Category Archives: Mountain Biking

Eszter Horanyi: The Power and Goodness of Bikepacking

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Eszter Horanyi and Scott Morris at the start of their 4,000 mile Continental Divide Trail ride. Photo via topofusion.com.

The Tour Divide is a 2,745 bikepacking race from Banff, Canada to the Mexican border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. When Eszter Horanyi set the women’s course record of 19 days, 3 hours in 2012, she did so by averaging over 140 miles each day and sleeping just a few hours each night. Doing so on repeat for the better part of a month is a brutal challenge that pushes athletes to their mental and physical limits. It turns out Horanyi is really good at it. Over her years of bikepacking racing, she’s held or still holds records on the Tour Divide, Arizona Trail Race 300, Colorado Trail Race, Arrowhead 135, and plenty more. She stopped racing in 2013, but continues to explore mountains and valleys and remote roads by bike. I spoke to Horanyi about her entry into mountain bike racing, her bikepacking racing “career,” the self-empowerment the comes from adventuring alone, the growth of bikepacking, and more.

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Mountain Biking to Bothies in the Scottish Wilderness

Adventurer, author, and filmmaker Alastair Humphreys just produced this excellent short film about mountain biking to Scottish bothies, old abandoned farmhouses now used as shelter by hikers, climbers and bikers. Part ode to adventure, part history of the bothey, the video is well worth a watch. Learn more about Alastair in his fall 2014 interview with The Bicycle Story.

Ellen Noble: The Next Big Thing in American Cyclocross

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Ellen Noble taking the U23 leaders jersey at Gloucester. Photo via cycle-smart.com

For most people, riding bikes in second grade meant cruising around on park sidewalks with friends. For Ellen Noble, it meant lining up against adults in her first mountain bike race. It helps explain how, at just 19, she’s a professional cyclist with two cyclocross and two mountain bike national titles and nearly a dozen UCI podiums and wins to her name.

Though she’d been making a splash for a few years as a prominent elite junior, it was just last season that Noble had a major breakthrough and established herself as one of the strongest racers in the pro women’s field. She credits much of that success to joining the JAM Fund cycling team, the nonprofit development squad founded by Jeremy Powers, Alec Donahue, and Mukunda Feldman. I spoke to Noble about her early days racing with her parents, her development into a professional, JAM Fund’s successful development program, the difficulties of being a teenage pro athlete, and much more.

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Amanda Carey: Fighting for Podiums, Fighting for Access

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Amanda Carey atop the podium at the 2013 Trans-Sylvania Epic. Photo via Trans-Sylvania Epic.

Amanda Carey is Newton’s First Law personified. She started moving (and moving fast) a long time ago and seems incapable of stopping. Since college she’s been a Jackson Hole ski bum, land conservationist, bike and pedestrian advocate, professional mountain biker and cyclocross racer, coach, and Executive Director of a mountain bike advocacy nonprofit. Often times she was doing a few of those at any given time. As a pro mountain biker she focused her energy on 100-milers and multi-day stage racing, notching wins at the Breck Epic, Trans-Sylvania Epic, and Pisgah Stage Race and earning multiple National Ultra Endurance series overall titles. In December 2014 she started her new role as Executive Director of Mountain Bike the Tetons. It is perhaps unsurprising that we had lots to talk about. I spoke to Carey about her years as a professional racer, the appeal of endurance racing, her new life as a mountain bike advocate, the major access hurdles mountain bikers still face (and fat bikers are starting to face), and much more.

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The World’s First Mountain Bike Film (Probably)

Canadian filmmaker Wolf Ruck made Freewheelin’ in 1985. The short film highlights early mountain bike footage set to a decidedly-80s soundtrack. According to Brian Vernor (read The Bicycle Story’s 2011 interview with him), it is likely the first purpose-made mountain bike film in history. Vernor writes:

“In early 2010 I showed this film to multiple cycling media outlets in an effort to re-release the film, or even do an in depth profile on the man that as far as I know has made the first mountain bike film. the FIRST. This is a film. It is not a bunch of scrappy footage. Wolf Ruck made something beautiful and important, and then he moved on and made other films about other subjects. He was very humble when I approached him about his film FREEWHEELIN. He was even surprised anybody cared. What a shock to see this film for me. Besides the historical importance, the great vibe he transmits from the scene as it was back then, jamming soundtrack he co-ordinated, Wolf Ruck can likely be credited with the first urban POV shot in all of cycling. Plenty of people have made names for themselves simply from that shot alone. As a filmmaker this whole film inspires me.”