Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Paradise in a bubble, part two

Right now, I feel happier than I have in a while. I credit both having finally made a definite decision about riding the Divide, and the stunning scenery of the Canadian Rockies. The word "healing place" is overused, especially in the context of the most photographed spots in Canada, but there's a reason these places draw so many people. They really do mean something.

I set out on Leslie's cruiser this morning to check out the first few miles of the Spray River Trail, where the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route begins. I actually meant to go on a few errands, which is why I had the cruiser in the first place, but the trail was in such great shape that it didn't even matter. The weather again was gorgeous - just cloudy enough to block the sun, but warm and dry.

Then, instead of going on my errands, I veered off on some horse trails and ended up at the hot springs, where I parked the bike and set out on foot up the Sulfur Mountain Trail. You can take a gondola up to the top, but the walk is much more fun - about 6 kilometers with 2,500 feet of elevation gain. There was snow at the top. New snow. Not to mention a whole lot of people wearing flip-flops.

But regardless of whether you walk or ride, everyone gets to look at the same scenery.

And the best part about walking to the upper terminal of a gondola is you can have a fountain Diet Pepsi and a $5 brownie at the summit before heading back down.

I spent the afternoon actually doing my errands. It's bad to start a big event in a town with all kinds of outdoor gear stores, because I end up second guessing all of my stuff and buy new, untested things. I switched out gear hours before both Iditarod races, and for this ride I decided to buy a new rain coat. It's probably a good thing. My old one was a soft-shell pullover with no hood, and I don't know what I was thinking. I'm going for the seam-sealed, pull-string bottom, fully waterproof jacket with a hood. Bring on the downpours.

In the evening, Leslie and I drove out to Lake Louise for more hiking. I hiked Sulfur Mountain a little hard and was already feeling it in my quads, so I was hoping for an easy evening stroll. But Leslie is a distance trail runner, so for her easy is 10 kilometers and 1,700 feet of elevation gain.

Probably not the best taper strategy. But, really, is it best to relax before a big push, or is it better to get fired up?

I'm gonna go with fired up.

I have to say, since the only thing I accomplished was buying my food and a new rain coat, which I probably didn't even need, and let more than 4,000 feet of direct impact pound my legs, which they probably also didn't need, that this has been a most unproductive day. And yet I feel so revitalized right now, that if I could go back to this morning, I wouldn't change anything about today.

Thursday is the last day before Tour Divide begins. I hope to do that thing I've been actively avoiding, which is a round-up blog post about the race. But since I also have to do that other thing I've been actively avoiding, which is prepare for the race, I'll have to wait and see if I can find the time. But stay tuned!