The landscape of Kyrgyzstan is mountainous, rugged and remote. Jagged peaks make up the horizon, towering over green fields, rolling hills and icy streams, twinkling silver in the moonlight. Outside the capital of Bishkek, populations grow sparse and infrastructure is scarce. Roads turn to gravel, then dirt, as elevations regularly climb above 4,000 meters. It’s a land of nomads, with many still choosing to follow a traditional way of life, tending to livestock and moving with the seasons.

It’s the allure of this ancient land that lead to the foundation of the Silk Road Mountain Race—an 1,800-kilometer single-stage race through the mountains and valleys of the land where the famous trade route once dominated. Founded in 2018 by ultra distance enthusiast and current race director, Nelson Trees, the Silk Road Mountain Race is the first event of its kind to take place in this Central Asian state, and as such, presents a unique set of challenges to those daring enough to take part.

Drawing inspiration from the Transcontinental Race, Europe’s premier ultra distance cycling event, the TCR and Silk Road Mountain Race share many of the same rules and pursue the same spirit of self-reliance and adventure. Just like the TCR, the Silk Road race requires riders to be entirely self-supported, competing as either individuals or in teams and unable to accept any form of outside help. Yet unlike the Transcontinental, the SRMR has a fixed course— but one that is almost entirely off road.

Riders follow gravel, double and singletrack, occasionally encountering old Soviet roads with tarmac that have fallen into various states of disrepair. Constantly changing elevations create unpredictable weather with riders fighting rain, wind and snow alongside the effects of high elevation. Extreme isolation and the vast distances between resupply points makes planning crucial and bikes heavy. There are no prizes—only pride to be won—and maybe a cold beer or two for those fast enough to finish before the end of the closing celebration. Of the ninety-three participants in the inaugural Silk Road Mountain Race, only thirty managed to finish what is quickly becoming one of the toughest ultra endurance cycling events on earth.

To paraphrase the late-Transcontinental founder Mike Hall who once said “Nothing that’s worth anything is ever easy”, the Silk Road Mountain Race is a true demonstration of that sentiment. For riders brave enough to face the elements and the unknown, crossing Kyrgyzstan promises to be the experience of a lifetime. Spectacular scenery and the opportunity to witness a timeless way of life await. Competing in and successfully completing the Silk Road Mountain Race means joining an exclusive group of true adventurers.

At PEdALED, we are driven by this same spirit of adventure. We continue to support the unsupported as we develop apparel with versatility for every ride—cycling clothing and equipment strong enough to take on the changing weather, unpaved roads and challenging terrain faced by riders on races like these.