ANTELOPE WELLS, New Mexico, July 14, 2017 – Former New Mexico governor and two-time presidential candidate Gary Johnson completed another athletic endurance feat on Thursday, reaching the finish line on a grueling 2,745-mile bicycle race from Canada to Mexico. He bicycled in a self-supported event, meaning that the 64-year-old Johnson had to carry 40 pounds of his own gear along the longest off-pavement bike route in the world, tracing the heights of the Rocky Mountains that divide the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds.
Extreme endurance feats are nothing new for Johnson, an avid lifelong athlete and self-described “fitness nut.” After leaving office, he set out to climb the so-called “Seven Summits,” the highest mountain on each continent. He completed the seventh peak in 2014, with an expedition to Antarctica’s Vinson Massif. His trek to the top of Mt. Everest, shortly after leaving office in 2003, was done on a recently-broken leg. Frostbite claimed a chunk of his big toe to amputation, but that has not slowed him down.
Johnson has participated four times in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, registering his best time for the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile marathon run in 1999 with 10 hours, 39 minutes, and 16 seconds. He has also completed the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and the Leadville 100-mile run in Colorado, both notoriously strenuous feats for the world’s top runners.
Johnson has also completed a transcontinental hot-gas balloon trip, once making an emergency landing in a Wisconsin cow field. His interest in aviation includes a history of paragliding, and an accident in 2005 in which he broke his back and sustained severe injuries. During his eight years as Governor of New Mexico, he annually biked across the state to promote fitness and litter clean-up.
On completing the trek, Johnson reflected on his 34-day accomplishment. “With the Seven Summits, there were down days and up days, and some were more grueling than others. Riding the continental divide is like doing all of those climbing days combined, in a row.”
Referring to his past mountain biking experiences, Johnson said “Compare: I’ve done TransAlps twice, Trans Portugal once, Cape Epic once, Breck Epic once. This is cumulative of all of those!” He says his goal was “to keep going one day after another, and push myself to my limit and beyond, with the simplicity of setting a goal and relentlessly going after it. That’s what I enjoy about this sort of thing, and mountain-biking is particularly one of my passions.”
(Photo of Gary Johnson at the Adidas TransAlp Challenge in 2005, an 8-day mountain bike stage race set in Europe, courtesy Gary Johnson)