Pre-race craziness

So much going on leading up to the Tour Divide! My training really fell apart this year. Part of that was going back to work at Leica and working way too much during my “on” weeks. I’d be exhausted on the weekends and and didn’t get the saddle time needed. It’s OK though, since I’m really only racing myself. My goal is 30 days, and if I hit that, I’m calling it a win!

I finally laid out all my gear this past weekend and packed it on the bike. After taking it down to IL it developed a shifting problem. I got that dialed in and working well after freaking out about it. I also put on new tires and a new chain. I procrastinated all of this though, including some work paperwork that I did the night before leaving. Instead I went boat shopping for my kayak trip to Alaska next summer. It was a fun distraction, but I should really focus more.


Next step was to pack it up for shipping on the plane in a box kindly provided by Jack’s Bikes in Monroe. I like going in to chat with those guys and they’re quite friendly. I went to Rob’s spin class this past winter and he kicked my butt!

A few YouTube videos and some disassembly later, I had it all packed up. I was researching flights and booked with Westjet. I expected only an oversize fee of $75 since it wasn’t overweight. They have one of the better bike policies of all airlines that were an option. However, when I got to the airport I got hosed by Delta, their partner who charged me $150. When I asked about it, in a respectful way the guy at check-in was firm but reasonable. It only got bad when he offered to get a supervisor. She was a total bitch to me before I even said anything. Screw you Delta! I don’t deserve that bullshit, especially after only 3 hours of sleep the night before. Maybe this frequent business traveler should book flights with other airlines.

My first flight was smooth except take-off. I’ve problem been on 1000 flights and not much bothers me. This was one of the only times I thought I might die. Very shortly after take-off we abruptly pitched down and rolled right, hard. Just as abruptly as it came, it went. I looked around and no one else seemed concerned. It sure as hell wasn’t normal though. Whatever, nap time. I woke up to the hard landing in Toronto. Has this guy flown before?

Customs was uneventful except a few strange looks at the bike. I boarded my flight to Calgary and was asleep before push back. It’s a gift of mine. I can sleep through any flight. At this point I don’t even know if I could stay awake. I’ve wondered what would happen if I was ever next to a pretty girl that felt really chatty. I’d probably nod off before we hit 10,000 ft. She’d probably feel less chatty after a few hours of snoring (and my luck, likely drooling), such is life. No such problem on this flight though. When I woke up I was a bit confused, we were on the ground and I felt like I slept a while. Were we in Calgary? Nope! Apparently we were sitting on the tarmac and headed back to the gate. I slept though whatever the announcement was, no idea what happened. Mechanical issue? Knowing my luck it was the same rookie pilot from the last flight. “We’re missing a wing? Should OK though, the other one is still good, let’s fly!” We put a lot of faith in pilots. Do yourself a favor and don’t read about the Air France flight from Brazil. Anyway, after 90 mins delay we flew out and managed to make up 30 mins enroute.

Arrival in Calgary was fine and I caught the shuttle to the Holiday Inn Calgary Airport. I had to change rooms since they forgot to clean the shower. I kid you not, there was roughly a cup of sand scattered on the shower floor complimented by a few wads of hair. The new room seemed fine except that neither room had any air-conditioning to speak off. I had it running full blast for my entire stay and it never cooled down a bit. Oh, not hot showers either. What’s up Holiday Inn? I normally love you guys. I got my bike together and noticed my rear derailleur looked bent and I had JUST fixed it. Nothing was working out for me.


Next day my luck would turn around. It had to, right? Nope! I rode back to the airport on my bike to catch the shuttle to Banff. I was originally going to ride there, but I wasn’t up for a 70 mile ride with how I felt. On the way, a bunch of roads were closed. No biggie in a car, but on a bike that’s a big problem! My 10 mile ride turned into 20. And don’t tell the cops, but I rode through a tunnel restricted to cars only. I wasn’t making another 5 mile detour. From there it actually was smooth.

I loved the views of the Canadian Rockies. I rode my bike around Banff and enjoyed the views and taking careful mental notes of all the little clicks and creaks to get checked out at the bike shop.


The hostel was decent enough too. I stayed at the Samesun, no AC, but I got a fan. Add that to a clean and hot shower for $35/night and it’s a clear win over the Holiday Inn.

The next morning I went out for some fun riding and finally started meeting some other racers from all over: California, Kansas, Tasmania. I also chatted with this nice couple from Texas. I got great views too of the historic inn.


I rode some dirt multi-use trails and got about 12 miles in before dropping off my bike at the shop. Hopefully they’ll have it ready before close this evening and I can street race with the cars between lights again. I’d say I’m winning about 70%. Is it illegal to street race if I’m on a bike? Actually, don’t tell me. Even if ignorance isn’t an exemption from the law, at least it’s bliss.

Ride happy friends,



3 thoughts on “Pre-race craziness

  1. Fantastic, Parks. I admire your drive to get out and explore and I am looking forward to following your ride.

  2. One time, I’d been awake for most of a week, got on a plane, heard the announcement of mechanical trouble, but fell asleep before we made it back to the gate. I only woke up when they had turned off the AC (in south TX) and the flight attendants were kicking the last stragglers off! Good luck!

  3. Yay Parks! Good luck buddy, I’m sure you will do great! We’ll be following your progress.

    From the nice couple in Texas
    Linda and Ray

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