AdventuresInTandem's picture

Looking for a good route to show off the city to 10 tandem teams

My wife and I run a small touring company called Adventures In Tandem.  We cater to couples who own their own travel tandems and like to tour. We are running a tour from Calgary to Lake Louise and want the first day of the tour to be a ride around Calgary. 

We are staying at the Bearspaw Lodge for the first two nights, so the ride has to start and end there. The lodge is located at 80 Woodlands Estates Dr, Calgary, AB T3R 1H1.

I created a few possible routes, and I am hoping a local person can look them over and let me know what you think. Ultimately I am looking for a ride of around 30 miles, mostly on bike paths if possible, that shows off some of the best spots in your beautful city.

Here are the routes I created:



CR1c: - this one is really too long

I'll be leading a group of 10 tandems (on my own tandem), so it will be a bit of a challenge.  They will mostly have Garmins, but I know at least one team doesn't use GPS at all.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!




Crivak's picture

Hi Mike.

Hi Mike.

Looks like you're mostly restricted to the North West, then? 

Is the group comfortable with the climbs involved on the routes you selected? Quite a bit in the Northwest sector along the pathways as they follow the escarpment. 

The northern parts of the loops you've created, that I assume are on the return route, don't strike me as "best spots." I'm fairly certain most of it is actually side streets and houses. Maybe someone can correct me. But I think a return route through Bowness Park would be more interesting than along John Laurie.  Also the portion in Tuscany is actually not paved, it's a dirt path up the hill. It can be confusing.  Also the second two maps follow the north side of the river which is currently under a detour until October.

Here's what I would suggest, starting from 12 mile coulee. Maybe someone else will provide a more round about exploratory option. (if the url isn't working.. It seems to be okay in firefox but not chrome?)



xcrider's picture


Ride down to river and then to Inglwood and East Village. 


winterrider's picture

My recomendation

As already mentioned, your routes spend a lot of time in neighbourhoods and aren't the best way. Also, you're climbing some really tough hills (one hits 14%!).

I'd suggest coming in on the north side of the bow, and returning on the south side. There is some construction going on so the path on the north side of the bow is closed by Crowchild Trail (you'll see the detour in my map).

FYI, I live on the Northwest corner of the City, and ride all these routes regularly either commuting to downtown, or riding out of town in the northwest (right past your lodge on occasion).

I would ride to the zoo and back to get a look at the best parts of Calgary. This route is 43 miles, but has a few less bumps. The roads used are all nice for cyclists (one of: not busy, wide, have a shoulder, have a bike lane or separated cycle track downtown), or have a bike path beside them. The paths have no steep climbs, though there are some steep downhills in Bowmont Park on the way in.

Here's the way in, points of interest include: Bowmont Park, Poppy Plaza, Peace Bridge, Prince's Island Park, St. Patrick's Island

And the way back, points of interest include: Fort Calgary (original settlement location), views of the National Music Centre, Central Library (rated as one of the twelve best new building in the world this year by Arhcitectual Digest!) and the more interesting towers in downtown Calgary, Ride on Stephen Ave Mall (car free street in downtown), Bowness Park.

One note, google maps is missing a couple pathways in Bowness Park, so the entrace is a bit messed up. The best way in is to ride northbound on 85th St (in a bike lane). When the lane ends at 48th Ave, it continues onto a northbound bike path on the east side of 85th St that drops down the hill to the river and goes underneath 85th St.

Lot's of great places to stop on this route.

Our new library:

winterrider's picture

One more suggestion

For your ride to cochrane, here is the route preferred (on Hwy 262) for most local riders as it's a quiet back country road and more pleasant than riding on the 1a. It would add about 4 miles and 500 feet of climbing to your day though, so mayber that's too big a diversion.

Even if you don't take 262, I would recommend Gleneagles Drive for the descent into cochrane. Much more relaxing as it's a wide open neighbourhood road with low traffic. The hill down the highway is noisy, very high speed (8% downgrade the whole way) and kind of scary at times.


AdventuresInTandem's picture

Thanks, but still too long

First, thanks for looking at this and making your suggestions.  Interestingly, I could not follow those links in Firefox or Chrome, but they worked in MS Edge.

Winterrider:  I created your route in RideWithGPS. You should try it if you haven't already.  Much easier to create and modify routes that Google directly, and you can change the base map to be Google with the bike trails or the OSM bike map or others.  And if you haven't used the OSM bike map, that's really cool, because you can actually correct map errors yourself.

Here's a slightly shorter version:

As much as I like what these takes you past, and if I were just doing a ride myself I would definintely do this, I am a bit afraid to lead 10 tandems through the ciry streets.  From experience, the larger the group, the slower you go.  Unfortunately, this isn't like a club ride where everyone is kind of on their own and independant. Also, we'll be doing this on a Friday, which makes the city part a bit more challenging.

Crivak: I created this route: which is a combination of your suggestion and Winterriders. Right now, this seems like most realistic route for my group.

Winterrider: On your one more suggestion: I already figured out Gleneagles Dr for the descent into Cochrane, so we're set with that.  As for the Hwy 262 mod, it's already a very long day and I am reluctant to add the miles and climb, even though 1a isn't great.  It does seem to have a really nice shoulder though.

Once again, thank you very much for your suggestions!

Crivak's picture

Ride with GPS seems to be

Ride with GPS seems to be much better at making maps! Shame because Google used to be quite good. Not sure what happened. 

Theses are really cool routes, and I agree with many of the changes you made. Some comments:

In regards to exactly where step 31 is on the map you bolded with my name as the combination route, this is what that hill actually looks like:,-114.228013,3a,60y,316.61h,93.66t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s9oYfGDK0f3CUPfJ3G_3Qvg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

As you can see, it's not paved, as mentioned in my first post. It is a large dirt hill. I'm not sure why it's flagged as a bike path on these various maps. If your group is OK dismounting to push up this for the shortcut it provides then it doesn't matter. Someone can correct me if they've paved this section in the past year.

Alternatively, the pathway continues on both straight-a-ways, so you can go left along the pathway then up and around (past the timmies along Nose Hill Drive, up the west side of Tuscany Hill NW, then crossing back to the east side when Tuscany Hill NW meets with Tuscany Estates Dr/Tuscany Meadows Dr). Or you can also go right, which goes along an underpass beneath Stoney Trail to follow the pathway system back into Scenic Acres again. This means you'd likely be taking the Schooner Landing Pedestrian Bridge again across Stoney to re-access Tuscany as an exit though. 

This is bypassed entirely on one of your maps where you simply stay on the pathway all the way along Tuscany Hill and have rejoined the road along Tuscany Dr NW. I am unfamiliar with riding that road but I believe it is all uphill. From Google Maps Street View it appears the pathway simply disappears at an unmarked intersection at the Tuscany Estates Dr/Tuscany Meadows Dr location as it is assumed most would be crossing it along an East/West route instead of continuing North.

I thought you may have the same issue along Tuscany Blvd with the other route (combination) but it appears that the sidewalk has been painted with an awkward yellow line, indicating its been approved as a bicycle route. A bit odd, but makes the option of getting to Tuscany Way NW easier. Would just need to wait for a regular red light phase instead of trying to join the road midintersection. I think any of these options would work but you know your groups comfort level better [pushing up the hill as a shortcut, going the round about way to stay on the pathway and rejoining E/W, or going straight and riding the road N]

As mentioned above the connection into Bowness Park from 85th St NW on your route map shows as needing to cross from the east side of the road to the west, but this isn't true. It's much simpler. It's accessed from the west, the same side you'll be riding in from. Before the bridge there is a pathway turnoff. The map is a smidge old but it looks like this. The bike lane will indicate the turn (ie here).

Finally, it looks like the detour is not quite right for the North Bow River? I haven't taken it yet myself (been commuting on the south side) but I believe the turn is meant to be on 29th St NW. Parkdale Blvd is very busy and making the turn into Kensington Road can be awkward as there is no light. I have not done it personally so maybe it is not as bad as it looks. Here is the link to the official detour map. Honestly it is tough for me to make out the roads on this map too. edit; ok, I see this was the recommended route from the other fellow so maybe the left turn is not as bad as I am imagining it. Definitely take a look at the upper detour route nonetheless if you don't think the tandem riders would be comfortable.



winterrider's picture


Can't delete this comment, but what I wrote was wrong!

AdventuresInTandem's picture

We have to start at the lodge

Thanks Fuzz, but I don't have any way of transporting 11 tandems and 22 people anywhere, so we have to start and end the ride at the Bearspaw lodge, just outside of the north west corner of the city. And I need to keep the mileage down or the ride will take forever and people won't be happy. We recently did a similar tour in Amsterdam with only 7 tandems and 37 miles took almost 6 hours, including lunch.


AdventuresInTandem's picture

Thanks Crivak!

Crivak: I made all of the changes you suggested. I was using Winterrider's detour map rather than the the Calgary bike map. Didn't know about the detour map you linked to, which is much better.

We're going to be up there next week and plan to test the route out before we take our customers on it. Then we're going to do the whole ride out to Lake Louise with paniers. We really like to have this stuff nailed down so we can tell our people what to expect, should there be any "interesting" spots. Most people are OK with pretty much anything as long as you set their expectations correctly and there's more good riding than not so good.

So, as of now, this is the route we're going with:

Thank you!



Crivak's picture


Enjoy the ride! I think I speak for everyone when I say we'd be interested to hear how it goes! Lake Louise is a great spot and the Banff/Canmore Legacy Trail is spectacular as well.

winterrider's picture

Sweet ride!

I will make one last recommendation. When you're testing out the route, keep heading east to the Elbow river, then loop back on the 9th Ave/8th Ave cycle lane and go north on the 5th St Cycle track, just so you can see what's there. A short diversion for yourself that can easily be skipped later.

If your group gets downtown and has the energy for that last little loop, I do think it gives a much better look at Calgary with only a couple kms added :)

Have a great time I went and checked our your web page and the whole thing looks like great fun!

AdventuresInTandem's picture

I will do that additional loop...

Thanks Winterrider.  I will do that for the test ride that my wife and I do.  I think I'll offer the longer ride to people and say they can split up with the group at Prince's Island Park if they want to ride through the city. I grew up in NYC and I find riding there to be facinating, but it's not for everyone. Some people hate that kind of riding.

I never posted our actual tour info. If you're interested, click here.

winterrider's picture

It was in your profile

Your profile had a link to your webpage, I already checked it out (hence my advice on how to get to Cochrane). As I said, the whole enterprise looks like a great time!

AdventuresInTandem's picture

We rode this route today

So, my wife and I rode the long version of this route today. It was great! Need to make a few minor edits here and there (mostly around the detours), but it's just a beautiful route and almost all on bike paths, even in the city. Might just have everyone do the long version. The paths are great and there are lots of lunch options presented in town.

Once again, thank you so much for your help with this! This will be a great ride to kick off our tour with.


Crivak's picture

Nice. Glad to hear it was

Nice. Glad to hear it was great and that you're considering the longer route! How was the Tuscany section? 

I saw you on your way back on your tandem and recognized the jersey from your website. Uh, sorry about almost clipping you on that sharp corner in Edworthy by the train tracks..... I blame the colourful rafts... :)

AdventuresInTandem's picture

The Tuscany section was fine,

The Tuscany section was fine, except for being all uphill at the end of the ride.

I don't recall any close calls yesterday, so from our perpective, we didn't notice.  Too bad you didn't wave us down. Would have liked to say hello.

Today's ride to Canmore was tiough.  The wildfires in BC made made our eyes sting for the whole day, plus there was a nice headwind.  The roads were about what we expected.  Maybe a little better.  There wasn't a lot of traffic and the cars were all very respectful. Only one close buzz.  We are really tired!  Had a nice dinner and we're going to bed early tonight.  Tomorrow we head up to Lake Loiuse.  We hit Banff on the way back.

Thanks again!


winterrider's picture

Yay for bikes!

Glad to hear you had a nice ride. Best of luck, and have fun in the mountains, they're spectacular!

AdventuresInTandem's picture

Two very successful tours!

Just wanted to say thank you again. We ran two very successful tours. We only got to do the city tour once as it got rained out on the first week, but everyone loved it. The rest of the tour worked out great also. We had 10 couples on tandems on each tour. The weather and smoke mostly cooperated. The views were awesome. Got a few "trip of a lifetime" comments from people. We're going to run the tour again in 2020, but with a few modifications - like we're going to stay near downtown this time rather that at the Bearspaw Lodge.


winterrider's picture

Nice to know!

Thanks for coming back to let us know how it went. I was just wondering about your trips two days ago.