Cycling the satellites

Calgary’s surrounding towns offer plenty for the two-wheeled crowd

Calgary’s current push to increase the cycling opportunities has sparked a two-wheeled revolution that’s caught fire beyond just the city limits.

Offering a bucket list of amenities, Calgary’s satellite communities have used their considerable geographic areas to their advantage, creating cycling networks that have drawn international events such as the Tour of Alberta and Banff Gran Fondo to its borders.
Here’s an overview of just some of the opportunities in the region.

Bragg Creek:
One of the premiere mountain bike locations in all of Alberta, the area west of Bragg Creek has something for everyone. From family-friendly paved trails to thrilling downhill courses complete with drops, jumps and man-made features for the advanced cyclist, mountain bikers need not venture far and wide to find a trail that suits their fancy.

The Greater West Bragg Creek Trails Association publishes a map that describes every trail in the region. It retails for $15 and is available at most bike shops or online, with all proceeds going to trail development and maintenance.

For the road bike crowd, the area also offers one of the more scenic stretches of road in the province on Highway 66. With sections of the highway closed for portions of the year, ambitious roadies can test their mettle on the scenic and grueling climb over Prairie Mountain Pass.

Chestermere:
Looking to log some kilometres on a dedicated pathway without worrying about battling the crowds?

The Irrigation Canal pathway is a great bet. Stretching 28 kilometres between Calgary and Chestermere, the largely uninhabited pathway is a wonderful route for single riders wanting stretch their legs without fear of crowds or anyone lugging around little ones in a trailer.

While there’s little to offer for amenities along the pathway, a quick-pedal from the Chestermere end point offers plenty of options, along with a scenic lakeside spot to enjoy a rest.

Canmore:
It should come as no surprise that the mountains around Canmore offer some of the best biking anywhere. Offering more than 100 kilometres or trails, the Canmore Nordic Centre has wide dirt roads for leisurely rides to scenic lookouts, narrower cross-country ski trails for more challenge on rolling terrain and single-track trails for advanced riders.

If jumps and stunts are more your thing, the centre’s park dirt jumps and technical trail features including bridges, drops, skinnies and a wall ride. Nearby, the newly-expanded Legacy Trail lets cyclists make the 20 kilometre ride to Banff safely, while taking in the splendor of the Canadian Rockies.

Drumheller:
Despite playing host to some of the world’s best cyclists on the inaugural
Tour of Alberta, the picturesque roads surrounding this Badlands town are still a relatively well-kept secret.

From the sleepy hamlet of Wayne and the scenic 11 Bridges Road, cyclists can take in Horsethief Canyon, Orkney Hills and even ride a ferry along the 48-kilometre Dinosaur Trail loop. With the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Hoodoees and Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site also nearby, cyclists can ride between destinations or traverse the entire loop before stopping for a beverage at the historic Last Chance Saloon in Wayne.

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