Hugs, photos, and gear comparisons thinly veiled the underlying anxiety of the unknown challenges ahead. The racers fumbled with their clipless pedals as we rolled out of the parking lot; a little awkward on the machines they knew so well. But, by the time we hit dirt, some of that anxiety seemed to melt away; taken by the land’s natural beauty and settling into their own headspace. They were becoming a part of the trail.
Matt Gindlesparger & I rode with the group for the first 8 miles or so before turning back. We’d originally planned to ride to the first turnoff, 12 miles in, but it was apparent that the time had come to let her get “in” to her race. We stopped briefly, exchanged our good-byes, and went opposite ways on the trail. It was a tough moment for both of us.
Mary rode 110 miles to Elkford, AB, yesterday, passing her first option to stay the night at a cabin at mile 70. This will set her up well to put in another hard day today, with the possibility of arriving at Whitefish Divide very early on the 3rd day. Reports of deep snow on Whitefish have come in, prompting some racers to push hard in an attempt to make the pass in the early morning hours while the snow may still be frozen. She sent us a text yesterday telling us she’d arrived in Whitefish in good spirits & ready to get some sleep. (She will not be sending texts from the US, as she’ll be following GDR rules)
Good-bye to Banff- we’re off to Montana!
Brendan & Matt