Welcome to the most expensive free race in the world!!!!
Now let's take a minute to define expensive.
Where not just talking $.
Where talking thought expense.....
And then add the $$$.....
And yes maybe now you understand why its the most expensive free race.
I learned a harsh lesson about bike travel in 2011. So when I planned the logistics for this start I made sure to:
#2 arrive early.
I wanted to make sure I didn't lose my bike and also make sure you that if they did lose my bike , give them enough time to find it.
Flight 1 had me going from Orlando via united to Houston Texas. It was a very smooth flight, I made a friend on the plane and handed out my first 411 card. After a lay over and a way to grainy lunch ( should of skipped the rice) I got on the flight to Calgary. It was a very uncomfortable trip.... I swear I asked for a window seat but instead ended up sandwiched between two not very friendly people.
O well.... Plus since I am usually not a grain eater my stomach hurt and the discomfort persisted the entire trip.
I read a little , slept a little... But if anything my time in the military taught me it was to be patient.... as the saying goes... hurry up and wait!!!!
Once off the plane my first concern was the status of my bike. Sure enough I saw it, sideways laying on the tarmac. Normally I would be bothered by the poor handling, but I was elated that the bike had made it. I got my bike and the box looked solid, no damage to note. I made it thru customs without incident. Seems they are very aware of the race.. And the first thing I did was grab a Starbucks. Then I checked in with my shuttle. They took my bike and I went to look for food.. That coffee had killed my hunger and I should of just stuck with my celebratory drink. But I ordered an over priced appetizer and left the place with another bloated gut feeling uncomfortable...
On the shuttle I met a nice lady who told me about a trail I could ride out of Canmore that would take me to Banff on an all dirt option. The trail was goat creek , so I made a mental note and got off the shuttle waiting for my warm showers host.
The race starts in Banff, but you've probably noticed I got off at Canmore. Well I had initially reserved a room near the start. But austerity measures kicked in and instead I cashed in my warm showers karma ticket and stayed with some good folks. They even picked me up. I was all set in tune with my tight budget.
I met Alex an Australian born fat/mountain/road touring cyclist. The next morning I met Megan and there little ball of adorable named Finn.
Alex is very knowledgeable and when I asked him about goat creek I got a low down on that and more. Between his detailed descriptions and Megan's information, I ended up with a map and a destination for a test ride the next day after building my bike.
The bike was mostly fine. The stem that holds the bar took a big hit and was crooked. Along with my previous existing riv nut issue I had a few things to resolve..
The first shop I went too took care of retorquing my stem but he couldn't immediately look at my riv nut. The second shop I went too fixed my riv nut on the spot. In route I had noticed that my rear brake was not working and the mechanic noticed a bad kink at the lever. He told me the cost to fix it but also mentioned that he didn't have any openings for a week. I told him I already had an appointment for Wednesday and I was off.
Not wanting to waste the day even though I was down to one brake I headed up whitemans pass towards the goat Creek trailhead.
I never know what's gonna happen when I get in the mountains. Sometimes I am blessed with super speed and power, Others I am barely scraping along. Regardless I thought it was important to test myself and see what my legs would do. The pitch was moderate , the pace was steady and only a few miles long.
As I made my way up, I passed a herd of goats and then came across two riders who after a brief chat , I discovered they where going to the same destination as myself. Naturally I was going faster and after snapping a pic of the well earned vista, it was only a mile or so before I made the trailhead.
It was freezing cold up at the top and because I was alone I decided to wait for the other riders. We took off together and again being more experienced I would get ahead then stop and wait for them to pass to take more pictures. The trail was super fun and was mostly downhill .
During the ride I introduced myself and Susan and Greg were soon my new friends. We finished the trail together then they showed me what Tim Hutton's was all about. After lunch we parted ways and I rode to the lodge to find some of the riders I had been talking too on the internet for so long. We all hung out chatting for awhile eventually got some over priced dinner. During dinner it started raining and I layered up and left sprinting as fast as I could back to town on the legacy bike trail. The path ends abruptly and you end up riding on the interstate for a few miles before arriving back in Canmore.
I was soon back at my host home cleaned up and settled into another restless night. The sun doesn't set till 11 pm and then rises at 5 am totally throwing me off..
The next day I got up and took my bike in to get worked on and not even an hour later it was done. After having drinks and lunch with Steve Martine I took the bus into Banff and spent another evening hanging out meeting and talking to racers.
I slept better that night but didn't tell asleep till 1 am.
Today I tied up loose ends. Mailed stuff home and then attended the big dinner. I returned to shop for the race food and packed up my bike tight and ready for the big long ride that I have ahead.
I'm very anxious to get out of Canada and back to the states everything here cost way more then it should.
The time is almost upon us:
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Its Game time baby,
The NaKeD InDiAN