The Cochrane Tourism Association is pumping the tires of motorbike enthusiasts in a bid to establish the town as a starting and ending point for road trips, hoping cyclists will inject some cash into local businesses before and after they ride.

The Cochrane Tourism Association is pumping the tires of motorcycle enthusiasts in a bid to establish the town as a starting and finishing point for motorcycle road trips, hoping the bikers will inject some cash into local businesses before and after their rides.

Promoting the allure of winding country roads surrounded by stunning scenery should be an easy sell to riders from outside Cochrane.

Local enthusiasts are already sold.

Craig Oldfield, the Cochrane who founded Ridin’ Alberta — a website dedicated to helping cyclists discover the Wild Rose Province — is familiar with all three round trips recommended on the Cochrane Tourism Association’s website.

Oldfield’s favorite is the Cochrane to Highwood Pass run, which features spectacular views from the pass on the 114-kilometre ride, featuring the highest paved pass in Canada.

“Definitely going through there, beautiful scenery and some nice twists. None of those roads are straight, so whenever you’re in those lowland areas and you take those random roads, it’s not like those city roads in the east where you’re driving 50 miles in a straight line,” he said.

“Guys always complain that all the roads in Alberta are straight, but not down in that section, it’s more fun to drive.”

Oldfield recommends the Highwood Pass trek, describing it as a bucket list activity. In the day Eagle spoke to Oldfield, he was packing for a trip to Highwood Pass on his Victory Vegas bike. His Vegas packs 1700cc into its frame, which he feels will provide enough power to handle mountain climbs.

“It’s more horsepower than my mom’s SUV,” he said.

He suggests a trip to Highwood Pass between Monday and Friday, if possible, to avoid some of the higher traffic volumes that can be found there on weekends.

This time of year, he said, it’s also a nice evening ride.

“You can leave Cochrane at 5pm and come home [before dark]”, he said.

On the Highland Pass ride, after completing the tour, park permit riders can detour onto Upper Kananaskis Road to the Peter Lougheed Park Discovery and Information Center. This area has abundant wildlife, and from the centre, riders can enjoy a picnic at Boulton Bridge.

There are paths that connect to the daily use areas, allowing a break to wander in nature.

The second trip recommended by Cochrane Tourism is the Cochrane-Water Valley-Bergen-Lochend Loop, which takes approximately two hours to travel non-stop. But that’s only if riders can resist the urge to “experience rural tranquility and small-town charm along the way.”

The historic Dartique Lodge, built in 1934, is one of the points of interest on the Water Valley segment of the trip.

In the Bergen area, riders can visit artist Morton Burke’s Bergen Rocks International Sculpture Park, hosted by his space. Burke’s outdoor collection of monumental stone sculptures from around the world is one of Alberta’s few examples of art tourism.

The third trip is called ‘Cochrane to Bragg Creek – Highway 762 – Plummer’s Road – Priddis,which takes around an hour and 10 minutes to complete, making it the perfect non-stop motorbike road trip for those with less time to spare.

Riders with a little more time can take a detour on Highway 66 at the Elbow Falls Recreation Area for a snack and rest, on a road that offers twists and turns all the way to the end of the pavement. Wild horses roam the area from Maclean Creek to the start of the Powderface Trail.

If the timing is right, astronomy buffs can round off a midsummer evening trip and contemplate the wonders of the universe at the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory in Priddis during one of the facility’s open events.

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