On the first day, as i climbed outta Banff with 170 strangers, i chatted in and out of conversation with bunches of folk. plenty of veterans with advise to pass on.
“don’t worry about you miles the first couple of days.”
“everyday will bring new challenges…none insurmountable”
“if you make it to Whitefish, you’ll finish.”
and i pedaled ignorantly along. knowing that i didn’t know what in tarnation i got myself into. i was riding on terrain that i would have used trekking poles to hike. in the freezing, pouring rain…without enough food to eat, and without a clue. i fell like Bottom-Bracket in the first stream crossing (and must have lost the safety to my bear spray)
i stopped to eat some snacks under a tree off the trail. i was losing my fine motor skills and was shivering uncontrollably when i tried to eat. i packed up my snacks as quickly as i could and picked up my bike. a puffy cloud of orange shot me in the chest. i knew i was screwed. i turned my head, closed my eyes, and held my breath. and then i fumbled with the bear spray long enough to know my fingers weren’t with the program. i mounted my bike and pedaled off. on fire.
i met up with a fella who informed me that the nearest services were 35 miles away. i put my head down and pedaled. i could not wipe the rain from my face or the sweat from my eyes. i knew it would be okay. i knew i’d solve the problem. for 35 miles i focused on refining my fine line between sensation and pain.
i made my way to a lodge for seniors. i explained my situation to the fella at the desk. he denied me a shower, but allowed me to use the washer/dryer. it helped. and while my layers were being decontaminated, i got inside my sleeping bag and thawed. and i recovered, pedaled on to the campsite and ate chips for dinner. no one who stayed at Bolton that night planned to go only 60 miles. my tent was pitched by 10:30 and i was in it by 11. i was still awake at 4. the combination of the early 90’s band reunion campsite across from me, and the proprioceptive activity of my thighs…where the bear spray had been pooling all day long…did not provide for restful conditions. whatevs…i potty trained Devlin.
i was up at 6 and out by 7 the next morning. i planned to grab some provisions at the trading post, but it did not open until 9. i couldn’t wait, so i pushed off with a few pitas and some peanut butter. do people know how awful canadian peanut butter is? i completely failed at nutrition for the first day. i learned that lesson quickly, and never succumbed again. wellness retreat here on out!
i mostly pushed my bike over Elk Pass. up and over a power-line road. in the muddy mud mud. and i realized that it was gonna take me an awful long time to get out of Canada.
once i got on the dirt road to Elkford, i leapfrogged with lots of folk. i was DYING to eat anything but canadian peanut butter by the time we finally made it to town. I sat at a table of four, and we banded together for the next few days.
we were the back-of-the-packers. i assure you, we were having a grand time!
we helped each other learn to navigate, to camp comfortably, to eat well, to repair our bikes, to hang our food, to laugh, to adventure cycle.
forever grateful for Jo, and Terry, and Owen, and Coach. the steep mountain pass climbs, the brakeless descents, the waiting for each other, the support, the jokes, the coffee…the time of my life…
i said i was with them till Whitefish. we more or less we stuck together. it felt like a real special time. it’s tough to pedal away from those kind of times.
we turned into white dots. which is appropriate. i am touring the divide. like a champ.
Jacob scooped me up as soon as i rolled into town. my bike got new brakes and a computer, so i can navigate on my own now. i got warm hugs and cold beers. and got to take a minute to reflect on what i just accomplished. HOLY SHIT! i just rode my 30lb steel framed bike through the Canadian Rockies!!!
it rained all day and i powered down. went to town to scoop up my bike and say adios to my friends. i drank coffee and ate my standard bacon, egg, cheese, and tomato bagel.
i did some laundry and dried all my gear. i went for a hike in Glacier, and a beer at the bar. i stretched my muscles and iced my knees.
i spent my day in the comfort and love of my longtime adventure partner. the fella that was with me at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the top of the Grand Teton. the fella that was with me as we drank from puddles in the desert and thawed snow to drink in -10 degrees on a x-country ski overnight at Jenny Lake. my day was perfect.
i changed my flight and my finish line.
i’m riding to to top of Union Pass. i am touring the divide. i am once-in-a-lifetiming.
This fella, Owen, has been taking photos and posting them to his blog. Check it out: