Justin Simoni – The Ultra-Endurance Artist

Justin Simoni (photo credit: Justin Simoni)

Justin Simoni is an ultra-endurance adventurer who is most well known for his self-powered, long-distance tours that combine cycling, mountain running, and climbing. He is currently preparing for the “Highest Hundred” in which he’ll climb Colorado’s 100 highest peaks, accessing them all by bike, in 60 days or less. If he pulls it off (and I’m betting that he will), it will be the first time anyone has linked all of these peaks by bike in a completely self-supported style.

Most people would assume that Justin has been a hardcore cyclist for his entire life, but he actually started riding relatively late. He studied painting in college and worked full time as a professional artist for years, living in an art gallery in downtown Denver. Frustrated with his car that kept breaking down, Justin purchased a bike and began to ride it as his primary mode of transportation. As his rides became longer and longer, he enjoyed it more and more, and pretty soon he was completely committed to long-distance cycling. What followed was a barrage of impressive solo ultra-distance adventures: cycling the Pacific Coast, racing the Tour Divide mountain bike race twice, and completing the Tour 14er, which involved cycling to all 58 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains and climbing them… in just 34 days.

Thanks to his athletic accomplishments, artistic perspective, hilarious sense of humor, and infectious enthusiasm, Justin is truly one of a kind. We had a fun and funny conversation that covered a wide range of topics from his adventures to his time as an artist. We chatted about some of the techniques that he uses to stay upbeat during periods of extreme fatigue or fear, and we discussed how he balances his free-wheeling artist’s mentality with the monk-like discipline required to pull off such serious adventures. As usual, we discuss favorite books, films, and Justin shares the best piece of advice he’s ever received.

I appreciate Justin taking the time to chat during such a hectic period of planning and training. Also, thanks to the sponsors who are helping to make the Highest Hundred possible: Ultimate DirectionSurly BikesColorado Mountain ClubORSierra Designs, and La Sportiva.

This was a really fun conversation, so I hope you enjoy!

Photos courtesy of Justin Simoni


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Episode Notes

Topics Discussed

2:40 – How Justin describes his work
4:45 – “Highest Hundred” defined
5:10 – Significance of highest hundred
7:20 – Background of Justin’s self-powered adventures
9:20 – When Justin started seriously riding bikes
10:00 – Growing up in Connecticut
10:45 – His decision to move West
11:50 – Skateboarding and skateboarding advocacy
12:50 – Beginning cycling
14:15 – Pacific Coast bike tour
15:50 – Tour Divide
18:30 – Epic snowfall on the Tour Divide course
20:45 – Justin’s approach to hardcore adventure
21:45 – Positivity versus negativity in ultra-endurance
23:15 – Strategies for overcoming fatigue
24:45 – How he decides when he does need to stop
25:30 – Other techniques for keeping a positive mindset
26:00 – Justin’s ability to invent his own rules and challenges
27:00 – “Everesting” Green Mountain
29:30 – Enjoyment of truly knowing a place
31:30 – Justin’s approach to creating art
32:50 – The hard work involved in athletics and art
35:35 – How much art is a part of Justin’s life currently
36:35 – How adventures changes people
39:00 – Heroes and mentors
42:00 – Overarching goal of sharing these adventures with the public
43:45 – Favorite Books
45:00 – Favorite films
46:50 – Surprising activities
48:40 – Best advice he’s ever received
53:00 – Enlightenment through endurance
56:00 – Most powerful outdoor experience
58:50 – Favorite location in the West
1:01:00 – Justin’s request of the listeners
1:02:00 – Connect with Justin online and follow the adventure!

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