Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Paradise in a bubble

We arrived in Banff on Tuesday afternoon. I met up with locals Leslie and Keith, who kindly offered me a place to stay during my time in town. Keith took me up to an overlook to survey the lay of the land. "Banff is a town in a national park," Keith said. "There are no scars on the mountains, because there's no mining or logging here. The town is as big as it's going to get, because it has a set footprint and it can't develop any further. We have this great law called the 'need to reside clause,' which means you have to work here to live here, which means there are no million-dollar second homes in the hills. Because of tourism, we're stocked with all the dining and retail options of a good-sized city in a town of 8,000. The biking is incredible, but the trails aren't mapped so they're not crowded. We ski tour all winter. We trail run all summer. As long as this is a national park, nothing is going to change. That's not the real world down there."

"So, basically, it's paradise in a bubble," I said.

Keith smiled. "Exactly."

We toured the town on a tandem cruiser. It was my first time on a tandem bike. Before we climbed on, Keith gave me a stern warning - "You can't steer and you can't brake. It's definitely not for control freaks." I quickly realized that literally the only thing I needed to do was spin my legs, and the rest of me could gaze around, snap photos and daydream to my heart's content. Really, that's my kind of riding.

I only have two days to explore this little bubble of paradise before I head back into the real world, in a sense. Keith showed me pictures of a hike he and Leslie did this morning, through a couple inches of fresh snow (it fell last night!) By the time I arrived in town, the weather was sunny and mild, about 15 degrees Celsius with almost no wind, and looking to stay beautiful for at least the next few days. It seems every time I travel through Canada, I hit the ideal weather windows. I have this theory that Canada loves me, at least in the short term. Here's hoping that love affair continues.


  1. I think I'm almost as excited to hear about your adventures, as you are to live them. Thanks, I love your blog.

  2. 'need to reside clause'

    I didn't realize that we had that in canada.

    Love it! They should do the same in Vancouver.
    As the homes climb up the mountain year by year...

    Banff is a wonderful place.
    Love the little town atmosphere.
    Wide variety of places to stay.
    Some amazing skiing.

    I haven't spent much time biking up there aside from the transrockies though.

    Calgary is kind of a mess though.

    But, Banff and surrounding villages are just wonderful.

    vancouver is as well, they just have to get ride of all that concrete though!

  3. Canada loves you? No, Canada fears you - as you previously commanded.

    Paradise in a bubble depends on the existence of a larger economy elsewhere (I'm just being a sour realist here). Too bad, becasue it sounds like a pretty good model.

    Have a great race/tour!

    JAT in Seattle

  4. I never knew these things about Banff. I have been told to get there and check it out!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I'm so jealous! Leslie and Keith are two of my favoritest people in the whole wide world. I hope you're having fun there!

  6. I went to Banff about 15 years ago and it was beautiful...I wasnt a cyclist then.

    The control freak thing made me laugh on a tandem - I have never managed a tandem and now I know why!!! Seriously I just couldnt sit on the back of a tandem it freaked me out......

  7. Been following your journal quietly for a while now, and loving following your adventures.

    A couple of years ago I spent 3 months in Canada, including 6 weeks driving Vancouver - Nova Scotia - Vancouver. Spent a couple of snowy days in Banff, walking, fishing and generally falling in love with the place.

    Sadly it's darn near impossible to move over there but I still hanker after one of the smaller towns in the Rockies as a place to build my cabin and settle.


  8. Yep, Banff is pretty paradisiacal. an amazing place to start a 2700 mile race.


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