Pierre Vanden Borre

Date:

What’s your name, nickname, age, birthplace, hometown?
My name is Pierre Vanden Borre | PVB | I was born in Connecticut 31 years ago and grew up in Litchfield in the Northwest corner of the state, where the riding is superb by the way.

Favorite phenomenon?
The elated giddiness that one feels after a proper ride. This effect can be enhanced with caffeine.

How do you like to tell stories?
Growing up, I’ve had several teachers and coaches say that I express myself through my work and lead by example, but as I’ve aged and wizened I probably now spray more bullshit with a beer in hand.

Pivotal moments in life?
Moving to Jackson Hole for pleasure and finding work. Moving to Mount Desert Island for work and finding pleasure. Moving to Boston and thinking I’d be largely through with the bike and finding that I’m into it more than ever.

Why/how did you start riding?
I started riding like most, I suppose, on the street the instant my Dad released the saddle. Around 1992, in middle school, I picked up a copy of Mountain Bike Action with John Tomac on the cover and this led to riding trails everyday, and soon after, my first race which happened to be a World Cup event at Mount Snow (I selected the junior beginner class). I had no idea what I was doing, ate a single Nutri-Grain bar for breakfast and then wound up bonked on the side of the trail, wondering what the hell just happened. Lying on the fire road in the hot Vermont sun was probably the point of no return for me.

Family life, or home life; kids, wife, girlfriend, pets?
It’s sometimes quite hard to put in the hours in the saddle when I know that flipping it will bring me back to my girlfriend Erin.

What’s your special talent/gift to the world?
Really?

What’s the continental project mean to you?
The Continental project is a search for routes that extend the idea of what a bike ride can be. It’s about riding hard, checking out the peculiar road that cuts off from the main, capturing the ephemera and passing on the findings with the goal of inspiring someone else to do their own version.

Why are you interested in documenting rides?
Distilled, bicycle riding can be rather repetitious and can even border on boring. What makes biking the antithesis of pedestrian are all the layers that get piled on – the exertion, the emotions, the environs, the exploration, the times before and after the act, the camaraderie, the shit that happens on the ride that is not the riding. Documentation is one way of trying to capture this panache.

What do you want a riding guidebook to feature (what’s missing from what currently exists out there), and how will you contribute to that end goal?
A ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ feature.

What’s style mean to you?
Is style a form of communication in that it conveys to others what you are about?

Who’s your favorite local rider and why?
Ahh, impossible to say, as there are so many in New England that express their deep passion for riding in different ways and manners. Mad Alchemy’s Pete Smith is an archetype. He’s up for any epic, does a rural commute every day and digs as deep as anyone in a cross race. I’ve heard him say “that was the hardest race I’ve ever done” multiple times and I think that it’s because if it’s not the hardest race he’s ever done, he just pushes harder and makes it the hardest.

Where in the world would you like to ride next and why or what group ride if you could do any would you do?
I’m intrigued by Southern Germany – I bet the riding in the Black Forest and Bavaria is mythic, tough, beautiful and delicious.

You need anyone reading this to know…?
The road and dirt road riding in Northwest Connecticut is world class.

Why cycling and not, running or shot put or speed skating?
I used to run, but it hurts…and not in a good way. It hurts like cramps and shin splints and injury. Cycling’s hurt seems to be more holistic and healthy. Plus there is the whole panache and history and roots of cycling that one feels a connection to. And, of course, there is the opportunity to trick out your bike with Ti bolts and shiny things.

Your favorite ride/moment ever, just the details?
On a Continental ride last Summer, after emerging from a massive hail storm and descending from snow patched alpine terrain outside Laramie, Wyoming, we hit a long section of dirt road. The sun was setting directly in front of me and something clicked in my mind and I just started riding as hard as I could. Startling cattle on the sides of the road, my effort increased as the road got rougher and I had this strange urge to ride until my bike broke. I carried this on for a bit and don’t think I have ever turned out an effort like that before or since. Eventually, a large herd of cattle crossing the road caused me to stop and it was then that I noticed that I had two flats. I’ve no idea how I got to that rare mental state, where you are at once so extremely detached and connected, but I really want to channel it again.

What’s your job all about, why does it fit you?
I’m working towards a PhD program in Molecular Medicine by looking into a family of genes involved in breast cancer. The task entails both working on the details as well as determining which directions to expand into with new experiments – and therefore it seems to be a hybrid of analytical and creative thinking.

What’s your program, like who and what and where is your world?
I’m a New Englander. I get around the region pretty frequently, and it’s largely cycling and skiing that drive this. I’m grounded in Boston as that is where I’m pursuing my lab work. My friends are largely people that I’ve come to know through riding and skiing – it seems that people that pursue such things are, for the most part, really genuine and well-rounded people. I’m an only child and have always been pretty independent, but now love nothing more than being with my girlfriend, Erin.

Where you live and why it suits you?
I live in Boston and have been here for about 6 years. I grew up in Northwest Connecticut, spent about 7 years in Maine and have had some stints in Jackson, Wyoming. I’m fond of rural spaces. Cycling’s appeal is in part that it brings me out to those areas. Moving to the city stripped me of easy access to good skiing and I didn’t think that I was going to ride much when in Boston. Instead, I found a deep cycling community and a racing scene that is chock full of events and personalities. Cycling has made Boston livable for me. And so with this, I have this outlet from the urban scene and the lab that keeps me young.

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