Last February, a small group of women took the start in the Atlas Mountain Race, an unsupported single-stage race of 1150 km through the Moroccan Atlas. These ultra races seem all so extreme and out of reach. But are they? What inspired these women to take on such a challenge? And what was the initial spark that motivated them to go bikepacking? Time for a quick update with Quinda, Andrea and Kristen to learn how they enjoyed the race, what motivated them and why even us ‘mortals’ would be able to go on a bikepacking adventure.

Part 2: Kristen McCune, Seattle, USA

How do you look back on yourAMR adventure, has that changed much after almost 6 months? 

I just keep looking back thinking about how lucky we were to travel right before the world shut down – we had no idea! Immediately afterwards I was also so bummed and still processing how to deal with dropping from the race. I went immediately into research mode to find another race I could do. That energy has mellowed out a bit, probably because I’m mountain biking a ton right now and having fun just playing and not training! I’m definitely starting to look at races again though – the itch to travel and explore is strong and I want to get back out there.

What would you do differently next time? 

I’m really interested in re-trying a similar race solo. While I love recreating with others, I don’t think racing as a pair is ideal for me – racing is such a personal journey. I’m also working on figuring out how to lighten my kit, although it’s still a struggle for me. I could have definitely brought much less food and bike tools / spare parts!

What was your motivation to participate? 

So many reasons I wanted to do AMR: the location – Morocco has been a place I’ve dreamed of for a long time; the race format – I’d never heard of a bikepacking race and my love of endurance plus love of adventure made me really excited. I think seeing a new place by bicycle is one of the greatest ways to travel and I couldn’t say no at the opportunity!

What was your motivation to do your first bikepacking trip?

I’ve done some bike touring, most notably a trip across Argentina and Chile after I graduated from college. The riding was terrible – we picked the most boring and monotonous route you could imagine (think straight, flat roads with brown shrub brush tunneling you in so you couldn’t see anything around you). Yet the experience was incredible – we met SO many people and had such a great experience because we were on bicycles rather than a car or bus. Now, as an avid mountain biker, the idea of combining touring and off-road riding was really enticing.


Follow Kristen here: @k.e.mccune
All photo’s by Kenton Gilchrist: @blade9films

Read also Andrea’s and Quinda’s story.