Day 16: Cardston, AB to Cut Bank, MT

the start of our ride today: a few hills near Cardston, AB


Our ride today transitioned us from the Rockies to the Plains. It was a complete contrast from our trip thus far–flat, rolling hills covered with prairie grasses and endless wheat fields. We would turn our heads back occasionally to catch a glimpse of the fading mountains of Glacier. There was no rain and there were no flat tires today. We reached the 1000-mile mark, and we finished map set 2 today! 

Alberta’s wild rose


 

last views of the Rockies


We rolled in to Cut Bank around three and headed to the post office to pick up our tent, sleeping bags and sleeping pads that we mailed to ourselves from Whitefish, MT. At this point in the day temperature had risen to 90! We quickly headed to the campground. If you are reading this blog as an informational guide to a trip like this, and you are planning on camping, avoid Cut Bank if you can. The campground there is a complete rip-off. On the plus side, there are no grizzlies here, but there are cougars.

the end of the day (and the next 1.5 states): flat plains


 

With the high temperatures and a need to get some work done, we walked over to the McDonald’s for air conditioning, fries, and wifi. By the time we left, the temperatures were cooling enough to make camping quite comfortable.

Stats:

Today’s ride: 73.4 miles

Time in the saddle: 6 hrs and 52 minutes

Total distance: 1002 miles

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Day 15: Babb, MT to Cardston, AB

The riding was lovely today, but we had a rather tough day. As we got ready to go in the morning in Babb, we realized that Rachel had lost her arm-warmers, as we had strapped the arm-warmers and knee-warmers to the trailer when we switched to “sun sleeves” (the thin, white arm and leg coverings that help with the amount of sun exposure we are getting this summer) in Glacier. 

Babb, MT, with Glacier in the background

Babb is a cute little town, with just a restaurant, general store, motel, and antiques store, along with a few houses — and it has a great view of Glacier peeking up over the horizon.

Our route would take us back toward Glacier and through the northeast side of the park, then across the US-Canadian border into Alberta’s Waterton Lakes Park, and back to the plains we encountered in Babb. This involved a fair amount of climbing large, rolling hills into the parks, and shorter, rolling hills out into the plains. 

just outside Babb, with Chief Mountain (Glacier) in the background

We were about 10 miles into our ride when Rachel got her third flat of the trip. Other than the flat caused by a large piece of glass, the other two tube punctures have been on the rim-side of the tube, which is puzzling, as we checked the rim and found nothing that would cause a puncture. So we patched the tube alongside some horses, and continued on. About 10 miles later, the tire was flat again. We patched the back-up tube alongside some cows, and before we knew it, the tube was flat again. This was frustrating, especially as we had left early to avoid the hot sun that we were now exposed to as we searched for punctures and pumped up tubes. It turned out that a) there was a small burr in the rim-tape, and b) we were being impatient with our patches, and not waiting long enough for them to set before pumping up the tubes. We didn’t figure this out until a long day of losing tire pressure, of course! 

Glacier, heading toward Waterton Lakes Park

After we (mostly) fixed the tire issues, we biked into Glacier, getting a view of the other side of the park. We crossed the Canadian border, attempted to find the punctures by placing the tubes into the bathroom sinks at the border crossing (and watched the Canadian border officers search a car), and rode through Waterton Lakes Park.

Waterton Lakes Park


Waterton Lakes and Glacier from the plains of Alberta

It’s gorgeous, though we took more pictures on the previous day’s ride on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Exiting the park was bittersweet, as we were flying down awesome descents, but we were aware that we were leaving mountains for most of the rest of our ride. We rode out onto the plains, stopped in Mountain View, AB to send off some postcards from Canada, and then stopped in Cardston, AB. 

 

day off in Cardston, AB!

This cute little town has about 3,000 people and about 10 churches. It is a dry town, as are most of the small towns on this side of the US-Canadian border. Nevertheless, it has a bakery that specializes in whole wheat breads and gluten-free products, and the grocery store has vegan faux-cheese products. The town also has a museum with the largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles, a museum of miniatures, and a memorial to Fay Ray, who played the woman captured by King Kong. We arrived at our decent hotel, which has a hot tub and fast wifi.

After our last few long days, with sore quads and technical difficulties, we decided to take a day off here. Rachel is officially done with her two weeks of real vacation, and got to start working on various projects on the hotel wifi. Nick did laundry and figured out the tube/tire/rim issues. It’s been nice to sit in the hot tub (along with many screaming children who are in town for Canada Day weekend), eat salads, and watch movies in a hotel room. Tomorrow morning, we continue on in the plains, where it will be flat, hot, and windy.

 

Stats:

today’s ride: 61.1 mi

time in the saddle: 6 hrs, 6 min

total distance: 928 mi