In summer 2011, Outdoor Research athlete Kyle Dempster took off on his bike across Kyrgyzstan with a couple mostly-accurate maps, a trailer full of climbing gear, and a vocabulary of 10 Kyrgyz words. He spent two months pedaling and pushing the bike more than 1200 km on roads of variable states of neglect, wading through wild rivers, dealing with corrupt military checkpoint staff, and soloing a handful of unclimbed alpine rock and mixed routes. He recorded the journey, his camera his only partner, friend, and sometimes the only receiving end of his conversations for days at a time.
In 2013, Kyle’s self-shot footage of his journey in Kyrgyzstan made it to the desk of filmmakers Fitz Cahall and Austin Siadak, who were asked to look at the footage and see if there might be enough to chop together a 4-minute climbing film. They saw a lot more potential in it, and turned it into the 25-minute “The Road From Karakol,” which debuted at the 5Point Film Festival and took home the Best In Fest award.
“Vahana: (Sanskrit: “mount,” or “vehicle”), denotes the being, typically an animal or mythical entity, a particular Hindu god is said to use as a vehicle. The vahana and deity to which they support are in a reciprocal relationship. Vahana serve and are served in turn by those who engage them. It is said that the Vahana can “make even malevolent events bring hope.”
We rode, bused, and trained for one month, and now after working on the video for three months intermittently, Vahana is complete. It’s about 27 minutes in length, and shows our trials and tribulations on the road, as well as the beauty and the adventure.
Steve Casimiro was doing a bicycle touring series on his Adventure Journal web site, and had invited us to be a part of it by doing a post about our journey. I was on a tight deadline to get the video done so we could be featured since he was wrapping up the series, and that pretty much became my focus for the last weeks of September.
Read the Adventure Journal Article Here:
The animations were done in a few days, and we had to focus on getting the project completed for the last week in September. I used a Blendswap model to help with the animation side, which worked great, thanks to the original Boeing 747 model from Patrizio Melis, with credits to Boeing Industries.
As luck would have it, a good friend of mine knew a fantastic Tabla player named William Rossel from the renowned Ali Akbar College of Music who was willing to be a part of the project. Despite having very little time to produce the score, really only a few days, he and his friend Arjun Verma playing Sitar created some incredible original music for the film. This really brought the feeling of the journey to life, from the movement of being on the road to the spirit of meeting people for the first time – to the closing and bittersweet departure back to the US.
Vahana has been a challenging project, from the moment we started planning our route to the last cuts of the film….but it has been very rewarding to see it come together. Having the opportunity to even take the trip was an incredible opportunity and experience, and having this document of our trip to share is the perfect way to wrap it up.
Arguably one of the top mountain bike trails on the planet. Linking up several Moab favourites, this trail spans almost 30 miles and has a cumulative descent of over 8,000 feet.
The beauty of this ride is not just the sheer scale of it - but its diversity. Starting in high alpine forest at Burro Pass, the ride transitions to aspens, high desert and finishes off plummeting down to the Colorado River on exposed singletrack.
The type of riding if vastly diverse as well: from slow, steep and technical rocky singletrack to wide open high speed sections and everything in between.
My first time doing this ride could only be described as 'complete sensory overload'
Riders: Chad G, Steve Cooke, Tom Bishop, Adam Simpson and myself.
More info on the ride here: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/120339128