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Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part IV – A New Record, 12 Years in the Making

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Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part IV – A New Record, 12 Years in the Making

This is the fourth and final part of an ongoing series:
Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part III – A Cyclocross Specialist Turned Ultra Racer
Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part II – The First Modern Bikepacking Race
Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part I – Trail Visions Ahead of Their Time

2020, the year that virtually nothing has panned out as expected, delivered an unexpected opportunity for me to return to the Grand Loop. I flew home to Arizona in late March after an aborted tour across Alaska as the Covid-19 pandemic worsened. My body was exhausted from winning a 4-day-long Iditarod Trail Invitational – conditions were challenging enough that the race took twice as long as it does in “good” years. After the race, I continued touring farther along the trail for another 250 miles before Native villages began closing to visitors. When I returned home, my body was worn out. The next month was devoted to recovery as I watched in awe as the world as we knew it ground to a halt amid the worsening pandemic.

The Open Road: the Orbit 360

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The Open Road: the Orbit 360

2021, March 14th, 5:16 pm Runa, Portugal

Runa is a small village that looks like it was supposed to become a town, it just never happened. Not much to see around here.

Traversed by a fast road right through it, longing a deserted train station that never felt so vain.
All along that single file highway, tiny factories, warehouses, abandoned, emptied in a rush. Nature is invading, reclaiming those empty spaces, plants, and trees through the cracks and walls.

I press on the pedals.

A bit further down the strange fast route, a tiny park and one big tree, one massive tree, an old man walks around, talking to himself, or rehearsing what seems to be a speech or sermon, rehearsing those words while mastering their hand choreography.

Chasing Fabian Burri

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Chasing Fabian Burri

What’s a day, an hour, a few seconds, or a month?
What’s the point of time if it’s still and untouched?
Where are we now, and can it be then?

I woke up that morning from sweat and fears, dreams that fade away in the blink of an eye but a feeling that takes longer, lingers around, just for a while. I had a crash but it left no rash.
I met Fabian over a year ago, in Oman, at a race, he was wearing skinny black stuff and had a lot of tattoos, he had a mustache and looked a lot like bike messengers, or my friends from Brazil.

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?

Radar

The Transatlantic Way

Matt and Brad have been riding together for years, on increasingly difficult rides and races. This is unexpected for Matt, as he was told “no bikes for the rest of your life” by his doctor after an injury, only to take on Ireland’s Transatlantic Way, a 2500k route along the west coast of Ireland years later… Matt and Brad finished in 7 days, 15hours, and 43 minutes, finishing first place out of seven teams!

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.

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Into the Rift: the Story of the Atlas Mountain Race

Into the Rift is a deep-dive into what it takes to compete in and complete the Atlas Mountain Race:

“To simply finish the Atlas Mountain Race means navigating 1,200 kilometres of the most rugged and remote roads in Morocco. To win requires riding almost non-stop, night and day, for days on end. It is a combination of strength and sleep deprivation that only a few riders in the world can manage. Alone, unsupported and loaded down with supplies, each competitor must constantly battle mechanicals, heat exhaustion and saddle sores to get to the finish. There is no prize, no money, simply the satisfaction that comes from pushing oneself to the limit while exploring the forgotten corners of a beautiful country.”

Radar

‘GP-1200’: Girona to Portugal Cycling Adventure

Our friend Sami worked on a project with Jack Ultra Cyclist and it’s worth the watch this Friday afternoon!

From the East coast of Spain to the Western shores of Portugal, in October 2019, Jack decided he needed a challenge and so set about riding the route non stop…

A journey of 1,200 kilometers with 11,910m of elevation gain, Jack finished the ride in 56 hours, fresh and relatively unscathed.

As part of this challenge, Jack was eager to raise awareness about mental health, in particular the stigma that is often associated with such conditions. Talking open and candidly about his own struggles with drug use and depression and how the bike has allowed him to overcome these difficult times, ‘GP-1200’ looks to turn a chapter in what can only be described as ‘a silent killer that affects us all,’ be it directly or indirectly.

“Riding my bike from Girona to Portugal is nothing compared to my early teenage years and my struggles with mental health. I just hope that by sharing my story, I can inspire others to go about pushing their own limits in search of happiness.”

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.

Radar

Tugende Teaser

Tugende is a film about the race around Rwanda, made by Ryan Le Garrec, produced by Ryan Le Garrec and Lander Deldime. Check back here on the 22nd of April for the full feature and photos.

Radar

Faces of Transylvania: Ultra-Endurance Cyclist Levente Bagoly

Faces of Transylvania is a video series that looks at figures within the community of its fabled land. In this video, they profile ultra-endurance cyclist Levi Bagoly, who has been pushing his boundaries ever since he first got on a bike at age 6. Watch as he talks about the challenges cyclists face to make it to the finish line. Check out their Youtube channel for more interviews.

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?