Day 1 of the Tour Divide
I might have made a bad decision. When I woke up I had the prerace jitters times 2800 miles of unknown. I seriously considered drinking a beer before I left for the race and it was 5 in the morning. When I arrived at the Banff hostel to await the start of the race, everyone looked like they were a seasoned veteran and I was the only rookie on the line. I knew this wasn’t true, but it certainly felt like it.
My Garmin eTrex 20 had yet to sync up and kept telling me I was off course. None of this is helping my nerves at all. Crazy Larry comes to the front of the crowd and gives his speech on the race. It is a gentleman’s race. No one is out there making sure you follow the rules. The grand prize is nothing.You race the race the way you live your life. If you are willing to give your integrity and cheat, that is up to you. We are instructed to follow behind Team Rice Burner (Billy and Lana Rice) and JP (Jay Petervary). We all take off in a nicely organized blob. When we hit the fence marking the official start line, there is a mass of people putting the hammer down like it is a 9 mile cross county race.
Three wide going down hill around corners, making hard passes in the brush. I am in the back in almost dead last trying to ask everyone pedaling past me what type of GPS they have and if they can figure mine out. No luck. I have a bag of nuts with me, some chocolates and water. It is only 60 miles to the first area with food and resupply. 4 hours tops. I cruise along trying to decide what I am going to do about my GPS. Eating snacks. Couple of hours in I stop to refill my water and use my filter. I have a Sawyer Mini filter, so it takes a few minutes but is very light weight. The terrain is tough. Really tough. After I get back on my bike and start to pedal it starts to sleet. I get out my rain jacket and rain pants.
Within minutes I tear the crotch out of my pants. My crotch is getting wet. My food runs out. This is getting miserable. Really. I get to the first resupply. I am soaking wet from the waist down. I am starving. I am shaking from the cold. I am super dizzy. I really miss home already. I go in to buy food and warm up. I ask if I can sit inside until I quit shaking. I am told it is too busy and I will have to sit outside in the rain with everyone else. Defeated, I go outside, strip down to my underwear and put on every piece of clothing I have. After what seems like a few hours, the sun is out, I am not shaking anymore and I am sure to be dead last and way behind the cut off pace. I get back on my bike with double the food I thought I needed to make it the next 60 miles to my goal stopping point for the night. I hit the road and run into two cool guys and chat and ride with them. Great news, my GPS hits the first way-point and it is tracking fine. We chat about the 2014 Tour Divide. There was pouring rain the first week. I will pass on that. As we approach the power line section which is supposedly the make-or-break point for the first day of racing, it starts to sleet again and harder.
As we drop down elevation it gets warmer and the sleet turns to a drizzle. This is nice but the trails are quickly turning into mud with the consistency of peanut butter. The three of us choose lower gears and keep on pedaling. I luckily had a rear derailleur that was set up to scrape the chain as is passed through. This keeps me shifting smoothly. I am getting tired and weak. The sun goes down, we are still no where near the first town, which will be 20 miles shy of my goal. I run out of food again. The three of us drag ass into town at almost midnight to get food and a hotel room. We have decided to split one. There is a Chinese restaurant connected to the hotel. They are closing up shop but are nice enough to let us get take out. My stomach feels raw from being empty for so many hours. We find out the hotel is all booked. We are going to have to sleep outside. Devin says he is going in to make magic happen. 20 minutes later our food is all ready and we have a place to sleep. Only $30 US each to sleep on the floor of the banquet room. No showers. Don’t care.
I try my best to eat what I can but I feel like I am dying. My heart is racing from the day’s beating. I drink water and lay on the floor. What have I got myself into? I wake up in the middle of the night to my heart still pounding. Drink more water. Still no pee. Fall back asleep.
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