A globe-trotting cyclist made a cozy stop in the valley during her stint exploring the Rocky Mountains.
Mirjam Wouters from the Netherlands, who’s branded herself as the Cycling Dutch Girl, often makes her stays quick – but she spent four days exploring the area after meeting a hospitable couple from Radium Hot Springs. Her time in the valley was mainly spent hiking, she said.
“I’m heading towards Vancouver, but not in a straight line – I’m zig-zagging a bit,” she said. “I’ll go not very fast but I’ll go.”
Mirjam arrived in Canada last month after beginning her journey in 2001, when she flew to Ireland for an exploration on foot. While there, her plans on earning a university degree were shelved after meeting backpackers, who told her about the glory of cycling. So she then spent the next six years cycling through every country in Europe, and stopping for a few short work stints in between.
“It’s basically because I have nothing better to do,” she said. “I’ll just keep going until I find something better to do and so far I haven’t found anything better to do.”
After seeing all of Europe, Mirjam hopped on a plane and took her bike to Australia in 2007. She spent two years there, spanning the continent once by shoreline, and then again through the Australian outback.
“I carried 23 litres of water and two weeks worth of food [while biking through the outback] – so I was very, very heavily loaded.”
Her next stop was New Zealand, where she toured the south island for three months, and then the north island for three months. Mirjam then went to Japan and Korea, but was denied entry to Russia, as the government felt that bicycle travel was unsafe during the winter months. She instead went to China, before flying home to Europe. She explored Europe a little further last summer before flying into Edmonton early in September.
“I alway thought I shouldn’t go to Canada first because I might stay, because I was always attracted to this country for one reason or another,” she said. “I don’t know why that is, because I’ve never been here before.”
Mirjam said she was shocked to see that Edmonton was being snowed on when she arrived, and decided to hitchhike from Edmonton to Jasper.
“I didn’t really fancy riding along that highway.”
But she finally arrived at the legendary Rocky Mountains.
“I always heard about the Rocky Mountains of course, and Jasper and Banff and this area, so I wanted to go and have a look,” she said. “The only thing that worries me is bears. And cougars.”
Mirjam plans on buying a can of bear spray at some stage in her Canadian travels, but said she makes sure to camp near other people.
“So far it’s been going alright, I have a little bell that’s keeping me alive,” she said.
Originally from Appledorn, Holland, (between Amsterdam and the German border), the 34-year-old said she still makes her journey day-by-day.
“I didn’t originally think I was going to cycle around the world, I just wanted to go for a ride, and I did that every day, so you end up going pretty far, because every day you can go between 80-120 kilometres.”
In cycling the world, her only challenges are as basic as finding food and shelter – “I kind of like that,” she said.
When Mirjam was pedaling Cranbrook-bound, trying to leave Invermere, she was spotted by a cyclist she met more than two years ago in New Zealand.
“He had no idea I was in Canada, and I had no idea he lived in Invermere!” she said. “And so I spend another couple of nights in Invermere… Crazy coincidence, huh?”
To follow Mirjam on her travels, find her page on Facebook by searching “Cyclingdutchgirl,” or visit her blog at cyclingdutchgirl.com.