Hopefully, the first step is the hardest

image

OH NO! WOBBLY BIKES, YIKES!!!

Without boring everyone on all the details, a lot of research and preparation went into just getting us to the start of the trail. That being said, with everything in life there are going to be some surprises. Who knew our youth hostel private room offered barely enough room for us and our gear to coexist.

image

It took a lot more time than we imagined in getting everything put back together. We had spent several days taking everything apart and carefully packing everything into 3 cardboard bike boxes, and a box for the trailer. Really don’t know why I expected everything to go together much faster. Sadly we only budgeted one extra day in Banff to prepare. It really was barely enough time so we did not have a lot of time to enjoy Banff before heading off. It is truly a beautiful and magical place, but as such, there were a lot of tourists.

View from downtown Banff

View from downtown Banff

Bike friendly Banff

Bike friendly Banff

Church downtown Banff

Church downtown Banff

View from Main Street Banff

View from Main Street Banff

Up to the final hour of needed departure we were still trying to figure out how to put everything we thought we needed onto our bikes and “Bob” our bike trailer that I would be pulling. Finally it became clear that we could just not bring it all, so off Denise went to mail the extra ahead to a post office on our route. Finally it was time to leave or we would not make our first campsite before dark. Well guess what? I am sure you have heard stories about people building boats in their garages and not being able to get them out when finished. Well, two assembled fully loaded bikes, a fully loaded trailer, and two people in an extremely small room made for a very interesting Tetris puzzle. It took us 30 minutes just to get everything out of the room!

Finally out the front door, we were slammed with the reality that Denise’s overloaded bike and my overloaded trailer did not behave anything like our test trip in the Laguna’s. The bikes where so unstable we were actually afraid to pull out of the parking lot much less head out on a 2700 mile adventure. I hid my concern from Denise as much as possible and knew this could be the end before we even started, as we must be able to control our bikes. We looked at each other and decided to just go for it. Pulling out into the street I could tell it was going to be interesting trying to keep tailer  “Bob” from being boss of my bike. It was totally like learning to ride a bike for the first time again.

The good news was we had about a mile to road before we started out on the trail behind the fancy Fairmont Springs Hotel. As we passed thru their parking lot I almost ran over several people out of control and got some very mean looks. I saw Denise wrestling her beast (now known as BUCK) also with two over weighted saddle bags trying to take her anyway but straight! We stopped for a picture and tried to regroup. Secretly I had my doubts, and if Denise had said she didn’t think she could pull it off, I would have agreed and we would have come up with a plan “B”

Surprisingly,  I came up with, “I think we just need to readjust the loads a little lower to the ground, lets just try to get to the first campsite and we will deal with it there”. Good news was, she bought it, and down the trail we went. Luckily there was no one else on the trail for us to maim. However at mile one we saw the largest male Elk I have ever seen, standing in the middle of the trail. We managed to stop before hitting him and I got to count his rack as 14 points. Seeing the Elk brought us back to reality that all the trouble it took to get to this point, was really worth it. So we pedaled on.

Mt Laguna test ride

Bike Prep

We went to the Laguna’s for a test ride. This was the first time with the trailer and saddle bags. First day we felt the altitude some, 5,000 ft. but by day two we were fine. Trailer pulled great and Denise did fantastic handling the weight on the back of her bike with the saddle bags. Ended up riding about 75 miles over 3 days. Was a beautiful place to ride and got us very excited about our upcoming adventure


 

Where does it all go???

Ride Gear

How do you get three months of gear onto two Mt. Bikes. Well you start with a trailer, then you add saddle bags, seat bags, top tube bags, top rack bag, and a bag of tricks. Hoping as we ride some things will just bounce their way off!


 

He said, she said

We are asked a lot about why we are doing this. The polite way of saying “are you crazy”

He said:

Well if you tell enough people you are going to do something, then eventually you begin to believe you can pull it off. I have had my doubts since we first started thinking about doing this over a year ago. Not from the physical aspect per say, as most might think, but more from the, do I really want to put my 60 year old body through a possible 90 day camping trip?!?! Sure there will be some hotel days but this is basically a long nomadic camping trip on bikes. Yikes!

I admit it, I love a nice bed, 2.5 nice meals a day (not prepared by me), an occasional trip to a luxurious pool, and certainly a warm water surf session as often as possible.  I am spoiled! There I said it. But, having taken on two Ironman’s I have learned you CAN DO ANYTHING you really set your mind to. I just needed to get on board with camping for 2700 miles with only what you can carry on two Mt. Bikes. Then I watched the move, Ride the Divide. If you haven’t watched it, and you are on this blog site, then you should. Netflix has it. It is all the movie’s fault. I love adventure, and this is pure adventure.

In the movie they are racing 2700 miles which to me is crazy. Without really thinking, I thought wow, this would be a lot of fun to do, not as a race but as a really long ride. I love long bike rides and have always thought riding a bike a across America would be the perfect way to really get to see our beautiful country. I told Denise about it thinking there is no way she would be up for something as crazy as this. To my surprise, she came back with, yea thats the one I told you about, “I think it would be fun”. I forgot how much she loves camping, so I walked right into my own trap.

She said:

Hans introduced me to long bike rides.  I’ve always loved a good day on my mountain bike but he had me out on the road racking up miles in preparation for various triathlons, my one and only Half Ironman, and my longest ride to date which was 72 beautiful  miles around Lake Tahoe.  He would often talk about wanting to ride across America but he was talking road bike. Road bike, paved roads, cars-lots of cars- their exhaust, and a ridiculous amount of miles.  I knew that was a trip I would never make.

Years ago I tore out a page from a magazine and put it in my travel folder of places/things I’d like to see or do someday.  It was an article about a new trail that was being built along the Continental Divide and they were trying to raise money in order to link all the existing trails together to form one continuous mountain bike trail from Canada to Mexico. I never heard anything about it again until one day I happened to see “Ride the Divide” on the list of documentaries available from Netflix. I watched the movie and even though I moved it into a much higher position on my To Do list, going for a 2700 mile ride  was still not something I thought was in my near future. But then Hans watched the movie and all of a sudden we were saying “We should DO this!”

 

In summary, she says it was her idea and I agree when I am not wanting to do it. I say it was my idea when I think it was a good idea. If we make it, IT WAS MY IDEA! if we don’t, I CANT BELIEVE I LET HER TALK ME INTO IT!