Sunday, 9 July 2017

Tour Divide Prelude

SYD to SFO to YYC to Banff

Monday 5th June.  Getting on a plane with a box can be tricksy but having Anita as chauffeur got me to the airport in good time and unstressed.  There was even the bonus of discovering that the flight was actually at 1 pm and not at 10 am as originally supposed.  It pays to look at the deets. 

The flight to SFO was uneventful albeit typically uncomfortable, capped off by possibly the worst cup of coffee I've had in about 10 years at SFO.  Come the flight to Calgary I had a window seat but the sleep monster was about to have its way and I lacked the presence of mind to dig out the camera from my bag before settling in.  I regretted this immediately upon waking, with spectacular views of the Rockies coming into view.  The isle was choked amidst full service making camera extraction impossible.  For the next hour I got a birds eye view of the northern half of what I'd be riding down.  The Yellowstone Massif, in particular, stood out; a complicated island of intertwined icy peaks, plateaus and valleys, sort of like Tassie, but girthed by a massive tan expanse of the Great Basin to the south (as far as could be seen), and a straight of snow-free rugged mountain wilderness to the north, before snow started to dominate the upper climes again, and more of the dramatic white stuff crossing the border into Canada. Wow! Now I could see why it was going to take me 10 days to traverse what I'd just seen.  Maybe 10 days wouldn't be sufficient, given the amount of snow evident. Paper maps and topographics just don't do the terrain justice.  Now I was excited!

This excitement was soon to tempered a little by the long-range forecast.  Lovely fine weather to continue right up the Friday (the start), whence a solid wet spell was predicted to dominate.   My travels ended in somewhat dramatic fashion once the bus arrived at my hotel in Banff where inexplicably I couldn’t locate the plastic sleeve containing ALL of my credit cards.  I just couldn’t believe it.  I thought I’d been so careful.  Of all the bloody things I could have lost.  I’d only just used them at the airport an hour prior.  The front desk was super helpful contacting the airport as well as the shuttle bus, while I went to my room and began the process of having everything cancelled.  I was speaking with a lady from my bank back home, just about to execute cancellation, when the room phone rang announcing that they’d been located on the bus.  Somehow they’d escaped my bursting carry-on whilst removing my camera.  Disaster averted!  I really excel at piling on the stress sometimes.

The remaining few days were spent putting the bike together and doing some short test rides around the local area whilst marveling at the peaks looking down from seemingly impossible heights.  I also loaded up on food, sunscreen, bear spray and other items I thought I was going to need, as well as trying to figure out where all these items were going to fit on my overloaded bike.

The night before the Grand Depart many of the riders collected for an informal briefing hosted by one “Crazy Larry”, who regaled us with stories and advice while we got to know some fellow riders.  A good rainstorm hosed the street above, just to give us a taste of what we might be in for.  Nothing more to be done now other than try to get some sleep and not miss the start of the Tour Divide!

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