Jeff and I spent our last full honeymoon day in the Canadian Rockies — August 15, 2009 — enjoying activities at our home base of Canmore, Alberta, Canada. We enjoyed a gorgeous day mountain biking through Canmore’s world famous cross country ski park (home to the 1988 Winter Olympics). Jeff and I opted to save the mountain biking for our final day in Canada, just in the event this new activity wreaked havoc on muscles that we would otherwise have to use for hikes that week.
During the summer, the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park rents mountain bikes instead of skis, and provides mountain bike lessons instead of ski lessons. Although both of us had grown up on banana seat bikes, 10 speeds and beach cruisers, neither Jeff nor I had ever spent much time on mountain bikes. And those few times that we did, it was biking through Southern California paved streets…not riding bumpy muddy mountain dirt trails. Every time we encountered mountain bikers on our hikes, we both expressed a big interest in taking up that outdoors sport as well — particularly since it would allow us to cover more distance than on foot.
So, when we read about the Centre’s mountain bike packages, and realized it was located in the same town as our resort, we decided to check it out. The rental and lesson packages are incredibly reasonable: $60pp for a private lesson and $45pp for an all-day rental of a full suspension bile. The lesson was excellent! Our instructor was a young competitive skier named Martin, from the Czech Republic, who spent ski season training in Canmore, and was now working as a mountain bike instructor during the summer season. Martin was a fabulous teacher — very patient with me.
The Centre is located just outside of quaint little downtown Canmore and includes an extensive trail system into Banff National park that is set among rugged peaks, lush green forest, and spectacular wildflowers. There is a nice wide dirt trail that stretches the length of the park, but the Centre also has plenty of tougher single track trails for more experienced cyclists (download a .pdf trail map here). Don’t be surprised if you come across deer or even bears during your rides, and allow yourself some time to stop and soak in the breathtaking majestic scenery all around you.
Jeff and I got a bit hooked on that whole mountain biking thing, and we are still debating between double-suspension or hard-tail for our own purchases. What do you recommend?