Day 6 Friday , August 6: Over the River and Through the Woods

Last night, Dave announced, "Well, I think I'll head out tomorrow morning to Briscoe, pick up my car, bring it back, and then get an early start over to Calgary on Saturday."

This immediately attracted Fred (who seemed to be on a century binge) and I, with Steve signing up also. The prospect of driving home all in one day on Saturday was too much of an allure: getting an extra day's rest before work, catching one more Mariners' game, and maybe even riding in the sun for once.

"Now, you've got to watch out for the road down hill," Jim said. "After you leave the park, the road gets narrow, and I heard they're doing some construction. And this is the main Canadian East/West highway, so all traffic going into BC from the East goes over this little pass."

Piece of cake, we thought, as we drifted downhill from the Monarch campground. The first twenty miles went by in a blur. We whizzed along the freeway shoulder, free from both an uphill grind, and close-in traffic. About half-way down, Steve slammed on is brakes.

"I lost my aero-bar arm rest!" Indeed, the bolt holding it on had either broken or shook loose, and he was now forced to soldier on with only his handlebars for comfort.

After twenty miles, Fred stopped (surprise!) at the Banff National Park entrance station. We rolled up to the little hut, where a rangerette tried to warn us about the road ahead. "It gets a little dicey, eh, up there where it narrows. But most people have no problems into Golden."

Most people in a CAR have no problem. For a bike, the shoulders disappeared, the sides were strewn with rocks and gouges, and massive semis, huge RVs, and boat-towing pick-ups fought for every inch of highway space. At times, the only safe thing to do was go out in the flow of traffic, and pretend to be one the Big Boys.

We made it through the Dreaded Deadly Interchange turning left over the Columbia into town. A short way in, we found the ideal lunch spot - soup, sandwiches, and latte. Dave allowed as he might stay there all afternoon. But Fred was making plans, and back on his bike double quick. "Let's see, if I turn around at Brisco, one of you could pick me up after 15 miles, and I'd have a century today. Then, I could do it all over again tomorrow." After a bit of negotiation, we all agreed to meet on the way back at the same spot in Golden. Dave and I, at least, had to pick up our cars in Brisco.

The sun was out, the weather warm, the road was flat, and we pace-lined onwards in short-sleeved Lycra and bike pants. Every 15 miles or so, a general store appeared, offering chicken, gatorade, water, whatever. With five miles to go, Dave and I put on a sprint to the finish. Turning into to gravel road behind Brisco Store, I hit the rocks too fast, and went down skidding on my left arm and leg.

"You all right, Al?" Dave asked. I raised by bloody arm in response. After cleaning and patching and wrapping, I loaded my bike into the back of my car, and headed back to Golden. There, I picked up Steve, and we played NASCAR with the Canadian drivers all the way back up to Monarch.

We arrived to find Jim and Tom pouring over maps of Washington and BC already planning next year's route. Let's see, must meet the following requirements:

No rain; no traffic; great scenery; easy to get to; easy camping; and maybe a few loops, for two-night stands. We couldn't figure it out, but we did decide a 13 hour drive home was not the ideal way to end a trip.