Photos Giovanni Maria Pizzato, words Lian van Leeuwen

After the intense first 24 hours, the contours of the race are starting to take shape. The second day showed great progress for the lead competitors. Still in the front and extending his lead is Jay Petervary who made it to Checkpoint 1 at 2 AM (GMT+6) this evening. Getting through yesterday’s severe weather seemingly unfazed, Jay stopped shortly at the first store on his way – 385 km in – to buy some bread and continued his way to the first Checkpoint near Song Kul lake.

But the fat lady is far from ready to sing. With a still staggering 1245 km to go, the race is wide open. Runner up Kim Raeymaekers, followed shortly by Pierra-Arnaud Magnan, has lost some ground today but is approaching CP1 in good shape. Also coming in strong is Lee Craigie, who overtook four riders today and is now 6th overall and the leading female rider. After dealing with some stomach issues right after the start of the race, she seems to have found an extra gear.

Although sparsely, some personal stories did manage to trickle down the Kegety slopes: there’s one of the rider who tackled the altitude and snowstorm without gloves. A chainring got smashed on a rock but seems good enough to continue for now. And the one about the many competitors forgetting all the hardship they went through only hours ago on the magnificent Kegety downhill and consequently missing the turn at the bottom, having to climb back up again.

And then there was Jan Kopka, chatting his way down the snowy tracks in a sleeveless jersey while drinking one of the two beers he carried with him since the start, but nonetheless – or maybe thanks to his good spirits – is holding an impressive top 10 position so far.

For many riders Checkpoint 1 will be the first stop taking them out of the remoteness, and into a welcoming oasis of human interaction and warm meals. But most of all: the place to collect their first checkpoint stamp. Three more to go.

© 2018 Silk Road Mountain Race