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Deer and Wolves: Josh Ibbett on the GBDURO 2020

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Deer and Wolves: Josh Ibbett on the GBDURO 2020

Josh Ibbett just won the GBduro. A 2000 km mostly off-road Ultra Distance race from the most southern tip of the UK to the most northern in Scotland.

This is the second edition of this race.

The first one was won by Lachlan Morton last year.

The Racing Collective, organizers of the race, best described by themselves as “the UK’s flagship not-for-profit bikepacking club” had to change their race format this year. They did it, brilliantly.

There were no stages anymore, the race described as “a scrappy rolling picnic through Britain’s ever-changing landscapes” had that new daunting rule about it, you had to be “self-sufficient”, no stopping allowed in shops, cafe, restaurant or hotel, whatsoever, so you carry your own food, filter water from streams or sources and mind yourself and your bike ‘till the end. There is a new level in the game of Epic.

Cameron Dixon: the Transcontinental Race Interview

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Cameron Dixon: the Transcontinental Race Interview

I first became aware of Cameron in 2019 whilst working at NRG Cycles in Great Ayton. A few regular customers had been in and asked if I knew of this local lad – ‘somebody’ Dixon was all I had to go on and that he rode his bike….a lot. 

Working in a small North Yorkshire village you tend to know all the local cyclists and with my involvement with Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling, that knowledge is spread further a field into the race scene. I’d never seen him on a start sheet before, so who was he?

Lael Wilcox’s Kenai 250 2021 Specialized Epic Evo Pro with Hope Tech

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Lael Wilcox’s Kenai 250 2021 Specialized Epic Evo Pro with Hope Tech

The Kenai 250 is a 257-mile, self-supported mountain bike race in the Kenai peninsula, the only area in Alaska with a large network of singletrack trails maintained by the forest service. The race organizer, Michael Braun, stitched together a route that connects the trails with highway miles. It’s 60% singletrack and 40% pavement. The race has been going on since at least 2013. This year, with 36 starters, it’s a record setting year for participation. This will be my first time racing it. I grew up in Alaska. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to ride and race in my home state. A couple weeks ago, Rue and I went out to tour the trails– several of which I’d never ridden. In a single day, from my bike seat, I saw a moose cooling off in a pond and both a lynx and a grizzly bear crossed my path. Alaska is still very wild. I’m really looking forward to riding through the night and experiencing this full route in one go. It would make a great multi-day tour as well.

Zhaawani-noodin: There is a South Wind – a Response to the Name “Dirty Kanza”

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Zhaawani-noodin: There is a South Wind – a Response to the Name “Dirty Kanza”

I can tell you one thing; whenever someone tells me what I should do, I almost always do the opposite. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. In some psychology class years back, I learned about the theory of psychological reactance. It all boils down to an idea that people believe that they possess freedoms and the ability to participate in those free-behaviors. When those behaviors are threatened, something within us is sparked and we react. I find myself pretty apprehensive when it comes to telling anyone what they should be doing. For that matter, I mostly, don’t care what anyone else is doing. A person’s true character comes out regardless. You are what you do.

Sean Conway: Europe or Bust – A Filmmaker’s View

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Sean Conway: Europe or Bust – A Filmmaker’s View

In 2017 German endurance cyclist Jonas Deichmann set the world record for cycling across Europe, fully self-supported, in an incredible 25 days. This is a 6500km journey, starting in Portugal on the Westernmost point, crossing a further 7 countries all the way to Ufa at the Easternmost point of Europe.

However, the world’s fastest cycling record is something that has eluded another endurance athlete for years. That of UK based and Zimbabwe-born, bearded adventurer Sean Conway. Sean has set other incredible records, including the first person to swim the length of Britain, and also setting a record for a full triathlon of the UK, where he cycled, ran than swam within a mile of the entire coast of mainland Britain. But a world’s fastest is something that came within his reach when he attempted the Europe crossing in 2017, the same years as Jonas’ record. Unfortunately for Sean, after just 1200km, when approaching the French Pyrenees, he had to pull out because of an injury.

Tugende: the Race Around Rwanda

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Tugende: the Race Around Rwanda

I arrived in Rwanda on the 26th of January and was greeted by a spooky line of doctors and nurses wearing masks, they were filtering us before border control, asking us to remain about two meters away from them while they would conduct a short interview.

The world was barely aware of the virus outbreak at that time, Corona was still a light Mexican beer, flying was no biggie and I was just happy I had managed to sneak in business class and have two dinners, champagne, and a screen to watch films.

My only concern was finding the next race I could cover. I hadn’t started enjoying that one and I was already thinking of the void after it.

Mid South 2020: the Last Gravel Race on Earth

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Mid South 2020: the Last Gravel Race on Earth

To begin, it is important to say that I am not a doctor, a data analyst, or an economist. Am I an expert regarding the growing pandemic that is becoming one of the defining events of our lives? No, I am not. I am a bike mechanic who likes to take photos. There are smarter people out there who could (or should) be writing about this, but as it is, you have me. And I find it extremely difficult—even inappropriate—to talk about this year’s Mid South without acknowledging the massive elephant in the room. For some of you, these images or just the thought of a large group gathering may be upsetting. You would be right to feel that way, and I get it. If this were any other year, it would have been a widely celebrated event, filled with love and excitement from the greater cycling community. In a lot of ways, it still was. But given that upside-down is the new normal, here we are.

Arrowhead 135: What She Carried

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Arrowhead 135: What She Carried

Intro

Arrowhead 135 is a race that evokes superlatives: coldest, most extreme, most brutal. Routine sub-zero conditions encountered on the 135 miles of Northern Minnesota snowmobile trails tests riders like few other races in North America. The stories surrounding Arrowhead tend to center male-dominated, human-versus-nature narratives and the gear that riders carry to overcome the challenge. When my friend Amanda Harvey registered for the race, I approached her about a project that offered a new angle on Arrowhead.

Madness and Mud: Ruta Del Jefe 2020

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Madness and Mud: Ruta Del Jefe 2020

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

The world offers itself to your imagination,

Calls to you like the wild geese jaguar, harsh and exciting 

Over and over announcing your place

In the family of things.

-(modified) Mary Oliver “Wild Geese”

The weather matched the event in challenging the assumptions of what a desert landscape or a gravel race should be for most of the riders of the Ruta Del Jefe this year  which was hosted at the Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch in Elgin, AZ. The imagination of a desert as a dry and sunny landscape dotted with saguaros, prickly pears, and cholla was expanded for those who held that thinking. Home to the Madrean Sky Islands ecoregion that includes the Santa Ritas, Whetstone, and many other mountain ranges, this area is a treasure trove for those who eat gravel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sky Islands refers to the unique interplay between the low lying desert grasslands and the dramatic wooded mountains that become islands in the sky for their residents. Natt Dodge introduced this concept as “mountain island in a desert sea” back in 1948 which was then cemented by Weldon Heald’s book Sky Island in 1967. In the lowlands, this area is home to  many unique varieties of grasses who abundantly glow their sunshine and straw colors to her visitors.

The Art of Escapism: Bikingman Portugal

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The Art of Escapism: Bikingman Portugal

The Art of Escapism, an essay on an ultra-distance race called Bikingman Portugal.

So the only question that really matters is why?

Why do you ride more than you like?

Why do you let something you love hurt you so much that you start hating it?

Why do you finish it?

Why do you want to do it again then?

What’s the point?

Ok, you defeated your limits but then why again?

Are you so limited in your own life?

What is the outcome, what is the takeaway but most importantly why do you need this?

2020 Single Speed Arizona! Bisbee Edition

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2020 Single Speed Arizona! Bisbee Edition

Before I go into the story of Single Speed Arizona 2020, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Nate. I’m from Tucson, Arizona and I own a bike shop called Blue Dog Bicycles. I eat, sleep, breathe, shit, and fart mountain biking. I’ve been making unique and challenging routes around Southern Arizona for 11 years and heading out with my friends to try to push ourselves. I host 10-15 bike events a year around Southern Arizona. Everything from taco scavenger hunts to 400-mile gravel epics. Bicycling and the Southern Arizona cycling community are almost all that I care about at this moment in my life.

Flowers for Rita: The Positive Power of Persistence

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Flowers for Rita: The Positive Power of Persistence

Dearest Readers,

If you’ve followed the reporting for the last three years on this Cyclocross Pilgrimage to the Motherland, you will have read plenty of tales of struggling, suffering, and the general beat downs of European race life. I’m not here to make excuses or polish turds. I’m here to tell it to you like it is. To keep it real. Thus I’ve written more than 30 articles bringing you along for my weekly whoopings in all their self-deprecating glory because that’s the truth. That’s the reality. That’s the story. 

And now, dearest readers, I finally have a happy tale to tell. Though it feels an odd one to write, and I cringe at potentially walking the fine line of self-aggrandizing douche. But I try to consider the context. This is the first time in over 30 deadlines that I’ve managed a meaningful achievement. This too is just part of the ride. The reality. The story. And it’s the kind I might not get to write again for another three years, or for that matter, ever again…

LA Tourist Race No. 1: Dispatches From a Flying Squirrel and a Moose on the Loose.

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LA Tourist Race No. 1: Dispatches From a Flying Squirrel and a Moose on the Loose.

… aka Rocky and Bullwinkle

Rocky and I didn’t really know exactly what we were getting into when we showed up at an LA Tourist Race last year, but that’s how most Rocky and Bullwinkle adventures start off anyway. They always end up saving the world, so why should this be any different?

The LA Tourist race is this race—well, kinda a race, well, no yeah, it is totally a race for those who want a shot at snagging the coveted jersey that represents a combination of fitness, mental agility, and conviction—that is put on out of love and love alone by Mike from Golden Saddle Cyclery (GSC). For the rest of us, it’s an unpredictable situation to get yourself into some laughably challenging terrain. And that’s what makes it fun. It isn’t just a bike race though, it’s unsanctioned, it offered coffee and bike snacks – spoiler alert there was an aid station – it’s a free bike race that welcomes and gathers the people, and it doesn’t have a set route. Like a fixie alleycat for the mountain people. This lack of an established course is where the mental agility comes into play. So, layered on top of the “bike race” strategy that needs to be employed [for the racers at least] is this create-your-own-map puzzle that spans from the city to the peaks punctuating the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains, and these peaks tend to always be on gravel roads.

What Races Would You Like Seen Covered Here on the Radavist?

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What Races Would You Like Seen Covered Here on the Radavist?

We cover a lot of gravel races here at the Radavist and while most of them are in the Western United States, we’ll be returning to the Mid South this year for an in-depth look at Stillwater, District Bicycles, the new race, and a look at the racer’s bikes. As you can imagine, it’s a lot of work to cover races and it costs a lot of money out of our pocket to fly out, document, edit, and post these events. While as a whole, we’re less interested in roadie 2.0 races like the DK and more interested in races with a unique format, which is why we’ve covered Grinduro so much in the past. It’s a really fun environment to be working your ass off in.

So I wanted to ask, what races would you like seen covered here on the site? We’ve already got SSAZ, the Mid South, Grinduro, and a few others on the calendar, but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. If you could, leave them in the comments, with a link to the race’s website, that would be helpful.

We want to spend our time covering the things you want to see, so these posts are VERY helpful!

xo

Start Where You Are: Fundraising Through Fun Racing with Leave It On The Road

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Start Where You Are: Fundraising Through Fun Racing with Leave It On The Road

My friend Rebecca Gates once told me, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” She quickly admitted that this piece of wisdom came from tennis legend Arthur Ashe. Since then it has been at the top of my mind. There is power in this expression “Start where you are” eliminates steps to action. “Use what you have” wrests back agency– doing this engages oneself in action while giving oneself to taking action, or “do what you can.”

Action, especially towards a greater good, is the most salient way to combat the various tentacles of existential dread, whether they are cancer, capitalism, or climate change. No matter where we turn, dread appears. Unavoidable but not unconquerable, we succumb only through inaction. Taking the first step towards action can be difficult, especially in our culture, which seems to perpetually discovering new heights of apathy. The world and our culture can feel like an incredibly heavyweight.