids (with SAG.) My wife and I have done it on a tandem unsupported (hotels, not camping.) The big climb to the Icefield Centre is shorter and steeper coming south; going north there is a long loop near the toe of the Saskatchewan glacier that gets you partway up The Big Hill. But there are enough steep punches here and there all along the route that it kind of evens out. I would think your logistics and time constraints would make the decision for you.
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Old 08-05-19, 10:33 AM
  #43  
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Here's a trip report I did regarding the Jasper south route along the Yellowhead Hwy. Great ride!

https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/1...tsford-bc.html
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