We’re excited to announce that this year we’ll be partnering with Further, a new frontier in adventure cycling.
Further is a cycling Race & Rally in the Ariège Pyrénées.
Taking place across four days in the high mountains of the Ariège department, the race mixes road riding, off-road riding and hiking.
We asked Camille McMillan, founder of Further, to tell us more about it.
Tell us about why you started Further.
As an 8 year old kid, my old man put me in a cyclocross race. It was straight down a hill and through a river. I raced CycloCross until my 20’s, I loved it. Back then there were races that took an hour to do 4 laps, ranging across a field or barn, over a ditch or log…anything. There were other races that were more like the modern UCI CX races, they became the norm.
I like the big old school ranging races, sans start grid, sans plastic tape, not the UCI made for Belgian TV flavor, with a heap of plastic tape and a start grid.
I have always loved making journeys over the rough stuff. When I fall out of love with cycling, riding the rough makes me love it all over again.
That’s why I started Further, Further is an expression of my love of the Bicycle, bike racing and the possibilities the bicycle brings. It’s a push back against the sterility of modern ‘Bike racing’. It’s to journey somewhere, not just on tarmac, it’s going over the rough stuff, over boundaries. It is about not letting anything get in the way of going Further.
Why is it necessary?
Because bike racing is more than Zwift.
What sort of rider does well at Further?
Polymaths, Psychopaths, Scientists and Artists. People who mountain run, fell runners! There is a good amount of tarmac, lots of gravel and a heap of Hike-a-Bike.
Further is more like the ‘3 peaks cyclocross’ than the ‘Tour Divide’.
What bike do you need?
Good question. A question I’m obsessed by. One could say any bike, but that’s not really the case. If you’re racing for a good position, you want the correct machine.
One of my sponsors is Mason Cycles, they gave me a ‘InSearchOf’ last year. It’s a serious bit of kit that can tackle anything, rigid drop bar ‘Ultimate-Adventure’ bike, for boost 29 x 2.4 or 650 x 2.8. The bike is a beast, perfect for pathfinding.
I think for the race in 2019 a lighter bike worked better, they’re more efficient and easier to carry for the decisive portage sections. Something between a CX bike and a MTB was best, and some racers made up time on road sections where bigger tyres bikes lost some. This year Mason will give me a Bokeh, which they call an ‘Adventure Sport’ bike, not quite as ‘off road’ as the ‘InSearchOf’. Two of the 2019 finishers raced on Bokehs, coming in 2nd and 6th place. We will have to see for 2020, I know where we are going, I need to find the details of the route. It could be a MTB like last year, it could be a CX type bike year…. watch this space.
The race and rally take place in the Ariege region of the Pyrenees…these are your home roads?
Yes these are my home roads. I have lived in these mountains for the past six years.
Last year Further started and finished way out in the plains which I don’t really see as the Ariège. I loved the idea that racers had to ride for a few hours to get to the mountains. There was this mountain view they had to reach. This year the start finish is in the sauvage mountains of the Ariege. My dream for the future is to make the start and finish as high and remote as possible.
Are there plans for Further events anywhere else?
Yes, I definitely wish to explore other places. Further 2020 heads further east in the Pyrenees. I think a couple of events a year would be cool.
You have been photographing cycling for a number of years – how have you seen it change?
I have seen things come and go and come again.
I loved watching the kids get into fixed wheels, and then finding gears, finding Cyclocross, Audax, the niches. Now over a decade after the Fixie bubble there is a vibrant scene in the UK. It’s a pity that the Road Racing scene is almost dead in the UK, and clubs are very different from what they were. But there are new things now, other things, and I love the ‘other things’. Watching a new generation of photographers come through was great. There was a period of strong creativity and change in the way people looked at cycling photography. The shift from photographers being ‘photographers who love cycling’ to ‘cyclists who take pictures’ was an interesting phenomenon. This was fed by Instagram and the huge impact of social media has been incredible.
I do feel however, things have become formulaic. There are some photographers that stand out obviously, but mostly banal.
What happens next?
Searching out the route! I know the places we are heading, I’m not sure how we get there.
I have to have ridden all of the route to feel happy to send racers out. I also have to get on with the website and all that shenanigans…
Further will take place on 21-24 August 2020.