Professional mountain biker Payson McElveen sits down with some of the biggest names in sports and adventure to get an inside look at what sets them apart. With no script, the casual conversations are as diverse as the guests, with topics ranging from harrowing tales of survival, to debates on current events, to everyday tips and tricks and everything in between. As Payson travels the world for his two-wheeled day job, listen in as he rubs shoulders with and learns from some of the most inspiring athletes, entrepreneurs, academics, and others as they chase and inspire greatness.
Anton Krupicka, mountain runner
Anton Krupicka fell in love with running at an early age. He competed in his first marathon when he was 12 and started running mountain ultras when he left college. He went on to win the Leadville 100 twice, and place second at the Western States 100 in 2010. These days, he’s added cycling and ski-mo to his competition schedule, recently completing the Unbound XL.
In this interview, he tells Payson about growing up on a 600-acre farm in Nebraska and discovering mountain running when he moved to Colorado for college. After completing a few marathons, he went from running the Leadville Marathon to running and winning the Leadville 100 in just six weeks. He also talks about how injury forced him to diversify his athletic pursuits and how the mental and physical demands of ultra running differ from gravel racing.
Gus Morton, filmmaker and former pro cyclist
Gus Morton quit professional cycling at the age of 21 to pursue a career as a filmmaker. He was briefly pulled back into professional racing but left the sport for good in 2017, when he merged his two areas of expertise by creating the production company Thereabouts, which put an alternative lens on cycling that didn't revolve around competition or traditional, straightforward narratives of accomplishment. Instead, the projects focus on "conveying the feeling rather than recounting the experience" of cycling adventures.
In January of 2021, Gus joined endurance athlete Rebecca Rusch and photographer Chris Burkard on the first winter crossing of Iceland by bike. They set out to make a film about the experience, but the project became much more than a portrait of athletic endurance when Gus found himself trapped in Mexico for two weeks following the expedition, confronting a very different kind of struggle.
In this conversation, he tells Payson about how his battle with alcoholism came to a head during that two-week stay in Mexico City, and why he decided to re-frame the film around his relapse and recovery. They talk about how he wrestled with alcohol as a professional cyclist, the moment he revealed to Chris and Rebecca that he'd relapsed after their trip, and the process of turning his experiences with addiction into a creative project. The film, 'I Am Here,' is in production. A Kickstarter campaign was launched earlier this month to fund the remaining work.
Link to the Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrisburkard/i-am-here-0
Unbound recap Q&A and rider experiences
In this week's episode, we hear from riders of all levels and distances of Unbound who tell us about their experiences participating in North America's biggest gravel event.
Later in the show, Payson answers listeners' questions about the race. He addresses the muddy conditions, dynamics in the lead group of riders, the impact of WorldTour racers, aero bars, and all the crashes in the first 40 miles.
Unbound Preview with Ryan Standish (and a few cameos)
Payson sits down with professional mountain biker and gravel racer Ryan Standish to preview the second race of the Lifetime Grand Prix, Unbound 200. They talk about the start list, a Who's Who of World Tour, gravel, and mountain bike racers, and make some predictions about the podium. They're also joined by unexpected guests Bobby Wintle, founder of The Mid South; and Howard Grotts, mountain bike Olympian and Grand Prix competitor.
Ryan also talks about going all-in on racing after his father's MS diagnosis, his clothing line Rocket Sloth, and becoming an overnight celebrity after racing the Snowshoe World Cup short track in jorts.
Joe Grant, ultra runner and underbiker
Joe Grant is an ultra runner and mountain athlete who holds the FKT on the Colorado Trail and has competed all over the world at races such as the Hardrock 100, Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc, and the Iditarod in Alaska. He also explores the mountains by bike and competed in the Arizona Trail race in 2016 on a fully rigid drop bar bike. Born in England and raised in France, he now lives in Durango, Colorado.
In this conversation, Joe talks about his complicated relationship with the premise of FKTs, why he tries to orient his projects around the place and the trail rather than himself, and where he stands on the documentation debate in bikepacking and ultra running. He also talks about some of his recent projects, including “Home to Home,” in which he and some friends captured his on-foot attempt at The Colorado Trail with only analog film cameras and a guitar. Even though he’s built a career on winning races and accomplishing unprecedented challenges in the mountains, he explains why he tries to make his projects about more than just the records.
Joe's Home to Home project: https://lostcreekcollective.com/
The Middle Way "Tour de 14ers" film: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/themiddleway
Hannah Otto, professional mountain bike and gravel racer
Payson sits down with professional mountain biker and former teammate Hannah Otto to discuss her new privateer program, splitting her 2022 schedule between North American gravel racing and UCI World Cups, and her childhood as a world champion triathlete. Hannah started racing triathlons at 9, eventually winning the XTERRA Amateur World Championship. After switching to cycling in college, she became a 5x collegiate national champion and signed with the CLIF Pro Team. After nine years of racing on factory-style teams, she's going private this year, pursuing both the LifeTime Grand Prix and a spot at the 2024 Olympics.
In this conversation, Hannah talks about the internal drive and love of sports that propelled her to a very early start in racing, how she’s brought some of her triathlete mindset to her cycling career, and why privateering isn’t so different from racing on a factory team. She also talks about the other side of her job, in which she is a coach and regular contributor to VeloNews.