360 miles, 34,000' of elevation, 32 hours: Payson McElveen's trans-Tasmania 'ride of a lifetime'

American endurance cyclist Payson McElveen successfully traversed across Tasmania in a single push

Endurance cyclist Payson McElveen's trans-Tasmania
(Image credit: Red Bull Media)

American endurance cyclist Payson McElveen successfully completed his trans-Tasmania excursion, traversing the island in one day, eight hours and 33 minutes.

Tasmania is home to some of the world's most unique environments, and the route across Tasmania, developed with Tasmanian endurance cyclist Emma Flukes, prioritizes adventure, sight-seeing and challenge over efficiency, spanning 360 miles with 34,000 feet of elevation gain and with a majority through unpaved wilderness and only three resupply opportunities.

“I’ve gradually been able to let go of the racer that wants to get across as fast as possible, in favor of seeing, smelling and feeling this place as richly as possible over the course of one massive ride,"  McElveen said.

"The goal was simple, develop a challenging route and finish, while sampling as much of Tasmania’s unbelievably diverse riding as possible.”

Endurance cyclist Payson McElveen's trans-Tasmania

(Image credit: Red Bull Media)

After months of research and planning, McElveen solidified his 360-mile route with the help of Flukes, a marine ecologist who has covered more of the island on her bike than anyone else.

Flukes completed her own single push crossing of Tasmania on a different south-to-north route earlier in the year. After multiple calls and email exchanges, the two ended up adding more detours, trails and goat tracks than expected, contributing to both the distance and elevation gain of the route.

McElveen described the route as “crescendoing in difficulty” as you move east, the final 100 miles features 11,000 feet of climbing and 50 miles of Tasmania’s world-famous singletrack.

The 29-year-old set out on Monday, Nov. 6, at 7:23 PM UTC, from the isolated west coast beach community of Arthur River, nicknamed the “Edge of the World.”

The first 70 miles of the route traversed along the edge of the Tarkine rainforest, one of the largest remaining subtropical rainforests in the world.

As McElveen ticked off the miles, he traversed across remote gravel roads and singletrack, waded through a river and befriended wombats, wallabies, spotted quolls and the Tasmanian people.

He reached the end of the route, at the Bay of Fires on the east coast of the island, on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 4:08 AM UTC, clocking in with a time of 32 hours and 33 minutes.

Riding his bike until the wheels touched the waves of the Tasman sea, McElveen described the adventure as a “ride of a lifetime.”

 “I had gotten what I came to Tasmania for: timelessness in this unbelievable place. A true antidote to my racing career, where the whole point is seeing how quickly you can finish," he said.

A camera crew accompanied McElveen on this endeavor, and the forthcoming film, produced by McElveen and award-winning filmmakers, Joey Schusler and Thomas Woodson, will premiere at the Sea Otter Classic in April 2023.

Endurance cyclist Payson McElveen's trans-Tasmania

(Image credit: Red Bull Media)

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