Last summer, Salsa sponsored rider Kurt Refsnider took on and won the Tour Divide Race, and then promptly began globetrotting as part of the Reveal The Path cast. We took a few minutes to talk to him about those two huge, but vastly different, experiences.
Kurt in the 2011 Tour Divide Race - Photo courtesy of Mike Dion/Reveal The Path
Kid: What was it like going from finishing the Tour Divide Race into world travel mode for Reveal The Path?
Kurt: The transition was not quite as difficult as I thought it might be, bit it still wasn’t easy. I had a week to recover in Silver City, New Mexico after finishing the Tour Divide. During that time, I more or less slept, ate, slept some more, and tried to stay cool in the 100-degree heat. I got out for a few short rides to explore the local trails, but my legs didn’t have much of anything left in them. As we began filming a few days later, my legs were heavy and sluggish, my appetite couldn’t be satisfied, and I had trouble riding for more than an hour or two before I wanted to stop and nap. Luckily for me, Mike, Hunter, and Matthew are all coffee addicts, so there was a doppio stop every chance we had. There weren’t many of these while on the trail, but each one helped. The chaos and congestion of all the airports and cities was also a bit of a shock. After a couple weeks, my legs and head started to come around, and by the time we reached Morocco, I was feeling pretty normal, and losing myself within a foreign culture became easier.
Kid: Did you find yourself thinking ahead to the travel while you were racing the Tour Divide?
Kurt: To be honest, I didn’t really think about much of anything during the Divide. For me, that sort of purity is one of the beautiful aspects of ultra racing. Life becomes solely about forward progress, and the complications and stresses of daily life simply vanish. Thus, what was to follow was not on my mind at all. It wasn’t until I made it to Silver City after finishing that I realized that dang, I need to be back on the bike in barely a week’s time. Given my frail state, that was more than a little intimidating.
Kid: What does bikepacking mean to you?
Kurt: Bikepacking is nothing more than bike touring, but on trails instead of roads. It’s backpacking on bikes, and the number of miles one can cover on a bike versus on foot is far greater, which is what I love about it.
Kurt's Spearfish in Nepal - Photo courtesy of Mike Dion/Reveal The Path
Kid: When you were putting your bikepacking kit together for the filming, were there any changes you needed to make?
Kurt: After suffering through the Tour Divide with minimal clothing and few comfort items, I packed just a touch more luxuriously – a bit of extra clothing in case what I was wearing got wet and a warmer insulated jacket, but everything else was pretty similar to what I normally carry. But after our shakedown ride in Colorado, it turned out that Matthew and I would have to carry more gear than normal to help free up space in Hunter and Mike’s bags and packs for all their camera equipment. I also ended up carrying quite a bit more in the way of repair items to take care of Hunter and Mike’s bikes since their brains were focused on the filming side of things.
Kid: You rode the Spearfish during the filming of Reveal The Path. How did that bike treat you?
Kurt: I loved the Spearfish. I was going to bring my El Mariachi hardtail that I rode in the Tour Divide, but at the night before we left, I was reading about how rough and rugged many of the trails in Scotland were. That combined with our first quick shakedown outing on some spectacular mountain trails in central Colorado were enough to convince me to bring along the Spearfish for a little more fun. And I was glad I had made that decision, especially for riding the incredibly rocky West Highland Way in Scotland.
Kurt beach riding in Alaska…
Kid: Does an adventure like Reveal The Path satisfy your appetite or leave you hungry for even more experiences?
Kurt: This journey had exactly the same influence on me as any other adventure – it opened my eyes to how huge the potential is for long tours and limitless exploration everywhere we went. After we left Scotland, Matthew and I were scheming about big loops linking up our route with the Cairngorm Mountains. Upon our departure from Switzerland, we were excited at the possibilities of riding or linking up one of the three established trail systems across the country. The mountains of Morocco provided more fodder for future routes, and the higher country in Nepal called out to be ridden whenever we’d catch a glimpse of it through a break in the clouds. And Alaksa? It would take a lifetime and then some to see all Alaska has to offer, but at least now I have some idea of possibly where to start on my next visit.
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I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.