Mike Curiak: Finding the Edge of Human Endurance

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Mike Curiak at an Iditarod race in Alaska. Photo by Chris McLennan.

From the early rebels racing down the Repack to today’s craziest freeriders flipping off massive cliffs, every era of mountain biking has needed pioneering figures to push the boundaries of what’s possible on a bike. In endurance racing, Mike Curiak was one of those key people who helped define just how long and far the human body can go on a mountain bike. He is best known for his exploits at Alaska’s brutal Iditaraces. Over his 17 year race career, he won numerous iterations of the 225-mile Iditasport and 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational, set a course record on the 1,100-mile Iditasport Impossible, and later completed the 1,100-mile race fully self-supported. He also helped organize the first successful Great Divide race, won the Kokopelli Trail Race, and was a nominee for the mountain bike hall of fame among other palmares.

Curiak retired from racing almost 10 years ago after winning the 2005 Iditarod Trail Invitational. These days he says he’s focused more on fun, though it’s his version of fun, i.e. multi-day bikepacking trips that require packrafting across lakes and down rivers and other adventures like that. He’s also focused on his well established Lace Mine 29 wheel-building business. I spoke to Curiak before he set off on a three-week packrafting trip through the Grand Canyon. We talked about his early entry into endurance racing, endless laps on 24-hour race courses, his experience racing in Alaska, helping create the Great Divide race, his disappointment with the direction endurance racing has gone recently, and much more.

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Dan Malloy: Slow is Fast When You’re Surfing by Bike

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Kellen Keene, Dan Malloy, and Kanoa Zimmerman on the Slow is Fast surf tour. Photo by Kanoa Zimmerman.

Dan Malloy’s surf career began in typical fashion. He started competing in and winning contests as a teenager and eventually attracted the attention of big name sponsors such as Billabong and Hurley. That sponsorship lead to a cycle of world travel for contests, photo shoots, and video filming. For Malloy it was an exciting and privileged experience, but one that also led to serious burn out. He quit competing in the early 2000s, concerned that contests were killing his love for surfing. He continued traveling extensively filming videos, doing photo shoots, and working as a brand ambassador and product developer for Patagonia. In the process he evolved into something of a professional surf nomad with near-constant trips to standard surf destinations such as Indonesia, Hawaii, and Mexico and breaks as far flung as Liberia and Antarctica.

Now 36, Malloy has settled down a bit, at least by his standards. He and his wife have a small working farm with goats and produce in Ojai, California. But he still finds time for surf adventures. In September 2012, Malloy and two friends, Kellen Keene and Kanoa Zimmerman spent two months bike touring down the coast of California surfing and staying with farmers and artisans along the way. From that trip they created Slow is Fast, a book and film that document the surfing, riding, and people they met. I spoke to Malloy about the ups and downs of a surf trip on two wheels, the unique perspectives bike touring provides, lessons learned from his time with farmers and artisans who live intentionally, the possibility of future bike and surf trips, and much more.

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A Different Kind of Mountain Climbing by Bike

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One of my qualms with outdoors sports such as mountain biking, skiing, hiking and climbing is the need to hop in the car and drive to do them. Though there are plenty of towns with great trailhead access out the front door, the majority of us make a few hours of driving part of the equation each weekend to participate in the sports we love. A little bit of driving is never the end of the world, but it certainly contributes to it. As such, it’s exciting to see people using bikes for adventures in the mountains. These three videos document a few different mountain climbing trips by bike, from the Great Divide mountain bike route to the high alpine in Kyrgyzstan. All of them center on weeks- and even months-long tours–certainly not practical for the day to day–but inspiration nonetheless about the possibilities for human powered adventure.

Sam and Kurt are riding the Great Divide Mountain bike with trad climbing gear in tow.

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Luke Allingham: Cycling’s Precocious Journalism Upstart

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Luke Allingham. Photo by Carole Snow.

For most people, big accomplishments at the age of 12 amount to a trophy won on a sports team, a project aced in middle school, or maybe making out with someone for the first time in the park. When Luke Allingham was 12, he decided he wanted to break into cycling journalism by writing race reports for an unofficial Leopard Trek fan site. Now at the ripe old age of 16, he has interviewed some of cycling’s best athletes, racing legends, and even the head of the sport’s international governing body. I can’t decide whether Allingham’s gumption is inspiring or distressing, but either way he is seriously impressive. I spoke with him about his early foray into writing and interviewing, his love of bike racing, creating these opportunities for himself, his longterm plans for cycling journalism, and more.

Correction: An early version of this interview implied that Allingham was writing race reports for the Leopard Trek team. He was actually writing for an unofficial Leopard Trek fan site.

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Makes You Want to Have an Adventure

Follow Your Way – Chile from Iść Swoją Drogą on Vimeo.

This short film captures the people, places, and feeling of four months of bike touring through Chile. It’ll get your spirit of adventure going just in time for the weekend!