Return to Il Pin

May 9, 2012
by Matt Wragg  

Il Pin one kilometre.

Nobody lives in Il Pin all through the year these days. At just over 1,500m above sea-level it's little more than a handful of houses, perching far above the winter snowline. With a twisting, beaten single-gauge road running in and out, no snow plough or gritting lorry ever gets that far. So when the first falls of winter come, that's it. You're either in or out. Few people have the stomach for that kind of extreme, insular mountain living anymore. The world has moved on and the village is little more than a collection of summer houses that spend the winter empty, shuttered up against the weather.

Yet there is something special in the hills around this dying hamlet: trails. In an area that has been used by mountain bikers for more than twenty years now, the riding around Il Pin is still some of the best you'll find anywhere. The last few months have been spent nervously watching the snowline. Can you get a van up there yet? It's a long way out to get a vehicle stuck and on this side of the Atlantic, few of us have big 4x4s to play with. So it's been a waiting game... this week the time seemed right, local enduro racers Manuel Ducci and Valentina Macheda came up and we pointed the van up towards the big mountains.

Looking up towards the High Argentina Valley from the bridge at Loreto.

A waterfall in the High Argentina Valley.
  The lower valley has been rideable for a few months, but as you head towards the bigger terrain the weather gets less stable and the snowline has been creeping back down again through the nights.

The van...

Valentina Macheda and Manuel Ducci.
  With everything in the van, we headed out to see what the conditions were like.

Manuel Ducci and Valentina Macheda looking out over the Argentina Valley.

Il Pin.
  Good was the answer, the ground was dry underfoot and the snow only clung in the darkest shadows.

Manuel Ducci setting off. Fast.

Valentina Macheda and Manuel Ducci.

Valentina Macheda setting off.

Il Pin.
  The trail starts just above Il Pin.

Descending down the ridge from Il Pin.
  Dropping down from the village.

 The plunge to your death is that way...
  "The cliff face starts there!"

Manuel Ducci isn t worried about a little exposure.
  This cliff... Manuel ain't worried.

Valentina Macheda descending through the ruins in the forest.
  Below the village you find the remains of the homes of the people who lived even further out. Most of them are little more than ruins now. Some have been empty for centuries, but their stone walls remain, a testament to the quality of the craftsmenship of those who built them.

Manuel Ducci full gas in the woods.

Manuel Ducci in amongst the trees.

Monte Saccarelo.
  Monte Saccarelo towers over the whole area.

Borniga.

Borniga
  As you descend you come to another deserted hamlet, Borniga. Although it's not quite as high, it's just as isolated.

Valentina Macheda dropping down from Borninga.

Il Pin.

Manuel Ducci attacking the curves below Borniga.
  From Borniga it's out on down through the meadows and back into the pine trees...

Manuel Ducci on the screem take two.

Manuel Ducci on the scree take one.

Manuel Ducci hiking back up again.
  ...but we ran into something that looked like too much fun to miss. Photos don't really do justice to how steep this is. There's no run-out at the bottom either, so somehow you need to try and keep control of the bike on the constantly-shifting surface.

Manuel Ducci on the scree take three.
  After a couple of runs on the slippery slate face, Manuel was feeling the pain of hiking back up, but there's always enough energy for another go, right?

Italians love putting religious spots out in the wild.

Valentina Macheda waiting.
  I'm not entirely sure Valentina was impressed with us messing around.

Realdo

Realdo.
  Eventually the trail works down to Realdo, which is what passes for a bustling community in these parts. They even have a shop and (an amazing) restaurant.

Sunset over the valley.
  And as the sun set over the valley we were done...

A big thank you to Manuel and Valentina for their time.

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29 Comments

  • 9 0
 Lip wetting stuff!

I've so got to drag my arse away from Jeremy Kyle and sample some of that Italian-trail-rustica again!

You still based in Molini Matt?

More of this sort of stuff per-lease.....
  • 9 0
 awesome shots!
  • 5 0
 that was amazing !!!...POD, POD, POD...
  • 4 0
 amazing location and photos!
  • 3 0
 Some amazing riding in that location and i can 2nd the amazing restaurant inc the technical trail leading down to it
  • 2 0
 Epic, thanks for sharing, stunning scenery, great write-up and beautiful pics. Looks like fun to ride!
  • 1 0
 Awesome photos.... and X-Fusion popping up everywhere! Stoked to see this brand increasing its momentum. If you haven't tried their stuff, do.
  • 1 0
 Now I know where to live fo free!!! Man i'd shack up in one of those houses if i got to build in some countryside like that!!
  • 2 0
 that's the shit right there!
  • 6 8
 I'm sorry, but WTF is everyone wearing full face helmets for on trail bikes these days. Fair enough if your DH'ing or in an 'enduro race or whatever', but trail riding? Come on! Have xc helmets become that uncool to the uncool that full faces and $5000 'enduro bikes or whatever' are the only way to make a photo shoot rad?

Rant over, sorry 'bout that.
  • 8 1
 agreed, but full faces do look cool!
  • 6 0
 If the shots were that of them winding up-hill with their Full-face lids on, you'd have a point. But believe me, bashing down those steep, gnarly Italian hills warrants a Full-face.........I've been there! Kissing Italian rock aint no fun!
  • 1 1
 They have to wear full faces for enduro races so they train/ride with them so they stay used to them. I don't think it's their choice....
  • 4 1
 I prefer this almost 1k times before than watching people riding dh bikes wearing trousers and squared shirts....
  • 2 0
 They also give you bigger balls (not literally), theres stuff i wouldnt have dreamt of doing that i now sherd having got a full face.
  • 3 0
 yeah, they make us go harder (no pun intended)
  • 2 0
 And also for the protection up there. If you knock yourself on the head up there, you're a long way from help.
  • 1 0
 ridden a bunch of trails in this area. Dont fool yourself. A fullface is completely appropriate.
  • 1 0
 How would someone get to this location? I am having trouble locating it on Google maps.
  • 2 0
 Beautiful!!!
  • 1 0
 Amazing photos... I wanna go there!
  • 1 0
 which bikes they are riding?
  • 2 0
 ....seeing as no-one has jumped in here, they're riding Ibis Mojo's.......I think!
  • 2 0
 They are riding ibis mojo HD's 160mm version of the mojo with slacker am geometry
  • 1 0
 THX guys...
  • 1 0
 Looking good , keep up the great wotk
  • 1 0
 Choice...
  • 1 0
 nice!!
  • 1 0
 great...!

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