Trenton Raygor closed the books on The Day Across Minnesota last year but continues his race, The Filthy, as well as some other upcoming projects. Here we talk about unforgettable experiences and doing adventures together with family.
Interview with Trenton Raygor @trigunw0lf
What's it like being done with DAMn? You built something incredible, filled 500 seats in a day, were a Banff Film Official Selection and now it's over.
The Day Across Minnesota was something truly incredible. Never would I have thought that going on a birthday bike ride with my friends Carl and Robert would lead to any of this. The DAMn had five incredible years and challenged hundreds of all types of humans from all over the United States (and some from overseas) to push themselves. One of the most special things for me is knowing that each and every one of them has walked away changed, healthier, and primed for new adventures. Yeah, we made a film and were sent to Banff Canada to premier at the famed Banff Mountain Film Festival and then sent to Paris France to show at Tous En Selle in Europe's largest cinema. We even got to hangout and ride bikes with Bernard Hinault! It's all been an incredible honor to be a part of.
This year, 2022, definitely feels different than the past five. I knew that it would, and honestly, that was the hope when Erik and I made the decision to shelve The Day Across Minnesota, announcing that 2021 would be our last. I have two children, as does Erik. They needed our time back and we both knew that it was the right thing to do. We see one another a little less than we used to, but he and I were hanging out last weekend grilling in his backyard and I mentioned noticing that since December of 2021, I've had a lot more time to spend with my kids. Mission accomplished? It's funny though, because in that same conversation, he mentioned that if I was on board and was interested in bringing it back, that he would be all in.
It's safe to say that we both miss The DAMn and all of the great things that it's done for the cycling community as well as the small towns like Gary, South Dakota and Hager City, Wisconsin who have welcomed hundreds of us with open arms year after year. I'll go out on a limb and say that I think we both miss the time with each other, burning it at both ends, with little to no sleep for 3 days straight as well. The humanity, the nature, the fortitude, the suffering, the psychology, the disappointment, the elation, I swear...when you're race directing, you're in the middle of it all, and there's honestly nothing like it.
You've been a great example of making cycling a family generational activity. What does family and biking mean to you?
Biking has always been about family. My dad used to race road bikes regionally back in the 1980s. He was always a hero and inspiration of mine in that regard, though I didn't really start riding long distances or racing until he got back on the bike a little over a decade ago. He had just beat lymphoma, but was pretty unhealthy. Getting back on the bicycle and training for gravel rides like The Almanzo 100 is really what helped get him back to a healthy place and also gave us a wonderful opportunity to better connect.
Around that same time, we decided that though all of these 100 mile gravel races were fun, there should be something more attainable to hopefully attract new riders and help grow the gravel cycling community. Nine years ago, together, we put on The Filthy 50 which has now become one of the largest gravel cycling events in the country. My mom, brother, and sisters are all a big part of The Filthy as well and my oldest son who is 14 years old will be riding it this year, so yeah, you could say that cycling is generational and important to the family. That 14 year old of mine has also joined the Six One Two High School Mountain Biking Team this year. He's pretty excited about it and needless to say, so am I.
Any secret big ideas you've been working on that you want to talk about?
No secrets, but I can talk about a couple of new things that are in the works on the film front. Upon the launch of our film 'Delta of Spirit', my friend Nicholas Kapanke and I started Checkpoint Zero Films. Since then we've released a couple of shorts, but are now working on a couple of bigger, longer running projects. The first is unofficially titled 'The Last DAMn'. You can probably guess what it's about... We are getting close to finishing this one. One of the coolest things about it to me are the contributions that some of our riders have already made to the film. In addition to the riders that we follow and their gripping stories, Ben Weaver, a friend, poet, musician, and DAMn alumni, shared a song and a poem for the film. Tony Thomas, a friend, musician, colleague, and DAMn alumni contributed all of the soundscapes for the score.
A few others who have completed The DAMn are also providing us with pieces for the film that will truly make it a community creation. I absolutely cannot wait for this one to drop! The other film that we are working on will be a bit more of a Ken Burns like documentary about gravel cycling in America. If you got into gravel cycling at all in 2022 and are wondering how it got here, well, this film will help you understand how and why things are the way that they are. Believe it or not, it hasn't always been this way.
What are your Top 5 "Up North Things"?
1. The Arrowhead 135
It doesn't get much more "Up North" than riding your bike, skiing, or running 135 miles through the woods from International Falls to Tower in late January.
2. Jeremy Kershaw
He's a fellow race director and all around good human who puts on the Le Grand Du Nord gravel ride out of Grand Marais as well as Heck of The North.
3. Y-ker Acres
As a connoisseur of bacon, this family farm near Duluth is producing some of the best I've ever had.
4. Voyageurs Wolf Project
Wolves are my favorite animal and if I haven't had the chance to visit in a while, the internet takes me there. https://www.voyageurswolfproject.org/videos
5. Jay Cooke State Park
This is one of my favorite state parks in Minnesota and a place where my family has made some great memories.