Preface: To get more background on this event or watch a movie about my experience, see my Tour Divide 2010 | Movie & Gear post.
June 11th – it was finally time. Leaving Annie behind in the hotel room, I rode through Banff towards the staging area for the race. I remember it being very cold that morning. So cold that, for a moment, I thought about going back to the hotel and getting more layers. However, that would mean potentially carrying extra weight for 2,475 miles.
As I rolled through the crisp, quiet streets, I caught a glimpse of two, loaded bikes parked in front of a convenience store. No doubt, the racers inside the store were trying to get last minute “must-haves” before they were thrown to the mercy of the trail. The first resupply was not for at least 60 miles.
To be honest, I found the start of the Tour Divide to be nerve-racking and a little confusing. Matt Lee sent out a late post with instructions on how the race was going to start. When I got to the designated “starting point”, however, just two other racers were there. Going around to the front of the YMCA building, we found the rest of the fools who had submitted letters of intent. Matt Lee was shouting out a few announcements and handing out cards with some info about SPOTS.
What did he say? Did I need a card? Still not sure what was going on, we huddled together for some photos and then it just “happened” – we rolled out.
Prior to the start, I didn’t chat much with the other riders because I was vigilantly trying not to miss any announcements and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with Annie and my parents. The last thing I did before I crossed the starting point and headed out into the wilderness was kiss Annie goodbye and tell her that I loved her.
Fortunately, the Ski Stop had sponsored a BBQ dinner for the riders the night before, so I did have an opportunity to meet some of the other racers. It was an interesting bunch and I really enjoyed getting to know a few of them. However, to be honest, I can’t say that I liked everyone I met.
Some maintained very unapproachable attitudes, while others were more interested in trying to flirt with the scant number of women in the race. I still cling to a childish sense of karma, so I did take some satisfaction in that, by Day 2, I dropped these people and never saw them again.
Back to the race… By mile 8, I already had my first mechanical problem – chain suck! My chain was so smashed between the frame of my Salsa Mamasita bike and the small chain ring that I had to break a link in order to retrieve and remount it. This happened a total of 3 times that first day and a half-dozen more times throughout the race. I learned that, when I was shifting my front derlailleur, anything beyond “ghost” pedaling was asking for trouble.
Besides the problems with my chain and some minor bonking around mile 70, I felt good rolling into Sparwood around 11pm. The only hotel in town was totally booked, so I ended up crammed in a room with 7 other racers that night.