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.
Payson and Fred Dreier, Editor-in-chief of VeloNews, interview each other
Today on the show, Payson sits down with Fred Dreier, editor-in-chief at VeloNews. They talk about the changing face of professional cycling, the decline of American road racing, and the rise of the athlete influencer. Fred also talks about the parallel evolution he’s seen in journalism, both in cycling and in more conventional media spaces. During a hiatus from VeloNews, Fred graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism and wrote for The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and The New York Times before returning to the cycling beat. They discuss where they think cycling might be headed, and how amateur riders have more influence over the future of the sport than ever.
Haley Batten, mountain biker
Haley Batten burst onto the elite World Cup scene this year, taking the podium at back-to-back races in Nové Mesto and Albstadt, and securing herself a place on Team USA for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Haley joins Payson from her training camp in Italy to talk about the whirlwind of success she’s achieved during her first year out of U23. They talk about why her first podium came at a moment when she was beginning to doubt herself, how her mindset has changed since she made the Olympic team, and what it’s been like to race against longtime friend Kate Courtney. They also talk about her life off the bike, most notably her choice to pursue higher education. She explains why getting a college degree remains so important to her, why she chose an unconventional approach to education, and her experiences going to university in Canada.
Kiel Reijnen, professional road cyclist
Kiel Reijnen is a professional road cyclist who currently rides for the WorldTeam Trek-Segafredo. He talks to Payson about his unique path to professional racing, having grown up on an island off the coast of Washington State and coming to cycling relatively late in life compared to his World Tour teammates. He explains why, even after going to college in Colorado and living in Europe some of the year, he still chooses to live on the island with his wife and kids, just a few houses away from his childhood home. He also talks about how the road cycling community he was first introduced to resembled the inclusivity of the gravel community more than the exclusivity more commonly associated with the standard road scene. Perhaps because of this, he has started competing in gravel races in the last few years, most recently at Unbound in June. During that race, an early mechanical resulted in him running 18 miles of the course, barefoot. While this generated a considerable amount of press attention, however, he explains to Payson that this wasn't the first time he's found himself running such a long distance in inadequate footwear on short notice.
Jonathan Levin: Last place finisher at Unbound
In this fourth and final Unbound recap episode, Payson talks to Jonathan Levin, the last rider to cross the finish line. Jonathan decided to race Unbound with a few friends on a whim, having trained less than intended and with less knowledge of the course than they thought. In spite of never having ridden more than a hundred miles beforehand, they all reached the finish (with less than 10 minutes to spare) before the 3am cutoff. In this conversation, Jonathan talks about why he decided to take on such a big challenge without much prior experience, the aspect of the race that they got right, and why he might be aiming for the 350 mile Unbound XL race next. He talks about some of the more memorable moments from those 200 miles, including hallucinations, a quick creek swim, and a narrowly avoided crash at the finish. And they're joined by Jonathan's friend, Chris, who crewed for Jonathan and his friends and got more than he bargained for. Jonathan also talks about his professional life, where he runs a global company that develops investigation and compliance software for cryptocurrencies, and was listed on the Fortune Magazine's "40 Under 40" list.
Stories from Unbound XL with Will Loevner and Amanda Nauman
In our third recap episode of Unbound Gravel, Payson sits down to talk with two racers from the Unbound XL, the 350 mile race, Will Loevner and Amanda Nauman.
Will Loevner finished Unbound XL in second place, in spite of being younger than any of his competitors and a relative unknown at the start of the race. However, this achievement is only a fraction of the story. After crashing around mile 200 in the middle of the night, he rode the remaining 150 miles one-handed, with a broken hand and a duct taped laceration on his arm that would later require stitches. In this conversation, he explains why stopping was never an option.
Amanda Nauman had previously raced the 200 mile race five times, winning twice and coming in second twice. She talks about why she decided to make the leap to XL and how the longer race compares the 200 culturally, physically, and mentally.
Abi Robins, Unbound Gravel’s first non-binary category finisher
Abi Robins competed in Unbound Gravel this year as the first finisher of the non-binary category. In this interview, they talk to Payson about being the only person to compete in the category, how that knowledge fueled their ride, and how they hope other races will follow suit. They also talk about the struggles of the race itself, from helping fellow riders with spare co2, to a chance mid-race encounter with Lael Wilcox. Molly Cameron calls into the show to ask Abi an all-important Unbound question, and Abi and Payson discuss their mutual fascination with the mental aspects of long races, especially for the vast majority of riders who are not competing for a first place finish.
I got in to this podcast when heard the Smokejumper episode and since have worked my way back through on all those long road trips.
Discovered The Adventure Stache a couple of months back and have been loving it - in the spirit of the Quarantine Companion, one thing lockdown has given me is the time to catch up on all the shows. Started out with all the guests I was familiar with which was awesome, but have also really enjoyed and learned loads from hearing all about the people/sports/industries I was less familiar with. Payson, Justin and all your guests, you’re doing an awesome job, thanks!!
nb I bought some shoes from a drug dealer. I don’t know what he laced them with but I was tripping all day
A great discovery
Only just came across this - the interview with Juli Furtado was so good. Thank you!