highwood pass ride

We rode up Highway 40, over the Highwood Pass. The highest paved highway in Canada. It's closed for the winter, and doesn't open to motorized traffic until June 15, so it's wide open for bicycles for the short period that it's passable before being open.

The route we chose wasn't long - total ride was just shy of 34km. Nothing fancy. But the elevation gain was 1850 feet, over the 17km climb to the summit. When we got to the top, there was still several feet of snow on the ground (recently cleared from the highway by road crews).

Highwood map

Road closed

This was my first real ride with a road bike. What a difference. The steepest hill we climbed was a 20.5% slope, but we all managed it without any trouble. Cranking up the pass for most of 17km, with legs to spare. Awesome.

Highwood summit pano

2011 06 11 paul kevin and chris at summit

After resting briefly at the summit, standing in the rain and snow, we turned around and headed back to the west winter gate. 1850 feet of descent meant we were flying down the highway, and without having to pump the pedals, we got very cold very quickly. It felt like we were screaming downhill at 80km/h, through driving rain and snow (turns out we barely got over 60, which was just as well because wet friction brakes aren't much use...) As we approached the bottom, there were several families riding on the highway, enjoying its car-free condition. That was pretty great to see.

Once we got past the gate, to where the cars were parked, we realized just how cold we were. Legs numb. Feet frozen blocks. But we were all smiling. What an amazing ride. I'll definitely plan on doing that again.


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