Race Across Krygyzstan Destroys Most Riders

Marathon
The landscapes of Central Asia are characterised by high mountains and expansive steppe. Photo by Matthew Traver.

Fewer than one racer in three managed to complete Central Asia’s first bikepacking marathon. The inaugural Silk Road Mountain Race wound 1,700km through Kyrgyzstan’s Tien Shan Mountains and vaulted several lung-ripping passes near 4,000m. In the end, only 29 riders out of 98 starters crossed the finish line. Participants had to carry all their own gear and grind through blazing heat and alpine blizzards in order to finish within the two-week deadline.

First-place finisher Jay Petervary arrived in 8 days, 8 hours and 15 minutes. Petervary’s entry into ultra-endurance cycling began in 2006, after competing in adventure races for 10 years. Since then, he has broken records and done multiple competitions each year, including the Tour Divide (six times) which traverses the Rocky Mountains from Canada to the Mexican border for 4,418km.

Romanian Bagoly Levente battled serious neck pain to finish second, about 20 hours behind Petervary, in a time of 9 days, 3 hours and 30 minutes. Third place went to American Alex Jacobson who came in 12 hours after Levente.

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Control car 1 took a day trip to ride up Tuz Ashuu to catch the riders on their final climb before CP1. The ride was a push for everyone but the riders we met were in great spirits! (1) @janis_viskers Only on the bike for the camera (2) Rui Rodrigues (3/4) @leepearce13 drank from the cracked pipe over the road. (5) Bas Rotgans showered under the pipe (6) @flynnlewer claims Kyrgyzstan scenery blows NZ out of the water! (7) @wpdunk had a crash (8) @johnhenrywhite (9) @adventurepedlars finds a camp spot (10) To get to CP1 the Buhanka needed some petrol from someone's back garden, delivered in a bucket from a 10 year old. 📸@tomhardies #bikepacking #biketouring #cycletouring #outsideisfree #adventure #adventurebybike #fromwhereiride #roadslikethese #mountainbiking #cycleadventures #ultracycling #srmrno1 #silkroadmountainrace

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The women’s title went to the aptly named Jenny Tough of Canada, who was also the only female to finish in the solo category. This isn’t Tough’s first successful endurance event in Kyrgyzstan: In 2016, she ran alone and unsupported for 900km in 25 days between the towns of Osh in the southwest and Karakol in the northeast.

The Silk Road race combined a world-class physical challenge, including a total uphill climb of 26,000m, with the chance to explore this landlocked and little-known country.

About the Author

Matthew Traver

Matthew Traver

Matt Traver is a filmmaker, photographer and creator of content relating to adventure, travel and culture.

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