Episodes

  • Evie Richards is a cross country and cyclocross racer who rides for Trek Factory Racing. She won the U23 cyclocross World Championship in 2016 and 2018, and achieved second place in cross country at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Earlier this fall, she gained her first elite mountain bike World Cup win in the short track race in Nové Město, Czechia. 

    In this conversation, she and Payson talk about her rapid rise to elite international success, including the contentious sprint finish at Nové Město that left her with complicated emotions in spite of her victory. She talks about how her determination to stay fit and learn new skills during the UK’s first lockdown in the spring resulted in a severe knee injury that hindered her training, and why she chooses to keep her presence on social media as positive as possible. They also talk about how she’s carefully cultivated a healthy work/life balance in spite of her busy professional commitments, what’s it’s like living down the road from her entire extended family, her Olympic ambitions, and the inspiration she draws from athletes outside of cycling. 

  • Kerry McCauley is a ferry pilot who delivers planes around the world, usually on routes that not many other pilots are willing to take. The planes are often too small to safely make the journeys, but need to be delivered to an owner across the world and can’t be transported any other way. In this job, Kerry has flown nearly fifty different kinds of planes to sixty countries. He also owns a skydiving school and flies corporate jets. In this episode, he tells Payson some of his most harrowing adventure stories, including the time his fuel tank malfunctioned 15,000 feet above the Atlantic with nowhere to land, and the time his power went out somewhere over the Sahara desert at night and he lost all ability to navigate. They discuss his experience starring in the Discovery Channel show, Dangerous Flights, which included one of his most dangerous adventures to date, and how the show was canceled after one of the crew members passed away while on the job. They also talk about some of the most dangerous airports in the world, how he wound up stealing $50,000 from a Spanish bank, and why he still can’t quit ferry flying even though he recognizes its risks more than he used to. 

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  • Martha Schoppe is a smokejumper, one of a select group of firefighters that parachute to the location of the wildfires they’re tasked with controlling. Out of the 400 smokejumpers across the country, only nine are female. Martha joins Payson to talk about the extreme physical and mental demands of her work, much of which takes place before they even reach the fire. From sewing their own gear to jumping from 3,000 feet into perilous terrain to hiking with 140 pound packs in all kinds of weather, smokejumpers have earned their reputation as being one of the most specialized and experienced tiers of firefighters. Martha talks about some of her most uncomfortable landings, why fighting fires in Alaska can sometimes be extremely wet, and the physical stamina required to work for 18 hours at a time on a fire that lasts for weeks. She also talks about some of the common misconceptions about wildfires, and what it was like leading an inmate crew. 

    In the six months of the year that Martha isn’t smokejumping, she’s pursuing other types of physical extremes. Not only is she a competitive CrossFit athlete, but she also runs 300+ mile ultramarathons (sometimes while pulling a sled in negative degree temperatures), ice climbs, and does Jiu Jitsu. In spite of all of this, however, her greatest claim to fame may be her multiple trophies in arm wrestling. She and Payson talk about all of this and more in this episode of The Adventure Stache. 

  • Sarah Sturm is an all terrain cyclist who’s raced road, cross country, cyclocross, and gravel. After moving to Colorado to attend Fort Lewis College, she fell into mountain biking almost by accident. After a few years on the collegiate and development scene, however, she quit racing altogether. It wasn’t until she returned to the sport in 2018 that she found seemingly non-stop success, winning back-to-back singlespeed cyclocross national championships, the crit race at Sea Otter Classic, and placing second at the Leadville 100. Her win at 2019’s Belgian Waffle Ride shot her to stardom, and established her as one of the foremost women of gravel. 

    In this conversation, she and Payson talk about being teammates on the development team Sweet Elite along with Howard Grotts, Sepp Kuss, and Stephen Davoust among others. They talk about how the experience taught them some painful but valuable life lessons, though on opposite ends of the spectrum, and why Sarah decided to step back from racing for awhile. They talk about the professional conundrum of Singlespeed Worlds, where partying is mandatory and serious racing is discouraged. Sarah describes some of her favorite moments from those races, which involve male strippers, an enormous fast food order, and falling out of a trailer in a glittery helmet and tutu. She also talks about her breakthrough win at Belgian Waffle Ride in 2019, which was her first gravel race and the longest ride she’d ever done by 40 miles. They also talk about the graphic design business she started during lockdown, why she doesn't pre-ride courses or use training data, and her youthful aspirations of becoming a professional surfer despite living in Albuquerque. 

  • Alison Tetrick is a professional cyclist who started her career racing on the road in the WorldTour before transitioning to gravel, for which she holds three world championship titles. In this interview, Alison chats with Payson about how her 85 year old grandfather convinced her to switch from collegiate tennis to cycling, the year she spent living in Bergamo, Italy riding for the UCI WorldTour team Astana with teammates who didn’t speak English, and the 2010 crash that left her with a traumatic brain injury, shattered pelvis, and lasting psychological issues. She also talks about how she managed to sidestep her way out of professional road racing and onto the gravel scene, and describes her first Dirty Kanza (now Unbound), where a wrong turn and sprint finish led to her victory and course record that has yet to be beaten. They also discuss life during the pandemic, a last minute bikepacking trip to Kyrgyzstan involving a spork, and get a surprise call from Alison's coach, who has a hard-hitting question to ask.

  • Paris Gore is a photographer whose work has featured in ESPN, Bicycling Magazine, National Geographic, and Outside Magazine. His clients have included Adidas, Red Bull, SRAM, and BMW. Throughout his career, Paris has focused on outdoor action sports, and particularly mountain biking, where he’s captured some of the sport’s top athletes in their most triumphant and iconic moments. In this interview, he tells Payson about how giving up on his childhood dream of becoming a professional mountain biker led him to his passion for photography, why being nice is his number piece of career advice for aspiring photographers, and how he went from mowing his friend’s lawn for extra cash to traveling around the world doing what he loves. He also talks about his recent decision to become a pilot and the plane he kind of regrets buying, losing the memory card with all his photos at the Downhill World Cup Finals in Scotland, and an eye-opening trip to Cuba where he learned just how much he has to be thankful for. They also discuss some memorable moments from Red Bull Rampage, where Paris has been a photographer each year for the past seven years, and the physical and emotional toll it takes, not just on the riders, but on those who witness it as well.

  • Hannah Bergemann is a freeride mountain biker whose performance at Red Bull’s first ever female freeride event, Formation, gained her widespread public attention in 2019. As the first person to drop in at the event after days of building the perfect line, she set the tone for the rest of the day and established herself as one of the sport’s most promising riders. In addition to freeriding, Hannah continues to compete in Enduro races, winning the Trans BC Enduro in 2019. In this conversation, she talks about the excitement and energy behind Formation, why she decided to take the first run, and whether or not she thinks there should be a competitive freeride event for women, equivalent to the men’s Red Bull Rampage. She also talks about how she transitioned from freeskiing to mountain biking, why the building process behind freeriding is almost as much fun as the riding, and the informal team she started with some of her friends in Bellingham, Washington long before she became a sponsored athlete. She also answers a few questions from some of her fans in professional sports including Eliot Jackson, Michelle Parker and Jill Kintner, and explains the origins of her secret Instagram account. 

  • Kait Boyle is an ultra-endurance mountain bike racer whose achievements on the bike include winning the 24-hour World Championship in 2018, holding the women's record on the Arizona Trail 300, and being a two-time winner of 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. Her results often challenge both female and male records, and she continues to hold the fourth fastest time on the Arizona Trail 300. In this episode, she tells Payson about how a rock climbing injury got her into mountain biking, and how she started bikepacking before she knew it was its own sport. She talks about the inspiration she draws from the other women racing at her level, and from her love of the landscape around her. She also talks about the longer process of navigating the mental landscapes of the sport, and how this process developed alongside her physical evolution on the bike. They talk about the brutal challenge of the AZT 300, where racers are forced to carry their bikes for miles at a time on steep mountain terrain, and how ego in races like this can be the greatest determiner of success and failure. Kait also talks about the car accident that she suffered at the beginning of 2019 that nearly left her paralyzed, and what it was like watching fellow bikepack racer Lael Wilcox attempt to beat her record on the AZT 300 during the week that Kait was just starting to walk again. She also shares how the pandemic has brought a few silver linings to her racing career, how her bike setup has evolved over the years to mitigate the devastating physical toll of multi-day races, and why she waited until 2017 to get a smartphone. 

  • Jesse Jakomait is a bikepack racer and SRAM design engineer who holds the record on the Colorado Trail. He broke the record on his fifth attempt in 2015, completing the 562 mile route from Durango to Denver with over 75,000 feet of climbing in just under five days, beating the previous record by more than eight hours. To achieve this, he rode for 23 hours at a time, sleeping a total of three hours throughout the whole race. In this interview, Payson talks to Jesse about his years’ long quest to conquer the infamous trail, and why he kept coming back in spite swearing it off for good after his first attempt. They compare their experiences with route—Payson having made his first (unfinished) attempt last month—and the debilitating injuries they both faced at various points along the way. They talk about the puzzle-solving component of bikepack racing, and how Jesse used his engineering expertise to his advantage by creating an algorithm to cut down on gear and supplies as much as he possible could. They talk about the vivid hallucinations that he experienced during his record breaking run, when sleep deprivation led to terrifying visions of pelican attacks and enormous stuffed deer. They also talk about the extent of his years’ long obsession with the trail that consumed him to the point of recklessness, and why he finally decided to step away from the sport for the foreseeable future. 

  • Kurt Refsnider is a professional bikepack racer who holds records for the Arizona Trail 750 and Grand Loop. He’s also won multiple bikepacking races including the Tour Divide,
     and Colorado Trail Race. In this conversation, he and Payson talk about how he got into cycling in his teens, why he chose to abandon cyclocross and crits for ultras, and the seemingly risky decision to quit his day job as a geology professor and pursue bikepacking full time. They talk about some of his sketchiest moments on the bike, including his recent victory at the Iditarod Trail Invitational 350 when temperatures fell below -50ºF, and his five attempts at the Colorado Trail. They also talk about the physical toll of this kind of racing, such as permanent nerve damage, tendonitis, and the long term effects of sleep deprivation. They discuss the ways in which bikepacking distinguishes itself from other cycling disciplines in its relaxed approach to the usual conventions of racing and rider hierarchies, and how his organization Bikepacking Roots is working to support the rapidly growing community and promote conservation awareness. And in light of Payson’s recent foray into the bikepacking world, they talk about the central paradox of such a brutal sport—that it can be both soul crushing and addictive.

  • Freeride pioneer and adventure mountain biker Eric Porter joins Payson from his home in Park City, Utah to talk about his adventures on the bike. As one of the first professional freeriders, Eric’s cycling career dates back to the early 2000s when he starred in some of the most iconic mountain biking film series of the era, such as Kranked and Chain Reaction, and competed in some of the first slopestyle competitions. Since then, he’s transitioned into adventure mountain biking, documenting his experiences around the world.

    In this conversation, Eric talks about losing all his teeth to BMX, trying to get into downhill mountain biking in the late 90s, and eventually pivoting to freeriding. He also talks about the challenges of shooting action sports on 16mm film before the days of digital cameras and lightweight equipment, and why he eventually decided to switch from competitive cycling to adventure riding and content creation. He shares some of his most epic stories from the past few years, including riding through minefields in Iraq and burning his eyes in a freak snowstorm in the Indian Himalayas, and about how he incorporates his kids into his trail building work at home.

  • Sepp Kuss checks in from Grenoble, France on a rest day between stages 15 and 16 of the Tour. Since he was last on the show in December 2019 (Episode 41), Sepp’s star in the pro peloton has continued to rise. In August, he won the final stage of the Critérium du Dauhiné, just days before starting his first Tour de France, where he continues to prove his standing as one of the ProTour's most promising young riders. In this episode, he talks about the whirlwind of the past year of racing and how’s he’s managing to stay sane amidst the pressure and media attention. He also talks about being the number one mountain domestique for Jumbo-Visma teammate and the Tour's current leader, Primož Roglic; what it's like racing against fellow American and former mountain biker Neilson Powless, and how he anticipates the final stages will unfold. They also discuss his favorite mid-race snacks, the hotel room appliance he can’t live without, and why his parents insist on recapping each stage of the race for him.

  • Nichole Baker returns for the last episode in this four part series to talk about her nonprofit organization, Path of Logic. Founded in 2016 after Nichole’s eye-opening trip to Haiti (which is detailed in Part 2 of this series), Path of Logic supports the research, supply, and staffing of pathology labs in southwest Uganda, which provide services for several million people. Nichole talks about how she used the disastrous experience in Haiti to inform the creation of Path of Logic, and explains why she's chosen to putt her efforts towards a community so far removed from her own country. She explains why the preparation she did for her first trip to Uganda was a big mistake, how she gained the trust of the local medical professionals in spite of some early missteps, and how she and her team cut the hospital’s turnaround times for patient diagnoses from 47 days to just 13. She also talks about the tenacity and realism required to create permanent change, why her personal connection to cancer diagnostics and the people she works with in Uganda is so vital to the success of Path of Logic, and where she hopes to take the organization in the future.  

  • In this third part of our ongoing series, Nichole Baker talks to Payson about some of her most thrilling and harrowing adventures by bike. From screaming monkeys, tree climbing tigers, and unexpected snowstorms at 13,000 ft., her stories in this episode span a range of continents, physical demands, and levels of discomfort. She talks about uncovering a mythical trail in the Colorado backcountry, trekking across the Himalayas, and finding herself in the middle of a Ugandan hostage exchange. She explains why making the outdoors accessible to those who are new to adventuring is important, what she always brings with her on backcountry expeditions, and how she’s built the confidence to go on solo bike packing trips in some of the most unforgiving environments the world has to offer. She also talks about how the death of a loved one led to her discovery of cycling and her work in cancer diagnostics, and the social media post that made her want to stop telling her story until now. 

  • Nichole Baker returns to the show to talk about her rocky introduction to international charity work while on a trip to Haiti in 2016. Tasked with setting up a pathology lab and teaching local pathology students in Cap Haitïen, she arrived to discover that her students were on strike, her translator didn’t speak English, and the lab had no electricity or running water. Nichole talks about this rude awakening to the realities of foreign aid work, where many organizations are ignorant of the communities they are trying to help and end up doing more harm than good. She also talks about the chance encounter she had with an executive of one of the biggest cruise ship companies in the world, where she learned about the underhanded and predatory nature of the tourism industry in Haiti. Other stories include a mugging attempt, two American lab technicians who bailed on their trip just two days in, and the culture shock Nichole experienced while driving home from the airport upon her return to America. 

  • Nichole Baker is an adventure athlete, philanthropist, and medical professional (who also happens to be Payson’s girlfriend). Her work as a pathologist’s assistant and athlete has taken her all over the world, including to Uganda, where she founded a nonprofit that supports pathology students and medical facilities. In this conversation, Nichole talks about how she became a pathologist’s assistant after an unconventional and at times difficult childhood. She talks about dissecting body parts, saving lives by identifying disease in patients’ tissue before it spreads to the rest of the body, and how the pandemic has caused a life-threatening decrease in cancer diagnoses. She also talks about her brief stint as a deputy coroner, when her job was to show up at crime scenes by herself and retrieve bodies. She talks about picking body parts up off the side of road, and one of the times when an autopsy turned a straightforward accidental death into a homicide investigation. 

  • Eliot Jackson is a downhill mountain biker who rides for the Giant Factory Off-Road Team. He’s competed on the UCI World Cup circuit and on the Crankworx World Tour, finishing 3rd at Crankworx Rotorua in 2017. In this interview, Eliot talks about his many interests off the bike, and how his passion for computer programming has led to his latest venture, Reggy, which he describes as a combination of Strava and Airbnb. He also talks about the surge in attention he’s received from brands following the current spike in social justice awareness, and why he tries to keep social media at arms’ length. He also talks about his data analysis project of Pinkbike’s entire back catalogue, and how his recent role commentating for Crankworx got off to a rocky start.

    Eliot's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eliotjackson/
    Reggy's official website: www.goreggy.com
    Eliot's article in Outside: https://www.outsideonline.com/2415055/eliot-jackson-mountain-biking-protesting
    Eliot's blog post about the Pinkbike data project: http://www.eliotjackson.com/2017/11/21/pinkbike-exploration/

  • Mark Twight returns to the show to talk about transitions, decision paralysis, and, of course, the nuances and science of athletic optimization. Throughout his varied career, Mark has been a pioneering mountaineer, photographer, writer, and trainer to military personnel and some of Hollywood’s most famous actors. In this episode, he reflects on psychological impact of leaving his celebrated climbing career for an unknown future at the age of 39, and his struggle with finding new avenues of fulfillment. They talk about the modern predicament of having infinite options, and why getting uncomfortable in conversations with those around you can help resolve inner conflict. They also get deep into the weeds of exercise science, and Mark shares some of his philosophy on appearance vs. fitness, performance vs. health, and why deadlifts should be a thing of the past. 

  • Sean Hopkins is a quality engineer at SRAM. He joins Payson to talk about how he fell in love with bikes while growing up on the south side of Chicago, being stopped by the police as a child on suspicion of stealing the bike he was riding, and the pattern of obstruction he faced as a junior racer that eventually led him to quit racing altogether. He tells Payson about discovering a love for writing and reading as an adult, his recent article in Bicycling Magazine, and how his grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer's brought about his passion for film photography. They also talk about how he’s feeling as a person of color during this moment of widespread reckoning with racial inequality, and the 1980s cult film that inspired his Instagram handle.

  • Koen de Kort is a professional road cyclist who currently rides for the UCI WorldTeam Trek-Segafredo. After 15 years on the WorldTour, he is one of the most respected road captains in professional cycling, making tough tactical decisions during races and maintaining the focus and collaboration of his teammates. In this interview, Koen talks about why he ended up in this role, and why it fits his style of racing. He also talks about the self doubt he struggled with early in his career during the era of pervasive doping, and what it was like to lead out some of the best sprinters in the world such as Marcel Kittel. He also talks about learning the hard way that injuries can’t be rushed, and how his love of Australian cafe culture has led to his latest off the bike venture.