Don’t Scratch (Film)

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“Don’t Scratch” is a new self-shot film from Jakob Carlsen that takes an up close and personal look at his time riding in the 2021 edition of the 1,805-kilometer Silk Road Mountain Race (SRMR) in Kyrgyzstan. You can watch the entire 44-minute film here, alongside some words from Jakob…

Following Jakob Carlsen’s previous self-shot film that explored his two attempts at the Arizona Trail, Don’t Scratch documents his finish of the 2021 Silk Road Mountain Race (SRMR) in Kyrgyzstan. The SRMR has a reputation for being an incredibly tough route, following gravel, singletrack, two-track, and old Soviet roads that have long been forgotten and fallen into disrepair. The film looks at Jakob’s preparation and his experiences during the event and includes reflections on whether or not a race like this is the right way for him to meet a new and foreign country and culture. Watch it below, followed by an introduction from Jakob.

  • Don't Scratch Film, Jakob Carlsen
  • Don't Scratch Film, Jakob Carlsen

Words and photos by Jakob Carlsen< (@jakobcarlsenphotography)

After watching Wild Horses, the video about the Silk Road Mountain Race in Kyrgyzstan, a few years back, I was sure that it was the kind of adventure that would be a welcoming variation from my two tries at the Arizona Trail Race. The fact that the race took place in a vastly different culture and the route was much more remote intrigued me and, at least in my mind, it looked like a challenge with more unknown factors involved. This included the changing weather conditions, with temperatures ranging from minus 15 to plus 35 degrees celsius and unpredictable rain and snowfall, especially in the numerous mountain passes. Plus, the scarce resupply options for food seemed to be challenging. But, as it turned out, the monotonous gravel roads with just a slight incline stretching endlessly before me were a mental challenge that I couldn’t predict.

Don't Scratch Film, Jakob Carlsen
  • Don't Scratch Film, Jakob Carlsen
  • Don't Scratch Film, Jakob Carlsen

Don´t Scratch is my personal diary-style movie showcasing the beauty of the mountainous former Soviet republic. It dives into some of the ups and downs and struggles that an unsupported race of this caliber inflicts on me, both mentally and physically, but also describes my doubt about whether a bike race through such a diverse and fascinating country is what I was really looking for. All the impressions that kept flying by without having time to be immersed made me doubt the whole concept of racing. One evening in my tent, I even made an overland route to Kyrgyzstan on Maps and sent the screenshot to my wife and texted, “Guess where we are heading for our next vacation?” Subsequently, I could return to my bubble and focus on racing; it was out of my system, so to speak.

The movie was shot on a chest-mounted/handheld DJI pocket 2 camera and a DJI Mini 2 drone. As a professional photographer, I don’t use a lot of energy looking for the best angles or scenery for a shot, but remembering and prioritising shooting when the going gets tough is always a challenge. Even though I really like the process of capturing the complexity of racing, I am planning only to take stills on my next adventure, the Badlands race in Spain this summer.

Don't Scratch Film, Jakob Carlsen

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