Every once in a while you run into someone that everyone seems to be drawn to. It could be the personality, the enthusiasm or maybe just that something you can’t quite put your finger on. It could even be distinctive orange framed glasses. Such is the case with Texan Dex Tooke, the ex -Triathlete and ex-Ultra runner and now Ultra Cycling Hall of Famer.
If you’ve been to RAAM the past few years where he’s been a fixture as a racer or crew, or to any of the Texas Ultra Cup races, chances are you’ve had a conversation with Dex. The charismatic Paramedic and addicted Ultra cyclist loves talking about bike riding with anyone nearby. More than that, he loves riding and racing. His resume over the past 10 years or so includes a number of Texas Time Trial entries from 500 milers, to 24 hour races including solo and various team participations with most ending up on a step of the podium. From 2010 he’s raced the Texas Hill Country 600K a couple times, raced RAAM a couple times, won the WUCA World Cup in his age group, rode 210 miles at Bessie’s Creek 12 hour, rode the Sebring 24 hour and the 1200K Texas Stampede.
Recently Dex set an 873 mile Texas Cross State WUCA record of 64 1⁄2 hours. Oh, by the way, since 2010 he’s done all this and more at the ripe young age of 60+. Holy shnikees Batman, that’s pretty good! Mixed in with all this racing he’s found time to write a book about his RAAM experiences – “Unfinished Business”. It’s great story telling with some thoughtful ideas about how to do RAAM. It‘s a must read. He’s especially proud that the book will always be a part of Ultra history and RAAM history. Dex approached the adventure of writing with the same drive and enthusiasm as he does in his race prep and it shows on every page.
I’ve personally bought a number of copies and given them away to athletes and other crazies who might be interested in testing their own limits. In addition to all that, he founded and directs No Country for Old Men. NCOM is a terrific solo and team race of 200 or 400 miles starting in Alpine TX that winds up and down all the great scenic west Texas mountains including the Mt. Davis observatory area. This October he’s adding a 1000 mile route as perfectly timed training for RAAM hopefuls needing to work out all those logistical kinks.
Dex says that staying motivated to ride so much is easy when you love what you’re doing. “I’m addicted to cycling. My daily life is dependent on it. I enjoy the personal satisfaction I derive from ultra racing. The challenge engulfs me.”He insists that he would be nothing without the backbone of his riding – his wife Joni. “She has supported me no matter what. She was the driving force behind my 2 RAAM races in 2010 and 2011. She has never ridden a mile in her life but knows more about ultra racing than most RAAM people.” Dex also credits a good portion of his success to “the many volunteers and crew that have helped me”. He affectionately calls them his “Dexans”
As the sport of ultra cycling grows in the future Dex would encourage neo racers to try the 12 hour and 24 hour races first, then, graduate into the RAAM style ultra where follow vehicles and crew are required. You never know where you might end up, what you might accomplish or who you might meet.
The sport of Ultra Cycling is fortunate to have Dex Tooke as a participant, an ambassador and enthusiastic supporter. So the next time you’re out at an Ultra event, keep an eye out for Dex. You can’t miss him. Just look for the orange glasses – they’ll probably be matching his orange socks. I’m honored to submit this at Dex’s request.
Dex was inducted into the hall-of-fame in 2014.