Former Gov. Johnson training to ride in grueling, 2,800-mile Tour Divide

Gary Johnson. John Raoux/AP file photo

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson has taken part in Ironman triathlons, and he summited Mount Everest a few months after breaking a leg skiing.

But in June, Johnson will embark on what he calls his greatest physical challenge yet: riding the Continental Divide from Banff, Alberta, in the Canadian Rockies to Antelope Wells in the desert of Southern New Mexico.

The former two-term Republican governor and two-time Libertarian presidential candidate is taking part in the Tour Divide, a nearly 2,800-mile race.

Johnson, 64, said Tuesday that he may be “finally, completely off my rocker.”

He said he expects to be on his mountain bike for eight to nine hours a day for something like 40 days.

“You have to be self-supported,” said Johnson, who said he will be carrying about 40 pounds of supplies, including sleeping gear, food and water. He said he’ll also have bear spray.

The route “travels through remote back country with grizzly and mountain lion density,” says the Tour Divide website. Intervals between services are frequently 100-plus miles and demand that riders calculate food and water resupplies.

“Riders must also find shelter each night or bivouac trail-side,” the website says. “In minutes the Rockies’ dynamic mountain weather can wreak havoc on route surfaces.”

During the race, riders can avail themselves of only those goods and services available to all participants, Johnson said. Friends and family can’t even come out to cheer on — or cheer up — riders because that is considered a form of support, he said.

Johnson has been training for the event. He said he planned to ride this week from his Taos home to The Bavarian Inn and restaurant at Taos Ski Valley and camp on the way back, hoping he would get hit by heavy rain like he may face during the race.

“Eat, sleep, ride. That’s my life,” he said.

As for why he is taking part in the Tour Divide, Johnson cited the physical challenge. “Then the Continental Divide, that’s pretty cool,” he said.

Contact Thom Cole at 505-986-3022 or tcole@sfnewmexican.com.