As racers, we race on all types of terrain and in all types of environments, meaning we need to have a really broad skill set in order to be fast at any race we go to around the world. The best way to get better at riding different types of trails? You guessed it, ride different types of trails!
We’re always searching for new areas to discover, new ways to challenge ourselves and to find those trails that remind you why you love riding your bike. So, when the guys from Dolomiti Paganella Bike invited us to check out their trails, bike park and local area, we jumped at the chance. As a team we’ve spent quite a lot of time in Lake Garda, which is great, but it lacks that bike park style riding, a chair lift and is a pretty busy town. Paganella is only an hour away and has all of the above, so we knew it had potential for an awesome week. They have one of the longest seasons of any resort in Europe (Start of May - end of September) so we were pretty fortunate to be riding lift accessed trails so early in the season.
We had just received our new Stereo 140 29 C:68 bikes and needed somewhere to get our set ups dialled, get some time on the big wheels and get back into that big mountain style of riding before the Trans Provence in a couple of weeks.
When we arrived the guys were all super welcoming, even the hotel staff were so cool, we knew from the start these guys were going to make it a good week. Everyone we met was so excited to see people coming to enjoy their area and wanted to show us the best of it. All of this with the back drop of the Dolomites and you’ve got all the ingredients for a pretty sick week!
We got straight to business on day one and started by smashing out laps of the bike park in order to get the bikes set up with Jan the man there to do any changes we needed. It had rained a bit the day before so conditions were getting better every run as it dried out. We started off on the super flowy Peter Pan track. Some serious work has gone into that trail, the terrain in the area is pretty rocky and rooty but they’ve managed to make a fun flow trail for all abilities amongst it all. Easy Rider was the one we settled on for testing the bikes and we spent most of the day smashing out the runs on that, it had a bit of everything to give us a really good idea of how the bikes were working.
None of us really changed a huge amount on the bikes, I already had my set up pretty much dialled so I did some experimenting with riding my Stereo 160 650b and the Stereo 29 back to back, at the end of the day it was the 29er that came out on top for me, I love it! Nico and Gusti felt right at home after a couple of runs so after lunch we decided to take the new bikes out into the wild and the guys shuttled us up to the Bear Trails above the bike park. We didn’t even do the full descent and it was almost 1000m of vertical back down into the bike park.
Untouched loam and fast trails were getting chewed up by the big wheels, we loved it. Excitement was high at the end of day 1! New bike days are always the best, but they’re even better when the bikes work so well from the get go!
3 courses of delicious food back at the hotel and a big sleep later and we were set to go for day 2. The guys had an adventure in store for us today to check out some more of the Bear Trails that cover the valleys in the surrounding area. Thankfully we got almost all of our altitude gain from the shuttle ride up to the top of the mountain, the panorama from up there was breath taking. From there it was a traverse/climb/hike to a big descent down to the valley floor. The rock here is pretty special and could be called “soap rock” for want of a better name. It can make things pretty wild pretty fast if you’re not careful. S, naturally Nico was in his element on it. The wilder it gets, the faster he goes. He seems to have the magic touch when it comes to riding this kind of stuff, even more so when it’s blind. All I could do was sit back and watch... from a distance, seriously impressive.
The following day was a photo shooting day for us and we had a real good time hanging out on the top of the mountains taking in the views in-between shots. We got to finish with a big single track descent all the way down to Malveno Lake, where we were staying.
Day 4 was another adventure day. We did a route using the best of what the lifts in the area had to offer, linking together the famous Bear Trails of the area. The weather may have been damp but the spirits were not. These kind of rides are so cool when you can use the lifts to link together different hills and trails. Even though the rain was falling and the clouds were grey the area was still full of stoked locals out enjoying the trails, it was pretty cool to see. On the trails we felt like the only ones on the mountain but in the cafe we could see that we weren’t the only ones enjoying these trails.
With each day we all got a bit more comfortable on the bikes and the trails, Gusti being the one to get over excited on a fireroad! Over cooking a corner and sending himself into a rocky river bed. How he came out uninjured we do not know, the rocks didn’t come out so well though.
We finished the day off early enough that we had time to go to the lake for a round mini golf, a stroll around looking at the fish through the crystal clear water and in true Italian style, more pizza and coffee. On and off the bike this place doesn’t fail to impress.
We topped off the riding with another photoshoot day in the bike park. Slapping turns and sending some trains on the jumps was the order of the day. Everyone trying to one up each other meant things got pretty wild. The young Daniel Schemmel took the prize for wildest though, the boy loves to push it! Being back in the bike park was such a contrast to the Bear Trails we had been riding for the last few days. Although they all use the same lift network, the type of trails is so varied.
As quick as it started, our week was over and that was a wrap on our Paganella trip. It’s safe to say we’ll all be back here. It’s the ideal spot for us to get some top quality riding done, especially at times of year when most resorts are closed. The guys all looked after us super well and we can’t thank them enough.
Until next time, ciao!