Andi Schuster Exploring Macedonia - Video

Mar 4, 2017
by Andi Schuster  


"A bike video in Macedonia? You’re out of your mind!"
"What do you want to do in a country like that? It’s way too dangerous and there is nothing to see."


Macedonia 2016 photo by Chris Medina www.chrismedinaphotography.com

A resumé usually belongs to the end of a text. But as we don't tend to do things the normal way, we bring it to the beginning of our story and say: Macedonia, with a population of just about two million, is breath-taking and different in a very positive way. We all want to come back to see more of this beautiful country, that’s for sure.

Macedonia 2016 photo by Chris Medina www.chrismedinaphotography.com
The team: Chris, Andi & Dany

But for now, let’s start from the beginning. Three of us—that is the MTB trials pro Andi Schuster from Germany, who is shooting a promo video for his sponsor Fuji Bikes, his camera man Chris Medina from New York, who specializes in outdoor sports, and myself, the girl friday who motivated the guys when something was not going as planned, took pictures and made notes for this article.

Macedonia 2016 photo by Andi Schuster www.andischuster.de
Good times at Kokino


We started our trip in the country’s capital, Skopje at the end of March, having had a lot of phone calls and discussions beforehand about whether this is the right place for an MTB video shoot. Not having quite arrived yet, we already got acquainted with the local mentality, when Andi’s huge luggage, containing a bike, was spotted by one of the customs officers at the airport. We were asked to follow him into his office, to which officer Boris was called. That guy eyed us for a brief moment and then asked: "What's in there?" Our response "just a bike" seemed to satisfy him and he started to laugh. Apparently, even he couldn't think of a reason as to what we could do with an MTB there. We smiled back and murmured the only Macedonian word we’d learnt so far, "fala" (thank you).

Macedonia 2016
Skopje, Macedonias Capital


As we left the airport in our rental car, which was packed to the brim with three people, a bike, and heaps of camera equipment, it was already dark and we couldn't really see anything except for the astonishingly huge cross on top of the mountain range surrounding Skopje. As Germans, one would think we’re used to the sight of crosses and especially summit crosses. This one, however, left us speechless. Mount Vodno, on which the so-called Millenium Cross is located, was going to play a huge role in our video work for the next few days. With 1,050 Meters altitude and a gondola especially for hikers and bikers, the mountain is the perfect location for up- and of course downhill biking. Seemingly endless, small, as well as quick, singletrack trails lead down into the valley.

Macedonia 2016 photo by Daniela Tettamanti www.danielatettamanti.de
Trail check at mount Vodno

Macedonia 2016 photo by Daniela Tettamanti www.danielatettamanti.de
"Can you do that again, Andi?"

So after two days of location scouting, it was up here that we started to shoot our first scenes. Despite a slight, but relentless drizzle for two days, we decided to drive out of Skopje to shoot in the surrounding remote villages. Finding fun trails isn’t really a challenge. The fact that 80 percent of Macedonia consists of mountains and hills, is visible in every glimpse you take. By the way, it isn’t unusual that on the way up the summit you’re surrounded by the mystic sounding chants of the minaret, with which you are introduced to the culture of the country’s religious minority, the Muslims. The only interruption is the rhythmic sound of cowbells accompanied by the sight of those friendly creatures, which slowly cross streets and front yards. For a slight moment we almost thought we were at Lake Garda in Italy. Until a man approached us with his three goats and watched us shooting the video. It was neither the first, nor the last time that people there were absolutely amazed by Andi’s skills. They simply stopped doing whatever they were doing to watch him ride. Macedonia left us speechless once again when even the police drove by grinning and waved, while Andi was dropping a wall in the city.

Macedonia 2016 photo by Daniela Tettamanti www.danielatettamanti.de
Gap jump at Kokino

Lake Matka in Macedonia 2016 photo by Daniela Tettamanti www.danielatettamanti.de
Lake Matka—so beautiful


At this point, I would like to thank and compliment the citizens of Macedonia for their sheer unbelievable friendliness, with which they treated us during our trip. Our earlier fear of getting kicked out of awesome spots or locations had been for nothing. There was never a moment of unease and we felt welcome every second of our stay. Macedonia not only has a fantastic landscape, but also a warmhearted population as well as a delicious and very affordable cuisine.

Photo by Daniela Tettamanti
Such friendly people.


Macedonia 2016 photo by Daniela Tettamanti www.danielatettamanti.de
Manual into town

Talking about food, all three of us probably gained some weight. That's because of the very rich and yummy Macedonian cooking. We usually started our days with plenty of warm bread specialities for about €2.70 for all three of us, had great meat dishes for lunch and lovely cakes and fresh fruits for later. We absolutely loved it!

Macedonia 2016 photo by Andi Schuster www.andischuster.de
Our cosy apartment

Things got a bit tricky, or at least we thought so, when we wanted to shoot our castle-line. Spotted one day before, Andi really fancied doing this line—riding on the top edge of the castle wall. As we had noticed that the only security guy was spending most of his time in a little checkpoint on the other side of our riding spot, we were pretty confident that this shouldn't be a problem. Rain on the actual shooting day, however, was a problem as the paving slabs are only two feet wide and covered with some moss. On top of that, the wall is 30 meters high and it's therefore not advisable to loose your balance! However, while getting the wide angle lens in position half a kilometer away from the caste, it was getting increasingly drier… Seeing Andi and Chris preparing from the distance and lifting the bike up onto the edge made me pretty nervous. But after I got the "OK" from Chris through the walky talky, there was no more time for sweaty hands—I pushed the "movie-on" button and off Andi went—or rolled more like. As they repeated the stunt another two times, I heard applause of some guys through the walky talky and knew everything was alright. When Chris finally called me and to say "we've got it" I definitely became more relaxed again and was happy everything went well.

Macedonia 2016 photo by Daniela Tettamanti www.danielatettamanti.de
That line was scary!

Macedonia 2016 photo by Daniela Tettamanti www.danielatettamanti.de
Backward nose manual into Skopje

After a few days of riding and shooting another couple of beautiful clips at Lake Matka and Kukina, one of the oldest observatories in the world, we got back into the city centre to film Andi doing the street trial parts in the old town to show what’s possible with the Fuji Auric Bike. After the last sequence was done, and every one of us was satisfied, we went for drinks in town to celebrate the fact that our trip went so smoothly without any major crashes on Andi's part, but with so many incredibly good takes in the bag.


Andi Schuster and team in Macedonia
Last line filmed!

Rider Andi Schuster: www.andischuster.de
Words & Photography – Daniela Tettamanti: www.danielatettamanti.de
Video & Photography – Chris Medina: www.chrismedinaphotography.com


59 Comments

  • + 10
 Great stuff! I'm glad they found Macedonians to be friendly and welcoming because that's simply how it is! The nice thing about countries around there is that no one will go out of their way to 'ban' you from doing something interesting and fun. Ironically there's much more freedom than places like the States, UK or Australia.
  • + 7
 The People who live in the region in the northern part of Greece, in the territory of Former Yogoslavia, belong to the race of Slavs.they came down to the south at about 700 AC. Their language has nothing to do with Greek.I leave it to you to remember from your school years when did Alexander the Great created his myth. ( or just listen to Iron Maiden song). To rob a nation' s history and names won't save this country from its destiny.
  • + 0
 Dude, Slavs are not a race.

Everybody and their mother knows Alexandar was a Greek. No one can take that away from you. Calling a county something today doesn't erase the past so you all need to relax.

I'm interested to hear what destiny are you talking about? It's not like your guys are going to invade them over a name.
  • + 1
 @Kamba6:
Greece is not their big problem.
We need them to exist because they help prevent the creation of another new, bigger region.
Their problem is on their west. This is the reason why they need an identity desperately!
But instead of letting a hand of help they publish maps that show their country to reach Aegean Sea!
So who is trying to "invade"?
  • + 0
 @TZAK: I'm not saying that one side is better or worse than the other. There are radical nationalists everywhere ant unfortunately the Internet allows them to be heard.

I asked this question in another post below but I'll repeat it: Considering FYRM is completely in what is know as Region of Macedonia and considering the people that are there have been there for 1300 what identity other than Macedonian do they have?

I'm just interested.
  • + 1
 @Kamba6: ... think of Nothern Ireland... is it Ireland or Uk?
  • + 2
 @louantonis: It's both. It's UK politically and Island of Ireland geographically. And due to the Good Friday agreement people of NI can chose to have both passports.
  • + 1
 @Kamba6: ... so, you are refering to Nothern Ireland?
  • + 1
 @Kamba6: ok, what about the thoughts of the Irish people about all this?
... and how we Greeks or Germans or Frensh or whoever, can understand the diference that Ireland has with Nothern Ireland?
  • + 1
 @louantonis: Most people in the Republic of Ireland see the two countries as separate entities. There are some nationalists on both sides of the border who think it should be one country but for the most part it is not a topic that is widely debated. In other words, most people don't see it as an issue. Particularly in the Republic. There are some physical differences between the two countries like the look of the towns. Towns in Northern Ireland resemble towns in Britain a bit more than towns in the south do. People in the north have a distinct accent which is easily recognisable if you are familiar with it. Most differences, however are political, like currency, but in reality if you were not familiar with the place it would be very hard to tell the difference at first sight.
  • + 4
 @Kamba6: You are correct about the thing that FYROM is almost all of its land in Ancient Macedonian soil, but to share some thing none can deny: More than 60% of Ancient Macedonia is in modern Greek soil, including the undeniable capital of the ancien kingdom, Pela, with the rest in FUROM soil and a smaller part in Bulgaria. Plus all their kings' burial sites. Also A.Macedonians spoke and wrote the ancient greek language, unchanged, as did the Thracians. All over their ruins, tombs and artifacts there can only be found greek writings and in those they would identify themselves as greek people descending from greek tribes of the northen Greece. Many privilleged Macedonians had trusted Athenian philosofers for their education.The Persian history identifies them as Greek, and Alexander as the Greek revenge for the Persian wars. Modern Greeks speak a language deriving from the language spoken by Ancient Athenians and Macedonians and Spartans, and considering the 2700 years that have past in between and the Roman and later Ottoman conquerors of these lands, I assure you it has changed very little. I personaly dont care how someone calls himself, and I dont care that much for the past. I just feel sorry for people not knowing their past because I know mine, with all its dark or bright moments. Here we are to share our love for biking and to connect with each other. So the things that make us apart, its better to leave them outside of this. Thanks.
  • + 1
 @Kamba6: ... it is the names... the legal names used by every legit state, country or whatever!!!
... beeing actually establised after Yogoslavia's war in 1990 and claiming a name used by another country ... they should at least have the legal permition to use it.... in any form.... which they don't, so the actual problem is legal!!! and for as Greeks, also ethical ...
  • + 4
 Just to clarify my above comment to those implying people need to read books...

Macedonia most commonly refers to:

Republic of Macedonia, country in southeastern Europe
Macedonia (Greece), region of Northern Greece
Macedonia (region), region covering the above, as well as parts of Bulgaria, Albania, Kosovo and Serbia (see map)
Macedonia (ancient kingdom), also known as Macedon, the kingdom of Alexander the Great
  • + 4
 Actually is Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) ...but whta you wrote is correct
  • + 4
 Wow someone actually appreciate this country beautiful history and wilderness , without mentioning anything geopolitical related im impressed. Hope you come for second round and find some "guides" to do some Vodno rides on all natural terrain where only hikers and goats goes =).
  • + 6
 fuck the borders and the names ... lets ride our bikes and have a nice friendly rides all around the world
  • + 6
 A good thing Greece has got it´s house in order so it can focus on important things like 2000 years dead kings.
  • + 3
 I came back to where this went and seriously, what the f@&£ Greeks?! Your seriously letting the team down.
Lets put this in context, dear USA, Im really sorry but as I was born in Yorkshire, you are no longet allowed to call New York 'York'. York is a an accient viking city in Yorkshire so the name is taken. Same with Boston. As a Devon resident, we will also have Barnstaple, Plymouth and Exeter back. Maybe we can also go for Chatham, New London, Washington, and even New England....
Or maybe we can all chill out. Its a bike site and most peoples knowledge of Alexander the Great stops at Colin Farrel!
  • + 3
 "Macedonia" is a region of northern Greece and our fellow neighbors went to far by falsy claiming this name as their own. For what is worth to all you mountain bikers, don't get caught with this "identity theft". Please, be informed before you accuse us for nationalism or any other ism's if you may...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedonia_naming_dispute
  • + 4
 Nice of you to inject a political flamebait in the strictly mountain biking discussion. Does the name of something really irks you that much? Go out and ride the fcuking bike.
  • + 1
 You are totally right!! Alexander the great was a greek not a slav!! And used to speak greek aswell!! Go back to your caves!!!
  • + 3
 i am really sad to see that a country that was first considered as a "country" in 1945 has finally claimed a name that was(and is) for hundreds of years greek. It is not their fault though.i wish Greece had the "balls"(aka political power and influence) to claim its rights.

totally irrelevant to this forum though.Ride your f@cking bike ;-)
  • + 3
 Unfortunately the battle for the name "Macedonia" was lost (from a Greek perspective) a long time ago, no need to beat this dead horse on a bike related website.
  • + 4
 Nice article but there is a misunderstanding about the name: macedonia is in Greece.That place has nothing to do with....
  • + 1
 Sorry to those above but Im confused. Macadonia is a country in the Balkans. Maybe you know it by a differant name? That said, I was interested so I googled it just to check!
Anyway, its always good to have an adventure off the beaten track so good skills. Its also cool to see the team behind it as well.
  • + 4
 Macedonia is in northern Greece. this is Furom.. Be precise in your description..
  • + 7
 I don't know what you mean. Republic of Macedonia is autonomic country. This post is about Republic of Macedonia.
  • + 6
 @Coppermine: he mistakes the Macedonia part in Greece with the country Macedonia :/
  • + 1
 Sorry maybe it was fun , but from this video it looks boring. Lots of close up shots that last few seconds and are showing nothing special.

And about name Macedonia:
I think people shuld watch "Sheldon Cooper Fun With Flags" maybe it will help to clear the mistake with the name.


IMHO
  • + 1
 Been to Maccedonia to help out with their army, such a friendly bunch and a good night out in Skopje, good atmosphere and good big mountain range around the city to do biking
  • + 1
 Doesn't Germany own Greece now ? They've paid for it with bail out money through the EU .
  • + 2
 hahaha... they (Germans) actually own every EU citizen and country!!!
  • + 1
 @louantonis: They maybe hope they do.......at long last, Brexit is going to happen although the EU aren't going to make it easy.
  • - 1
 What a bunch of Greek whiners about a freaking name...IT'S A NAME! Get a life! Names and borders don't exist in nature, people invented them. No wonder you are in a state as you are...
  • + 2
 Hello my "friend"
It is not just a name...It is an expropriation of someone's else history.
  • + 1
 Bulgarians living there 1300 years. The people in this region speak Bulgarian, macedonian language does not exist!
  • + 1
 It seems like a part of Yogoslavia, not like Greece.
I came back from a 30 years in coma, did I miss somenthing ?
  • + 1
 Today Macedonia is a fake country. People who have not read one history book about the Balkans please do not comment.
  • + 1
 Macedonia doesn't exist this is Bulgaria!
  • - 2
 This is not Macedonia. Open a history book! Or a geography book. Or any book for what is worth!
  • + 5
 Greek nationalism at its finest...
  • + 3
 Sorry, but when countries are mentioned, Macedonia does not mean the region in Greece (or the bigger region, or any other Macedonia-named place around the world). Smile
  • + 6
 @Boozzz:
that is also pretty Dutch from you....
  • - 3
 If you have opened one , maybe in your lifetime span of lets say... 17? a wild guess really, but do it now quickly and see what is in front of you a whole new world instead of being a jackass without knowing history at all. Just check who is Philip II and your questions will be answered, not by them selves but you should read, like a lot.
  • + 3
 @Laleh: most probably if you build another huge kitsch Alexander the Great statue you will believe it!
  • + 3
 @Laleh: Just have a look in a Yogoslavia book of History. Not very old. 30-40 years old.
(geography may also help you)
  • + 4
 @Laleh: Philip( Philipos)? Really? A king with a Greek name that spoke Greek and wanted to unite all Greeks? From a region that was and still is Greek? Tell me please what Phillip means in your language or better what Macedonia means. Who created your alphabet and how old is it? What language did Phillip and Alexander spoke and wrote? Just because you are living in a place that once was a territory of the Macedonian empire does not make you Macedonian and if you still believe so then you must be Greek as well ...and believe me you are not
  • + 4
 @Boozzz
Really King Leopold? Or should i say Geert Wilders? Please don't speak about nationalism
  • + 1
 @haristheodoropoulos: What exastly makes you Greek? How do you know with certainty that you are Greek?

The Mediterranean has, throughout history, seen larger movements of people than any other place on this planet and I would be prepared to bet anything that your pure Greek DNA is anything but. This would be the same for everyone from Turkey to Portugal.
  • + 3
 @Kamba6: That's correct. Don't misjudge me. I am not referring to any kind of pure blood nor i am a f@cking nationalist. Is like to say that i am Irish .Could i ever be Irish just because i drink leave in a place that used to be part of Ireland but i don't speak write or me culture has nothing to do with Ireland now or in the past? They say they are Macedonian but even the word Macedonia is Greek and it means something.Actually is a very very ancient word.
Yes FYROM is part of the ancient Macedonian empire but NOT Macedonia. Macedonia is was and will be Greek.Maybe not territorial but in terms of history. If these Former Yugoslavians are Macedonians them i am Haris O' Theodoropoulos from Dublin.. Cheers and ride on mate
  • - 1
 @haristheodoropoulos: You say former Yugoslavians as if that's all these people are but they were something before that and before that again. Yugoslavia existed for a short period of time.

As I understand it, what is historically known as region of Macedonia covers a large part of Greece and to a lessor extent other surrounding countries but geographically FYRM is entirely in the region.

These people have lived there for 1300 years. What other identity do they have? What name should be used?
  • + 1
 @Kamba6: As i statedacedonia was and it is Greek.Once upon a time the the land of FYROM was part of ancient Macedonia.These people are Slavs and they are nit living there for 1000+ years.They cant be Macedinians.Macedonians have language and alphabet which was the Greek one. What language do the so called Macedonians speak and write? I will like to remind you that Macedonia was a vast area and only them besides the Greeks are using this term. We were once part of Turkey and of Rome.Does that make me Roman or Turkish? Are you British or Irish?Don't you see ehat i am trying to point out? They can call themselves anything they want but not Macedonians.
  • + 2
 @haristheodoropoulos: Interesting that you bring up Britain. When the British invaded Ireland they brought their language, culture, religion and many other things with them. This changed Ireland so much that majority of people now don't speak Irish language even though it is a compulsory subject in school. A huge number of places (including Dublin) now have English language names rather than their original Irish ones.
British ruled Ireland for about 800 years. Today, every descendant of the British invaders who lives in Ireland can rightfully call themselves Irish.
  • - 1
 So much potential here. =)
  • + 0
 There is mate, really nice place with alot of history. Skopje centre is stunning and not to mention the local beer is on point haha
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