Hayden Stevens | The Silk Road Mountain Race

Wednesday 14th August, 2019

We sit down with Hayden, the Sales & Brand manager at Pedla as he sets off to compete in The Silk Road Mountain Race - 1,700km with 27,000m of elevation gained on nothing but dirt roads. 

The Silk Road Mountain Race is a fixed route, unsupported, single-stage cycling race through the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. The clock does not stop and there are no prizes. It follows gravel, single and double track and old soviet roads that have long been forgotten and fallen into disrepair. There is very little tarmac. There is some walking, and at times there is great distances between resupply points. Find out more about the race here.

The Pedla: Where are you? 

HS: I’m currently in Kyrgyzstan- a small central Asian country on China’s western border. I’m competing in the Silk Road Mountain Race, a self-supported ultra endurance bike race held in the Kyrgyz mountains, one of the most remote places on earth. 

The Pedla: Tell us about the race 

HS: The route is just over 1,700km long with 27,000m of elevation gain. Based on last years results, a 10 day finish would land me in the top ten. 170km per day sounds pretty achievable on a road bike, but with nothing but rough dirt roads, it’ll be slow going. Being self-supported means that I’ll be camping every night and need to carry everything on the bike- tent, clothes, food, you name it. 

The Pedla: What conditions are you expecting? 

HS: Being summer over here, at sea level the temperature’s about 40°c, but with the numerous high alpine passes the route follows, I’m expecting to get snowed on and racers last year camped out in -12°c. Factor in the scarcity of resources and complete lack of bike shops and you quickly realise you need to be completely self sufficient in all areas. 

The Pedla: What do you expect from a race like this? 

HS: It’s going to hurt. There are going to be times I’m really going to regret doing this, but they will pale in comparison to the thrill of doing what I love in such a unique, beautiful part of the world. There’s no guarantee I’ll finish the damn thing, let alone get a good time, so my mindset is all about going with the flow and soaking it all in.

Photo by Howard Brittain Photo by Howard Brittain

Hayden wears upcoming AquaDRY Jacket and Team KnicksStealth Bags, Curve Titanium GXR 

The Pedla: What drives you to seek experiences like this? 

HS: There’s a strange duality to it I guess. On one hand, it’s about minimalism: spending hours or days at a time focussed on nothing else then the road in front of you (and what snacks to buy at the next stop). Life is simple and you appreciate the little things. On the other hand, it’s about intense emotional experiences and filling in the corners of the map in your own head. Your body is capable of so much more then your head thinks you can- the satisfaction that brings is second to none.

The Pedla: How have you been preparing? 

HS: The key focus has been ensuring I’m comfortable: a great bike fit to ensure I’m not doing damage with big training volume, building leg strength so I can stay relaxed in the hills, and knowing my setup like the back of my hand so it trust it completely. 

The Pedla: Run us through your setup 

HS: Curve Titanium GXR running Sram Force 1x and 27x2.1 Vittoria Mezcals. Thomson components and a dynamo front hub to power lights and charge electronics. Custom sleep system by Terra Rosa Gear and bikepacking bags by Stealth. Total weight hovers around ~23kg including food and 3L water. 

The Pedla: What kit are you wearing? 

HS: Although I’ve brought thermals and typical outdoor attire for the serious cold, I love the comfort and versatility of cycling kit and I’ll be wearing the following while racing: 

Despite the lightweight fabrics, I’m yet to wear through a single item after 8 solid months of training and more crashes then I care to admit. Plus there’s nothing wrong with being the best dressed person on the trail ;)

                     
                     

You can follow Hayden's progress through his Instagram:

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Our Roaming Collection celebrates the roads we roam. Whether it's a local weekend trip or an adventure further afield, roaming takes us out of the ordinary, challenges us, excites us. It demands that we're prepared for all conditions, for new roads and the beauty of the unknown. It reminds us of the adventure possible with this sport we love. Get out there and roam.

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