I sat in my hotel room at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 8th, all geared up and ready to go. My water was loaded. The feed bag on my handlebars had fast-acting insulin and food for the day. The set of maps I needed for day one was loaded in the GPS. The sun wasn't quite up yet, but it soon would be, as sunrise was right around 5:00 a.m. - the scheduled time of my departure.
One hundred and nine miles was the plan for the day, taking me to the first real town on the route, Elkford, Canada. This included one pass over the Continental Divide at about 6,500 feet and a total of 7,000 feet of vertical on the day.
I spoke with my fiancée Diane via FaceTime for a while before I left. Putting her own concerns aside, she had been my unyielding pillar of support as I attempted this race for a second time. I wasn't exactly sure when I would be able to see or speak with her again.
As I left the hotel on my loaded bike, there was not another person stirring in Banff. It was extremely quiet and still. It was just too early for the tourists and residents to be awake yet.
I stopped at the start of the trail and made a quick TwitCast [see video above] thanking everyone for the support and encouragement. You just can't imagine how much I truly appreciated every word of every message. I called Diane one more time to tell her I love her and not to worry. Right…
Afterward, I sat on my bike for a minute and looked at the trail ahead of me disappearing into the thick forest nestled between the mountains. I was at the start of a 2,745-mile journey which needed to be completed alone. The end seemed like a lifetime away.
And I was frightened. Petrified actually. To the point of almost just saying forget it and heading back to the hotel.
But an uncountable number of people facing diabetes, whether they are personally dealing with the disease or acting as an "artificial pancreas" for a loved one or child, have similar feelings each and every day.
These brave souls do not have the option to not try.
To not start.
To just not begin their day battling this disease.
And neither did I.
Thinking of all of us afflicted with diabetes, I pushed that first pedal stroke and headed out into the unknown. And with that, the first of my five goals for Tour Divide 2012 was accomplished.
Come back to read what happens next on Tony’s Tour Divide journey.