Doing the Impossible Issue

Inside cycling's hottest discipline

The Cyclocross Experience

Sometimes you sprint at the end of a cyclocross race. But you always sprint at the beginning. As I straddle my top tube on the starting grid waiting for the whistle to send off my category at the Coyote Point Bay Area Super Prestige, I know this sprint start will hurt more than most.

See How it All Ends

Conquering La Ruta de Los Conquistadores: The Film

Nearly a year after his training began, Dirk Shaw called from Costa Rica, where he had just completed the final mission in The Road to La Ruta: the race itself. He explained how he’d learned to enjoy the process as much as the culminating event. Process over product. Wise words, Mr. Shaw. But we also know that race day happens to be both process and product, when reason and reflection give way to adrenaline and ecstasy -- or despair. Deep, raw despair that people in the industry call “injury”, “mechanical failure”, or simply “Did Not Finish”. Luckily, as Dirk's grueling journey from coast to coast and peak to peak unfolded, we had someone on hand to document the dramatic highs and lows. Now we present the final chapter in the Road to La Ruta series, our film of the epic race.

Conquering La Ruta

Suffering Shared: The Road to La Ruta, Part 8

Suffering is a universal language. October 24-26 were the hardest three days I have ever spent on a bike, but they were also the most connected I have ever felt with the people and the world around me. The power of a shared experience, through joy and pain, transcends almost everything. It crushes barriers of language and culture. Now I know why everyone becomes so emotionally bonded to the La Ruta de Los Conquistadores: words are unnecessary when you have shared the suffering of a ride that is practically straight up for nearly two hours in the blazing heat.

19-year-old arctic explorer

30 Minutes With: Parker Liautaud

On December 3, Parker Liautaud and decorated polar guide Douglas Stoup will depart from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica on a 397-mile journey to the South Pole -- an adventure that, if successful, will make Liautaud the youngest and fastest man to trek from coast-to-pole. Not bad for a 19-year-old college sophomore. We caught up with Parker to talk about the expedition, climate change and how to eat 6,000 calories in a day.

More than a marathon

The Complete Guide to Running Your First Ultramarathon

You’ve probably been hearing more about them: occasional murmurs of very long distance races, men and women running six marathons across the Sahara, a 3,100 mile race in Queens, NY, in the middle of summer. Ultrarunning, or running more than a 26.2 mile marathon in a single shot, seems an unlikely pursuit -- and it is. But it's also growing. An estimated 60,000 people finished an ultra in the U.S. in 2012, up from about 10,000 in 1990. That number is still small compared to the 487,000 people who completed a marathon in the U.S. in 2012, but it’s still an awful lot of people running exceptional distances. And now you’re thinking about toeing the line for an ultra. Good for you. We’ve got a handy guide to help you through, complete with advice from a few pros at the top of the sport.

Two marathons in the mountains

Photo Essay: Vermont 50 Ultramarathon

It was around around mile 23 of the Vermont 50 that I thought about the duck. I’d read in On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee that the common green-headed mallard stores as much as a third of its carcass weight in fat for fuel and insulation so it can fly continuously for hundreds of miles. As I sipped from the sports nutrition mix in my bottle, I thought of what could have been if only I had taken to heart the experience of migratory birds. I had eaten but one slice of apple pie after dinner the night before.

Late-blooming triathlon athlete

30 Minutes With: Chris Lieto

In 1997, Chris Lieto saw the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championship on TV and decided to start training. Three years later, he became a professional triathlete. We caught up with the one-time mortgage broker to talk about technology, charity, and eating a healthy diet.

Marathon man

The Complete Guide to Running Your First Marathon

In the marathon origin story, Pheidippides runs from Marathon to Athens to deliver a message of victory and then promptly dies. We’ve come a long way since 490 BC, and today most people run marathons to compete, challenge themselves physically or raise money for charity -- and they rarely kick the bucket at the end. But they’re sometimes in a world of hurt, because running 26.2 miles is a feat, and doing it can be taxing on the body. But with the right training anyone can do it. Looking to join the club? We’ve got some tips, tricks and advice from experts to get you most of the way there. You’ve still got to run the damn thing.

Gear worth its weight in...

Kit: Fool’s Gold 100

Competing in endurance mountain bike racing requires a significant amount of time on the bike. There are days when you eat your breakfast and lunch on the go, get on your bike before the sun comes up and even get lost in the woods trying to find six hours worth of trails. We all settle into distinct collections of gear to make the bike our home, but for us, this kit offers the perfect blend of performance, durability and comfort.

Endangering specie

Photo Essay: Fool’s Gold 100

At 5 a.m. I felt the slight buzz of my UP band. Go time. Well, actually it was time to fill 10 water bottles with Skratch Labs hydration, get my cooler ready and find a decent cup of coffee in the mountains of North Georgia. After a short chat with a couple of young police officers at Dunkin Donuts about why I would ride 100 miles on a mountain bike, I was off for the Montaluce Winery. It was pitch black on the winding roads leading up to the parking lot, so I followed the stream of cars with bikes on the roof. Race director Eddie O'Dea welcomed us at the entrance, where I parked the car and unloaded my gear for the Fool's Gold 100.

Time-poor, nutrient-rich

Fat is Fuel: The Road to La Ruta, Part 5

For the last six months my dietary goal has been fairly simple: use more fat and less glycogen (stored carbs) for fuel during long rides. You're probably wondering why I'd do that when I could just carbo-load the night before and suck down a few gels to get through the day. A new school of thought is emerging, though, that debunks the myth that a diet rich in starchy carbohydrates is the best way to fuel during training and racing. As I prepare for the Fool's Gold 100 this weekend, I'm hoping to see this dietary tactic pay dividends.

Addiction, sacrifice and withdrawal

Tapering Hell: The Road to La Ruta, Part 4

If you watched Trainspotting, the Indie film that follows a group of Scottish youths as they sink deep into a life of addiction, you would certainly remember the scene where Marc Renton (played by Ewan McGregor) sits alone in his room wrestling with withdrawal as the somber track of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” plays in the background. You'd be right to wonder what that has to do with endurance mountain bike racing. Find out in The Road to La Ruta, Part 4.

Ultra-distance athlete

30 Minutes With: Joe Berg

Finding inspiration to do things I never imagined possible rarely comes from professional athletes. What inspires, rather, is meeting someone who seems like an ordinary guy -- and suddenly realizing five minutes in that he's anything but. These are the people who make me say to myself, "I can do that". Joe Berg isn't ordinary. I sat down with him to chat about his ultra endurance racing experience, opera and some tips for me as I prepare for La Ruta.

63 miles and 11,000 feet of NC single track

Assault on Mt. Mitchell: The Road to La Ruta, Part 3

The Off Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell is a 63-mile epic mountain bike race in western North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest. Really, the day itself was epic, starting with the beautiful drive out of Asheville where thick fog filled the Smoky Mountains as the sun started to rise. The key word here is sun. The weather in the southeast has been extremely rainy of late, and I was fully prepared to race all day on a muddy course. But mother nature had something else planned, at least for the first five hours of this mid-season race en route to La Ruta.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Planning (and Going Balls Out) is Everything: The Road to La Ruta, Part 2

This is the second part of an eight-part original GP series, The Road to La Ruta, in which contributor Dirk Shaw chronicles his training for the Fool's Gold 100 and La Ruta de Los Conquistadores -- one of the toughest mountain bike races in the world. Check back throughout the summer to watch the story unfold. I am a binary person. 1 = balls out, and 0 = no interest. So once I decided to start competing, I consumed every training book I could get my hands on. If total immersion works when I need to understand a client’s brand strategy, then why not go deep and steep myself in every possible theory on training, workouts and mental preparation for endurance competition? I researched and downloaded and read and re-read all the wisdom of many who have tried and some who have succeeded. When I came up for air, what really stuck with me was one simple fact: to be a successful endurance athlete, you need to plan for next year -- today.

Time to leave it all on the trail

Taking on the World’s Toughest Bike Race: The Road to La Ruta Starts Now

Anyone who’s been in a race knows that the rush of crossing the finish line is followed almost immediately by the sinking question “What’s next?” The longer the training leading up to the race, the more acute the question. So it wasn't long after last year’s Road to Ironman series that we were already planning something bigger, inspired by a friendly reader inquiry from Mr. Dirk Shaw, a Senior Vice President at Ogilvy, husband, father of three and endurance cycling fanatic. His assigment: a coast-to-coast race mountain bike race in Costa Rica ranking among the hardest in the world.

Hot laps in the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Photo Essay: Red Hook Criterium

It’s 6pm on Saturday, June 8, and what’s been a very rainy spring has broken just in time for an event best described as a cross between a Formula 1 race and a playful reenactment of the The Breakfast Club: the Red Hook Criterium, Brooklyn Navy Yard edition. We were on hand to document the bicycle race for our week of cycling.

See you in T1

Kit: Ultimate Triathlon

For gearheads and Quantified Selfers triathlon is a chance to ride bikes that look like DARPA prototypes and collect more personal information about themselves than a Stasi collaborator, respectively; for Alphas it’s a chance to get ripped and grab bragging rights; for some people it’s just a fun way to get in shape. Whatever the reason, the tri gear is abundant. Sure, you could swim in your skivvies, hop on your Schwinn for the bike leg and run in some old Nike Mac Attacks -- but we'll do you one better with this kit.

Poised to make history

30 Minutes With: Kevin Krigger

Kevin Krigger is a 29-year-old derby rookie and the rider of Goldencents -- a favorite in this year's race. As a native of St. Croix, though, Krigger will share the honor of being the first Virgin Islander to compete in the race. More importantly to some, he's also the first black jockey to compete in the event since 2000 -- and he has a chance to be the first black rider to win the Derby since 1902.

What to pack, what to use

Road to Ironman: Essential Triathlon Gear

Editor’s Note: Let’s start with honesty. Triathlons aren’t an everyman sport. 95% of participants in Ironman Louisville had a post-secondary education. Triathlons are a big commitment in terms of training time and resources committed to everything from gear to nutrition. The longer the race, the greater the commitment. In Road to Ironman, Jeremy has taken...