Home tech Salt cyclist completes grueling 4,400km race in 20 days

Salt cyclist completes grueling 4,400km race in 20 days

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“I’ve definitely been called crazy a few times,” says Velorution bike shop manager Joel Wenham, who averaged 220 miles a day for 20 consecutive days.

Twenty days, 22 hours and 36 minutes.

That’s all it took for 30-year-old Salt Lake City cyclist Joel Wenham to complete the nearly 4,400-kilometre Tour Divide, widely considered the toughest test for North American cycling enthusiasts. Americans.

“I’ve been called crazy so many times,” laughed Wenham.

The Velorution bike shop manager began the adventure of a lifetime in Banff, Alberta on June 9 before crossing the finish line at the US-Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico in the early hours of June 30.

Setting an ambitious goal from the outset to complete the race in 20 days means Wenham will need to average 220km per day.

He accomplished this incredible feat less than 90 minutes before being interrupted.

“I definitely pushed it towards the end there,” he says. “On the last day, I got up around 3 a.m. to start riding. I did the math, ended up sleeping about 45 minutes, then pushed my bike until 6am the next day. I was really happy to finish it. A lot of people left the race, so finishing it was my big goal.

“I had the idea that it was possible, but realizing it was something else. I was very surprised and very relieved to be in this objective. »

Of the 185 cyclists in the Tour Divide, Wenham placed 40th overall and was one of nine cyclists to have raced a single-speed bike.

“I run all my bikes at the same speed – I’m one of those weirdos that does that,” he laughed. “But I just have to think about one thing and that’s less maintenance in general. A lot of the single speed guys seem to be really fast. »

Cycling through two Canadian provinces and five US states in all kinds of weather conditions, Wenham estimates that 90% of the races were off-road, while the remaining 10% were on asphalt.

“It ranged from country roads where there was gravel, to single track trails like what we have in Hiawatha, to mountain trails where there were big rocks that you couldn’t ride a bike over, and you had to walk a long time with your bike. distance,” he explains.

« كل ولاية كان لديها شيء مختلف تمامًا عنها كان صعبًا ، لكنه كان رائع ًا أيضًا. كان لدى كولورادو كل هذه القمم العملاقة ، وكان الارتفاع مرتفعًا حقً ا. ثم دخلت إلى نيو مكسيكو ، وكان الأمر صعبًا حقًا لأنه كان حارًا ، وكا نت الطرق أقسى بكثير من كولورادو For example “.

Throughout his 20-day journey, Wenham said some of his most memorable moments came not from the race itself, but from the hospitality of strangers he encountered along the way.

“One of the things that amazes me is how good the people around us are,” he says. “People I interact with, whether it’s runners or city people, they’re just good human beings. »

“In Wyoming, I was having a beer and a burger at a bar and talking to a couple about what I was doing, and they ended up buying me dinner. There are only good people there so it was a great experience that way.”

Having competed in a number of one-day 100-mile races such as Crank the Shield in the past, Wenham says he was confident in his physical abilities to succeed in the Tour Divide.

But he admits the mental side of the breed has been stressful at times.

“The mental part was definitely the hardest part,” Wenham said. “I wasn’t a morning guy, so every time I got up I was really slow and lethargic, but after three I felt so much better and was flying. The movements went up and down a little each day. » ”

Despite some mechanical issues along the way, Wenham crossed the finish line in New Mexico last Friday sharing a warm hug with his fiancée Katie, as well as his parents and future in-laws.

“This last day has been very emotional,” he said. “I didn’t know my parents had taken the plane, they surprised me. It was a really cool moment. »

Wenham says the support from family, friends and the Velorution team throughout the race helped keep him motivated and ultimately made the 20 days of racing not only tolerable, but fun.

“It was amazing how many people congratulated me and gave me messages of hope,” he says. “I was very lucky with the support I had. »

“I tell my friends that since I turned 30 this year, I kind of wanted to have a ‘quarter-life crisis’, like I had to do something cool,” he said. laughing. “Looking back, it was all really blurry. I didn’t count the days or track my miles as closely as others do. I just went with what felt like day to day. »

Although an avid cyclist has never done anything so extreme before, Wenham says he is already considering riding the Tour Divide again in the future.

“Maybe not next year, I might need two years off,” he laughed. “But I have time to get past it now. »

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