I just got off the phone with Joe who was gracious enough to call and let me 'grill' him the afternoon before the start of the Tour Divide. What follows is a rough notation of all that he had to say. Apologies to Joe if I get any of it terribly wrong.
Joe said travel to Banff was pleasantly uneventful. No problems with flights or the shuttle bus he took from Calgary to Banff. He did say the shuttle ride was through some truly beautiful countryside.
He says it is great fun to be with all these people that have come from all over the world. He met two guys from Ohio, one from Toledo and the other from Cleveland. Joe grew up in Michigan, not far from the one fellow.
There is a rider who shipped his bike to Banff...and it has not yet arrived. Terrible news for that person.
Joe was a bit surprised that some folks did not really have their gear dialed in yet, and are frantically trying to figure out where to mount cycle computers and other assorted gear.
Joe on the other hand said his stuff is ready to go, so he has been trying to relax. He said he spun around town for 20 minutes today and hit a grocery store. Said he can feel the altitude a bit and feels like his heart rate is up. He doesn't monitor his heart rate on a regular basis. There is a BBQ tonight that serves as the pre-race meeting and allows everyone to meet and mingle.
He said it is cool to see the different bikes and gear setups that folks are using. He's heard that record holder John Nobile isn't carrying a sleeping system and is intending to find shelter when needed. Joe agreed that he is probably carrying a minimalist emergency blanket at least however.
The weather today in Banff is gorgeous, but calls for some rain showers at times tomorrow.
He said there is a lot of talk among various riders of trying to break 20 days.
My understanding is that this year's course is taking a new, off-road route through the Flathead region. Joe said they still don't have the cue sheets for that section but are told they will receive them tonight. He's a bit nervous about that. He's been told that there are people out there flagging it today.
All in all, Joe said his nerves are good. He said he's had trouble sleeping today but has forced himself to lay down and just stay still for 20 minutes at a time.
He said he's excited and that it is a great group of people readying themselves for this adventure. He met two folks from the United Kingdom that have done the event before and have returned to do it again, bringing with them a few more of their countrymen. He said all the Brits are on 29'ers.
Tomorrow morning at 10 AM Mountain Standard Time the Tour Divide 2009 is on. Joe said he expects the race to break into several big pieces right from the start. There is a place to get some food 60 miles down the trail, and then it is something like another 70 or 80 miles to the next town. Some folks are aiming at 130 miles or so tomorrow, but he said some others are looking at more like 160.
What will Joe do? We will see tomorrow.
Joe, in case you are reading this tonight at an internet cafe or on a borrowed laptop, everyone here wishes you the best of luck. There has already been too much internal debate as to whether you will ever wash your shorts during this adventure...but I encourage you to do so if you get the chance!
Rubber side down! Ride safe! Enjoy the journey!