On June 1st, 13 individuals set out on what is now the longest bikepacking race by a long shot, the American Trail Race. The route travels east to west, starting in Cape Lookout, North Carolina and eventually finishing in Port Orford, Oregon. It travels through 11 states, many of which offer a different type of climate and terrain. The route was developed by Sam Correro, a motor cyclist wanting an off-road experience from one side of the country to the other. What a big undertaking that must have been. Now, we ride bicycles on it. Below is a bit of information about each individual rider for the 2017 American Trail Race. 

Jennifer Marsh Siruchek, 46, New York


Why are you doing this race? You know what I think it comes down to? We’re all so busy in our everyday lives that sometimes bikepacking, or things that are bigger than us help heal and rebuild.


Do you have any expectations for the race? My first goal was to get to the start.  As for personal accomplishments, to do the best I can every single day. If I can only do 40 miles, the next day I might be able to do 240. I want to do my best for whatever the weather or circumstances.

Have you done anything else like this race? I did the Tour Divide in 2015.

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike? My favorite piece? Well, I like my bike tool. I also got a lot of use out of my cassette cleaner with the New Mexican mud in the Tour Divide. 

What kind of bike are you riding? I’m riding old school – a 2007 Bearatas 26 inch hardtail. 


Riccardo Alessi, 48, Italy

Why are you doing this race? I like this style of race, and this is the first annual for a coast to coast off-road race in the United States. I did a road coast to coast from west to east three years ago. We took more or less the same route for the RAAM, just touring no racing.

Do you have any expectations for the race? Just to finish and survive. That’s it. 

Have you done anything else like this race? I did the Tour Divide twice, once in 2012 and again in 2015. I have done the Highland Trail 550 in Scotland and the Alberta Rockies last year. I enjoy riding recreationally too, freeride and downhill in particular. 

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike? Equipment? The bike. 

What kind of bike are you riding? I have a 27.5” German brand bike. I want to bring my 29 have fit issues with my saddle bag on my small size frame. 

Rob Colliver, 52, England

Why are you doing this race? I have done the Tour Divide a couple of times, and the second time I did the Tour Divide I used it as a training ride for the American Trail Race. I said to myself, ” if I can do the Tour Divide in a decent time than I can come and do this.” 

Do you have any expectations for the race? There is so much to see along the way. Being foreign, being English, you hear about all of these great American places and then you look them up on a map and they’re tiny but they’re famous and the route travels near them. 

Have you done anything else like this race? I have done loads of other odd things. I was into hiking for a long time, I was into swimming, shooting, riding, running, and fencing for years. I was never good enough to get into the Olympics so I fell for snowboarding and ended my sporting career there and then. I had a broke neck for 14 weeks and was basically nailed to the bed. After that all I could do was low impact activities. I got a kayak because there’s no bounce. I enjoyed kayaking for a few years and I’ve done the Yukon 460-mile race a couple of times. I’ve done the 1000 mile race up there once. I liked kayaking but then I got into biking as my neck healed.

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike? I haven’t got a favorite, I’m sure of that. Everything is necessary in my head. A lot of people manage without many of the things I’ve got on my bike. My favorite thing? My favorite thing I would have to say is my homemade water bottle holders on the stem of the bike. I can get a liter and a half of water in each one of those and I have bags on each side of them for food. They are mountain feed bags but bigger.

What kind of bike are you riding?  A 2010 Santa Cruz TallBoy. I bought it in Canada and I’ve used it in every race. 

Lindsay Shepard, 35, Phoenix

Why are you doing this race?  I feel like we don’t, at least here in America, take enough time off of work to just enjoy life. Over the last few years I decided to go back to school for a career change. For the last 4.5 years I’ve been nose in the books and I’m going to start a Ph.D. program right when I get back. I really needed the time to unwind in between and just get back to not constantly doing something that requires a lot of thought.  Just pedal, eat, and camp. I also think, after living in the city for many years, that I don’t get enough time in nature. I feel best when I’m out in the woods or by the water so this will be a great reboot.

Do you have any expectations for the race?  On the last Tour Divide I did I averaged 130 miles a day and I want to bump that up to at least 150 miles per day, which I don’t think will be terribly hard given the differences in terrain between this and Tour Divide. Obviously, there is still a lot of climbing but I think it’s going to be different. I would also like to ride a little bit more at night so I brought a different light set up this time just to try and maximize my riding, especially since there is more pavement towards the start.

Have you done anything else like this race? Yes. The first Tour Divide I did was in 2013. I didn’t finish that year. I started northbound and I didn’t even make it through New Mexico. With my experience in 2013 I was able to finish northbound the following year. I was amazed at how much less difficult it seemed the second time, and then I did it a third time southbound 2015 which was my favorite time so far.

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike?  I have a little speaker box up front. It just has a little USB port to charge it and I stick a little mp3 player in there. I mean, it’s big and it takes up a fair amount of space, but I don’t like to ride with earbuds in. I don’t even like to walk with earbuds in, but I need music every once and a while so it’s nice to have that little piece of equipment. It’s especially nice if I stop by the water and I’m having a snack and stretching.

What kind of bike are you riding? I’m riding a specialized Jet Pro, which is my first women’s style bike. The first year I did the Tour Divide and finished I used a Specialized Hard Rock which is one of their lower end bikes. In 2015 I used a Rockhopper but I feel like the reach was just a little bit long on the men’s bike, so I wanted to use a women’s specific this time. So far it’s super comfortable. 

David (D), 42 and Lorero Garcia (L), 42,Tenerife, Spain 

Why are you doing this race?
L – Because he-
D – Because I convinced her.
L He forced me.
D No because it’s a beautiful route.
L He did a ride last year as a test and I did a ride alone, but I didn’t like it alone, and so he decided he would do it with me.

Do you have any expectations for the race? 
D We only have 55 days and so we are going to try to finish it to the best of our ability doing the best we can.
L Yes, it’s the first time we are in tandem
D It’ll be a test

Have you done anything else like this race? 
D I did the Tour Divide last year and we have traveled a lot all over the world together but never bikepacking.

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike?
D My girlfriend
L Do I have to say the same thing? Haha

What kind of bike are you riding? D – A tandem

Dylan Taylor, 45, Bozeman, Montana

Why are you doing this race? I’ve been really excited about this route since I heard about it a number of years ago as the dual sport motorcycle route, and then followed the swallows journey a few years ago. When I heard that Billy, Neil, and folks were putting together a cleaned up version of the route, I was pretty excited about it and it gave me the same feeling of excitement I had before my first Tour Divide.  

Do you have any expectations for the race? I look forward to the journey, the country and seeing new landscapes. I fully expect tail winds the entire way and no thunderstorms (sarcasm). I just expect it to be a grand adventure in the end.

Have you done anything else like this race?  I’m a bit of a slow learner. I’ve done the Divide now three times, the Colorado Trail once each direction, and the Arizona Trail once. I’ve also done the Smoke and Fire a couple of times, the Black Hills Race, and Black Hills Expedition, along with a considerable amount of touring.

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike? Moots titanium seat post. 

What kind of bike are you riding? I will be riding a Salsa Cutthroat.

Michael Kinney, 32, Rock Island, Illinois 

Why are you doing this race? I’m here for the adventure. I’m here mostly because it makes me nervous, and it’s a first year event.

Do you have any expectations for the race? Most of it for me is personal expectation. I really want to push myself, but since no one has seen the course no one knows how quickly it’s going to move. 

Have you done anything else like this race? I’ve done some ultra running events. I’ve done core corse racing and I’ve done the Tour Divide once.

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike? I suppose I would have to say my bike frame. It’s for my buddy who passed away. His goal was to built a bike and race the Tour Divide with it, and he never had the opportunity, so I built a bike out and then raced it.

What kind of bike are you riding? I’m riding a Lynskey pro 29

Jared Harris, 25, Buena Vista, Colorado 

Why are you doing this race? It travels through a lot of areas I’ve never gone through before. Looking forward to exploring.

Do you have any expectations for the race? I don’t. I expect to get lost a couple times. I expect to get rained on. And it wouldn’t be bikepacking if I didn’t get hypothermia.

Have you done anything else like this race? I did the Tour Divide last year.

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike? My seat and pillow.

What kind of bike are you riding?  Salsa Deadwood. The original not the suspension.

Aaron Weinsheimer, 47, Salida, Colorado


Why are you doing this race? I wanted to be a part of the first run of this race, and like everybody, I like riding for really long periods of time. I really like to be out there on my own and get lost in my thoughts. I guess the other reason is that this route is traveling through a lot of places I’ve never been before. I love seeing new things and I think one of the things I like most about these races is when you don’t know the course you just go for it. You get as far as you can and go to sleep and you wake up in the morning and keep moving.

Do you have any expectations for the race? I really don’t. I hope to be able to finish. There’s a lot that goes into this than just fitness. It takes a lot of luck to get to the end. You can be in the best shape in the world and you can have the best bike in the world, but there are no guarantees you’ll make it. I think that’s part of the fun.

Have you done anything else like this race? I did the Tour Divide in 2012. I also rode in the Colorado Trail Race four times and finished twice. I have also done a lot of long distance touring. Last year, and I think the ride I’m most proud, was the ride I completed along the Continental Divide Hiking Trail. In fact, only two other people have done the complete thing, Scott, and Eszter, and I used their route. They inspired me to spend about three months doing that last year. Then I continued after that and toured with my girlfriend up into Canada on the Great Divide route. The Continental Divide Hiking Trail is just something that I’m really proud of. I think more cyclists should give it a try. 

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike? That’s a tough one. I really like my Dynamo hub. I like to use my technology, so to be able to keep that charged and be able to generate my own power is really cool.

What kind of bike are you riding?  A custom steel rigid 29” bike by Walt Works. 

Indiana Schulz, 33, Quad Cities, Colorado, California

Why are you doing this race? It’s a personal journey and a challenge in a way. I’d like to discover more about myself as a person, and what I’m capable of. It’s something that’s never been done before as far as racing goes, so that has a magical and interesting draw to it. I figured I’d meet a lot of really good people and just enjoy a really epic life-changing journey. 

Do you have any expectations for the race? To be honest i’m going into the race with no expectations. For me a win would be to do my best every single day. I’m glad it’s never been done before. I think the weather is going to be awesome. You’re going to love it sometimes, you’re going to  hate it sometimes, and that’s part of why I think a lot of people are here. It’s a different type of racing. You’re out in the elements a lot and I think that’s huge for building character.

Have you done anything else like this race? No, not really. I did a series last year called the Lead Man series. The reason I did that was because we couldn’t get into the Leadville Trail 100 lottery. I come from a background of running, but I ended up doing the 50-mile mountain bike race and the 100-mile mountain bike race. Those were my first mountain bike races and I was on a really old bike and intimidated by the people out there because there are really good racers. This opened my eyes a little bit to the mountain biking world. Bikepacking is a whole new sport as a whole. I don’t really have a bike background. You have to start somewhere.

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike? I would say it’s my Brooks saddle because my friend Jay  bought it for me when I was moving out of Colorado and said ‘You’re going to take this on the Tour Divide,” but I’m doing this race instead. I think that’s the only thing that has a sentimental value so it would probably be my favorite piece of equipment.

What kind of bike are you riding? 2012 Salsa Fargo titanium frame


Mark Snidero, 56, Belair, Maryland


Why are you doing this race? Well, it’s a funny thing. I did the Tour Divide last year and I thought, “I think I’m gonna take a year off maybe and tour a little bit.” Then I saw this race pop up and thought ‘This is gonna be awesome!’ Also being the first group to race this course is just something you don’t get to do very often. It’s a big adventure and that’s why I’m here.

Do you have any expectations for the race? Events like these are a time for personal reflection.  I’m not too worried about the weather, except for the wind in the midwest. My one goal is to finish the race, but I want to go out there and see what happens.

Have you done anything else like this race? I’ve done a bunch of bikepacking races in Florida, the Sea Fit for maybe 3 or 4 years, the AML 400, and a lot of 24 hour races.

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike? That’s hard to say. I guess I’d have to say my saddle. It’s a Sella Anatomica X and I’ve got hard steel rails on it. I rode it last year and I never had any saddle sores. I never use any chamois cream. 

What kind of bike are you riding? Salsa Cutthroat. It’s last year’s model. I’ve got a Schmidt dynamo hub that was built by one of my sponsors Civic Cyclery and then just your regular bags that pretty much everybody has.


Hal Russel, 68 Osel, Missouri 

Why are you here doing this race? Billy asked me and I couldn’t turn it down. 5,000 miles from coast to coast? Awesome. I’m addicted to the Tour Divide, and I found this and I thought ‘man I can’t pass that up!’ 

Do you have any expectations for the race? Like I usually say ‘The only thing I know is I’m going to start the race and I intend to finish it. But I don’t know what’s gonna happen in between.’ It’s an adventure.  I’m an old Vietnam veteran and so probably the main reason I do these races is because I want to get rid of old ghosts. I found out I can’t get rid of them so I just bring them along – a couple of old friends and buddies are with me along the way, and I act like I’m basically back at that time. That’s how I ride the race. I don’t worry about going fast — but I am racing.

Have you done anything else like this race? I’ve done the Tour Divide of course. I’ve done that four times and I did a few other 100-mile races. I did the Leadville 100 four times and then some other 50 milers and things like that. 

What is your favorite piece of equipment on your bike? Um well, when it rains, of course, it’s my rain jacket. I like my bike. My bike becomes part of me. Whatever else I have with me is what I need and that’s it.

What kind of bike are you riding? This year I’m riding a Salsa Cutthroat and that’s an upgrade for me. The past couple years I had an old Cage S. The Salsa Cutthroat is a great bike and I’m looking forward to riding it.

Don’t forget to track the riders over the next month as they make their way to Oregon: http://trackleaders.com/americantrail17

2 Comments

  1. Yeah mike and India, hit it hard

  2. Mike and Indy, you guys are doing great and now you are in Colorado!

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