Victor teen completes 1800k bike race in Kyrgyzstan
On Aug. 25, after 11 days and nine hours, Jacob Hora, 16, of Victor, finished the hardest ride of his short but storied career as an ultra-endurance cyclist: the Silk Road Mountain Race, a race that took him and his mentor Jay Petervary nearly 2,000 kilometers through the mountains of northwest Kyrgyzstan.
Petervary, also of Victor, is one of the most decorated long distance cyclists in the industry, and won the first iteration of the Silk Road Mountain Race in 2018. He describes it as one of the most challenging bikepacking races in the world.
“It is at high elevation, there is a unbelievable amount of climbing [the 1,859-kilometer race had over 34,000 meters or 111,000 feet of climbing], there are river crossings, steep hike-a-bikes with no trails, foreign food, long distances between resupply, foreign language, new culture, and weather that changes in the blink of an eye—from sunshine, to rain, to snow. It’s a real adventure,” Petervary said.
Hora, who has also completed some of the hardest bikepacking routes in North America such as the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska this March, was the youngest finisher of the Silk Road Mountain Race.
Hora began his cycling career with a year-round commute to school and participation on the local middle school bike team. Petervary became aware of the motivated kid when Hora competed in the 60K Fat Pursuit fat bike race in Island Park. Under Petervary’s tutelage, the teen started ticking off endurance event finishes, including the Fitz-Barn from Hamilton, MT to Victor, the 800-mile Utah Mixed Epic, and the Iditarod. Then in April he asked if he could join Petervary in Kyrgyzstan.
After preparing physically and mentally through the summer, Petervary and Hora departed for Central Asia in early August. The race started on Aug. 13 in Talas. Hora’s parents traveled out later to spectate.
The duo encountered long hike-a-bikes, technical descents, snow, rain, mud, and blazing heat along the route. At one point Hora lost his rain coat off the back of his bike and had to buy another at a village bazaar. As the pair began one of the final climbs, Hora’s rear derailleur broke, so they had to convert his bike to a singlespeed to finish out the ride. Although they battled hunger, coldness, and fatigue, Hora maintained his good attitude. He called the event “the best university” and said it was “an awesome experience to race in such a cool country.”
They were the second team to finish in the duo category.
“What an incredible journey this has been with this young man,” Petervary posted in Instagram as the duo crested the last mountain pass on the route. “An exceptional teammate without a single complaint of how hard things were at times.”
Petervary said he has long described ultra-endurance cycling as a selfish endeavor, but becoming a mentor has changed and improved how he views the sport.
“Jacob teaches me as much as I teach him. He is giving me the opportunity to learn how to be a better teacher, listener, improve my patience, teach me about his generation and present things to me that makes me look at things from another perspective,” he said. “I think Jacob’s story is an inspiring one.”