,ZAM, which means journey in Mongolian, is the project of European mountain biking legend and four time Red Bull Rampage participant Richard "Gaspi" Gasperotti. Gaspi's journey began in 2012 when he went to the remote Mongolian Altai Mountains to explore new, wild and undiscovered terrain in a specially adapted van which became his means of transportation, his base camp and an escort vehicle for a crew of four.
The Mongolian adventure also set the stage for the eponymous documentary, ,ZAM, which went on to gain international acclaim at outdoor film festivals and also won Gaspi fourth place in the international online poll for Adventurer of the Year 2012.
2013 saw ‚ZAM begin the newest chapter of its never-ending journey to the world's most fascinating places. The team was initially headed to the mountains of northern Mexico, but investigation into the region brought up safety issues that couldn't be ignored, so it was decided that ,ZAM's next destination would be New Mexico, USA.
You may think of other US states that are more synonymous with mountain biking such as Utah, Colorado, Washington or California, but the goal for Gaspi and ,ZAM is to find the trails hidden in unexplored areas and that is why New Mexico was chosen. And so with two weeks ahead and no certain plans made, the story of ,Zam No.2. New Mexico began.
,ZAM 2: New Mexico
The trip began in New York City with Lukas picking up the car from shipping and then driving across the continent to meet the rest of the ,ZAM crew at the LAX airport.
After driving all night, dawn breaks on us in New Mexico on highway 491 from Gallup to Shiprock.
Gaspi marks promising looking places on the map. Some spots turned out to be good for riding, others unfortunately did not, but that's part and parcel of adventure.
Helicopter test. The idea was to take some shots from the air but the DJI Phantom Quadcopter only turned out blurred footage.
We tried to find some spots to ride around Angel Peak which reaches 7,178 ft, but didn't have much success.
The soil was too soft for riding and the rocks cracked. After the first run Gaspi decided to drive on.
The van runs on both petrol and propane, which made the trip cheaper. Here we are filling up at a gas station in Durango, Colorado, on the way to New Mexico.
New Mexico was a very pleasant surprise for everyone in our crew. Gaspi was happy!
Lots of old cars can be seen in yards and gardens.
We transported both of Gaspi's bikes on the roof rack which enabled us to have more space in the van.
Director of photography Martin Smolik gets some close ups of Gaspi as he enjoys the last of the sun's rays for the day.
Rivers, creeks and dried trees cover the valley near Abiquiú. Abiquiú is also where the opening shot of the 4th Indiana Jones movie, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," was shot.
We'd better watch our step! This sign was not a joke, we spotted at least one real rattlesnake.
Gaspi, riding on the edge trying not to fall into the darkness.
In New Mexico dried trees are never far away from sticking their old branches into your front wheel or glasses.
In Europe we are not used to such warm colours. This is the real beauty of New Mexico.
For good riding photos you need a rider, a bike and good light. Here we had it all without the riding.
When we checked the warning closer we found out that we could be fined $5,000 USD for entering the gate of Ghost Ranch National Park which was closed due to the lack of federal funding.
This is the way how we folk from central Europe envision New Mexico: cowboys at work.
Flat tire again! Every morning began with a coffee break at the gas station and the changing of tubes. In New Mexico there are thorns on every trail.
It may seem like an easy trail but check out the rock on the left. The wall was steep as hell.
It would be great to say that Gaspi jumped out of the window but it was more like a U-ledge.
New Mexico is not only the land of enchantment but a land of surprises. One day you can be riding in short sleeves and the next you wake up and it's snowing, like here in Santa Fe.
Even the restrooms were closed due to lack of funding, making for some uncomfortable mornings.
The snow was melting slowly on the hood despite the heat of the running engine.
High above Santa Fe you can find the starting point of a 12 mile long Nordic trail that leads to town.
On the lower section of trail the snow disappeared with every berm. But it was still good to have a warm jacket fully zipped.
Not another time of year, not another part of the planet. This was the same day but a little later in the afternoon and only 50 miles north of Santa Fe in Nambe Pueblo.
Although this is no Rampage, Gaspi still has fun on the bike.
After a day of good riding it's hard not to smile.