On June 14th, 2019 Joey King lined up in Banff Canada to race the Tour Divide. The Tour Divide is a bikepacking race over 2,745 miles from Banff to the Mexican Border at Antelope Wells, NM. The route uses mostly gravel roads as it loosely follows the continental divide. Once the clock starts for the race it doesn't stop for any reason until the racer finishes or quits. The male winner in 2019 was Chris Seistrup who completed the challenge in 15 days, 11 hours and 22 minutes. The female winner (on a single speed) completed it in 18 days, 20 hours and 26 minutes. In contrast, Joey completed the race in 29 days, 9 hours and 7 minutes, which achieved his goal of 30 days.
Over the course of the race Joey crossed parched deserts, tall mountain passes and vast open landscapes. He shared a plateau with a mountain lion that ran off a fellow racer that same evening. Joey thought his race was over several times. Once in a particularly remote region of the Rio Grande National Forest, Joey lost control on a downhill and cut up his front tire on some sharp rocks. After several attempts to fix the flat failed, he found himself facing a two to three day walk to civilization without sufficient supplies. In this moment, he realized the difference between traveling through a wilderness and being in a wilderness. Luckily, he worked the problem and was able to get rolling again.
The Tour Divide bikepacking race is an annual tradition without prizes or sponsors. As the route winds along the backbone of the continent, racers climb over 145,000 feet along the 2,745 mile route to the border. There are long sections of wilderness but the route also travels through tourist towns. There are a few places where the bike must be carried or wrestled up rocky slopes too steep to ride -- sometimes for hours. No outside support is allowed but racers can use any available commercial service provided it is not prearranged. The typical bikepacking rig on the Tour Divide will weigh between 40 and 55 pounds including bike, gear, food and water. The Tour Divide is the quintessential bikepacking experience and Joey is so grateful he had the opportunity to compete and even more amazed he completed it.