Keith's Midlife Crisis: Racing the 2024 Tour Divide (Announcement Part 1 of 2)
- Written by Keith Huster
- 6 min read
- Last updated 20 days ago
This post is the official announcement of Keith's intention to compete in the 2024 Tour Divide bikepacking race. This announcement comes after several months of debate and planning around the event. The Tour Divide race will be, by far, the longest and most difficult ride of Keith's life. He will be riding his mountain bike from Banff, Alberta, Canada to the USA/Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico, USA; a 2,745-mile bikepacking adventure. 🤯
About the Tour Divide bikepacking race
The Tour Divide (TD) is a multi-country, multi-state, self-supported bikepacking race that traverses the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR). The GDMBR loosely follows the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) which is a hiking-only route along the same general path. These three terms are often confused so helpfully this clears things up.
The Tour Divide is known as the longest and potentially hardest bikepacking race route in the world. The official Tour Divide race starts on June 14th, 2024 with the Grand Depart in Banff, Alberta, Canada, and runs south through the USA until finally reaching the official finish line at the USA/Mexico border crossing station in remote Antelope Wells, New Mexico, USA. The route stretches across 2,745 miles (4,418 kilometers) of mostly unpaved roads/trails and has a total elevation gain of over 150,000 ft (45,720 meters).
I'll dive into more details about the race and the route in a future post. For now, just know that this is an extremely long and difficult route.
What is bikepacking?
At this point, you may be asking yourself "What exactly is bikepacking?". Well, let me try to explain that. The bikepacking.com website has an excellent post describing what bikepacking is and how it came about. This quote from that site really sums up what bikepacking is all about.
Simply put, bikepacking is the synthesis of all-terrain cycling and self-supported backpacking. It evokes the freedom of multi-day backcountry hiking and travel off the beaten path, but with the range and thrill of riding a nimble bicycle. It’s about venturing further into places less traveled, both near and far, via singletrack trails, gravel, and forgotten dirt roads, carrying the essential gear, and not much more.
- Source: bikepacking.com
To me personally, bikepacking is a means to explore remote areas, by bike and my own human power, that would otherwise be nearly inaccessible.
Why is Keith doing this?
Since his childhood, Keith has always loved riding bikes. This passion followed him into adulthood through road cycling in Indiana and now mountain biking/gravel riding in Utah. Over the course of the last few years, Keith has slowly refined the types of rides that he most enjoys into what he considers "adventure rides". Keith defines adventure rides as follows:
An adventure ride can be a mix of road, gravel, and doubletrack riding, along with singletrack mountain biking, that take me to new and exciting areas. The key factor of an adventure ride is choosing the path less traveled, literally, and enjoying all that the surrounding nature has to offer.
- Keith Huster
Specifically, Keith's typical adventure rides follow routes that navigate mountain passes, remote singletrack/hiking trails, and desert crossings. The more remote and isolated the route, the better. 😀 This love for adventure rides, along with his discovery of ultra bikepacking races on YouTube, has fueled his excitement to challenge himself with completing the world-famous Tour Divide (TD) bikepacking race.
Will Keith be racing or touring the route?
Let's be clear here... Keith is by no means an elite, world-class ultra-endurance athlete. Those athletes push themselves beyond the brink of exhaustion to complete the entire route in less than 14 days! 🥵 🤯 That's an effectively impossible pace for mere mortals such as Keith. Okay, now that we have that cleared up we can talk about what Keith means by "competing"/"racing" in the Tour Divide.
There are two distinct ways to ride the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. You can ride at a "race pace" or a "touring pace".
- Race Pace: Racing the route means to submit yourself as an official Tour Divide racer and have your ride tracked, via GPS, on the official trackleaders.com website. This also means that you will be pushing yourself both physically and mentally to complete the route as fast as possible. Most average riders who ride at a race pace complete the route in 20-40 days.
- Touring Pace: Touring the route means taking your time and stopping to smell the roses along the way. This is a much more relaxed way to ride the route since the focus is more on enjoying the ride rather than pushing your personal limits. Most riders that ride at a touring pace complete the route in 40-90 days.
Keith will be starting with the official Grand Depart and riding at a "race pace" so he will be technically racing in the Tour Divide. However, Keith will mainly be racing himself, his available time off from work, and the Tour Divide virtual broom wagon.
Keith is targeting a completion time of 27-30 days which means that he will need to average at least 100 miles (161 kilometers) per day over the course of the entire race. Keith must complete the route within 30 days or less in order to stay within his available paid time off (PTO) from his job. This is a hard cutoff for him which means his ride will end, wherever he is along the route, at the 30-day mark.
How can I watch/track Keith during the race?
Keith will be carrying a Garmin InReach Mini GPS tracking device. This device will be registered with the trackleaders.com website which provides real-time location and pace information for racers of the Tour Divide. So, you will be able to log onto the tracking website and see exactly where Keith is, how fast he is traveling, etc. at any time during the race.
Keith and/or Lindsey will also be posting updates during the race (when possible) to our various social media accounts including Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to follow us so you don't miss out on any of the updates.
More info to come next week
We have another post coming next week that further details Keith's midlife crisis planned attempt to race in the 2024 Tour Divide. We hope you are as excited to follow along with this story as we are to write it. Be sure to subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook and Instagram so that you don't miss out on future updates. We will be documenting as much as we can of the pre-race prep, the race itself, and the post-race reflection period.
We would love to hear your thoughts about this announcement. Do you think Keith is crazy for taking this on? Have you ever attempted an ultra-endurance event like the Tour Divide? Do you have any tips or tricks that might help Keith to prepare for this epic adventure? Let us know in the comments section below.👇 💬