Wenatchee man competes in 2,745-mile Tour Divide bike race

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WENATCHEE- A local nurse at Central Washington Hospital has competed in the Tour Divide four times, a 2,745-mile race, bringing home first place in 2015.

Josh Kato, an outdoor adventurer, has completed the 2,745-mile race twice of his four attempts, spanning from Banff, AB CA to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

The race, completely self-supported, takes the Great Divide mountain bike route giving bikers the ride of their lives as they brave mountain passes and valleys of the Continental Divide from the Canadian Rockies to the badlands of the Mexican Plateau.

The route is the world’s longest off-pavement cycling route and took four years to map

“I’ve started the race four times, and finished twice now,” Kato said. “The Tour Divide started as a gentlemen’s agreement of seeing how fast someone could get from Banff to Mexico.”

The route closely follows gravel and jeep roads to the Mexico border, with bikers carrying all of their own gear and repair items.

“There is absolutely no outside support available,” Kato said. “Nobody can be following you along in a van, no pre-arranged meetings along the way.”

Josh Kato at the end of the 2015 Tour Divide, after finishing in first place with a course record. (Photo courtesy of Dot Chaser)

In 2015, Kato joined a very competitive field in the race and set a course record of 14 days, 11 hours and 37 minutes.

“Interestingly for most of us it actually becomes more of a mental race,” Kato said. “It’s just such a long race and you’re out there alone–it really becomes more of a mental challenge than a physical one.”

Most participants sleep an average of 4 hours a night, minimizing stops and pushing their bodies to the limit.

“It’s a very mountainous route, we cross the Continental Divide numerous times on the race,” Kato said. “I think the overall finish rate is about 50 percent for most people in this race, so I’m right on the mark now.”

In 2014, Kato was nearly 500 miles into the race when he crashed in snow and mud, fracturing his fibula and tearing his hamstring.

“I got about 1,000 miles down the road after that and ended up having to withdraw because I physically couldn’t pedal anymore,” Kato said.

In 2016, Kato was driven off a narrow road by a pick-up truck in Montana

“I ended up going off the road at that point and had to withdraw again,” he said.

He’s completed his race this year in a time of 15 days and 6 hours.

“This year we had a record group start, it was almost 200 people starting,” Kato said. “We’ve got a large international contingent in addition to bikers from around the U.S. and Canada.”

Kato has a blog where he outlines his journey on the race, to read more about his adventures visit his website here.