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Video: 'Free Riding Iran' with Caro & Anita Gehrig

Dec 19, 2018
by Anita Gehrig  
Photo by Simon Ricklin

Click RENT at the top right of the video above to watch the full video.

20% of all income generated by video on demand will be invested in women's mountain biking organizations in countries where free riding women are not accepted.

Free Riding Iran

A look behind the curtain: In the West, one knows above all the Iranian moral rigor and war
rhetoric, the Enduro professionals Anita and Caro Gehrig experience open-minded people,
hospitality, a great interest in the West and last but not least an unconditional passion for
mountain biking. There is a reason for this: The bike is a vehicle for freedom, because on the
trails, no moral guardians exist. Freeride, or better Free Ride, gets another dimension in the
land of mullahs. Although you might not be able to understand each other's words, on a bike
you always speak the same language. Free Riding Iran is a movie about courage, passion
and mutual inspiration on two wheels.

In cooperation with Halsundbeinbruch Film, the Gehrig Twins realized their long-planned
video project in May 2018. The result is a 32-minute documentary film that celebrated its
premiere at the UCI World Championships in Lenzerheide.

The movie has been supported by Red Bull and Samsung Switzerland.

Photo by Simon Ricklin


Behind the Scenes

The idea to go to Iran came up in 2014. A friend of ours returned enthusiastically from a ski trip to Iran and said that we should go there and definitely take our bikes with us. We couldn't let go of the idea and the more we thought about it, learned about Iran and developed the idea, the more convinced we were of it. In November 2017 we made a recce trip without bikes to take a look if it was even possible to film freely. To our surprise no one seemed to care, we could even fly a drone.

Photo by Simon Ricklin

Iran has exceptionally beautiful scenery and very high mountain peaks. Mount Damavand as ridden here is 5,610m high. On our recce trip, we had the worst night ever in the shelter hut on 4,600m. It was so cold that our water bottles in the room froze also we had gone up to altitude too quick resulting in a heavy headache and insomnia.

Photo by Simon Ricklin

Photo by Simon Ricklin

Our road trip covered 4,500 kilometers within 10 days. The streets are okay but the travel speed is far below what we are used to. Actually, we were surprised we did not kill each other along the way with driving times up to 8 hour daily. Sister love was deep!

Photo by Simon Ricklin

Our aim with the road trip was to see as much diversity as possible. Iran often is prejudged as a desert country but one can find lush green landscapes.

Can you imagine to go on a trip with 15,000 US Dollar cash in the bag? Damn this seemed not ideal to us too, but no Credit-/Debitcards work in Iran due to international sanctions. We were simply not left a choice.

*Fun fact: One day the backpack with the money was left in the hotel lobby. The mistake was discovered shortly before departure...

Photo by Simon Ricklin

In Faranak’s home city of Shiraz, there is a small but sworn group of female riders that meet up for riding on a regular basis. These women see mountain biking as their own escape of the boundaries that they have to face in their everyday life. It gives them a moment of freedom, self-fulfillment and pure joy. They all had to overcome their own battle with families, authorities and people around them to be able to ride a bike. For them it’s much more than just a passion it’s a silent revolution!

Photo by Simon Ricklin

While looking for filming spots in the web we kept on seeing this spectacular landscape but could not make out where it was. One day we found it on Instagram with a location tag. None of us had been there before and it was pure luck that it turned out to be an absolute highlight of our trip. Earlier in the year, the landscape would even be luscious green. Thanks Insta!

Photo by Simon Ricklin

The Persian garden was designed as a reflection of paradise on earth. One could tell from this picture.
The culture and architecture are one of the oldest in the world, some magnificent buildings and sights can be discovered here.

Photo by Simon Ricklin

Usually, you see the boys play and the girls hide and watch from the side. Not this courageous little girl that couldn’t get enough of riding bikes with us. For once the boys had to watch!

Photo by Simon Ricklin

Hossein Zanjanian is Iran's fastest Downhiller. Himself and his friends built a very fun downhill track near the 8.6 Million city Tehran. The bike community there has a close bond and you could tell all of them are proud of Faranak pushing the boundaries for female mountain bikers in Iran.

Was it safe?
We were aware of the political instability and that every major crisis could end our project within a blink. Once again we see Iran mainly through the facade of the western media and of course we had our own concerns. Once there we felt safe and were not once in a hairy situation. Iran is a wonderful place to travel and discover, people are friendly and from the hospitality of the Iranian many on this planet could learn.

Now let us take you on our journey and watch the film!



Anita and Caro Gehrig
About: 31 • Flims Switzerland • Enduro • Norco Twins Racing
Anita and Caro Gehrig started riding bikes at the age of 19. Being fascinated by the pure speed and technical skills required for downhill mountain biking, the girls began racing as soon as they had their hands on bikes of their own. Since its inauguration in 2013, the twins have been traveling the globe with the Enduro World Series making their mark on the sport alongside some of the best female MTB athletes globally. Though racing their bikes against the world ’s fastest is their passion, the girls are dedicated to bringing more women into the sport of cycling. They are proud to organize and lead bike camps specifically designed for women at their home base in Films.

Faranak Parto Azar
About: 31 • Shiraz Iran • Cross Country • Iran National Team
Faranak is the first Iranian female Mountainbiker that took part in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in her discipline Cross Country. She dreams big and her drive and motivation to progress are impressive. It is a rocky road for her but she made it as far as representing her country at the World Championships in Lenzerheide and has a medal at the Asian Champs to her name. Faranak is not only a badass biker but also has brains and empathy, her mission is to even the grounds for the next generation of mountain bike girls in Iran.

Christian Dassi
About: 42 • Valais Switzerland • Freeride • Owner/Guide Exoride
Chris has travelled to Iran around ten times and can definitely call himself an Iran expert. He has gained a rich knowledge about the country and its trails. The Swiss guide loves to explore the unknown and often finds surprising places. If you want to experience this fascinating country first hand with him, get in touch on Exoride

Photo by Simon Ricklin


A huge thank you goes out to our incredible team...
...Halsundbeinbruchfilm: Alec Wohlgroth the director and cameraman, Mario Hari cameraman extraordinaire, Sonja Brumann, Andrea Brun, Diego Defilla
...Jane Doe Media GmbH: Raphael Hug for your trust in the project
...Photographer: Simon Ricklin that could sleep whenever sitting down
...Guide: Christian Dassi
...the crazy drivers the two Mohammeds

To all the Iranian riders, keep on shredding!!


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Member since Jul 29, 2008
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  • 13 0
 That was truly awesome...
Well done ladies! Seeing this video on Pinkbike is a real breath of fresh air and acts as great counter balance to 10k bike reviews. Don't get me wrong, love both...
Faranak! I hope I will be rooting for you at the next summer Olympics Smile You are a great ambasador to your country.
  • 11 1
 I hope you guys and many others will watch the movie and that the Gehrig Twins will make bikers and people look at 'good and bad' countries more open minded. I loved Iranian people, food, landscape, culture and the trails. And I even wish to go there again with my children for vacation, because I think it's safer and friendlier (except the regime) then many other countries in the world.
  • 6 0
 Thank you Pinkbike and the Gehrig girls for taking mountain biking love beyond the borders of culture, religion, and politics. We all share this love of the bike! Regardless of our background. This is by far one of the most touching projects i've ever seen here.
  • 5 0
 i have been mountain biking for some years and have done some great races and met meany new friends, i have all so had some bad moments too after have my dh bike stolen and my enduro bike coming off the top of my car on the way home from scotland and going under another car i had hit rock bottom but after working for red bull at the red bull fox hunt "rachel atherton" i have been reinspired bye the 200 female racers to rebuild my bike and watching this film has made it even stronger thank you the Gehrig twins for your love of the sport and the life of mountain bkeing your film is very power full and meaning keep up the great work ladies Smile XX
  • 7 4
 Very Col and indeed intresting.........

And you know about the hospitality of the local people............not only in Iran b ut i think whole over the globe..........

i think the hospitality is only for foreigners & guests....... but not that much for the people them selves amonge them selves

And about the 15K US cash.........you know.......you could just ask one of the locals who accompanied you in the trip to convert it.............i mean you could give the cash o one of them and use his/her local debit cart.....Buy nowadays 15K$ is a big deal of money here.........

About finding good spots to ride on besides your local friends a majority of good riders here have Wikiloc acounts with tons & tons of good trails uploaded over there.........

in the first part you told a friend of your came over here for skiing..........i thought the first was Chis..........he came here in 2015 for the first time........

At the time unfortunately i was not in the condition to give a good hand & help to him i had a foot surgery at that time....
  • 6 0
 Go Gehrig girls! MTB ambassadors extraordinaire! Bringing it and sending it for all the right reasons.
  • 3 0
 Thanks very much for the kind comments! I hope we can open up some peoples horizons and inspire a lot more women that have to overcome a lot of barriers to ride a bike. And all the others to appreciate that they can just do whatever they want FREELY a bit more!
  • 2 0
 So what's the name of this amazing location you randomly found the location via Insta? This looks amazing! Pictures look great, the trailer too. I'll watch the video for sure.
  • 1 0

The place is called Khalid Nabi! Absolutely breathtaking views...

  • 14 10
 “Behind the scenes”, tortures, executions and a country run by an evil dictator ! Not much different to the USA to be honest ! Lol
  • 4 0
 "It's better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times" Such a great proverb. Time to start planning a trip there...
  • 4 0
 Rick Steves made a great video about travel in Iran: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYoa9hI3CXg
  • 1 0
 Not sure if it is just me and what I have learned by observation and not just biased media over the years, but there is an awful lot of use of the word “free” in the headlines about Iran..
  • 2 0
 Very good. I enjoy your video and images. I live near the Khalid Nabi cemetry.
  • 2 3
 Is it just me or should they not be riding their mountain bikes down ancient stairs. I mean, I like urban freeride as much as the next guy, but to come into an impoverished country ride down their stairs, and then fly home. Other than that, I'd love to see it.
  • 7 1
 I see your point. Then again, I’ve never walked down stairs I didn’t wish I were riding instead.
  • 4 0
 Iran, you biked
  • 1 0
 Iran, Iran so far away.
  • 2 0
 No idea what this expedition may have cost, but the shots of the little girl riding double were worth it! Amazing film.
  • 2 0
 An other great job of Hals und Beinbruch Film.
  • 6 9
 "Was it safe?" The answer is no. The general population is no doubt wonderful, but when you're in a country that doesn't respect the right of due process, you're always in danger - especially during times of hightened geopolitical tension. Just ask the former Canadian diplomats being held hostage in China right now. Or the three American hikers detained for 2+ years in Iran. Or countless other examples.

Yay for exploring new places, but don't let idealism blind you to some very real risks.
  • 8 3
 Iran is saftier than any other places, if you respect reglementation and avoid sensitive areas as any other countries.
  • 4 4
 @Exoride: Maybe for the Swiss (though I don't agree), but Americans who head abroad shouldn't just book tickets on a whim without understanding some of the larger forces at play. Capturing a great video or enviable instagram pic isn't worth time in a foreign prison.
  • 9 2
 @Layman: I am MTB guide there and keep people from all places of the world from 2014, including nort american people... and there is definitly no any issue.

  • 2 0
 @Exoride: This video is awesome and it shows another side of Iran that is unknown to us. At the end of the day every single country has its good and its bad parts. Its a matter of going with someone that knows the place. Great tours man, keep up the good work!
  • 3 0
 @Layman: why would a prison be the first thing that comes to mind?
are you planning to do something illegal already?
  • 2 4
 I commend you for showing another side of Iran, but this is not FREERIDING! It's just trail riding, ok fine ENDURO!
  • 5 0
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