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Silk Road Mountain Race: Toughest Mountain Bike Race in the World with Extreme Bikepacker Cat Jaffee

Follow extreme bikepacker Cat Jaffee as she competes in the Silk Road Mountain Race - the toughest mountain bike race on the planet. 1,200-miles long, with over 115,000-feet elevation gain, athletes traverse the high mountain passes and remote valleys of Kyrgyzstan for 14 grueling days. Traveling completely unsupported, wild camping along the way, only a handful of riders attempt it and a fraction of those reach the end.

But the racing is only part of the appeal. For centuries, The Silk Road operated as a network of trading routes connecting China and the Far East with the Middle east and Europe. It was responsible for spreading some of the most important ideas, culture and economics throughout the world and its effects still resonate across the world today. The mountains of Kyrgyzstan, which the race passes through, traces one of the central routes of the Silk Road, used by traders and wanderers throughout the Middle Ages, and the nomadic culture which still grazes their sheep in these high alpine pastures today has remained largely since those days.

It had always been Cat’s dream to bikepack the Silk Road. But on the cusp of that dream coming true she came back from an assignment in Africa to the news that she had contracted malaria, dengue fever and had ovarian cancer. It was devastating news. She spent a year undergoing chemotherapy and Stage 4 cancer treatment.

Most of us would have given up on the race. Most of us would have struggled to even get out of bed. But Cat kept training throughout it, riding 100s miles each weekend all day and through the night. Then a year later, despite her illness, she found herself on the start line of the toughest mountain bike race in the world.

This is a story about that adventure, but it’s also a story about the power of determination to beat the odds and follow your dreams no matter what stands in your way. Get ready to ride the Silk Road.


· Find out what it takes to compete in the toughest mountain bike race in the world

· Explore the spectacular mountains and ancient culture of Kyrgyzstan’s high mountains

· Be inspired by Cat’s story of determination and survival in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Who's the Guest?

Cat is also an award-winning podcast producer. Her latest series, Guardians of the River about the Okavango Delta Wilderness Project, which was recorded on location in Angola and Botswana over four months, won the Tribeca Film Festival’s prestigious Best Podcast award. Find out more here:

Connect directly with Cat on Instagram: @naturevert ... she has an awesome page!


All images courtesy of @silkroadmountainrace ... check out their instagram page, it's awesome!


Get Free Stuff!

Thanks to Wondrium for sponsoring this episode. Wondrium is the new name for The Great Courses Plus, now expanded with more content: documentaries, world-cinema, tv shows and lots of new courses. You can check it all out for free for one month by heading over to

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