Adventure Along The Silk Road

Jan 21 , 2020

Adventure Along The Silk Road

Adventure on the Silk Road

Q: The Silk Road Mountain Race. How did you hear about this event? “I first heard about the Silk Road Mountain Race scrolling through Instagram, but there is more history to it than just that. I come from a pro road cycling background, and 2018 had been a really tough year for me. I’d actually stepped away from racing earlier that Spring, mentally burnt out from the pressures I’d put on myself, and confused about what direction I wanted to go with cycling. It was around August of 2018, when the first edition of the Silk Road took place, the pictures of the event totally captured me. I think something about the terrain, the struggle of the riders racing, the culture, everything. It was the mental challenge I felt I needed to recapture my love for cycling.”

Q: You’re a husband and wife duo that runs a coaching business in cycling. It was evident in your Instagram posting that you were very challenged by this event, both leading up to it and doing it. What was the need for such a challenge at this point? “I alluded to this a bit earlier in question 1, and although Ernie and I competed as a pair, it was really my push to do this event together. I had to twist Ernie’s arm to get him to apply with me (and secretly I need his mad skills as a mechanic because I’m lacking in that department), but in the end, he got every bit as much out of the experience as I did! I wanted him to be there, because we’ve always done things together. He’s been there for every step of my cycling career, and it was really special to have done this crazy challenge with him. But the need for the challenge definitely came from my personal struggle with road cycling the year of 2018. I originally signed up for this event because I wanted the opportunity to work on mental toughness. It was something I struggled with in my road career, and I also had difficulty with self-pressure. Instead of focusing on progress, I focused on performance. Even when I had good performances, I would feel that it still wasn’t quite enough. When I signed up for the Silk Road, for sure I wanted to race it, but I wanted to race it for my development, for my growth, not for a podium or for a result. It was for me simply to prove something to myself. So, I went and chose one of the hardest races in the world to get so far beyond my comfort zone that my brain would rewire some connections!! That was my goal! I had this foreboding (almost a belief) going into this event, that it would help define where I wanted to go next with my cycling career, and it most certainly has done that. The breakthrough taught me that going through something difficult requires strength and surrender simultaneously, and the intensity of the challenge showed me the only person to truly compete against — in anything in life — is yourself.”

Q: Tell us about Leborne coaching. What you do, the type of riders you are working with and the groups you hope to help in the future. “Ernie and I founded Leborne Coaching about 10 years ago, and we love what we do! We work with a variety of athletes, from road, cyclocross and gravel riders, to Ironman triathletes, to lifetime fitness cycling enthusiasts. We enjoy helping people see progress, but what we enjoy most is helping people believe they can achieve goals they may not see in their realm of possibility. About two years ago, we put into action four simple words to describe Leborne. We want to help people: Explore, Challenge, Transcend, and Transform. Those are our pillars, and everything we do comes back to that. We believe cycling can change lives, because it’s forever changed ours, and we look to share that passion and purpose with other athletes of all ages and abilities. We also have a gravel club in central Arkansas, where we explore the backroads and trails with our “dirt squad”. We have a lot of fun, and we love passing on all the amazing things cycling has taught us.” 

Q: The Silk Road Mountain Race. How did you hear about this event? “I first heard about the Silk Road Mountain Race scrolling through Instagram, but there is more history to it than just that. I come from a pro road cycling background, and 2018 had been a really tough year for me. I’d actually stepped away from racing earlier that Spring, mentally burnt out from the pressures I’d put on myself, and confused about what direction I wanted to go with cycling. It was around August of 2018, when the first edition of the Silk Road took place, the pictures of the event totally captured me. I think something about the terrain, the struggle of the riders racing, the culture, everything. It was the mental challenge I felt I needed to recapture my love for cycling.”

Q: What did you learn about the Silk Road and the people and culture of Kyrgyzstan? “As foreigners, we often step into new countries with preconceived notions of what it may be like. I remember a couple of weeks before departing for Kyrgyzstan that the country had some political unrest in the capital city, where the race started, and that made me nervous. But the truth is, there is political unrest everywhere in the world. This trip was my first time visiting anywhere in Asia, and I was humbled by the generosity and kindness of the people we encountered. Most of the remote regions are Kyrgyzstan is still very underdeveloped, with no running water and very little electricity. The people are nomadic herdsmen, living off the land with their flocks of sheep, cattle, and horses. They are hospitable people who will share what they have and invite you into their homes freely. I found the culture beautiful and the landscapes unbelievably stunning.” Q: It’s hard to see from the images because you were so layered up, but you chose DeFeet USA grown and crafted merino wool socks and accessories for this trip. What was the reasoning, and how were they used? “I have a new appreciation and love for wool after this event, and YES we were covered from head to toe for most of the race. Underneath all the layering, wool was next to our skin, and that was a complete life saver. I could not even count how many river crossings there were, how many times it snowed or rained…but I can tell you we spent more than half of this race in wet conditions.” Q: Which DeFeet socks did you choose for the event? Any accessories in addition to socks? “We had DeFeet Woolie Boolies on our feet for most of the race, DeFeet wool arm and leg warmers, DeFeet Duragloves, and the DeBoggans for our heads. The wool items were key, because even when they got wet, they would keep in body warmth, plus they dried more quickly. Wool also doesn’t absorb body odor, so 

even after days of wearing these items and completely sweating them out, they literally 

did not smell (I swear!), which I thought was nothing shy of magical. You’ll 

see in our picture here we have the Woolie Boolies and other 

various clothing items drying on my seat pack, and 

we’d alternate those with the Cyclismo 

lighter sock when the weather 

was warmer.”