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…
Words and photos by Dan Chabanov
Before I get into this I just wanted to point out that I am not a journalist. Everything I’m writing here is just my observations from hanging out at the track this summer. I didn’t have conversations with anyone “on the record” hence why I don’t name or quote any riders. I was just having casual conversations with folks about life, racing, and the Olympics. I wasn’t conducting interviews. So take this for what it is, just my glimpse behind the curtain of world-class athletes racing, doing their thing, and trying to make the Olympic dream happen.
I’m not much of a writer, I prefer to stay behind the camera and let the photos do the talking. But what if photos aren’t enough? I like facts and I can provide those. Facts that led up to Lael’s scratching from this year’s Tour Divide. I recently posted on Lael’s Instagram that she scratched from the race this year after running into shoe sucking mud and waiting it out with other top racers. While waiting, she saw her women’s record pass by and her pink LW record dot would be almost a day ahead by the time conditions were suitable for riding. Acknowledging this, she brought me breakfast and spent the day with me and others while waiting for the mud to dry. Visiting me, her girlfriend, disqualifies her from the race. She knows this. We both do. I want to share a little more backstory. To put it out there while it’s still fresh.
Last year, Rue propositioned me about helping her document the Tour Divide race in which Lael Wilcox intended to best her previous record, I jumped at the opportunity. Later, Jay Ritchey would be added to the team to help Rue with the film they intended to produce about the race. I was tasked with focusing on photographing her attempt and the race itself. Rue has been flipping between photo and video very deftly and has some incredible images to add to this gallery. Here is the third installment of our ongoing coverage of the 2019 Tour Divide Race.
Last year, Rue propositioned me about helping her document the Tour Divide race in which Lael Wilcox intended to best her previous record, I jumped at the opportunity. Later, Jay Ritchey would be added to the team to help Rue with the film they intended to produce about the race. I was tasked with focusing on photographing her attempt and the race itself. Rue has been flipping between photo and video very deftly and has some incredible images to add to this gallery. Here is the second installment of our ongoing coverage of the 2019 Tour Divide Race.
A few weeks back, the third and final Resistance Racing Tracklocross Race Series started off from Swell Bicycles Shop and out to Golden Gate Park. Looking back at the first race in Albany (discarded concrete block, choppy singletrack, and an 80 ft climb), we didn’t know what would be in store for us. The final race consisted of smooth single track, short descends, off-camber turns and my personal favorite, a log pile ramp. These bay area shredders were nuts!
Words by Coach Ronaldo Romance Jr. and photos by Team Brooks
(Gallery Photos are 95% disposable film cams that I handed out to the team. Felt like it captured the inner “race” pretty authentically; and the medium was pretty fun in a “trip to the water park” “safe grad night” sorta way)
Booming Billowing Blooping Blurping Gravel.
Even with DK getting as much coverage as the TDF, I trust the pace of the news these days has left your mind blank of such cognizance once again. That’s good, as my memory of competing in the event 2 years ago has also been selectively erased, perhaps that’s why I reluctantly agreed to participate in this particular edition.