Saturday, 8 October 2016

Tour Divide 2016: Pre-Race

Kristin and I arrived in Banff a couple of days before the race.  We drove down from St. Albert and stayed in a hotel in Banff.  It was nice to see some sights and relax a bit before the race.  We drove the “long way” by going down the Icefield Parkway and stopped at Bow Summit to take a look around at Peyto Lake.  Beautiful views.

Peyto Lake

It was nice to take our time and stop whenever we wanted.  As we were driving that road we reflected on the time we toured that road from Jasper to Banff in 2012.  That was our first bike tour where we met Laurent who first introduced us to the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.  Kristin was actually the one most interested in the route and did the initial research and reading about the Tour Divide.  She became quite obsessed with it actually.  I didn’t become interested in it until after my first successful 24 hour solo race in 2014.  I always thought it would be out of my reach until I learned how limits can be broken.  I thought riding for 24 hours was crazy and somewhat unachievable and after I discovered with a bit of training and preparation, anything was possible.  Once I learned that, I thought maybe this Tour Divide thing was an achievable goal.  I did the 24 hour solo race on my single speed the next year in 2015 to confirm riding the Tour Divide on a single speed was realistic.

After arriving in Banff, we walked up Johnston Canyon.  Kristin wanted to find the hidden cave where you can get a cool shot where the rock looks like the floating islands in Avatar.  With a bit of hiking, we found it.

Johnston Canyon Cave

On the drive back to Banff, we saw a group of Tour Divide riders.  It was exciting it was finally happening!  The whole time driving around in Banff, we would see riders in their gear riding on the streets.  We would excitedly say, “Tour Divide” whenever we spotted one.  I thought of their situation flying in from wherever they were from and only having their Tour Divide gear to live in.  I guess their adventure started a few days before the race.  It was nice having a vehicle to drive around in. That’s the benefit of being a “local” I guess.

We also stopped at the Cave and Basin.  It is the first national park in Canada and with all the times I have been to Banff, I never went.  Interesting place with the sulphur-smelling water.

Cave and Basin in Banff - Smelly!

The whole time walking around I was paranoid I was going to twist an ankle, but thankfully that did not happen.  The day before the race, I went for a small activation ride down Spray River Trail and got the obligatory photo at the sign.

Start of Spray River Trail

There I met Dana Martinelli and Tom Rowntree.  We talked a bit about the upcoming race and what our expectations were.  I wondered if I would ever see them again.  In the case of Tom I would see him a fair amount in the race. 

This little ride was valuable!  I discovered my camera didn’t work when I tried to take a picture of the Banff Springs Hotel.  It turns out my little camera could only take so many adventures and it was full of grit.  Turning it on resulted in a horrible grinding sound as the lens tried to extend.  Also, my water bladder bite valve had deteriorated somehow.  So, the night before the race and I had to find a camera that ran on AA batteries and a bladder bite valve.  We walked around Banff and managed to find what we needed.  The bite valve failing was one of the best things that happened.  I got a new one with a longer hose which made drinking much more pleasant on the days to follow.

So off to bed to race tomorrow.  I am glad I have no trouble sleeping like I have heard others do.  Slept great!

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