Indiana Schulz’s American Trail Race Rig
After just 12 days, Indiana Schulz is almost halfway through the 5,000 mile American Trail Race from North Carolina to Oregon. We intercepted Indy just outside the Smoky Mountains to learn more about his gear kit and trip so far…
To clear the record, Indiana’s real name is Ry Strider Schulz — named after musician Ry Cooder and “The Ranger of the North” from Lord of the Rings (his parents were hippy types back then, according to Ry). Indiana is just his adventure persona. But maybe being incognito is kind of fitting for a 33 year old Illinoisan who’s never entered a bikepacking race before. With only two mountain bike races on his cycling resumé, Indy doesn’t really seem like he has something to prove. He was drawn to the first running of the American Trail Race because it’s new, untapped, and the longest bikepacking race route in the world — one that’s barely been explored by bicycle, much less raced. Indiana’s perspective on a proper adventure ride is that “you’re supposed to have to go out there and figure this shit out.” To add to the allure of the American Trail Race, there are no records to aspire to; everything is wide open. Even so, the two leaders, Indiana and Dylan Taylor, seem in it to win it and broke a wide lead from the group of 13 (now down to 11) in the first couple of days. And as of this writing, they’ve crushed almost 2,200 miles of the 5,100 mile route in just 12 days. They are currently leapfrogging each other somewhere in Oklahoma (for the race tracker, click here).
We Spot-stalked Indiana just outside the Smoky Mountains to grab a few photos and ask him some questions about his kit and experience thus far. Find information about his bike and gear below, further down read the Q&A, and scroll to the bottom to learn about Indy’s fundraising initiative…
Indy is more than happy with his secondhand 2012 Salsa Fargo Ti so far. He mentioned a few things he was impressed with including the Conti Race King tires. He just rotated them for the first time and he believes they will last the all the way to Salida. In addition, he’s using the new(ish) Stan’s Race sealant which evidently held up well over 2,000 miles and he was able to reuse when he did the rotation.
- Frame: 2012 Salsa Fargo Ti
- Fork: Ritchey Carbon
- Wheels: by Sugar Wheel Works/Stan’s Arch Mk3/SP Hub in front/Sapim spokes
- Tires: Continental Race King ProTection 2.2”
- Handlebars: Salsa Woodchipper
- Saddle: Brooks B17
- Drivetrain: Shimano XT 2×10 (26/36 X 11-34t), bar-end shifters
- Brakes: Avid BB7 Road
- Bottle Cages: 5 (4 Lezyne Power Cages / 1 Lezyne Flow cage)
- Seat Pack: Portland Design Works Bindle Rack and Dry Bag
- Frame Pack: Salsa/Revelate Bike-specific Ranger
- Handlebar: Revelate Egress Pocket
- Top Tube: Oveja Negra Snack Pack (L)
Patagonia Capilene® Lightweight Zip-Neck
Patagonia Wavefarer Board Shorts
Specialized XC Comp Shoes
Pearl Izumi Summer Gloves
Patagonia Nano Air jacket
Salomon Running Tights
OR Helium 2 rain shell
Marmot Precip rain pants
Garmin eTrex 30
Anker 3000 MaH Lipstick Cache Battery
Anker 6000 MaH cache battery
Light and Motion Urban 800 fast charge light
K-Lite dynamo system
Bivy: Bora Gear Half-zip bivy
Pillow: Exped Inflatable pillow
Sleeping Pad: REI Flash insulated mummy
Sleeping Bag: None!!
For cold: SOL Emergency blanket
Lezyne mini floor pump
Pedro tire lever
Park tool chain breaker
3/4/5 allen key
Tire boots/patches/2oz sealant
Stans Race sealant
Q&A with Indy
What’s been your favorite part of the route so far? How about the hardest part?
The Smoky Mountains section was beautiful. There was one night passing through a high plain after a big climb and the fireflies lit up the field. So far some of the steep climbs in the Smokys were surprisingly difficult. Once we left North Carolina there has been a lot more gravel and dirt. But it’s been a good mix. As soon as you get tired of gravel there’s a stretch of pavement, and when you’re tired of pavement, it turns to dirt. There was one stretch in Arkansas with a fresh 4″ of gravel that was tough.
What’s been the most difficult aspect of the race?
Learning my limits and the recovery process. I overdid it the first few days which took its toll on my achilles and knees. But now I am learning how much to push and how best to recover, and I think this will benefit me later in the race.
The all new American Trail Race is your first ultra-distance bikepacking race. What made you decide to give it a go?
Michael Kinney [who is also in the race, and was the best friend of Ry’s brother who passed away] raced Tour Divide in 2015 and it got me thinking. So I did a couple mountain bike races in Colorado and then told Michael I’d do the Tour Divide with him. But then this came along and I was drawn in by the fact that it’s never been done; unlike the more popular Tour Divide, we’ll be out there pioneering this route so there are lots of surprises. Plus it’s the world’s longest bikepacking race.
Are there any parts of the course that you are super-excited about?
The Colorado Rockies; I spent a lot of time working night shifts at a restaurant in Vail, then spent my days skiing. So I feel like I am coming home. Plus I have friends meeting me in Salida on the way through.
You’re only 12 days into the race, but are you happy with your kit choices so far? Any particular gear choices that have impressed you?
I’m super happy with the Revelate Designs Egress Pocket which was a last minute purchase; it’s small enough to not be a wind sail, but still big enough to fill up with food when I need to. The Conti Race Kings are holding up surprisingly well. Tires are a personal preference, I think. A lot of people might say “Continentals suck”, but they are working well for me and I expect them to last all the way to Salida, CO where I plan on switching to X-King 2.4s. The Patagonia Nano Air breathes amazingly well. You can wear it while riding and it actually works. Also, my REI sleeping pad isn’t the lightest, but it’s my splurge for comfort; I sleep really well.
How about gear that’s given you problems?
Unfortunately my KLite toggle switch box is messed up; I only have light on the low setting right now and hopefully that doesn’t go out. The base plates on my Specialized shoes have developed a persistent squeak too.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen so far?
Having an Amish one horse buggy race me. He passed then slowed down and asked if I clocked him with my GPS speedometer. Otherwise, the dogs in Tennessee were insane. They would run out and get airborne over grassy curbs and run me down nipping at my heels.
What music keep you going?
I spent a lot of time making sure my music library represented many different genres. Here are a few: Asop Rock; Run the Jewels; Hendrix; Led Zeppelin; Daft Punk; Chemical Brothers; Grateful Dead; Gary Clark Junior; Trampled by Turtles.
Riding for Public Land
Alongside his 5,100 mile bicycle journey across America, Indy is raising money for The Trust for Public Land. 100% of the proceeds raised will be donated. The Trust for Public Land is a highly rated non-profit organization that helps create and protect public land, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Donate here.
Thanks for taking the time to answer questions, Ry. We wish you a happy, speedy, and safe journey.