I’ve learned a few things after slamming my body up against a wall for the past few years and then doing the same the next day. No matter how exhausted I am, I will wake up after about 5 hours. I might not be alert and ready to go, but I will generally become conscious for a few seconds. At this point it’s just a matter of will power: let yourself fall back asleep and lose time, or get up and get moving! So at about 4:45 I chose to get moving, the very first one in the campground for that matter. I let out a wake up call to everyone by deflating my air mattress, PSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! The race is on folks! Any who were awakened stirred and then closed their eyes for a few more minutes, I declared victory over the morning pack up. Enjoy the sleep folks, I’m going stateside! If there was anything I wanted to do this year, it was to be up at the hint of daylight and pedaling until not a drop was left. I was on the right track and feeling good, 5 hours sleep is enough to start to recover from most anything. Extra emphasis on the start.
So after a slow 20 minute pack up I was on the road to the quickie mart, I arrived 5 minutes past their opening time which further proved to me that I was starting the day off right. A quick wash up, 3 bottles of gatorade on the small paved climb out of Elkford. I knew about 2/3′s of the day’s riding would be on pavement, flat, and that I could probably make it back stateside in the same day. I had a well of motivation to ride that day as it was still early in the race and it was too soon for any major fatigue. I pedaled the 30 miles to Sparwood in about three hours including a short break. I rolled into town, hit up the A&W for 3 orders of hash-browns. I rolled over to the gas station for a hot cup of coffee and got back on the road. You know there’s nothing like cruising along down a hill at about 15 mph with no hands, sipping on some fresh coffee after knocking out 30 miles in the before 8 AM. A total pro moment, felt good. I may not have finished the race, but I had a lot of moments where I knew what I was doing and felt damn good, and this morning was one of them. I started at the back of the race and knew I had climbed my way into the middle of the pack with relative ease.
I rolled along the 15 miles or so to Fernie, chatting with the occasional racer passing by. Everyone seemed to either be in jerky race face mode, or was SUPER FREAKING COOL. I really hope I fell into the latter category. Upon arriving in Fernie I was greeted by another A&W, “I’ll be modest and just get a double serving of hash-browns this time.” Fried starchy fast food goodness/crappiness. Cheap vegan nutrition is tough to find of the divide, fried potatoes go a long way. I hit up the local grocery store for some gatorade, it was called Overwaitea foods. Say it, “over-weight-eee-a”. Not exactly what I would choose to call a grocery store but hey, we’ll just let this one slide under it being Canada and all, eh? And of course they didn’t sell large bottles of gatorade, just little dinky 20 ounces for $3.29 each. GEEZ CANADA, WE AMERICANS LIKE OUR STUFFS OVERSIZE!!!!! 10 dollars for a third gallon of gatorade from a grocery store??!?!? I expect this from nowhere fishing shacks that nobody visits but talk about robbery. I deliberately went to the grocery store thinking I could get stocked on fluids for 4 dollars and came away sorely disappointed. WHY DOESN’T MY MONEY WORK SO GOOD IN CANADA? Hah hah, I had fun being a dumb American in Canada, it was my first time out of the country and I enjoyed feeling like a boisterous, overconsuming, ass! It’s what we Americans do best! Okay, all kidding aside, Canada is rad, even with their “commie healthcare”.
So leaving Fernie I decided to shoot a rather bland pavement video, I was rather stoked at the time though so the enthusiasm at least carries over.
It had been a mostly tail wind sort of day but the storms were chasing me. I got a solid drenching downpour for about 30 minutes and then it lightened up over the next hour. It’s tough to get upset about the weather so early in the game, and living in Oregon it’s easy to suck it up and say “It’s just rain.” I yoyoed with a bunch of riders as we made our way stateside. No one seemed too sociable, the rain put a damper on an otherwise chill pavement cruise and all the americans just wanted to get stateside, home essentially. Just any little piece of comfort zone helps out there. I shot a rather exasperated and un-enthused video just before turning on the highway to roll to the border.
And the tail wind did indeed push me down the road pretty quickly. Soon I saw the port of entry and felt a major relief. This was where I started my race last year and from here on out I knew I would mostly be on roads I’d already been down once before, score one for the comfort zone. I rolled up to the border real chill like, because that’s how I roll… The border guard was straight cranky.
Border guard: “Passport and snarky mumble….”
Me: “Here you go and huh?”
Border guard: “Pass port and place of residence!”
Me: “Oh uh, Portland, OR”
Border guard: “Okay here, GO ON!”
I figured he was just having a bad day, but his attitude was poopy. I gave it little thought and headed to the First and Last Chance Bar to hit the payphone up and call the parents for an update. I had made it up to about 35th place riding through unfamiliar territory. My parents were impressed and excited, we talked about the weather and various divide news. I recall eating four sticks of vegan jerky while talking, first time I’d had a real protein craving so far and boo ya, there’s my protein! I kept things reasonably brief as I saw another batch of rain was coming in from the north and my dad said rain was indeed on the radar. Time to drop more people I slyly thought. I got on the rode with the distinct feeling I was going to beat the storm despite another rider at the bar saying rain was inevitable. “Buddy I watch it rain all day in Oregon, I will tell you when rain is inevitable!” I rode, I beat the rain and I got a chill Montana valley rainbow on video, win!
The rainbow and being stateside pretty much solidified it as a good day on the divide. I can’t remember much from it so that means it was a good day. It’s the days I remember all too well which are the bad ones for me. I made it to the subway around 7:30, I noticed some riders were already getting a hotel for the night. I smugly patted myself on the back knowing full well I was going to eat and keep on riding until I found a nice place to bivy under the stars. There were plenty of racers coming in and out of the subway/quickie mart, stocking up and doing the maintenance thing. I was in a great mood and looking to be sociable and of course, most were unwilling to chat for long. One dude was being cool though, he seemed kind of frantic but was really chatty. Not too frantic but just that sort of “okay I just rolled into town I gotta get all my ducks in a row and move” type of frantic. I felt it last year on the divide and worked my hardest to suppress the feeling this year. Cool as a cucumber was my general approach to normal aspects of the divide this year, I didn’t want to be “gas station freak out dude” because it happens. People can lose their marbles after being in the middle of nowhere and then finding some sort of semblance of civilization. It’s like a wild ape that’s been chased by a pack of dinosaurs for days wanders into a shell with a credit card and the brain doesn’t know what to do. Anyway, enough ranting about divide gas station drama. I started chatting with Dylan and he seemed reasonably focused, we shot the bull and ate until we decided to team up for the night and find a nice camp spot before dusk. We both got too caffeinated and didn’t ride too far before calling it a night. I was a little disappointed we didn’t go further before calling it a day but then I realized an early day can easily be remedied by an early start, so no big deal. We found a fairly chill spot next to a lake, the mosquitoes weren’t too bad and the view was decent. Dylan and I were over-caffeinated and chatted until too late, but it was great to finally hang with someone and share the experience. I asked Dylan if the border guard was snarky, “Yeah” he replied. Turns out all the Euro’s had been running the border without stopping and showing their passports. I don’t know how anybody could think that they could run an American border in this day and age. They are lucky they didn’t get shot! I really hoped the didn’t attempt to do the same upon reaching Mexico, then they really would get shot trying to come back. Not to joke around about people getting shot here, but jeez, just stop at the border crossing, it’s not hard. Would you run the border crossing between Gaza and Israel? No! So why would you try and run a US border? I don’t know. We knocked out around 11 and slept through a rather calm night. Day two was cached!