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Parkway to Pint hits a stride

The Bow Valley Parkway has become a flurry of activity as hundreds of cyclists are hitting the road in a summer challenge that ends with a beer.
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The Bow Valley Parkway has become a flurry of activity as hundreds of cyclists are hitting the road in a summer challenge that ends with a beer. 

Lake Louise Ski Resort and Summer Gondola spearheaded Parkway to Pint this summer, challenging cyclists to ride as many as 116 km along Highway 1A, which is partially closed to vehicles from Banff to Castle Junction.  

Those who compete in the challenge, which runs July 1 to Sept. 19, and arrive at Banded Peak Base Camp during operating hours are being awarded with a Parkway to Pint t-shirt and Banded Peak beer. 

image00003The 1A
“As soon as the Bow Valley Parkway was going to be closed to motorists we thought this was a pretty awesome bike ride for people,” said Leigha Stankewich, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Summer Gondola events and communications manager. “We’re so excited to see all of these people coming out. They don’t have to do the whole Banff to Lake Louise and back, they can do Castle Junction and come back. Fifty kilometres is easier than the full ride.” 

With interest in cycling and mountain biking exploding as Albertans take up hobbies close to home during the COVID-19 global pandemic, Stankewich said the Parkway to Pint challenge has been well received.  

More than 800 people have made the ride so far, and she hopes to see that number double by Sept. 19. 

“As soon as they see a challenge that has a free beer at the end, it’s a pretty good motivator,” she said. “They’re stoked to get outside and get the t-shirt and the beer. It’s cool to see people challenge themselves. They’re craving getting outside with their friends and doing something fun.” 

And the view is another bonus, Stankewich said. 

“It really is an incredible, scenic and memorable bike ride for people,” she said. “Our marketing team is planning to do a ride together.” 

 

image00004Megan Jones doing some early season riding. By Courtesy of Megan Jones

Megan Jones, Head of Creativity at Banff Soul, a cyclist repair and merchandise shop, has cycled the route twice already. 

“The section that’s closed is quite amazing and you don’t have to worry about any vehicle traffic,” she said. “The scenery is absolutely amazing and the quality of the riding is fantastic. You get absolutely beautiful segments of road to ride and to have it to yourself.” 

Banff Soul got involved with Parkway to Pint by entering participants who begin at their shop and post a photo of the base camp on social media into a draw for a $100 gift certificate and Lake Louise Plus Card for the 2022 season. 

The Banff business is one of many that’s joined the initiative. 

“We really liked the idea,” she Jones. “When we saw Lake Louise was offering that promotion it was something we wanted to hop on board with and give people more incentive to experience it themselves.” 

The challenge comes at a time when interest in road biking is climbing steadily.

“It’s been an interesting year with the bike industry,” she said. “It’s quite saturated with a lot of new cyclists because of COVID and having to stick around home. It’s been awesome to see a lot more people on road bikes and a lot more people riding the 1A, especially because of that closure there.” 

Jones said road cycling is very different from mountain biking. The bikes are made differently to travel at faster speeds with drop handlebars, less flexibility, thinner tires, no suspension and a lighter weight. 

For more details about Parkway to Pint, visit https://www.skilouise.com/things-to-do/parkway-to-pint/