Sofiane Wins Silk Road Mountain RaceJan Heine
Our tires are developed in the field, by some of the world’s best riders. For us, racing isn’t about marketing, but about testing and improving our products. And there’s probably no test as harsh as the Silk Road Mountain Race: A 1858 km (1154 mile) trek over old Soviet military roads in the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan, with more than 30,000 m (100,000 ft) of elevation gain.
Today Sofiane Sehili finished this incredible race in first place, after 8 days, 14 hours and 35 minutes on the road. Sofiane equipped his fully rigid Bombtrack mountain bike with Rene Herse 29″ x 2.2″ (700C x 55) Fleecer Ridge Extralight tires for this grueling race.
Sofiane took the lead on the first mountain pass and never looked back. He rode (and pushed) his bike through snowstorms…
… and river crossings. As could be expected on this punishing course, Sofiane’s ride was not without drama.
On Day 5, after 1300 km of rough mountain roads and trails, his rear wheel broke five spokes! Fortunately, we was able to get to a bike shop and repair his wheel. And unlike Eugène Christophe in the 1913 Tour de France, who was penalized 10 minutes for being aided by a young boy who operated the bellows while he repaired his fork at a local blacksmith, Sofiane’s little helper was completely within the rules of bikepacking.
Sleeping in yurt camps – when he wasn’t pushing across mountain passes at night – and braving freezing cold and blistering heat, following Sofiane’s progress on the map was nothing short of impressive. We’re glad to report that Sofiane’s Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge Extralight tires made it across multiple mountain ranges, while their speed and comfort contributed – in a very small way – to Sofiane’s win.
All riders in this incredible race deserve our utmost respect. As I write this, the other racers are still on the course… When they finish, they each will tell stories of adventure, of hardship, but also of incredible beauty. The conditions in the high mountains are so varied that it’s impossible to compare this year’s race with previous editions. And yet all these images and stories really make me want to head to Kyrgyzstan and ride (or race) the Silk Road!
Photo credits: Usmanov Danil, Yam G-Gun, Chric McClean (Silk Road Mountain Race), Sofiane Sehili.