Riding through a landscape gives you a deeper appreciation for that place. It’s sensory. You breathe the air and you feel the sun and the wind and the weather. You muscle over the hills and your tires surf through the sand and over the rocks. You learn why roads exist and where they lead and who lives among them and what grows there. Sometimes you meet the people and the animals. Sometimes you share the space with fellow travelers and sometimes you ride alone. The farther you pedal, the more your mind becomes part of that space– the space between your body and your bike and the earth. Your mind is in the sky and the tall golden grass. When your body and mind relinquish control over expectations and judgments and find connection to your surroundings, you enter the spirit world, a place of truth and acceptance.
The Cruiser Classic is an event that’s like an old friend – an old friend with a quick wit, who moves slowly in the morning. The Cruiser Classic and I first met in 2010 thanks to our mutual friend Ken Baker, who helped put the first Cruiser Classic together in Chico, CA. It’s safe to say the Cruiser Classic makes friends easily, and it became one of those forever bonds of friendship between us because the Cruiser Classic is about FUN for everyone.
I put my bra back on and brush my teeth and walk from the dorm room past the pool table salon to the restaurant and out the door to my bike. It’s four in the morning and still dark outside. It’s a new day. I’m ready to ride. Rue is on her computer waiting at a table and follows me out.
It has been amazing to witness how much Tracklocross has grown over the years. To be able to have the Tracklocross World Championships held in Japan was something truly special. Huge thanks and appreciation to the dedicated organizers Chris Namba, Junpei Nakata, Eui Ho Kim, and the volunteers for their hard work that was put into this event.
Going into the 5th year of Grinduro California coverage on this website, I really wanted to do something different and boy, did I get just that. In addition to covering Team Brooks‘ debut at Grinduro, a series of events made this otherwise familiar race a little more unpredictable. Things weren’t looking so great the week leading up to this incredible event…
The gravel pit turns to good, hard dirt and I begin the ascent. It’s my favorite kind of road, an even grade that feels like climbing the fortress walls to the castle as the road snakes up. It’s the morning of day 3 and I feel like I’m on a quick training ride, almost like the past two days haven’t happened or they’re a distant memory. I’m listening to music and my legs feel fresh and I’m having so much fun. The climb is an hour of effort and then a quick winding descent to the valley floor and dry Lake Kel Suu. Towering, freshly snow-covered mountains surround that makes me feel really small. I pass a couple of other yurt camps on my way to checkpoint 2 until I see the SRMR banner. A couple of little kids cheer me in. Jakub the Slovakian is packing his bike. I have to keep my focus. I take off my gloves and change the track on my GPS and take a couple of puffs from my inhaler and get my brevet card and my wallet and a couple of plastic bags and go inside the yurt. The floor is grass, so I don’t have to take off my shoes. Inside, a volunteer stamps my card and we get to talking. In some way, she’s related to Yura, the man with my favorite guesthouse in Bishkek. Yura doesn’t speak much English, but he makes jokes with his eyes and his hands.
The redwoods hit me with that kind of awe those quixotic transcendentalists describe as, well, awe. It was like this – the trance state incurred by the tree-lined road was jostled by the excitement of entering an amalgam of friends, acquaintances, and randos held together by the common love for the physical-meets-mental journey of a bike race.
When I quit cycling for the first time in my life I was 21 years old. I´ve been loving it for some 18 years or so. But by that time, I was completely exhausted by a bicycle messenger scheme here in Germany that left me on the edge of homelessness. This was already ten years after I decided that the testosterone-fueled parental/official road cycling system of the same country was nothing for me…
Read Lael’s first Reportage at You Can’t Win a 1,700km Race in a Day: Lael Wilcox’s Silk Road Mountain Race 2019 – Part I
I open my eyes to daylight, take a couple of puffs of my inhaler, compress the air out of my sleeping pad and get out of my sleeping bag. A rider with bags cruises by waving, a reminder that we’re still in a race. I stuff my whole sleeping kit into a dry bag and strap it to my handlebar harness. I turn on my GPS and put the race track on and on goes my SPOT tracker, pressing the boot print to initiate tracking. I move a pastry from my framebag to my gas tank for breakfast. I chug a full water bottle and put on my socks and shoes. The whole process takes twenty minutes and I resent the time lost. This style of racing is all about economizing time. The valley is cold, even at low elevation. I’m still wearing my down suit and rain jacket and I’m back on my bike, pedaling washboard downriver. I pass a pulled over rider and he passes me back. We don’t talk.
Take the Andes, a mountain range that stretches for an impossibly long 7,200km down the West Coast of South America. Chuck in 32,000m of climbing, crazy gravel sections, remote towns and villages, altitudes of nearly 5000m, huge canyons, glaciers and some of the best views on the planet, and you have a heady cocktail of elements that make up the craziest ultra-cycling race in the world. BikingMan Peru – The Inca Divide.
Through the earbuds plugged into my brain, I hear their vodka-soaked throats call out.
“Hey! Heyyyyy! Hey!”
I turn and look. They wave me over to the yurt. I wave back and smile. They keep calling me in.
It’s not a reason to stop nor a reason to be concerned. I continue on my way. I’m riding in sandals, letting my feet get wet in the twenty or so stream crossings along the way up the valley and keeping my cycling shoes dry. It’ll be near freezing at the 3,800 meters (12,500′) summit and I’ll need those dry feet for the 2,200 meter (7,200′) descent to Lake Issyk-Kul.
Nine days into the PEdALED Silk Road Mountain Race, the top 5 has revealed itself. It took winner Jakub Sliacan an astonishing 7 days, 6 hours and 46 minutes to complete the 1708 km of decrepit Soviet roads, river crossings, and alpine passes. He was followed by Lael Wilcox, Jay Petervary, James Mark Hayden and Jeff Kerkove.
The Bay Area in Northern California is well known to be the reservoir for good times and burly riders. Back in June, the Oakland Tracklocross National Championship took place – where racers would battle out for the first Tracklocross World Championship Title. Racers and spectators came from all over California, as well as participants from Chicago and Florida. The atmosphere took shape once everyone converged at the bottom of a hill. Everyone had to ride up a mile or so to commence the hike a bike. Poison oak surrounded the area, deep rutted and broken up dirt roads gave participants a sneak peek in what the course would entail.
A lot can happen in 48 hours. At 4 am on Tuesday morning (local time) James Mark Hayden was the first rider to reach CP2. After suffering from altitude sickness in the first stage of the race, the two-time Transcontinental Race winner has made a remarkable recovery and is currently leading the race. While the main contenders were taking a much-needed rest in the deep hours of the night, James pushed through to be the first to get his brevet card stamped.
At the dawn of Day 3 of the PEdALED Silk Road Mountain Race 2019, it’s becoming clear that the second edition of this 1705km long endurance race through Kyrgyzstan will be a close pursuit. While last year’s winner Jay Petervary was in the lead for the first 360km of the race, first time competitor Jakub Sliacan overtook him on Sunday afternoon before they arrived at CP1 within 30 minutes of each other. After only a very short break at the checkpoint, both riders continued on their way.
[WARNING – please read with enunciations of the Queen’s English spoken with a harsh American accent leached with dry monotone and finished with a slight southern drawl.]
[NOTE – All persons are mixed and mashed conglomerations of friends masked by pseudonyms as to respect their identities.]
[FICTION –It actually may be close enough to nonfiction. Every tale is drenched with truth, maybe not all the truths belong to me, I might not even be the eyes telling this tale.]
With another eight to nine-hour drive ahead of me, this time solo because the polluting toots of my automobile fill me with joy—just kidding, hell, felt like an asshole—I had to figure out a way to fuck with my perception of time in order to maintain some level of sanity. Although being a fellow cyclist, y’all get that the bar is set real low when it comes to sanity. So, to risk sounding like a surface-wannabe-cultured-erudite, I tried hooking myself onto classical music with this grandiose nisus of increasing my attention span. Hear me out: not only would being able to melt into a forty-five-minute score enable me to complete long intervals with ease but enduring an entire classical score would help me get through the long drives to get to the long and arduous races those said and absolutely supposed intervals would prepare one for. Leave it all on the trail and go baroque.
This year’s Tour Divide Race was one for the books, with all the controversy surrounding documentation, but as well with many record hopeful attempts being foiled. It was an amazing and exciting feat to behold on many levels. At the end of all of it, I posed three questions to our team in hopes of giving an idea of what such a project entails. If you have any other questions please ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. -Spencer
May 22nd Phounkhoun outskirts 01435 am
The jungle can be the darkest place on Earth,
at night with just a moonbeam through thick clouds,
vaguely dislocating from the smoke of the melting tarmac,
the broken road,
it doesnʼt break this man,
the sounds came up a little more,
screams and songs from the sleepless jungle,
the law of Laos…