Jan Heine riding Naches Pass in the Cascade Mountains. Photo courtesy Jan Heine.
Until we spoke on the phone last week, the only things I knew of Jan Heine were from others’ stories online and in the relatively-small Seattle cycling world. Among them: that Heine was an incredible ultra endurance cyclist, notching very fast times on up to 1,200km rides with a no-nonsense approach to time management and little tolerance for those not riding the same way. That he was a deep devotee to the mid 20th-century French constructeur bikes (low-trail, 650b randonneuring bikes. And that he was unwavering in his convictions and often espoused unpopular opinions as Editor of Bicycle Quarterly with little regard for what other people thought of him. It’s something of an intimidating portrait.
It also turned out to be inaccurate. There is truth to his talents as an endurance rider, devotion to old French bikes, and willingness to express unconventional wisdom, but Heine is affable, funny, and humble–a far cry from intimidating. Over the course of our conversation, we talked about his history in cycling, his love of randonneuring, his magazine BicycleQuarterly and company Compass Bicycles, mainstream cycling media, and much more.
Jill at the 2008 Iditarod Trail Invitational. Photo via Jill’s Blog.
Jill Homer’s bike racing palmarès read like a checklist of some of the world’s foremost ultra-endurance and adventure racing events. They include the Ititarod Trail Invitational snowbike race, Great Divide Race (for which she’s the women’s record holder), TransRockies, Stagecoach 400, and many more. The 32 year old California transplant (by way of Alaska and Utah before that) lives for adventures that push her to her mental and physical limits. We discussed her path from not even owning a bike in her early 20s to ultra-endurance cyclist, her attraction and need to explore her personal limits through endurance racing, her new pursuits as an ultra-marathon runner, and more.
In 1982, John Marino gave start to one of the hardest, longest, Ultra-endurance races in the world. It has come to be called the Race Across America, but its first incarnation was The Great American Bicycle Race. The 2,968 mile route went from the Santa Monica Pier in LA to the Empire State Building in New York. Only four racers participated: John Marino, John Howard, Michael Shermer, and Lon Haldeman (the race winner).
RAAM has since grown in size and popularity with around 200 solo racers and many more two- and four-person team racers, but it is still a relatively-obscure, niche cycling event. Its modern semi-obscurity is part of the reason it’s so amazing that ABC’s Wide World of Sports was there to cover the very first race. And the Internet being what it is, some kind soul has uploaded the coverage of the race to Youtube in 10 parts.