Professional mountain bikers Kelly Jones and Austin Buchwald-Arnett are flying to Switzerland in August to race in the five-day, five-stage Swiss Epic mountain bike race.
By 5:00 p.m. July 19, 2023
Chance podium meeting leads couple to bike race in Swiss Alps
Kelly Jones and Austin Buchwald-Arnett met on a podium in March 2021 at the Graham Swamp 360 six-hour mountain bike race. They were on different teams, but each won the award for having the fastest lap for a female and male rider, respectively.
One month later, they met to ride the Grapefruit Bike Trails in Palm Bay, and one month after that, they were in Bentonville, Arkansas, racing in the Rule of Three — 20 miles of single track, 50 miles of gravel biking and 20 miles on the road. “Within two months, we got on a plane together and went to Bentonville,” Jones said. “I guess that’s probably what really solidified the official start of the relationship.”
Next month, they will fly to Switzerland to compete as a team in the SPAR Swiss Epic — a grueling five-day, five-stage mountain bike race through the Swiss Alps. The race is part of the Epic Global Mountain Bike series. “I’m excited for the race,” Jones said. “I am so excited to go to Switzerland.
This was like a dream destination. Absolutely, absolutely dream. Then I think we have three days, after the race finishes, to do a little bit of sightseeing.” Buchwald-Arnett said biking has fed his passion for travel. “That's a great thing about the bike too,” he said. “So many destinations that you wouldn’t think that you would go to, and then the bike brings you there.
The cherry on top is you get to explore by bike, which not many people get to do. Exploring by bike is one of my favorite things in the world, because you can cover so much more ground than hiking.”
The couple got an early entry into the race after Jones raced Cape Epic, the Untamed African MTB Stage Race held in South Africa. It was an eight-day, 402-mile race with a climb of 50,777 feet. Three days into the race, Jones was put on an IV and pulled from the event, following her teammate, who had an early exit on day one.
Even though the race did not go well, Jones reached out to the Swedish company USWE to ask if the company would be interested in collaborating. USWE sells bounce-free hydration packs and recently came out with a line of performance clothing.
Jones offered to provide social media content in exchange for the company’s support getting the couple to the race, and the race itself. The company agreed to sponsor them. The alliance made the Switzerland trip possible, covering the $4,000 entry fee and two roundtrip tickets to Switzerland.
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