Day 12: Calgary to Bassano

The prairies

Weather will play an important role in how you remember the prairie section from Calgary to Regina. With a west-wind, you will cycle effortlessly, watching serene farmland blur by.

If the wind is in your face, this stretch will be truly challenging.

After cycling over the mountains you will undoubtedly be in good physical condition. The battle with wind is not so much physical as mental.

Whatever happens, you cannot let yourself become dejected. Think of the many worse things that you could be doing with your life at that point and push on. If you are in a group, cycle in a tight pod, with the leader breaking wind for the rest of the group. Alternate who rides out front so everyone can rest his or her legs.

Don’t expect to make fabulous time when facing high wind. You can cycle easily at 15 km/h into a headwind, but it will take a Herculean effort to increase your speed to 20 km/h. Lower your expectations and don’t kill yourself. Start your day early, and take short breaks every ten or fifteen kilometres, giving yourself manageable goals to focus on.

Leave the hustle and bustle of Calgary behind as you head east on HWY 1. Expect an adequate shoulder next to double lane highway all the way to Regina.

The first town to pop up out of the prairie is Chestermere, population 11 262. Chestermere is centered on Chestermere Lake, which was created in 1906, by damming the Kinniburgh Slough and diverting water from the nearby Bow River. People enjoy living in Chestermere for its lake, small town feel and proximity to Calgary.

Next cycle through Strathmore, population 11 335. Strathmore sprung up as a stop for the CPR trains heading west to the mountains. It now serves as an agricultural hub for the nearby farmlands.

The road jogs south after Strathmore. Where the road turns left to return heading east is the exit for Gleichen and the nearby Sik Sika First Nation. Gleichen has a few small stores and 2 exits allowing you to visit the town and return to the highway with little backtracking.

After the exits to Gleichen, expect to see wetlands along the sides of the highway. Wetlands are an important part of the ecosystem as they nurture waterfowl, prevent floods and naturally purify water. Because of their lack of direct economic benefit, wetlands have traditionally been modified from their natural state and drained for irrigation or flooded for use as lakes. Society is beginning to understand the significant role that wetlands play in ecosystem sustainability and efforts are being made to preserve what many experts consider to be the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems. Wetlands act as a buffer against floods and promote sustainable watersheds. When biking by a wetland you can often feel the air become notably cooler and hear the chirping of crickets and birds.

Your destination for the evening is the Bassano Campground, located centrally in Bassano and run by the town. Groceries are available in this small prairie town.

Kilometre Log
0.0Leave Calgary West Campground, heading north on 101st Street SW.
0.3101st Street SW curves left and turns into West Valley Road SW.
1.4Turn right and curve 180º to gain HWY 1 E.
1.6Head east on HWY 1 E.
4.0Canada Olympic Park.
5.9Intersection of 16th Avenue NW & Sarcee Trail.
6.8Cross over the Bow River and cycle through Shouldice Park.
9.3Intersection of 16th Avenue NW & Shaganappi Trail NW.
11.5Intersection of 16th Avenue NW & Crowchild Trail NW.
17.7Intersection of 16th Avenue NW and Deerfoot Trail / HWY 2.
25.9Exit Calgary.
31.6First exit to Chestermere.
34.0Second exit to Chesterme.
44.4Intersection of HWY 9 & HWY 1.
68.8Strathmore Highway Camping.
73.6Intersection of HWY 1 & HWY 21.
86.3HWY 1 turns 90º to the right.
103.3Exit to Gleichen on HWY 547.
107.3Intersection of HWY 1 & HWY 901.
117.8Intersection of HWY 1 & HWY 842.
133.4Intersection of HWY 1 & HWY 56.
152.8Turn right into Bassano on 6th Avenue.
153.7Turn left at 6th Street.
154.2Head four blocks to the intersection of 6th Street and 2nd Avenue to Bassano Campground.

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