If you don't know Jakub Vencl of Rose Bikes yet, he is one of the most talented mountain bike riders to come from the Czech Republic.
This trip to the famous town of Finale Ligure in Italy took place in early February of this year, but first let's head even further back back in time. As Jakub says "The 2012 season went pretty good for me, well, at least the first half of it. I'd had some strong results - a the 4th place at Whitestyle, and a 6th place at 26Trix, both taking place in Leogang, Austria. It was summer when I decided to go to a couple of events in the US and Canada. Unfortunately, I badly injured my knee in Colorado when attempting a backflip barspin to tuck-no-hander on the last jump. Than I knew that my season had pretty much ended on that day. From the very first moment, I knew that I'd tore my ACL, because I already had this kind of injury about two years ago. When I came back home, the doctor confirmed my sad diagnosis and it was sure that I was going under the knife as soon as possible. Luckily everything went really quickly and after surgery, which was at the beginning of September, I was ready for tough autumn and winter, full of rehab and hard work outs. But it was worth it, I simply wanted to make sure that I'll be able to ride my bike again at the very beginning of the next year..."
| Finale Ligure was not unfamiliar to Jakub thanks to his previous journeys to that part of Italy. He couldn't think of any better place, not only to escape the wintry blues, but give a shot at his first, proper bike ride since the unfortunate accident. |
It has been an amazing feeling to 'teleport' from freezing temperatures and snow covered Czech to a tiny paradise, right next to the Mediterranean sea. From gloomy and grey days of winter to the blue sky, yellow beaches and green palms... What else can you ask for?
Yes, you're right... Fast and long trails to ride! And that's something you can find everywhere in Liguria.
| We weren't wasting our time there! On the very first afternoon, just a couple of hours after my arrival, we headed straight up to a scenic trail on top of one of the hills surrounding the Finale Ligure town.|
| Making a personal note here, after years of shooting in the ''closed' environment of woods, photographing bike riding in such a wide open place with the endless sea in the background was truly an epic experience for myself. |
| Despite being heavily injured a little over six months earlier, Jakub showed no sign of fatigue or lack of confidence with his bike control skills and was shredding hard all the time during our stay in Italy.|
| Jiri Zvolsky, Jakub's friend was there to accompany and share the riding.|
| On the next day, we drove to a different place to see what else the Italian hills had prepared for us.|
| It turned out to be a great trail hidden deep in a thick woods with many sharp edged boulders in the ground...|
| ...and Jakub was the one to learn the hard way how sharp these rocks are, shortly after first drop in.|
| Obviously, things like that won't stop Vencl from riding and after a quick change of an inner tube, he smashed the trails all the way down to the bottom.|
| Exhausted, but very happy with a long day full of riding, we came back to the town where lazy life was slowly going to fall asleep...|
| These kind of morning views are something I wouldn't mind waking up to every day...|
| It was 9 a.m. and we already started descending and the breathtaking scenery helped us taking joy of riding to the next level.|
| Maybe some of Finale Ligure's trails don't have the most technical lines and obstacles, but we managed to find a few fast and loose corners.|
| Jakub and Jiry enjoying an afternoon ride under the warm, Italian sun.|
After all, we're only humans and we need to eat from time to time...
| We found this cozy, Italian restaurant and decided to taste the local cuisine. Yes, spaghetti bolognese was a must!|
| After a delicious dinner, the sun was still high up on the sky which gave us a chance to visit one of the best places Finale Ligure has to offer.|
| Quick roll down and we're to...|
...Gee Atherton's track which has been used to film his segment in New World Disorder 10
This track is a blast. Steep, full of razor sharp rocks, narrow and most of all, very fast. Watch the edit carefully and I'm sure you will recognize some sections from the edit in our photographs.
| It all starts with a view...|
At this point, when walking down with a heavy backpack and a bike with a puncture in its front tire, I quickly understood why they filmed almost the entire part of this particular track from a helicopter...
| Luckly, Jakub's riding pumped up my mood to the max and that afternoon turned out to be the pinnacle of our time spent in the Italian Riviera.|
| An old chapel at the bottom of the Gee's track.|
| Where the trail ends is not where riding finishes for Jakub... He noticed that wallride and without thinking too much, he was on it!|
| Last day of our stay in Finale was filled with riding yet another of many Ligurian trails. |
| It was time to slowly say goodbye to our little heaven on earth...|
It's amazing how many good things can happen from just a small Facebook status update: "Is there any bike photographer interested to go to Finale Ligure and shoot there with me for a few days? - Jakub"
| Sign thief caught on the streets of Milano...|
Photos and Words by Simon Nieborak aka Lunatyk