Photo credits: Gianmarco Dodesini Valsecchi, Giovanni Maria Pizzato
Words by Lian van Leeuwen

It’s hard to keep up with everything that’s happening in the race, even for us. Front runner Jay Petervary has now extended his lead significantly and has been the only one so far to cross the 4,000m Tosor Pass, leading into the Arabel valley. He did so in a heavy snowstorm.

The rest of the Top 5 are taking a break at CP3 at the moment. And you would understand why. As Levente Bagoly (now 2nd) described today: ‘This race is the toughest thing I’ve ever done. Psychically, mentally, every kind of way. Today’s descent of the mountains towards CP3 was the scariest [..], 1000m descent on literally rockslides… 15km of swamp and several more serious river crosses. And then the rain hit.’

The impact of the vast Kyrgyzstan landscape on this competition cannot be overlooked. In a way the PEdALED Silk Road Mountain Race is a contemporary version of the classic Sergio Leone westerns in which the story is almost secondary to the breathtaking scenery. Or better maybe: it makes the story. As film director Ridley Scott once said: ‘Your landscape in a western is one of the most important characters the film has. The best westerns are about man against his own landscape.’

The landscape riders are passing through is both the villain and the good guy in this competition. Their fiercest opponent and their best friend. The endless stretches of gravel, washboard single tracks, infinite vistas, rocky descents: they can either push you over the edge on a bad day or lift you as high as you’ve ever been.

I think it’s fair to say endurance cyclists all have a bit of a wandering soul. Coming to a place like this, feeding that soul with wide-open spaces and new frontiers to be taken on embodies the free-spiritedness that is so irrevocably connected with this event. That’s what race director Nelson Trees has managed to create: a modern-day western. With all the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with it.




© 2018 Silk Road Mountain Race