Tour Divide on the brain

This has been the perfect winter for biking. The ski season has been absolutely rubbish. But the trails are dry in March! (well, a bit dry… some of them). And because of my plan to ride the Tour Divide in June, I’ve been riding a lot. An awful lot. Ok, nowhere near so much as some other people out there are, but given the constraints of full time work, plus a husband and small child, I’ve been spending a good chunk of my waking moments spinning my pedals.

This is by far the most organised I’ve ever been in attempting to gain bike fitness, and so far I’m feeling strong, and not at all bored or burnt out. It helps that I’ve had some variety in the rides on offer. There’s been snow biking, road biking, trainer spinning, gravel grinding, epic rain rides, dry singletrack, and random loops that incorporate a bit of everything.

Some of my rides from the last couple of months

Most of my riding is from home, so heading to Banff is a pretty common theme, either coming or going via the Goat Creek trail. This is the picturesque bridge that survived the floods of 2013 (unlike the Spray River bridge).

The crusty snow makes for lousy skiing, but easy fat biking (look, not a trace of my passage) (it is quite bumpy though)

I’ve been hunting down the Parks Canada red chairs all over the place. These are the ones by the picnic area on the Legacy Trail.

Rundle Riverside is the rooty singletrack option between Banff and Canmore. It would make for the perfect fat bike loop from the Nordic Centre round to Banff and back via Goat Creek – if only the Nordic Centre allowed fat bikes past the meadow. As it was, I may have snuck out there early one morning, on crusty icy snow, before anyone was up and skiing and able to spot me.

Cascade Mountain from the Tunnel Mountain loop

Rusty golf ball on a giant tee? Banff is full of mysteries.

A dreary cold day of mizzle, drizzle and snow – Lake Minnewanka is starting to look a little melty around the edges.

And finally, my old friend, the pass ride. It’s a really easy way to get in a good climb on gravel. From town, it’s a climb of about 400m over 6km. Or if you just count the gravel section, it’s 230m over 2.7km. Never impossibly steep, but a nice consistent grade.

Apart from the riding, I still have some gear organising to do – I know what I want, but I just don’t have everything yet. The biggest thing is a new titanium frame, from Triton Bikes. It will hopefully be shipped to me any day now, but they’re a swamped small business, and it’s taken longer than I was hoping.

Otherwise, I need to get a final bike fit done, do some fiddling to optimise my electronics setup, bug Scott at Porcelain Rocket for some new frame bags, practice some of my mechanical skills, make a few low priority decisions about what really needs to come with me, maybe track down some better versions (or newer versions) of gear I already have… then it’s just doing the final print of my basic cues, putting the route track on the gps, final bike service, and ride!

Oh, and I need to decide whether I want to ride the extra 28km or so from home to the start line in Banff. It’s tempting, but the first couple of days will already be pretty epic… hmmm.

2 thoughts on “Tour Divide on the brain”

  1. Colour me jealous. Excepting that we are planning some family hiking and biking trips this summer, I might be lined up with you. I would also like to do it with the kids one year before they get too cool and too fast for me.
    There is no question, you want to do the extra riding to the start. To irreverently paraphrase Lao Tsu, “The Journey of 3000 miles begins with a 28km warmup”.

    1. I’m pretty excited! Although there’s some guilt about stealing all of the annual vacation time to do it, so the rest of the family won’t get to do any big trips this year. Maybe we’ll do a family bikepack in Mongolia next year? Or New Zealand? Or Iceland? Or Israel? Or the Chilcotins? Too many places to go!

      Heh, the journey of 3000 miles really should begin with a 28km warmup too… I’m leaning towards it, unless the weather is as awful as it was last year.

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