Our partner in podcasting, The Gravel Ride Podcast, speaks this week with Jenny Tough; ultra-endurance bikepacking racer and adventurer. Jenny was the first woman to complete the 2020 Atlas Mountain Race and the inaugural Silk Road Mountain Race. We unpack some of her many adventures and strategies for thriving when the going gets tough.
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Automatic Transcription by The Gravel Ride (please excuse all errors)
Hello everyone and welcome to the growl ride podcast I’m your host Craig. Dalton. This week’s episode is brought to you by our friends at P. N. W. Components I mentioned the company a few episodes ago and the great customer service I received ordered a mountain bike. See Post many ago. So I was super excited to start talking to them about what they were doing in the gravel market specifically this week I wanted to highlight the coast handlebar I’ve been writing the four. Hundred Eighty millimeter version of the bar, which is about forty millimetres longer wider. Excuse me than the bar I had previously been riding. They also do make a five hundred twenty millimeter bar. It features a shallow drop and a twenty degree flair which all translates into a super stable bar. When you’re getting aggressive on the bike I’m really valuing the width of the bar in terms of getting leverage from the outside to throw the bike around the shallow drops seemed to make it. Easy for me to move around between positions, I feel very comfortable when I combine a dropped saddle with shallow drop bar that I’m very much in the pocket of my handlebar and I very much in control of the machine. So I’ve been super keen on it. It’s definitely a different look for the bike. If you’re more used to a Rhody type position going to the wider bar feels a bit extreme to begin with, but it quickly fell into the recesses of my mind. As I took advantage of the attributes of the bar and as I said I feel really great in the technical terrain so much so that we really want to dig in and do a full episode on these wide bars because I think it’s super interesting for certain writers to consider depending on the type of riding they’re doing what they’re looking for. So head on over to PM W components, Dot Com and use the code the gravel ride for fifteen percents off your order. This week’s guest on the podcast is Jenny tough. I’m not sure where to begin talking to you about her resume. She’s an amazing adventure athlete both a runner and a bike pack racer. We got to talk about the Silk Road Mountain Race and the Atlas Mountain, race, and these bike packing events are going to blow your mind and you absolutely have to go visit Jenny tough dot com and see some of the pitchers and interviews and videos of these events Kazaa absolutely breathtaking in terms of the terrain and incredibly inspiring about what the human body is possible of just talking to. Her about the lack of sleep and the challenges that one goes through in these expedition style races was really inspiring for me and I remember my last long ride thinking about how I was suffering and thinking. Well, that’s nothing compared to what these athletes like go through. So I hope you enjoy the episode Jenny’s one of the APP Adora ambassadors for the bad company out of the UK who made the introduction for me. So I appreciate that and I very much appreciated this conversation with Jenny and I hope that you take a look at all her adventures and enjoy the conversation. So with that, let’s dive right in Jenny. Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Awesome. I Love I always like to start off by finding a little bit about your background and I think in this conversation, your background is both an athlete and someone who’s riding gravel bikes. Athlete is a really strong word I don’t know if I’d go. Hi. Yeah I mean, my background’s always been adventure and travel was always one of my biggest passions and and on the. Side of that I was also really into endurance sport like why I mean like a normal person I guess I started doing marathons before realize marathons are just terrible thing to do to yourself and I started. Cycling actually because I was running marathons going to spin class. Now he’s actually really So when I graduated university I. Spent what little money I had on a touring bike and I cycled all the way to the Yukon from my hometown. Calgary having never rode a bike anywhere before only best-in-class. And then I just realized that this combination of my two loves endurance sports and travel was really what made my heart sing and that was really where I found my bag, what I want to keep doing so you know that was Eleven years ago and I guess you say it keeps us going and getting a little bit out of hand. So, that after that first trip did that sort of spiral your imagination to like Oh, I’d love to go ride here an adventure there. Yeah I think it really opened my eyes because before that didn’t I mean I didn’t know anything about like or cycling. I didn’t have any friends that are cyclist at the time I certainly didn’t. So I just wasn’t exposed to this world and then I just kind of when I did that bike tour and I started another cyclist realized there’s this concept that there is nowhere in the world that you can’t go got a bicycle and you can just explore and you know.
00:05:09 – 00:10:12
Tire widths depending go really anywhere and yes, it did it did sparked my imagination once I started getting a little bit more comfortable being alone with the bike I mean going on your first trip to a place like the Yukon where you’re really alone when you’ve never wrote a bike is just a dumb thing to do I didn’t know how to. I didn’t know how to fix a puncture at all I had like a handwritten note in my bag. Like I’ve been watching youtube the night before I left on your trip teaching me how to change change of time. Just in case I had to do it like I didn’t even know there were tubes inside like that’s how. About Bikes and I left the front door and cycled off to the Yukon. So that was my only real apprehension was I had no idea how bikes worked and if it broke, I literally had no concept of what to do about that. That’s both amazing and refreshing I think. Audience I don’t WanNA project too much. But I think a lot of my audience may come from a traditional bike racing background and then they discovered gravel silica adding on adventure to their love of cycling is kind of this new thing and to hear you just talk about adventure was the main driver and the bicycle was just this means to kind of get out there and discover the world is kind of something refreshing and I think a lot of my listeners should probably take in and put in their pocket for the to have a little bit more perspective on what you can do with the bike. It’s really cool and I think I never fit in with the bike the traditional bike touring culture because I also really did get off on pushing myself really hard and trying to do really big days walk the adventure. For me sport is part of it. It’s not just about getting to waste is also like how far can I ride before the sunsets kind of stuff I love doing not so it’s it’s both of them combined. And that seemingly has led you down this path of bike packing, and for the uninitiated, what how would you define? What bike packing is? What are you doing to your bike that enables you to duet and what are you able to do when you pack your bike full of everything you need? And most pure form it’s taking whatever bike and stopping whatever stuff you need to it somehow and going on an adventure Overnight Adventures obviously is what makes it like packing but it’s really whatever works for you whatever type of bike you have. Every type of bike is a packing bike i. do a lot of back country stuff where I’ve got you a tent or Viviana out there for ages. But then he’s also do the clamping stuff where those hotels and being bees and you have a really nice trip. So it’s it’s really whatever works for you. In my opinion there are no rules. There’s no minimum distance. There’s no specific Hitless. A you have to have it’s you know it’s adventure it’s open. Do what do you think it’s adventure is one of the most creative. Things out there. So yeah no rules. And I feel like we’re in sort of the golden age of bike packing bags whereas before you know fifteen twenty years ago there might have been this notion that okay. You’ve got to put a rack on the back. You GotTa Have Panthers and it’s going to be pretty unwieldly off road. Today’s bike packing bags are just quite a bit different. Can you talk a little bit about your setup? Yeah. It is really incredible what we’ve got available now and not when I say everybody is like packing bike that’s largely because this has to place where even your respect bike squishy mountain bike, whatever it is there are bags available to do it and I ride with Dr Bags, and been working with them for a couple of years and in my opinion, make the specs out there. I do have three bikes, but my gravel bike is definitely my favorite bike packing bike and we’ve been to five conscious together now My Kit will change a little bit every time based on the terrain, but basically, it’s got the gravel bikes got a front row bag I’ll keep my sleep system, which might be might be a tent in my frame bag will be all the tools, and then in the saddle pack will be the stuff that I need to survive like spare clothes waterproofs maybe a stove going quite remote. But not usually I’m just whatever. Whatever I need for this specific adventure at hand, it’s it’s pretty basic. It’s pretty minimalist that I can are you trying to distribute the weight in a specific way like you putting the heavier stuff in one area of the bike versus other? Yeah You’re definitely going to be happier if you can keep your weight in the frame and that’s where full frame bags are. Quite popular just because that keeps the weight really Lo- low like that’s obviously where you normally keep your water anywhere because that’s where your bottle cages are So people are putting the heavier stuff like water down there Yeah. Heavy, and that’s I think that’s the great thing about passing bags or Hispanics opinions I mean I remember how many? And how long it would take me to make sure that the right side and the left side were even if they weren’t, you’re going to have a disaster of a day.
00:10:12 – 00:15:07
But biking. It’s. It’s a lot easier to just chuck stuff in because everything’s really compact on the bike. It’s kind of hard to mess it up I. Think. I do like to keep the front kind of light and like I said the frame kind of heavier but really i. It is it is a lot easier to get way with a lot more. It’s it’s not that complicated. Yeah. For those of you haven’t seen any of these type bags, I mean imagine sort of just a rolltop bag that you can really stuff a lot of stuff into I’ve been amazed kind of rear seat bags can hold I mean you really you can hold basically a week’s worth of compressed clothing in there if you need to. Yeah and I have. I’m sure you have and then I questioned on the front bar now you mentioned kind of trying to keep that a little bit lighter. Have you found had experience if you overload the front bar that front end is just too heavy and it’s making you more. Puncture. Potential. I haven’t memories with the front. Bar Is that that’s the one I will use I will never open during the day. So like there’s two to fast one is that you ride fast in your your bike is late on the other. The Scottish term for faffing around. The time always having a dig at every wants something on your bag. You have to take everything of it to reach at that kind of stuff if you can just be really slick in your packing. You never do that. So my front bag, just because it is the most fiddly one because I’ve got drop ours as if it on a mountain bike on job bars, you know you kinda gotta squeeze it in between them. So it’s harder to get into during the day. So I only ever keep my sleep system there because I only need that once lots at the end of the day right? So yes or no I’ve not really had problems genuinely the move from bike to bike packing. And just easy this works. And then what type you mentioned you writing drop bar bike, what are you writing and how big it’s higher? Are you able to ride in that bike? So the biker us the most love my life is my shine stew she which is a steel bike maintenance Scotland with carbon forks and it’s kind of for me. It’s the ultimate by packing bike because it takes to wheel size this I’ve got seven hundred sees if I want to go on a road adventure but most of the time I run my six Fifty v wheels. I think tires of. I, don’t even remember what has gone on there. I want to say the two and a half The more tired you have the more comfortable you’re going to be. to bliss obviously is GonNa Increase Your Comfort. The difference between going out for a nice bike ride or who’s going bike packing up by packing you’re going to do this all day and then you’re going to get up tomorrow and it again and then you’re gotta get up tomorrow do it again so comfort becomes a lot more important if you’re bouncing along I’m really high pressure. You’re going to end up having saddle sores by the end of the week. So so I’d always prefer comfort. So I I love my big tires and I would never go. They can never go skinny ties again I’m with you on that and the listener knows them a broken record that bigger is better on tires. Yes. I also questioned on the front handlebar. Are you writing particularly wide drop bar to accommodate the bag? Is your front bag just kind of fit nicely and what you would traditionally ride on your on your road bike. Yeah I I. DON’T I think I. Attempted. Going into flair bars because that will give you a bit more space. But I’ve been on standard I mean all my road bike I do actually have lady sized handlebars so I don’t use those on my gobble bar. So that’s the only thing I would say that they are bigger as the standard. man-size drop. Virus. Gotcha. But no I’ve I’ve been okay and that certainly that’s where you needed to make more space. That’s something you would look at I. Mean because I’ve gone on tours with my mountain bike with flat bars and that just got unlimited space with bars. Obviously. no, but I I mean again, it’s you’ve got to have your stuff. We’ve also got to be comfortable like it’s going to be sustainable. Something you’re going to do for a week or more. You’ve got to be comfortable and I. Just always think if I had the wrong bars I’m going to be uncomfortable. I’m going to get an injury I’m not gonNA be happy. So I’d rather make everything work around the bike and keep the bike something. That’s enjoyable. Yeah, absolutely. So we’ve set the stage of Jenny as a bike packer but I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface of doing justice to the type of adventure athlete you are. So I want to jump into a couple of these events that listener may not ever heard of one being the Silk Road Mountain race in. Conserv. Stan probably. Oregon Dan, and then the Atlas Mountain Rise. Atlas Mountain Race could you just in broad terms give the listener an idea of what these epic adventures look like.
00:15:08 – 00:20:06
So. This style of bike racing is single stage unsupported writing rolls off the tongue. So out doesn’t it? So. The idea is that there’s a set route for these ones and you have to pass through I think those ones had three or four checkpoints each and the distances were epic and you got given a cutoff time. So the Silk Road I, think we had fifteen days to finish it in the atlas. We had eight days to finish it and single stage unsupported means you’ve got to carry everything that you need to keep yourself and your bike going and the clock never stops. So you. You will sleep, but the longer you sleep the less likely you are dual So it is this really cool competition where you see so many different styles by packing people doing what works bound the atlas race, the guy that won it outright he didn’t sleep at all but a guy that finished. In second place James was two hours behind him and he slept every night for a few hours knew that he would ride better if he did that I again, the unsupported means if anything breaks on the bike, you’ve got to fix it You know and can give you any age. So you have to find your own food out in these countries that most of us have never been to into Norway around everything, you’ve got to be self sufficient and really really cool. It’s so much fun. To just put a fine point on it for the listener. I mean, these are races that I think the Silk Road Mountain race was over eleven hundred miles. The Atlas Mountain Race was seven hundred and twelve miles. These incredible distances relative to what we often talk about on this podcast is being long events like the decay two, hundred being two hundred miler here in North America. Let’s talk about the Atlas Mountain bike race in Morocco because the imagery from that just look. Amazing. You talked about sort of going at your own pace and deciding to sleep when you WANNA to sleep and acquiring food. However you WANNA acquire it. Can you just walk through what those six days look like for you because I think it’s just an epic tale. Yeah and it’s it’s really crazy now to. Realize that I did that in twenty twenty like it just feels like a pass life not doesn’t it Yep? Yep My strategy. My strategy for these races is my what line is keep your shit together like just keep everything functioning and get yourself onto some kind of circadian rhythm with your sleep that’s going to be brutal. But so my strategy was we all left Mary cash and we had to get over the high atlas leaser like the snowy peaks. We have a really huge climbing obligation day Am My only plan was to get out fast on that first day and get a good good day under me. And then after that, it was Tried to sleep at the same time. So miraculous quite equatorial, which meant that we had twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night, and that was one of the big challenges in the race was that half the time. Urine darkness and you have to keep your lights running so mostly by using dynamos on their bikes to keep the bright headlights going So I would. I would ride as consistently as I could all day and not around midnight or one am is when I was busy down. So I would just roll out my sleeping bag on the sand or the rocks by the side of the trail and try to for two to three hours to mount how I was feeling, and then get up quickly put that sleeping bag away my role bag and keep riding again, and then just rides. All Day Long whenever there was a town or village that you went through you dolphins you have to stop get supplies Morocco’s really difficult on water in particular. So you had to be quite meticulous making sure that you’d never run out of supplies like obviously riding those kind of hours you’re trying to ride for. My ride time each day would be eighteen nineteen hours. The calories are going through your cutting, such a fine line keeping yourself like you just can’t eat enough. So you had to be. You had to be pretty well organized making sure that you hit those resupply locations. This is all blowing my mind. So lots of questions for you were you running where you’re running a Dynamo Dynamo is a hub mechanism that generates electricity as it’s going around. So you were using to kind of keep a light charged. Yes well, so I’ve got a USB charger on it. So I was able to keep everything going. So I’d have power. Bank. And my computer. So you have to follow the route, your other ACC biking you’re going for that long as well. I had exposure lights that were helmet mounted because. I mean it was pretty gnarly. It was a gravel riding event but I think it was by far the GNARLIEST gravel I’ve done like a lot of you thought and kind of wish I was on full saw straight now. So yeah, you want help mounted like. Student Fall off the mountain. Obviously keep your phone going because I’m not doing something like that without podcast and play to keep me from going insane via the Dynamo.
00:20:06 – 00:25:07
Is What kept my power going on? If I went to a village or something, you could try and plug it in a cafe or something like that. Try to find the electricity. Because, you’re just it’s such a losing battle to keep that much technology running smoothly. Yeah. I mean we’re you successful in kind of having battery when you need it. Yeah I. So I took two lights and that was probably the smartest thing that I did because. That much night writing and I don’t like to mess around with a small light. Proper going down a mountain trail I I wanna see it. So, and that’s also why I slept at night like some people will just sleep whenever they feel like it and just be. All entire now and take a little micro nop or something like that. But I always thought it was a waste of time to sleep when the sun was up when I didn’t need to waste my life battery. So. Yes. It was definitely something I had to stay on top of and be really conscious of keeping it going because if you’re going up. Like if you’re. Doing I mean there was a lot a lot of Haiku bike and we do not the downloads obviously not running like pretty to be over ten kilometers an hour to keep the working. Six Miles. Yeah, that’s the Dynamo things always been super interesting to me as a piece of technology that people should look into. So then going to sleep, I mean you mentioned you just sort of rolling out a lightweight Vivian and sleeping wherever on the trail made sense wherever your body was saying, Hey, it’s time to go. were. You were you did you bring a stove with you? So when you got up, you could have some tea or coffee or make a little bit of food. In this race. Because Rocco’s a lot more compact in its population and also. It is fairly warm that you know you didn’t have to worry about that kind of stuff. so I didn’t bother with stove. I would just have dry food like I. Think I had. Wasn’t GonNa make me sound like a Canadian stereotype hippie. GRANOLA. To get me around the course every morning I would take my little bagnall out and try to stuff something in my face before I got going again. but yeah, I think just dry food like biscuits and chocolate bars is just i. mean the Diet is not good. Let’s be honest like. The Diet is pretty unhealthy. Imagined like whatever cafe you stumble across. You’re just ordering whatever seems like it will survive when you pack it up to the counter and you just say what food do you have that can be really quickly in my face and that’s basically what you’re gonna eat you. You just don’t care anymore even calories. And how was that journey across Morocco? I mean did you feel? Were there multiple days where you weren’t interacting with any villages along the way. So one really big factor in this race is that North Africa is. is a place where men and women have very different roles in society. And in this race, we compute as equal. There’s only one podium. There’s no difference between like we unofficially acknowledged the women’s race. But officially, it is one race for all of us. No matter your gender or your age or your abilities. but but in Morocco it is it is a fairly difficult place to be a woman. I wouldn’t be around the Bush interest in Morocco. You’re kind of okay. You can probably even go around and the Bikini in some places but we were in very rural areas where. being woman come with extra complications. women traditionally can’t actually go to cafes and restaurants in those kind of places especially on their own. So I kind of have to hide between the other riders. which was an interesting dynamic because technically they are my competition. But on the guys in the race, you know I gotta say I’m just still really blown away. By how sensitive they were to the fact that the women in the race had this extra kind of penalty against them that we had an extra complication that we had to look out for our safety and we had to comply with dress code and we had to be a lot more culturally sensitive and. There were some incidents like there was one woman in particular who had a really hard time with kind of male harassment. So We had to deal with that stuff on top of this, very difficult by grace. So. That was a factor I’ve been to Morocco before actually on a solo expedition running. So I knew all that and so this was very different experience because I have these male writers with me so I can have this pack and again like it was just so such a cool thing in this community that is really competitive but they put competition to the side every time that we went through a village to make sure that the women in the race. Felt and were safe. That’s amazing. So we. As a community, we came together and that was that was such a nice thing about the race and I imagine just the of spirit of adventure that everybody who signs up for these races is in for there really are whether it safety.
00:25:08 – 00:30:04
In villages or just mechanical issues or what have you I imagine everybody’s kind of looking out for one another to the degree. That’s possible. Yeah absolutely. Yeah and. It’s kind of hard because you really love each other like it’s you know it’s the tribe. We all become instant best friends on these things but with the self supported rule actually if someone has a mechanical, you can’t help them or else you’ve disqualified them because they’ve accepted your health right See You. You can’t just be next to someone sometimes going like, Hey, buddy looks pretty broken and you just have to sit. There with your arms full that and watching tat to them or whatever. But if you take one out of your bag and it’s so hard as a cyclist like we live by this creed that someone’s GonNa Puncture you help them if you’ve got a tube for them whatever. And these races you you just you can’t on it. So Weird So awkward I’m it’s probably the thing that I hate the most is that you can’t help each other that you just have to watch someone else suffer and and hope that he’s GonNa figure it out and be okay back because a lot of these situations I’m sure like you know you break your driller off and you’re on the top of climb or whatever you’ve got no choice you’ve got to continue forward. You’ve got to convert that bike into a single speed or do whatever you have to do to keep going forward or you’re just walking. Yeah exactly, and I should say the scraps rate in these races is really high. You mentioned the Silk Road? One. Done a couple of years ago. I think out of one, hundred, thirty, one finished. the atlas was a little bit better than that I can’t really remember how many people cross the finish line but you know the chances of finishing it sometimes goes pretty close to fifty percent. you know just things are not gonNA fix or obviously you’re in these foreign countries the likelihood of getting sick The justices are insane. So injuries takeout quite a lot of riders and yeah, it’s it’s just to finish. Absolutely and how do you keep yourself sort of mentally with it and focused on the on the prize throughout these events. Yeah that that can be hard because you are so low. So I I really do like music and podcasts I think music is great for manipulating your mood. So for me night riding can be the hardest because I’ll just. I’m such a like Zan rider all just happily slow down and look at the stars and have a really nice time. But that’s not how you WANNA race. So I do sometimes have to pull out some kind of playlist that’s GonNa get me like turning those pedals and get me really mega The Nice thing about these races when it’s on a set route is that you are passing the riders all the time. So even though you can’t help each other ride together and draft. you can ride in proximity to other people as long as you’re not pairing up and actually helping each other in the race. So I did have quite a lot of hours spent other riders people from all around the world that would have never met otherwise completely different lives but the one thing we have in common is gravel bikes. So How’d that company in that Camaraderie and that was really cool. So Yeah I think you just you gotta stay on top of it with your mental game. You know if you start thinking negatively if you start focusing on how much pain urine because by the third hake guaranteed you are in pain If you start zoning on that stuff, you’re in a losing battle you know you’ve got to find a way to come back from that and keep yourself just thinking positive thinking about how much you love your bike even if that’s not feeling very honest right now, you just you’ve got us to be proactive about it is what I found. So that’s where. The music and podcasts to manipulate remove or with the other riders or your gratitude was huge for me. Said being Morocco is very difficult place for a woman. You Know I. It was really hard to to. Lose focus on the fact that I’m so privileged. I. Get to compete in this sport by his very melt Arment I get to fly to other continents around the world and ride my bike freely and you know get the spare time and health and money to be able to be an athlete. You know like my gratitude levels see that race were so through the roof though just look around you like this is cool. You get the opportunity to do something like this like it hurts but you chose that hurt you know yeah. Yeah that’s amazing I. think that goes a long way just everything you’re saying about a positive attitude whether it’s One hundred mile ride or an adventure like this just. Knowing and understanding that everybody from the first person to the last person is GonNa have a moment of almost deep despair in how they’re feeling and not thinking they can turn the pedals over another moment. But at the end of the day, the body is capable of more than you think it is in most cases.
00:30:04 – 00:35:02
So just keeping that positive attitude and keeping moving forward seems like a great mantra. Yeah, absolutely, and I read a study in. A couple of years ago that you actually will get to the top of a climb faster. If you keep repeating yourself the phrase, I’ve got this versus. Oh my God is hard. I don’t like this hill So scientifically proven to say Nice things to yourself back yourself and think positively not maybe doesn’t come naturally to me, but you know we start doing it and see how it works and you know it totally helps. So. Can we talk about how that attitude applied during the Silk Road Mountain, race and that I climb. That I’ve read about. Off that I climb, it was like a punch in the face right out of the start of that race like we had I think the first time was just over four thousand meters altitude, which is a serious altitude for. anyone. You know it was a it was a hard climb. We got hit by a thunderstorm while we were doing at. The last bit was hike bike. And then the big going down if he even got over that pass, which a lot of people didn’t on the first day going down that pass also. So Mike Bike and when you’re hiking down, that’s like hard on everyone’s mood like. What am I doing walking downhill? This is an appropriate. It seemed like there was this calculation that you had to make as a writer right out of the gate about how far you were. GonNa, make it in that first day, and if you were going to be giving in the snow and all kinds of horrible choices that if you didn’t get to where you thought, you were going to go your your your beginning of your race could start awfully difficult. Yeah because you’re really committed. I mean you don’t want to set up camp four thousand meters is a dumb thing to do So you’ve got to decide am I going to actually make it over the past or am I not. Yeah it wasn’t. Then that thunderstorm I think a lot of people didn’t expect the thunderstorm again at actually been to carry on an expedition before. So I was kinda familiar with the flow of the nature out there, which is very typical in the summer to have a bill of of a thunderstorm late afternoon and it’s GonNa. Last couple of hours but then it’s GonNa stop. So, when the thunderstorm hit, I know a lot of people set up their tents and bunker down and just thought you know oh well. Like bad luck. Back Down and I kept going because I knew that if I kept moving I would stay warm and I would eventually be drying a couple of hours when this will all stop and I could just keep going so i. Went through the thunderstorm which. I think kind of steals my race start for me at least that I I did do that and I didn’t stop The. Yeah I remember that day really well, it just seemed like chaos. There were just riders everywhere clean like what? Everything’s hard. Everything’s getting thrown at US exactly I. Remember it must have been like two seventeen when I became aware of that race and event and I looked very much forward to kind of observing it and being dot watcher and they did a great job of kind of conveying information from the field via their podcast and other kind of social platforms and. All that anticipation as a fan to look at it, and then to see how challenging that first day was for people. It really just blew me away as an event. Yeah I mean you definitely knew right from the start with not your cut out for this. And there was no gentle warm up. It was really like you’re either in this or you should just go home now like this is going to be hard and you know and it stayed true to that theme every single. They had a new punch in the face like it was a hard. Arteries and without event did you feel more remote for longer periods of time than you in Morocco? Yeah absolutely, and that event does require a level of back country skill and one that you are at altitude but also there are really remote stretches. So you had to carry a lot more in this race. So you had to have things like water filters a stove on, you would have to carry several days worth of food at any point. and they’re just being a lot less villages means you know your mechanical ‘s you don’t get to walk to the next mechanic or someone that can help you like it’s going to be days and that village probably isn’t GonNa have anything like there aren’t bike shops in the countryside curious down like that doesn’t exist. So yeah, I did I think that one. Felt. A lot more like a mountain expedition race with bicycles rather than a bike race, right? So you were fortunate that Atlas Mountain Bike Race happened early in twenty twenty. So you actually got a big event under your belt. Did you have any other events planned for the year or is there’s are there things are excited about pursuing in the future? And yes I. I don’t raise very often on more of an adventure, but actually I stay in racing because of the tribe because of the get together of all these really cool people that we get to ride together the racing element is always really weird for me because I’m not back. Actually So I.
00:35:02 – 00:38:27
I am gutted that we’re not racine at the moment that it’s going to be a while on I did not another race bond for the atlas was GonNa be my event. So I’m yeah I’m just beyond grateful that I got it and then I was going to do. More bike packing, and touring kinda around Europe which isn’t having at the moment of actually speaking to you from Whistler. As a Canadian citizen quite lucky that I get to just hide out here. Yeah it’s not about place. I have not gotten a bike packing trip around nine Cougar island which family lives. So have managed to keep going again I’m really grateful because I know a lot of people aren’t able to adventure on the levels that that I am. Yes I’m just I’m just not thinking about it too much. It’d be nice to do a race and get the tribe together but you know if it’s GonNa be a while before we do that again, I’m just not going to dwell on it. Yeah. I think that’s a good attitude. We’ve all had certa just take a deep breath and a pause and say like we love being out there in the Wilderness we love riding our bikes and do it for that, and we’ll find a way to get the community gather when it safe and healthy for everybody. Yeah exactly and thank goodness for bikes I mean if you how can you get through this without cycling I now I think we all need to get outside. This is what we need. I now I would have gone nuts I. Remember we talking briefly about Spain before we were recording and some friends over there who were limited to riding bicycle trainers on their balconies. Yeah, and so I did quarantine when I arrived in canvas to weeks worth of a terrible trainer. And for about two weeks, I could probably keep it interesting. But I I, mean I think longest I ever stayed on it was two hours and I was just like. Support. Seen anything new and you know to I ride I mean come on I need way more than that. Yes. It’s certainly sounds like it. Well, this has been awesome Johnny I really appreciate you. Talking to the listener about these great events and anchorage everybody did check out. Jenny’s website which I’ll link to because there’s some amazing film that you’ve created about some of your vendors. And also pointing to other coverage of the Silk Road Mountain raise in the Atlas Mountain race that are worth watching, and then I’m also Jenny geeking out over your running expeditions because I think that’s awesome as well. Yes I do have fun. So fun stuff. Thanks so much for the time Jenny. That’d be great. Wow, quite a story right I find athletes like Jenny and those races, the bike packing races so inspiring. So want to do something like that at some point in my life don’t know if it will be these week long events, but certainly something overnight I think would be an amazing challenge for any of us. So that’s our episode for this week. Appreciate you joining us. We’ve just started a new forum on facebook to kind of have conversations about these items. So if You have any questions make sure to check out that forum. You can find it by finding the gravel ride podcast page and just look for our group over there. As always we welcome your feedback and we love hearing from you can be reached at Craig at the gravel ride dot bike. Next week we’ll be back with another episode of in the dirt with my co host Randall Jacobs, and we look forward talking to you that until next time here’s defining some dirt under your wheels.
The Gravel Ride Podcast