Day 13: Canmore to Calgary 107km
I felt myself being almost teary eyed this morning. I was going to be leaving western Canada and the mountains behind, on this ride. I have dreamed of living out west for years and I think after this ride the move will have to happen! Just need to find a Social Work position. (Fingers crossed)
I was trying to take in all the beauty of the mountains as much as I could. It was also only 3C this morning and while wanting to savour the beauty, I knew that at the same time I needed to move quickly to warm up. I thought about the exciting events I had coming up in Calgary but I really do not know the city at all. I have flown in several times but always headed straight for the mountains, so I didn’t know what to expect. On the ride in I realized that I had allotted a lot more time than I needed as the hills felt like nothing after doing the mountains passes and I think with all my training and cycling on this trip my average speed has gone up. Sure enough we arrived more than an hour early. I didn’t want to bother them at the station until the time we were supposed to arrive so we waited at a nearby plaza.
Once it came close to the time we were suppose to go I biked over to the station. As soon as they spotted me they opened up the great bay doors and the warm welcome began. Everyone greeted me with big smiles and sharing their support for the cause. We headed to the lunchroom and I got to know everyone in attendance. There was a broad range of ranking of Fire Fighters there so it was really interesting to hear about their different roles and their experiences. Even though there were ranking from the Chief of Fire to new Fire Fighters they all joked around with one another other and seemed to have great relationships with each other. It was really great to watch.
When they said lunch was ready and I got to see what we were eating I was blown away. It was one of the best meals I have had yet and to top it all off for dessert the had watermelon and my favourite, Nanaimo bars! It is funny that in a room filled with mostly men I was the only one that went up for seconds and I probably could have gone for thirds. From cycling my appetite might have increased just a little hehe.
Following lunch we took some photographs in front of the truck. I was also given a new mascot for the ride, Sparky. Sparky is a cute little dog with a red Calgary Fire Department shirt that is now attached to the front of my bike. It was sad to say goodbye as they gave me such a warm welcoming into the city. I did not know that this welcoming was going to continue… One of the fire trucks escorted me into the city to the bike path that I wanted to check out along the river. It was amazing fun to be able to have the escort into the city.
While cycling along the bike path I thought of how great the bike system is here in Calgary. It was absolutely beautiful and so many people were out being active. I looked at everyone in their tubes and boats along the river thinking how I wished I could go on that river and maybe I could find time too. Once I got into downtown I pulled over to check out the map as I was a little lost. All of a sudden I got a call from the Battalion Chief calling me to explain where I should go and that he was waiting there for me. What perfect timing. When I arrived he explained that they were keeping our bikes for us and asked if I would be interested in a boat ride along the river tonight. WHAT!!! How did he know that is exactly what I wanted to do? I tried to hide some of my excitement and told him that would be amazing.
I then headed over to the Delta Bow Valley that was right next door. They have generously donated a room for two nights. I was not expecting to get more than that as that is already a lot to offer us. Once I got up to my room I heard a knock on the door and in came some goodies. There was a wonderful card, bike cookies and other surprises. I felt so welcomed and was able to tell that they having been following my ride. It really made me feel supported and welcomed here. Calgary sure is winning me over and the night hasn’t even started.
After getting checked in I got together with a friend from home. It is great having someone that lives in the area to show you around. He took me to explore Kensington a very fun trendy area. Following that we walked over to the Fire Station to get picked up for our boat ride. Again the two fire fighters were extremely supportive and excited to be a part of my events in Calgary. On the boat I could not stop laughing as I was having the time of my life. At one point we hit a bump and a big wave soaked me. This only made me laugh harder.
Following the ride we went back to the station to see one of my friends who is a fire fighter and meet some others. We got to tour the fire truck and learn more about how they are used.
My one friend was shocked that I still had so much energy after cycling 107km that day. But I just was having the greatest day being able to catch up with friends, meet new people, explore an awesome city from land and water, and all the hospitality. He also declared that Calgary has won be over. It sure is a great city with lots of character. It is going to be a hard choice in September when I think of where I want to go next.