“Kyrgyzstan – Above the Clouds” is a new video from German filmmaker Markus Weinberg that provides an in-depth look back at his experiences with riding partner Philipp Markgraf during the 2021 Silk Road Mountain Race in Kyrgyzstan. Watch the full 40-minute video here…
Words and video by Markus Weinberg (@weinbergmarkus)
What were we thinking? Philipp Markgraf (30) and I, Markus Weinberg (37), both signed up for the Silk Road Mountain Race in Kyrgyzstan. It is considered a very challenging self-supported bikepacking race in the scene, if not the most challenging. Why? We will find out during the race. Both of us have tried to be there several times, so we are more than convinced to participate. I, as a journalist and filmmaker, and Philipp, with his story, found ourselves together by chance, and we signed up to roll together as a team with cap numbers 211 A+B at the starting line in Kyrgyzstan on August 14, 2021.
For Philipp, it is the first race ever, and for me an adventure out of passion and professional mission. Philipp’s story and how he does in the race is what I really wanted to capture in text and film. Briefly outlined: Philipp was diagnosed with cancer (germ cell tumor) at the end of 2014, which had already metastasized. After a year of surgery and struggle, he decided against the ongoing chemotherapy and wanted to fight the cancer in his own way: with a conscious and healthy diet and his new passion, cycling. He decided to go on a cycling world tour and founded his project PedalKillsCancer – behind the greatest peaks. He raised money via crowdfunding for his project and also to give some encouragement to other cancer patients.
Then the next setback: in Iran in the summer of 2019, he was attacked and seriously injured in his head. Only in the hospital did he he wake up again, and a wave of solidarity and willingness to help broke over him: this is not the real Iran. Overwhelmed by the huge sympathy, he nevertheless has to cut short his trip and travel back to Germany to undergo surgery. At this point, he was on his way to Kyrgyzstan to participate in the Silk Road Mountain Race, a story he had discovered online and was immediately captivated by.
“Can I do it?” A race that goes over so many mountain passes (16) and through an entire mountain range (Tian-Shan), through remote areas, along trails, paths, and roads of a dreamlike, natural, and sparsely populated area of the world, generated special attraction for him. Could he fight against cancer and and still get through it? As his first race ever? His dream had to wait, however, as the world stood almost still in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic also caused the cancellation of most international events like the SRMR. Then, in 2021, the time had finally come. Watch the film to find out how it went.
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