Justin and his Tour Divide-Ready 2009 Moots Mooto X YBB

In this edition of Rider and Rig, we meet Boulder, Colorado-based designer Justin McKinley, who’ll soon line up for the 2024 Tour Divide aboard the 2009 Moots Mooto X YBB he scored on Craigslist and rebuilt into the long-hauling singlespeed of his dreams. Get to know Justin and his guiding philosophy, recap some valuable lessons he learned during his first Tour Divide attempt, and find an expansive photo gallery here…

Salsa Cycles

Just shy of 10 years ago, when we were both living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I sent designer Justin McKinley a cold email asking if he’d be willing to meet for a coffee to chat about a big project I was scheming. I’d admired his work for some time and hoped he would give me some advice. He agreed, and although the project never came to fruition—my fault, not his—we’ve been friends since that 2015 meetup.

  • Justin McKinley
  • Justin McKinley

Our parallel passions for bikes, coffee, design, and the outdoors have kept us in regular contact for coffee meetups, rides, camping trips, and events, and I even had the honor of getting him out for his first multi-day bikepacking trip in 2017. Most recently, we toured the breathtaking White Rim Trail in Utah together. It was one of many shakedown rides on the new-to-him 2009 Moots Mooto X YBB he finished building this spring and will soon pedal some 2,700 miles from Canada to the U.S./Mexico border as part of this year’s Tour Divide.

A lifelong cyclist who’s been into everything from BMX to road bikes to fixies to long-travel hardtails, Justin always has something interesting in his cozy workshop stand (his perennially cool 1983 Stumpjumper was one of our first Reader’s Rigs), which I always love stopping by. Amid his small fleet, the singlespeed Moots stands out as exceptional, representing the culmination of his three-decade journey through cycling.

Justin's Vintage Specialized Stumpjumper
Justin with his ’83 Stumpjumper, as seen in our second-ever Reader’s Rig in January 2019. We’ve shared one every Friday since!

In chasing Justin through Utah’s canyons and around the foothills where we now live just miles apart in Boulder, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for his rig and the meaning conferred through its 15-year-old titanium tubes. It’s a rolling time capsule sporting bits and pieces from various years through to the present, and I struggle to think of a more meticulously considered build that still maintains such an effortless air.

Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

Throughout a couple of long drives and a handful of nights around the campfire, I asked Justin to share some of his motivations, takeaways from his 2023 Tour Divide attempt, and details on his Moots build. He mentioned, “Two wheels have always brought me a sense of freedom, filled me with confidence, and taught me humility,” all things that shine through in his perspective. Read the full interview below.

For starters, tell us when and why you were first compelled to take on the Tour Divide.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when I first became interested in the Tour Divide. I remember being vaguely aware of an off-road route that crossed the country from north to south but not much beyond that. My first multi-day bikepacking trip was in 2017, and on that trip, I met Nicholas Legan, who had just finished racing the Tour Divide. Hearing his stories planted the seed. You and I also found and rescued a dog on a dry, remote stretch of the route on that trip, but that’s another story.

  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

The Tour Divide has been on my shortlist since that first trip. I’ve intended to do it for a handful of years but always made excuses as to why I couldn’t. I eventually realized that there would never be a perfect time or magic set of circumstances that would make it easy to do without some sacrifices.

Justin McKinley
  • Justin McKinley
  • Justin McKinley
  • Justin McKinley
Justin and “Chance,” the adorable lost puppy we found (and named) on a dusty backroad near the Colorado/Wyoming border in 2017

After lining up for the 2023 grand depart became a concrete thing in your mind, what did your training look like? Were there particular rides or experiences that made you feel especially ready and confident enough to participate as a rookie?

Last year, I didn’t book my trip to Banff until two weeks before the grand depart. So, it wasn’t exactly the best preparation. Honestly, I never consciously made the commitment. I just made small decisions that eventually landed me in Banff. However, I like to ride a lot, so even though my “training” wasn’t structured for a rip down the Divide, I had ridden around 2,000 miles and participated in a handful of gravel and bikepacking events in the six months leading up to the Tour Divide in case it all came together.

Moots Mooto X YBB, Justin McKinley
  • Moots Mooto X YBB, Justin McKinley, Bikepacking White Rim
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

Despite having participated in several bikepacking events, I never felt confident or prepared to take on the Tour Divide. I think it’s an overwhelming experience for anyone. I rode the Utah Mixed Epic in 2021, a point-to-point route from Salt Lake City to Moab, and I learned so much about multi-day events during that ride. It was my first time flying with a bike, being self-sufficient, plotting resupplies, and booking accommodations, all while riding day after day. I scratched halfway through, but even that presented the challenge of figuring out how to get home to Colorado from Beaver, Utah.

You attempted the Tour Divide last year but ended up scratching when you reached Pinedale, Wyoming. What factors led to you calling it quits, and at what point in the ride did you make that decision?

Reaching the Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake was a massive milestone for me, as it was the first place on the route I’d been to before. I built it up as a monumental accomplishment, and something changed for me when I made it there. I only rode for another two days after leaving the Tetons. It took me 14 days to reach Pinedale, which meant I was averaging just under 100 miles a day. It also marked my longest bike tour ever by more than a week.

 Justin McKinley

Justin in the Grand Tetons during his 2023 Tour Divide run

More than anything, I think the Tour Divide experience was just a lot to take in. Too much. But it was a great opportunity to get my feet wet, see the route, experience the excitement of the grand depart, meet the people, see the towns, and be a sponge and soak it all up. My body was holding up fine, but I hadn’t prepared my mind to be on the trail for 30 days.

Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

Can you distill any clear-cut lessons from your first ride that you’ll apply this year?

  • A bivy is not enough. Before my 2023 divide attempt, I’d been exclusively sleeping in various bivy bags for around five years, occasionally experiencing a few nights of rain and weather, but I always felt mostly comfortable. The Divide is different. Last year was wet, and a bivy didn’t provide enough protection. I’ll be packing a tarp this year.
  • Get outta town. Towns are a time suck; get your stuff and GTFO. There were times last year when I rolled into town and spent way too much time eating or resupplying—so much so that I was even forced to grab a hotel when I’d have rather pushed on.
  • Have a plan. Last year, I was afraid to make a daily plan/goal because I didn’t want to fail or come up short. For 2024, I have a plan, but I know it will inevitably change on route.
Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

Do you have a particular goal or something specific you’re searching for in returning to the Divide?

Heading back this year, I feel super fortunate to be able to line up, and I’m motivated to do well. I have goals and intentions for this attempt that I couldn’t make mental space to set last time. In many ways, my ride last year has helped define what success looks like for me. I want to push myself, be brave, touch both lines, and embrace nature and let it fuel my ride. Anything beyond that will be a bonus.

  • Justin McKinley, Moots YBB
  • Justin McKinley, Moots YBB
  • Justin McKinley, 2024 Tour Divide notebook
  • Justin McKinley, 2024 Tour Divide notebook
  • Justin McKinley, 2024 Tour Divide notebook

When riding such a massive route at speed, how do you strike the right balance between ticking off the necessary miles and being present in the experience?

I struggled a lot with that in 2023. I flip-flopped constantly, undecided about my approach to the first few days. I knew I could click off some big days, but I ultimately embraced a more relaxed pace to enjoy the route and never have to ride at night. This year, I plan on “racing,” but I don’t think racing necessarily has to be at odds with embracing the experience. Plus, it’s a massive route, so there will be time to do some of both.

Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

You said the Otso Voytek you rode last year is the “perfect” Tour Divide bike, but you won’t be riding it on your second go-around. How do you qualify the ideal Tour Divide bike, and what do you think some first-time riders get wrong when building their rig for the route?

I acknowledge that “perfect” bike is highly subjective, but mud clearance, bag/bottle mounting options, massive gear range, and comfortable fit should be at the top of anyone’s Tour Divide must-haves. My Voytek checks all those boxes and more, and it would be an incredibly capable and practical rig to ride again.

  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

The biggest mistake people make regarding their Tour Divide bike is probably just listening to too many opinions. The perfect bike is whatever bike complements your riding style and enhances the unique experience you want to have. I once read a great quote from Chris Plesko after he set the singlespeed Tour Divide record. The interviewer asked him what advice he had for the next single-speeder who wants to break his record, and he responded, “Anyone who can break my record probably doesn’t need my advice.” I think that applies to anyone just attempting the Divide—remember that it’s a solo, self-supported adventure, so be responsible for yourself.

Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley

Let’s talk about your new-to-you Moots. How and where did you find it? What do you know about its history?

It’s a 2009 Moots Mooto X YBB. I found it on Denver Craigslist! It might be the last great Craigslist find, as it seems most deals are now found on Facebook Marketplace. It was posted as a fully built bike complete with a Moots titanium stem, bars, seatpost, an XTR triple drivetrain, a Chris King headset and hubs, a custom Black Sheep titanium fork, and sliding dropouts.

When I stumbled upon the post, I sent a message of admiration with no real intention of buying the bike. Fast forward to a month later, when the post was about to expire, and I messaged the seller again and asked if I could buy the frame, fork, wheels, and extra Moots bits. He said I was the only person to message him the entire time the post was up, so we made a deal. I’m pretty sure I’m the third or fourth owner. It may have been a custom frame, as I have yet to find any others from 2009 with 29-inch wheels, disc brakes, and sliding dropouts in my thorough internet sleuthing. I believe Moots keeps records of that stuff, but I haven’t tried contacting them about it yet.

Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

Were you searching for Mooto X YBB in particular? Why Moots?

As these things go, I wasn’t looking for a new bike, but this one spoke to me. During my days as a roadie in Minneapolis, every group ride had at least one grey-haired guy on a Moots, so I was aware of the brand for a long time. After moving to Colorado in 2015, I began seeing them more regularly. Then, on the same trip where I met Nick Legan, I also toured the Moots factory in Steamboat Springs. Touring the shop was my first time seeing a bike being built in person, and I’ve dreamed of owning one ever since. Unfortunately, the price tag of a new Moots is well outside of what my budget allows, so I did the next best thing: I bought a 15-year-old frame, slowly collected parts as I could afford them, and ended up with a dream build.

Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB

I think it’s pretty cool that it’s a 15-year-old bike and still brings me so much excitement! There’s always a lot of media and attention given to new bikes and tech, and people often talk about how current bikes are so much better. If you’re talking about things like full-suspension, e-shifting, integrated this or that, you’re probably right that new stuff is a significant upgrade, but this old bike has great bones. As I see it, it’s still near the beginning of its long life. Oh, and have you ever overlaid 2009 XC bike geo with 2024 gravel bike geo?

Moots Mooto X YBB

When you bought the Moots, did you envision it as your 2024 Tour Divide bike, or did that idea come later?

It happened at exactly the same time. After scratching from last year’s race, I thought I would head back to do it again someday, but it wasn’t until I was driving home after purchasing the Moots that I knew I wanted to do it in 2024, on this bike, singlespeed… even without riding it. I just immediately had a vision for what it could be.

  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB

I finished building it up at the end of February. Aesthetically, it came out exactly as I’d hoped, but I never stopped to consider what the riding experience would be or if it would actually fit. Sure, I paid careful attention to the numbers, and it all looked like it’d shake out, but it was a gamble to collect all the parts without ever having ridden it. To further complicate things, I had never ridden titanium before. All of that’s to say it took a handful of rides to come around on the ride characteristics and quality. Between the titanium fork and YBB rear suspension, the ride is very flexy and compliant. I’m not sure I’d like it as a true mountain bike, but as an all-day bikepacking rig, it fits the bill pretty damn well.

  • Moots Mooto X YBB, Justin McKinley
  • Moots Mooto X YBB, Justin McKinley

You had some modifications made to the frame soon after buying it. Can you share a little about those changes and the thinking behind them?

There were a few reasons for the frame mods. I wanted bottle bosses added to the top tube for a bolt-on JPaks SnakPak and downtube bosses for a liter-sized bottle cage. On the fork, I had three bosses added to each leg and a place to mount my dynamo light. Also, I felt fully committed to building this as a single speed, so I had some cable guides removed. My pal Pete works at Janus Cycle Group—the makers of Merlin, Dean, and Knight Wheels—and he introduced me to Ashley, one of their fabricators. She also builds under her own brand, Significant Other Bikes. Anyway, she drilled some holes and melted some metal to finish dialing in the frame.

Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

You’re riding singlespeed on the Tour Divide. Tell us about your ratio and the decision to forgo gears.

I’m riding 32×17. I think I’d probably be the first person in history to answer the “why singlespeed?” question adequately if I could do so. I could recite all the cliches about mechanical simplicity, reliability, connectedness, and purity of one gear, but all of that falls short of what the experience of riding a bike with just one gear is like.

  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB

To oversimplify things, the individual sections of the Tour Divide route aren’t that technically demanding, and the day-to-day riding I do around Boulder includes more challenging terrain and steeper gradients. In some weird, twisted logic, I have more confidence now that I’m on a singlespeed because I believe there’s some unfounded self-assurance that comes with having 12 gears. I anticipate walking some of the sections I was able to ride last year, but I think my overall moving speed will be pretty similar.

Having ridden a large portion of the route with gears last year, are there ways you anticipate singlespeeding will add to or detract from the experience?

It’s really important to say that any style of riding has its pros and cons, and just because I plan to ride a singlespeed this year doesn’t mean I wouldn’t choose to ride it with gears in the future. It’s pretty likely that I’ll always be into riding singlespeed, but I’m also willing to acknowledge that it’s just what I’m into right now. Similarly, I’m not sure how long the racing aspect of bikepacking will remain of interest to me. I don’t have a profound revelation about singlespeeds that would convince everyone to go out and try one, and I just hope everyone has the opportunity to fall in love with at least one bike in their life, no matter what it is.

  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB

Walk us through the complete build. What are your favorite parts? Is the bike “done,” or is it still a work in progress?

I think it’s mostly done. I bought the wrong size Paul Component QR Seatpost clamp, so I’ll eventually order the correct one, but beyond that, it’s exactly how I want it. That said, there’s a good chance I’ll throw a Velo Orange Rack and Wald 137 basket on there after the Divide, just for fun.

As for the build, from front to back, it has a Black Sheep titanium fork. I don’t want to say it’s noodley because that has bad connotations, so I’ll just say it’s compliant. It’s worth noting that some of the responsibility for the noodle is the 1 ⅛” straight headtube. The front SON28 hub is laced to a Velocity Blunt SS built by Treehouse Cyclery in Denver. Sinewave Beacon front light with a Supernova mount, SON rear light wired by my friend Jaron. Doom Professional Drinker handlebars uncut at 880mm wide with Cane Creek bar ends with ESI and Wolf Tooth grips, a Spurcycle Bell, and Bike Togs thumb hooks. Paul Component Boxcar Stem, Canti Levers, QR skewers, and Klampers. XTR pedals and cranks, 32×17, SRAM 9-speed chain, Wolf Tooth Stainless Cog, a Wheels MFG bottom bracket with close to 10,000 miles on it. A mix of Wolf Tooth, Widefoot, and King Cage bottle cages. Brooks C13 saddle in 145mm width and a Ritchey alloy seatpost.

Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

One of my favorite parts is the blingy red SON28 hub. If I had ordered a new hub, I would have just purchased it in silver, but I found it used on Facebook Marketplace, and the red is a nice pop of color. Also, it’s already made two attempts at the Divide under its previous owner but hasn’t made it to Mexico yet.

  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB

The BIKEPACKING.com brass top cap has been on a couple of bikes now, and it’s starting to show a lovely patina and is a good reminder to “PEDAL FURTHER.” And probably the dumbest thing I carry is a little scratched-up thermometer attached to my front harness. It was one of the first pieces of camping gear I bought, and it’s been on every overnighter and trip I’ve ever done, so now it’s just along for the ride.

Moots Mooto X YBB Build Kit

  • Frame: Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Fork: Black Sheep Ti
  • Rims: Velocity Blunt (front) / Stan’s (rear)
  • Hubs: SON28 (front) / Chris King (rear)
  • Tires: Ultradynamico MARS Race for vibe / Maxxis Ikon for Tour Divide
  • Handlebars: Doom Titanium Professional Drinker 880mm
  • Grips: 160mm ESI Chunky and Wolf Tooth Karv + Cane Creek Bar Ends
  • Headset: Chris King
  • Crankset: Shimano XTR 9020 w/ XTR 32T chainring
  • Chain: SRAM PC971
  • Pedals: Shimano XTR 9100
  • Rear cog: Wolf Tooth Stainless 17T
  • Brake levers: Paul Component Canti Lever
  • Brakes: Paul Component Klampers w/ Shimano Ice Tech 160mm rotors
  • Saddle: Brooks C13 145mm
  • Seatpost: Ritchey Alloy
  • Stem: Paul Components ⅞” Boxcar 50mm
  • Lights: Sinewave Beacon (front) / SON Rear Light (rear)
  • Cages: Mix of Wolf Tooth, Widefoot, and King Cage
  • Accessories 1: Paul Component Skewers, Forager Cycles Cable Cherries, K-Edge Computer Mount, Spurcycle Bell
  • Accessories 2: Wheels MFG Bottom Bracket, Silca Pocket Impero Pump, Reserve Fillmore Valve Stems
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

Bags for the Tour Divide

  • Front bags: Porcelain Rocket MCA + Horton
  • Stem bags: Porcelain Rocket x Bunyan Velo Mini Slinger (x2)
  • Rear bags: Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion (v2)
  • Accessory bags: JPaks Top Tube Bag, Wolf Tooth B-Rad Roll-Top
Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB

You and I are probably two of the biggest Porcelain Rocket lovers out there. I don’t need convincing, but can you share a little about your love for old Porcelain Rocket bags and your choice to spec them on your bike?

I’m a huge Porcelain Rocket fanboy. I’m also a complete sucker for anything made with MultiCam Black, and Scott Felter of Porcelain Rocket is to blame. It’s like the band that helped you discover good music or something. Prior to finding Porcelain Rocket, I had a complete set of early Revelate Designs bags, which were functional but lacked the personality and innovation of Porcelain Rocket. All of my bags were off-the-shelf offerings from PR at one point, and I’ve used them on many bikes for many miles for many years. They’re still as good as anything offered today and have loads of life left in them. It also speaks volumes that some Porcelain Rocket designs are still being manufactured by Rockgeist.

Justin McKinley

I’m always impressed by your thoughtful, minimal kit on our campouts. What are a few prized pieces of gear you’re packing in those Porcelain Rocket bags? Any big gear changes from last year?

Everything I pack is pretty straightforward, so my favorites are typically whatever I’ve used for the longest. Items like my Snow Peak spork, Opinel No. 8 knife, and Leatherman are at the top of the list, and they come along on every trip, no matter the duration.

Lately, I’ve been using Rite in the Rain pocket-sized notebooks to jot down route notes, resupplies, daily plans, grocery lists, and that sort of thing. It’s helpful to have that stuff written down somewhere other than on your phone. The biggest gear change is the addition of the Zpacks Hexamid Pocket Tarp. As I mentioned, I’ve been a bivy man for many years, but I ordered a tarp the day I got home from the Divide last year. I’ve spent roughly 15 nights under this tarp, and I give it a thumbs up so far.

Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

Tour Divide Packing List

I first assembled the items on my kit list by prioritizing weight over comfort. Each time I’d get out on an overnighter or even on a day ride, I’d take inventory of things I found useful or made me more comfortable. I also kept a list of items I wished I’d carried. This exercise allowed me to cut out the things I don’t need, which has freed up space to bring more essential things. The things I choose to bring are constantly evolving (and very trip-specific), but my current setup strikes an ideal balance of being lightweight but still comfortable enough for sleeping outside at night.


  • Volar Active Socks (x3)
  • Volar Active Bandana
  • CK Micro Stretch Boxers (x2)
  • OrNot Mission Lightweight Shorts
  • PedalEd Merino T-shirt
  • REI Sun Shirt
  • Senchi Alpha Fleece
  • PedalEd Gilet
  • PedalEd Tights w/ chamois removed
  • PedalEd Shoe Covers
  • PedalEd Hydration Vest
  • Smartwool Knit Gloves
  • Thinsulate Turtle Fur Mittens
  • Gore Shakedry Rain Jacket
  • Gore C5 Rain Pants
  • Bell XR Spherical Helmet
  • Randi Jo x Simworks Cap
  • Oakley Sutro Sunglasses (x2 Lenses)
  • Fizik Terra Ergolace GTX


  • Mountain Laurel Designs FKT eVent Bivy
  • Zpacks Hexamid Pocket Tarp
  • Snow Peak Mini Hozuki Lantern


  • 40F Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt
  • Torrid Synthetic Down Jacket, Pants, Booties
  • Eye Mask and Earplugs
  • Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow
  • Therm-a-Rest NeoAir ¾ length Xlite Pad


  • Snow Peak Spork
  • Opinel No. 8
  • 1L Katadyn BeFree
  • 1L Nalgene
  • 2L Bladder
  • .75L Bottles (x2)


  • Garmin 530
  • Garmin 520 Plus (backup)
  • Garmin InReach Mini
  • Garmin Instinct Solar
  • Apple iPhone 12 mini
  • Apple Airpods Pro
  • Fenix HM50r Headlamp (x2 Batteries)
  • GoPro Hero9 (x2 Batteries)
  • Sony RX100iii Camera (x2 Batteries)
  • Nitecore NB10000 Battery Bank (x2)
  • Fast Charge Wall Brick (x2)
  • Cables


  • Squirrel’s Saddle Butter
  • Repel Bug Spray
  • Biodegradable Body Wipes
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Daily Contacts (x15)
  • Dr. Bronners Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer


  • Wolf Tooth 8-bit
  • Wolf Tooth 6-bit
  • Wolf Tooth WT-1 Chain Lube
  • Crank Brothers Chain Breaker
  • Dynaplug Pill & Racer
  • Forage Cycles Ti Link Wrench
  • Leatherman Squirt P4
  • Tubes (1 Tubolito and 1 Butyl)
  • CO2 w/ threaded head (x2 16g)
  • 4oz Orange Seal Endurance
  • Apple AirTag
  • FiberFix Spoke
  • Thread, Needle, Glue, and Boots
  • Brake Pads (x2)
  • Quick Links (x3)
  • Replacement Cleat w/ Bolts
  • Valve Stem
  • Extra Bolts and bits
Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley

You’ve been experimenting with sewing your own bags lately. How did that come about, and how does your design background inform your process?

I’m kind of obsessed with bikepacking bags, and I think I can also blame this on Scott at Porcelain Rocket. His soft goods introduced me to materials like Cordura and Dyneema and inspired my sewing projects. Up until now, I’ve just been doing material studies and practicing sewing techniques by making drybags, roll-tops, and diddy bags with zips, but it’s all in preparation for a hydration vest I’ve been designing for the past year. My skills as a designer translate well to dimensional work, and I enjoy making things with my hands. For now, it’s an excellent opportunity to create some useful bits of kit.

Justin McKinley

Before we wrap up, I’d love to know more about the “Don’t Coast” poster I’ve seen in your garage workshop and what it means to you as it pertains to the Tour Divide and more broadly.

That’s a screenprint poster I made for the now-defunct ARTCRANK poster show. It was a bicycle art poster show that began in Minneapolis in 2007, and by the end of its running, it had hosted shows in a ton of U.S. cities and a handful of international shows, too. I moved to Colorado in 2015 without knowing anyone and recognized it as a huge opportunity to start over and build the lifestyle I dreamed of—one centered around cycling. That same year, I was asked to design a poster for the ARTCRANK show in Breckenridge, Colorado, and “Don’t Coast” had become a mantra of mine. It has several layers of meaning, but its most simple and obvious message is to persevere and keep pedaling, and that’s sound advice for any cyclist.

Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Moots Mooto X YBB
  • Justin McKinley, Moots Mooto X YBB

Anything else you want readers to know?

I mentioned this before, but I think it’s important, so here it is again: if you want to achieve something, there will never be a perfect time or a magic set of circumstances that make it easy. I’m somewhat qualified to speak on this topic, as I recently lost my job and have had to make some tough decisions and plenty of sacrifices to keep my dreams of finishing the Tour Divide alive. With those sacrifices came a singular focus, which allowed me to be more prepared and determined than ever to toe the line. My ultimate hope with doing difficult things like the Tour Divide is to come out the other side a better person with a better understanding of myself and the world around me.

With thanks to Justin for all the rides and hangs and for being a good sport with my many photo requests. You can keep up with him on Instagram and find his design portfolio over at Jjjjust.in. The 2024 Tour Divide kicks off on Saturday, and you can follow Justin’s dot once our tracker page is live.

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