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.
Lachlan Morton on the Tour Divide
Last week, Lachlan Morton finished the 2,670-mile Tour Divide in just 12 days, 12 hours, and 21 minutes, more than a day faster than the officially recognized record. He also did it in the midst of the Life Time Grand Prix, between Leadville and Chequamegon.
This weekend, Payson caught up with Lachlan in Wisconsin just hours after completing Chequamegon to talk about his experience. From being ready to throw in the towel to marveling at the breathtaking beauty around him, Lachlan discusses the moments that stand out the most from his 12 days on the trail. He talks about facing his greatest fear, a crucial rendezvous with a hair dryer, and a very creative--and dare we say ingenious--use of a sock.
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Brendan Johnston, off-road cyclist
This week, Payson is joined by one of the Australian riders in this year’s Grand Prix, Brendan Johnston. Brendan dominated the marathon mountain biking scene in Australia for several years, winning the national title no fewer than four times and winning 19 consecutive races between 2015 and 2017. He’s also dabbled in road racing, finishing third at the 2022 National Championships in a stacked field. After juggling cycling alongside a full-time career, Brendan decided to focus on riding this year and moved across the world to compete in the Grand Prix.
In this conversation, he talks to Payson about becoming disillusioned with World Cup XC early on, finding a niche within the domestic Australian scene, and deciding to take a break from a stable career down under to try his hand at American gravel. He talks about the difficult transition, how a frustrating ride at Unbound led him to double down a little too hard on training, and the turning point he had last month that changed the course of his season.
Zach Calton, off-road cyclist
This week, Payson catches up with one of the fastest racers in this year's Grand Prix, Zach Calton. So far this season, Zach has placed 6th at Leadville and 9th at Unbound, and is currently sitting 8th overall in the Grand Prix standings. He also happens to have a full-time job off the bike.
In this conversation, Zach talks to Payson about what is shaping up to be a breakout season, why he still isn’t sure that making cycling a full-time gig is the goal, and his job at Specialized. He also talks about how he went from the U23 XCO circuit to finding himself without a team in 2020, and the top gravel pro who’s been coaching him for the last two years.
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Maude Farrell, off-road cyclist
Payson caught up with fellow Grand Prix racer Maude Farrell at Leadville a couple of weeks ago to talk about how her season is going, why she went to Leadville even though she chose to skip racing it, and how she juggles professional racing with a full-time career at the electric vehicle company Rivian. They discuss the challenges of trying to have it all—professionally, athletically, and personally—and do a deep dive into the state of the electric vehicle industry and why there’s no silver bullet when it comes to making transportation more sustainable.
Leadville recap, with Betsy Welch, Ellen Campbell, and power file analysis
There was one story that dominated Leadville this year. Keegan Swenson smashed the course record by more than 15 minutes and finished nearly 25 minutes ahead of second place. On the women's side, Sofia Gómez Villafañe won a tight battle among the top five, followed closely by Ruth Winder.
In our recap, Payson chats with Velo reporter Betsy Welch about how good both the men’s and women’s fields have gotten this year, and where Keegan’s dominance leaves the rest of the racers.
For a first-hand perspective on the women’s race, we hear from Ellen Campbell, who came to Leadville this year hoping to top her 7th place result last year. She talks about the dynamics of the women’s race, how they used Tobin Ortenblad’s blistering lead-out to their advantage, and why pee breaks can make or break the race in the women’s field.
Lastly, Payson breaks down Keegan’s power numbers to see just what it took to achieve such a stunning result.
Check out Payson's new film "Crossing Tasmania" here: https://youtu.be/eqI-hKkUoKw
Lael Wilcox on the Tour Divide, the Triple Crown, and riding around the world
The queen of ultra-endurance cycling returns to the show to talk about her punishing experience at this year’s Tour Divide, her upcoming stab at the Colorado Trail race, and her plan to race around the world, which she devised while riding several thousand miles to the start of the Tour Divide.
After setting countless course records on bikepacking routes around the world, Lael is focusing all her energy on racing this year. Following her grueling experience on the Tour Divide that saw her coughing up blood, vomiting for weeks, and struggling to breathe, she’s preparing to complete the Triple Crown, which consists of the Tour Divide, the Colorado Trail race, and the Arizona Trail race. Lael tells Payson about working with a coach this year for the first time, her potential route for racing around the world next year, and why she and her wife Rugile Kaladyte, a visual journalist, haven’t been producing as many media projects about her riding lately. Payson also chats with Rue about what it was like following Lael’s Tour Divide race from afar, and how she plans to spend the rest of the season.
Our full episode with Rue from 2021 can be found here: #127 Rugile Kaladyte, photojournalist and videographer
Love the adventure Stache.
Payson has a natural talent interviewing his guests. He makes them feel comfortable and always has genuine compliments on there accomplishments. I really enjoy listening to each podcast. Super job and keep it up. Some day I’ll get to meet Payson at a race and I look forward to that day. 👍❤️🇺🇸👏
Conversation with Payson and Taylor
great conversation with two good humans.
Entertaining and informative
Feel like I’m sitting behind the scenes with the pros listening to them decompress from the day. All the drama and non drama. How the sport could be better for everyone not just the pros.
Great audio quality!!!
Love getting to know the riders and what makes their pedals turn.
Thanks for a great podcast!