Riding in Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains. Photo by Ross Measures.
Joey Schusler is a pro mountain biker, skier, and filmmaker who’s made films about bikepacking and backcountry ski adventures in Peru, Mexico, Colorado, and elsewhere. His latest short The Trail to Kazbegi, documents a bikepacking trip through the Caucasus Mountains in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. It is pure adventure porn filled with amazing trails and even more amazing mountains. Give it a watch.
The Trail To Kazbegi from Joey Schusler on Vimeo.
Henry Gold, founder Tour D’Afrique. All photos courtesy Tour D’Afrique.
Most people facing unemployment at the age of 50 would turn towards the safety and comfort of what they know to get back on their feet. When Henry Gold was in that position, he decided to lead a four month bicycle expedition from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa and organize a race on the same route despite having never bike toured or raced a day in his life at that point. Gold thought his adventure was going to be a one-time thing. Instead, it gave launch to his bike touring company, Tour D’Afrique. Twelve years on, the company offers 10 expeditions and races on six continents. I spoke to Gold about his history working with NGOs around the world, the African bike-manufacturing project he tried to start that helped inspire Tour D’Afrique, the joy and challenges of leading multi-month bike expeditions, and much more.
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.
Posted in Adventure, Bike Touring, Interviews, Mountain Biking, Racing
Tagged arizona trail, badass women cyclists, bike packing, bikepacking, bikepacking racing, colorado trail, eszter horanyi, gdmbr, great divide, great divide mountain bike race, tour divide
Luc Mehl (right) mid-way through a 200 mile ski and packraft trip. Photo by Danny Powers.
Luc Mehl is an adventurer in the truest sense. His deepest passion is to set a course across a tract of the Alaskan wild then cover it by foot, ski, packraft, bike, and even ice skate. He documents his human-powered traverses in great detail on his website through photography, video, and writing. For the past several years, his biggest objective was to complete traverses across North America’s three tallest peaks–Denali, Logan, and Orizaba–trips that took Mehl and partners across hundreds of miles of forests, desert, glaciers, rivers, and mountain peaks for nearly a month each time. In between, he’s done dozens of smaller traverses and many summer and winter Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classics, brutal point-to-point adventure races.
Bikes played an important role on two of his “Big Three” traverses, but Mehl is not a cyclist, per se (though he loves mountain biking and recently got a fat bike). Nonetheless there are universal themes of challenge, risk, reward and satisfaction in his adventuring that transcend modes of travel. I spoke to Mehl about growing up in the Alaskan interior and his early introduction to adventuring, the logistics of 30-day wilderness trips, what he gets out of his traverses emotionally and physically, balancing the very real risk of death with the rewards of his trips, and much more.
Posted in Adventure, Bike Touring, Interviews
Tagged alaska fat biking, alaska wilderness classic, Csikszentmihalyi, denali traverse, fat bike traverse, fat biking, flow, iditarod, luc mehl, mt logan traverse, things to luc at, wilderness adventures
Slow Roll Chicago founders Jamal Julien (left) and Oboi Reed (right). Photo via actionhub.com.
Cycling saved Oboi Reed’s life. He has long suffered from depression and, in the darkest moments of a severe bout with the disease years ago, was contemplating suicide. Instead he went for a bike ride along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail. It wasn’t a magical cure. But the exercise, the natural environment, and the social connection to other cyclists helped put him on a path to recovery and sparked a deep love for cycling. Now Reed is working to spread that bicycle love throughout his city. He wants to live in a Chicago with safe bike infrastructure, ample bike resources, and bike share stations in every neighborhood; a Chicago where everyone can access cycling’s inherent health, environmental, and economic benefits regardless of race or class.
It’s a lofty goal. Currently, Chicago’s bike infrastructure is clustered predominantly in the city’s whiter, more affluent downtown and North Side neighborhoods. Reed says the city hasn’t made an equitable investment in bike infrastructure in the poorer, blacker South and West Side neighborhoods, which, in turn, discourages riding there. It’s a problem he’s working actively to fix. He co-founded Slow Roll Chicago and is involved with Red Bike & Green and South Side Critical Mass, organized rides focused on getting more people of color biking. Reed’s also increasingly been a part of Chicago’s bike politics. In December, he and a coalition of black bike advocates presented a letter to the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee demanding a public commitment from the city and state to invest an equal share in bike infrastructure, education, and bike share stations. I spoke to Reed about cycling’s positive impact on his depression, his foray into bike advocacy and organizing, perceptions of cycling in some black communities, fighting for bike equity in Chicago, and more.
Posted in Adventure, Uncategorized
Tagged bike equity, chicago critical mass, chicago cycling, eboni senai hawkins, grid chicago, jamal julien, mike mackool, oboi reed, red bike and green, slow ride chicago, slow ride detroit, steven vance