Here’s the start of my 2013 Tour Divide post. For those of you who don’t know, I ended up dropping out of the race about 40 miles outside of Jackson Hole, WY with a severely strained IT band in my right knee. Total distance covered was just under 1,200 miles, which was not quite half of the 2,745 miles total. I honestly have no idea how to even begin to describe this thing, so I’ll just do the best I can and hope to distract you with amazing pictures.
I guess I’ll start at the beginning. I got the bike and all the gear boxed up and my Dad gave me a ride to Wichita on June 11th (Tuesday) so I could stay the night in a hotel, because my flight left at 5:45 am Wednesday. The hotel had a shuttle van to the airport, so I didn’t have to wait on a cab. I lugged my stuffed bike box up to the counter, got it weighed in no problem (61 pounds total!!), got the ticket, went through security, and off I went. I had a two hour layover in Chicago, and ran into three other racers that were on my same flight to Calgary. Our plane in Chicago was delayed about 45 minutes, so I called the company that runs the shuttle from Calgary to Banff to tell them, and got switched to the next shuttle, no problem. Got off the plane in Banff, and the four of us were waiting for our bike boxes in the baggage area, and met Kevin Campagna, another racer from Dallas that I had gotten to know somewhat on Facebook. He had also raced the Dirty Kanza last year, plus did the Land Run 100 this year, that a lot of folks from here in town did, and was organized by former Emporian Bobby Wintle. I went over and talked to him, and we found our shuttle, got loaded up, and took off for Banff.
We got to Banff about 3:30 that afternoon. The shuttle dropped me off right at my hotel, so I got checked in, got the bike box stowed, and set off to explore the amazing downtown and find the YMCA, where most of the rest of the racers were staying.
While walking downtown, I ran into a few other racers, including Karlos Bernart, whom I had met at last year’s Stagecoach 400.
I found the Y, found Kevin again, and he said that there was a get-together planned at 5 at a local microbrewery. After walking around downtown, and finally asking a local for directions, we finally found it. 6-7 racers showed up, and we all enjoyed a big dinner and a couple of drinks. I didn’t partake too much because I planned on starting my race the next morning, which I did.
After dinner, we went back to the Y and continued chatting with other racers for a bit, then I headed back to the hotel to put my bike together and get some sleep. I got everything put together, and went to adjust my brakes, and noticed the front brake rotor bad been bent during the flight. Shit. The bike shop didn’t open until 10 the next morning. Next morning, I get up early, and double check everything one last time, and head to the Y for breakfast, and HOPE that someone who drove up happens to have an extra brake rotor. Not so much. I waited on breakfast for 45 minutes, and had to bail to go to the bike shop. I get there, get a new rotor, get the brakes adjusted, tires pumped up, and head back to the Y, go past there to the Banff Springs Hotel, where the race starts,
and head out on the Spray River Trail. I ended up starting around 11 am, which was 3 hours later than I wanted, but so goes the Divide.
I followed the course for about 40 or 50 miles, and ran into John, a guy from Boulder who was touring the route, and planned to take about 50 days. We got to the Bolton Campground and General Store around 6:30, which was lucky because they closed at 7. My original plan was to restock there and continue on another 50 miles to Elkford, but decided to get a campground with John and take a short day. The next day we took off around 7 or so, climbed a fairly good pass, and then descended to the town of Elkford. We stopped there for a late lunch at the hotel, and decided to wait out yet another rainstorm.
During this time, the leaders, Craig Stappler and Mike Hall, ended up passing us, so I decided it was time for me to get up and going. I bid John good luck, and headed out towards Sparwood. The ride from Elkford to Sparwood is only about 30 miles, and is fairly flat, and most of it is paved. You jump on a highway for just a bit and then turn onto a two-lane paved backroad that was a really magnificent ride. It reminded me of riding through a model railroad scene. That’s after I took the highway for 5 miles that I wasn’t supposed to, and had to backtrack, in the rain, because my GPS batteries died and I didn’t check the map. Lesson learned. Due to the rain, I decided to take another fairly easy day, and stopped for the night in Sparwood. I got a hotel, and hit up the fairly famous (at least for Divide folk) A&W. Two cheeseburgers, a huge thing of fries, a big water, and a root beer float, and I almost wasn’t hungry anymore. I knew there would be other racers who would show up, and ran into Kevin again, and Scott Thigpen, and a few others. They said they were meeting at the gas station at five, and taking off from there, so I agreed. We met up, grabbed a quick gas station breakfast, and headed out.
I’ll continue this tomorrow, where I cross the border, and also the most insane single track/hike-a-bike ever. Also, if you’re lucky, I’ll tell you The Incredibly True Story of Tweedle-Dee and Ass-hat. Stay tuned.
See you down the road,