A Fernie resident finished with the sixth fastest time ever at the 18-day Tour Divide bike race in June.
Serge Chiasson, 38, endured 4418 km over the Continental Divide, and finished the race in fifth place.
The world’s longest off-pavement cycling route has riders starting in Banff, AB, and eventually finishing in Antelope Wells, N.M.
This year was Chiasson’s first time ever participating in the race.
He rode from 5:30 a.m. to midnight everyday, by himself, with no support vehicle of any kind.
“All my sleep system, first aid and clothes were carried on the bike,” said Chiasson. “It is extremely remote most of the time. You can go well over 100 miles without seeing anybody, and then come to a one-horse town and resupply.”
Chiasson said he wasn’t as fast as the riders in front of him, so his strategy was to ride for longer.
“The clock is essentially running the whole time. I would ride until I couldn’t ride anymore, and then sleep in a ditch,” said Chiasson. “It became easier when I didn’t have to worry about bears anymore.”
The Tour Divide website states that this race will forever change the people who participate in it.
“I didn’t go into it expecting a vision quest. But, it was as close to it as I’ll ever get,” said Chiasson. “I thought I knew how tough it would be, but there is no way to anticipate how tough it actually was. There is nothing I could have done to prepare for the suffering.”
The race has no registration fee and no prize money at the end.
“It is the most expensive free race in the world,” said Chiasson. “But, I’ve already forgotten how much it hurts.”
Throughout the journey, Chiasson encountered kindness and friendliness in every town he rode through.
“Everyone was quite amazed and respectful. Even the border guards gave me bacon and eggs for breakfast.”
Being away from his family for so long was not easy for Chiasson, but he said they were extreme supportive.
“My wife realized I needed to do it before I did. She is a biker as well, so she understood the need for me to do this,” said Chiasson.
“It was a lonely, painful journey. It was a dream come true to do it.”