I woke up early this morning and had to wait for Starbucks to open. And tomorrow, the day of the race, I’ll probably do the same. I’ve got to get my fill of good coffee before I’m stuck with “Starbucks Vias!” At least I’ll have those, I guess. I didn’t make much of an effort to taper before the trip and a little early morning caffeine on the trail is worth the weight of my MSR Pocket Rocket and fuel canister (Who cares what the “weight weenies” say out there!).

Memories came flooding back today as I pedaled up Mountain Avenue on my way to Banff Upper Hot Springs. The last time I was in Banff was 15 years ago, driving through with one of my buddies on our way from Alaska down to the lower 48. We took a dip in the hot springs, turned up Tupac wile cruising down Banff Avenue (yeah, real cool), smoked a couple Cuban cigars and got sick because of it.

The hot springs hadn’t changed at all, as far as I could tell. Its still a big, hot swimming pool with a fantastic view. I got in and out a few times over the course of an hour or so. It was just what the doctor ordered. Very relaxing. The anxiety of everything just melted away. This whole day was kind of like that, actually. I did a lot of waiting, but I didn’t mind.

Afterwards I did some last minute stocking up for the trip: new lighter and fuel canister (since I couldn’t bring those on the plane), a few candy bars, and a couple boxes of mac and cheese. The challenge then was to cram it all into my bike bags. I had wanted to keep the weight on my back to a minimum, which is why I ditched the Camelback and went with water bottles, but somehow I ended up with a full pack anyway.

Once I got it all in there I went for a fully-loaded shakedown cruise through the neighborhoods of Banff and down the Spray River Trail again. The altitude has me a little concerned. Little Rock is around 400 ft above sea level and Banff is over 10 times that. Either I’m just nervous or the altitude is affecting me because my jaunt down the trail today had me huffing. I also got passed (pretty quickly) by another fully loaded TD rider. So, the self-talk begins.

The tentative plan for tomorrow is to make it to Elkford Municipal Campground at mile 109. According the elevation profile it looks to be all downhill after mile 65. I do have a backup plan, though. Weary Creek Campground is at mile 82. We’ll see what the day brings. Got to remember to “ride my own ride.”

[Post ride note: I found out the next day that Mike Dion, creator of the “Ride the Divide” movie, was screening “Inspired to Ride,” his latest film, downstairs at the YWCA that night. I was so bummed to have missed it! Where was I, anyway?]