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.
Neil Beltchenko, winner of the Colorado Trail Race 2021
Neil Beltchenko has competed in some of the most infamous bikepacking races for nearly a decade, including the Iditarod Trail Invitational, which he won in 2018, and the Arizona Trail 300, which he has won multiple times and where set a course record in 2016. In this interview, he joins Payson just days after winning the Colorado Trail Race. He has ridden and completed the Colorado Trail six times, and set a course record in 2016. In spite of these accomplishments, however, he tells Payson that he never starts a race with a win or a record in mind, nor does he expect to be the fastest. He talks about why he keeps returning to the CT, the moment in this year's race that he almost turned back, and the off-the-bike physical preparation to which he attributes his consistent success and surprising lack of long term injuries. He also gives a detailed gear list run down, and offers a few nutritional hacks that he's learned over the years.
Jeff Garmire, ultrarunner and Colorado Trail record holder
Jeff Garmire is an ultrarunner and thru-hiker who holds the unsupported running FKT for the Colorado Trail, which he completed in nine days earlier this year. He specializes in unsupported efforts, carrying all the food and supplies he needs from beginning to end, including any trash he generates along the way. He has also held the FKTs on the Arizona Trail, the Long Trail, and the Pinhoti Trail. In this interview, he talks to Payson about his unusual trajectory to ultrarunning, having started as a thru-hiker on backpacking routes such as the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and then moving towards shorter distances and faster times. He also talks about running out of food on the second-to-last day of his Colorado Trail FKT, and why, in spite of this, it was the second day that was the hardest.
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.