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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.

The LA Tourist Race Returns This Weekend!

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The LA Tourist Race Returns This Weekend!

Last year’s LA Tourist Race brought challenging courses on familiar trails and this year’s event is looking to up, up, up the ante in the Angeles Crest!

This weekend (1.11.2020 at 7:30am) is the first round for 2020 and here are the details.

“Ok folks. These are your checkpoints. If you’re entering these into google, remove the N and W when searching. Start/Finish is @goldensaddlecyclery The points are numbered but you can do them in any order you want. This has also been emailed to all registered riders
Stock route is live on Strava .
If you live local and do not want to wait until Saturday morning to get your race plate, feel free to come by this week and pick it up @goldensaddlecyclery Starting Thursday morning. .
.
If you have not registered online you can still race but you will need to fill out paperwork in person to receive your race plate. Videos of the books are in our stories & FB page. Good luck with your routes. And be aware there are down trees and snow. Weather seems to be staying sunny for us but it is cold and wet on the ground.”

You can register now at BikeReg and see the checkpoints at the LA Tourist Race Instagram!

The Coaster Brake Challenge: And Y’all Thought You Were a Freak!

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The Coaster Brake Challenge: And Y’all Thought You Were a Freak!

Welcome to the beautiful dark twisted world of Paul de Valera and Atomic Cycles‘ Coaster Brake Challenge! A race I have known about for over a decade, a race that my mentor JimC would race religiously, but for some reason, I never made the time to attend. I always made up some kind of excuse, usually, it was about the bike, which is bullshit. Paul and Atomic Cycles have plenty of loaners, and as you can already tell from the title of this story, these bikes are simple, cheap, and easy to build.

The Service Course: Tajikistan – The Not Knowing

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The Service Course: Tajikistan – The Not Knowing

Tajikistan. It’s wild. It’s remote. It’s unforgiving. It’s out there.

Over eight days of breathtaking riding and spectacular scenery, we follow Christian Meier and Peter Gaskill of The Service Course on their adventure through Tajikistan, weaving through the Wakhan Valley, over the Khargush Pass, along the Pamir Highway, into the Bartang Valley and beyond. A journey into the unknown, and one that will live long in the memory. As a result, The Service Course will be hosting their inaugural Tajikistan Gravel Tour in June 2020, limited to six adventurous participants.

SSCXWC 2019 St. George: Ain’t No Party Like a SSCXWC Party Because a SSCXWC Party Don’t Stop

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SSCXWC 2019 St. George: Ain’t No Party Like a SSCXWC Party Because a SSCXWC Party Don’t Stop

November 23rd, 2019 brought the absurd to Santa Clara, Utah with the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships. Less about racing, and more about chaos on a bicycle, the SSCXWC travels to a different destination every year to showcase a variety of terrain and whatever shenanigans the host city decides to throw at racers.

Flemish Hospitality: CX Style

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Flemish Hospitality: CX Style

I was hardly surprised when he turned us away. After three seasons battling these neon-vested, parking fascists at Belgian cyclocross races, I’d come to expect rejection.

Max and I were racing today, and we’d just tried to enter the Renner’s Parking, the exact place for people like us. Yet the gatekeeper grunted in Flemish that there was no room for our little Peugeot Partner in the lot stuffed with hundreds of camper vans and buses from the larger Belgian teams.