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Kelowna woman bikes Banff to New Mexico in world's longest off-pavement race

Kelowna's Meaghan Hackinen takes on gruelling Tour Divide bike race
Photo of Meaghan Hackinen taken by Kathy Schoendoerfer while she re-fuels at the Blackfoot Angler shop in Montana.

Kelowna's Meaghan Hackinen is riding over some of North America's tallest peaks on her way to the Tour Divide finish line, more than 4,400 km away, in New Mexico.

The mammoth off-road bike race began on June 14, with the 'Grand Depart' from Banff, Alberta.

Riders set off, ready to navigate and take care of themselves for the next 4,400 km, on their way to New Mexico.

By the time they arrive in Antelope Wells, New Mexico, the riders will have climbed nearly 200,000 feet of vertical gain (equivalent to climbing to the summit of Mount Everest from sea level seven times), after crisscrossing through the Continental Divide mountain range. 

According to the Tour Divide website, the iconic race is the longest continuous off-pavement cycling route in the world.

While the Tour Divide is widely considered to be the most famous off-pavement cycling route in the United States – with the race drawing hundreds of competitors around the world each year – it remains true to its dirt-bag roots and is notoriously low-key. 

The website for the Tour Divide has not been updated since 2016, and registration for the event is completely free.  Racers are encouraged to simply sign up by emailing in a "letter of intent". However, riders are also welcome simply to show up on the morning of the race and just set off. 

There is also no prize money or awards ceremony for the winner of the race nor are there aid stations or course markings. Riders are required to be entirely self-sufficient, stopping at shops along the way to refuel.

On the third day of the race, Kelowna's Hackinen stopped in at the Blackfoot Angler shop in Ovando, Montana. Kathy Schoendoerfer, one of the owners of the fishing shop has been posting updates to Facebook, whenever possible, with photos of all the racers who stop in to re-stock their fuel and fluids. 

There are 215 riders currently racing down to New Mexico and as of June 17, Hackinen is situated in fifth place overall and in first place for the women's category.

Hackinen has currently completed 1,067 km of the race and is on-pace to finish the race in 18 days. People can follow along with the live tracker at for updates on all of the riders's progress. 

To learn more about the event visit




Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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