Photo Epic: Taking Advantage of Peak Riding Season in Italy - A Yeti Tribe Story

Aug 14, 2018
by Dave Trumpore  

Summer is peak riding season, and while most of us try to get out on the trails as much as possible while the weather is sunny and warm, life often has other plans. Whether it's your five best friends all getting married over the course of two months, holidays with the family and kids, or the strains of a career competing with your free time, summer is peak season for many aspects of life. But when the opportunity arises to bag an epic ride, we all aspire to grab the opportunity by the horns.

A few weeks ago, Yeti/Fox Factory team racer Shawn Neer, and Yeti Ambassador/school teacher/MTB journalist/father Lee Trumpore found themselves with that rare bit of extended downtime, conveniently in Italy's Aosta Valley. Sure, Shawn gets to ride his bike full time and travel the world, and most of us would leap across our desks to trade places at any given moment. But let's not over-romanticize the life of a pro – riding is typically for training purposes and not pleasure. It is, after all, a job where hill sprints and road rides often take precedence over an epic day out with friends or beers during the après tailgate party at the trailhead. For Lee, it was the tail end of a four-week whirlwind covering various World Cup mountain bike events as a journalist and photographer – a job that sometimes offers far less opportunity to ride than most dream about. Needless to say, after spending a month watching other people ride bikes for a living, he was long overdue for a few epic rides of his own. And what better place than the Alps of Italy, where the pace of life seems to slow down a bit and the emphasis leans more towards living than simply making a living.

In the northwest corner of Italy and under the shadow of Mont Blanc lies the Aosta Valley. Situated behind the posh and glitzy resort town of Chamonix, France, and adjacent to Verbier, Switzerland, it is a region overflowing with alpine trails often overlooked by tourists. Vast interconnected trail systems take riders up and over the high peaks and thousands of meters to the valley floors below. While it's not uncommon to see busloads of day-tripping tourists pour over the surrounding passes, few of them venture far into the Aosta Valley. On some days it feels like you have the place to yourself.

Once the snowpack recedes leaving trails in prime condition, the peak season in the high alps is an epic but brief one. When all the stars align and life hands you a window of free time to explore, you better get your priorities in line to maximize the fun.

Shawn and Lee’s list went something like this...

- Always start the day with a proper shot (or three) of espresso, and don't forget to stop for a few more through the day. It is Italy after all, and it would be downright rude not to. If you've had too much caffeine, switch to red wine.

- Sure you could pedal to the top, but this is the Alps, and the whole region is one big ski lift. So pack light and cheat a bit for the first thousand meters. There's still plenty of climbing and hike-a-bikes to be had from there. Keep the climbing to descending ration somewhere around 1:3.

- Ride in the mornings when it's cool, and take advantage of the long summer days to head out for another ride again in the late afternoon. It's hot during the day so embrace that Italian lifestyle of leisure and relax mid-day. When an entire country stops for lunch, you should too.

- If you do head out in the mid-day heat, be sure to pack a few beers to enjoy at the top, and don't worry about them getting warm as there is always some snow for a natural chilly bin.

- Gelato is a suitable replacement for energy bars so stop often and have as much as you'd like. For best results order a cappuccino or espresso and pour in over the top to make an affogato.

- Don't stress about being weighed down by water. In the Alps, there are springs of crisp and clean mountain water flowing from fountains in every village.

- Stop often to look around. You are in the Alps and it is beautiful. Keep looking because next week you will miss the view when you return to reality.

- Most importantly, be sure your rides take you past a mountain lake where you can cool down by going for a quick swim. Bonus points if you can find one with a built-in glacial slide.

- Peak Season is a short one, so you best get riding.

Riders: Shawn Neer & Lee Trumpore
Photography: Dave Trumpore

Supported by Yeti Cycles


  • 18 0
 WTF?! That is the single most epic photo collection of MTB, or Alpine for that matter I have ever seen. Well Fing done Gentleman!
  • 8 0
 Damn just like the last Yeti story from Dave this has the best pictures! That black SB 5.5 looks almost like their old matte silver in that one shot... anyway bring back that silver Yeti!
  • 6 0
 Probably one of the best photo stories I've seen so far! Aosta Valley definitely needs to be added to the bucket list
  • 4 0
 I was lucky enough to ride in la thuile for the day before the EWS, what these amazing photos don't show is the smell of all the alpine plants, it smells like pine and warm butter. Bucket list location for sure.
  • 2 0
 @enduroist I know exactly what you mean. The smells once you got below the treeline and into the woods was also amazing, especially in the mornings.
  • 4 0
 makes me want to leave my day job
  • 5 13
flag Ktron (Aug 14, 2018 at 16:51) (Below Threshold)
 Much as I love the stuff Yeti produces it is all manufactured fantasy!
  • 11 1
 @Ktron: every fantasy is manufactured. Don't wait for rad stuff to happen, go out and make it happen
  • 15 0
 @Ktron: really? This was just three friends with a few days off in the Aosta Valley between EWS and WC races. One happens to be a pro racer and another a photographer. I don't know if manufactured would be the way any of us would describe it.
  • 3 7
flag Ktron (Aug 15, 2018 at 0:28) (Below Threshold)
 @davetrumpore: yeah, sort of like looking at someone's facebook/Instagram feed in that it presents a very airbrushed and selective version of reality.

I'm commenting on Yeti's marketing in general.

Don't get me wrong, it looks awesome and everything, just isn't "real".
  • 4 3
 @davetrumpore: So who carried all the gear for being in the mountains. First aid, waterproofs for the downpours they have there? Repair kits to fix the bike as its a long walk from the top down.
  • 6 0
 @CM999: you just said you were there in one post then ask this in the next? Since you know the location you know none of that it necessary. So why are you trolling?
  • 4 0
 @Ktron: weird... Every project I've been a part of was with real riders in real places on real bikes just doing their thing g and going for riders. It is possible to go out and ride with your buddies and snap a few photos. And doing so doesn't make it fake
  • 4 7
 @CM999: Yeah spot on that's exactly what I'm getting at.

@davetrumpore: Yeti does the best job of in my opinion of "sell the dream, not the reality". The promotional material they produce is just incredible, stirs your emotions and speaks to the heart of the adventurous spirit of mountain biking. As I say I love this stuff and have watched their "proven here" videos and other stuff thousands of times - but it isn't real. It's a romanticised dream.

Chasing Winter - all that back country mountain biking, humping up steep verticals with nothing but the clothes on his back and a single water bottle? All by yourself?

Tobacco Roots - No water bottle, no backpack but somehow a campsite by the water with beer and fire?

In terms of your story above - is it really "just 3 friends with a few days off?" Yeti didn't supply the bikes? Pay for anything on the trip or provide any type of support? Had zero input on the project? Didn't review/endorse the wording or photos to ensure they fit with their brand strategy?

Again, I love it all, great work and everything - I'm just saying it's a manufactured reality built around a brand strategy.
  • 10 1
 @Ktron: try not to over think things. We went riding and we brought a camera.

But you've decided we did something else so I'm not going to debate you over it.
  • 9 0
 @Ktron: you must be a joy to go to the movies with :-) ...
  • 4 0
 @Ktron: probably won't be satisfied until he sees pics of all the riders belly buttons cause otherwise they could just be manufactured mannequins or robots...unless they manufactured belly buttons too! This conspiracy must go straight to the top! Am I in on it too?!
  • 4 0
 Pinkbike photo epics like this are why I visit PB daily Smile
  • 2 0
 @davetrumpore this is epic man!! Best visuals ever! I did think you've up'd ya selfie game.....wait it's Lee haha See ya in La Bresse?

Cheers man :-)
  • 4 4
 Cool pictures for sure.
But truly a media/marketing voyage no doubt. But as Dave says.. still had fun riding and def shows in the photos.
Just a bunch of friends, one happens to have a professional camera, who continues to tell the two riders, posing, to " go down that valley and I'll snag a shot of youz too woods riding the gravel road".
"Go down the snow and make sure you fall"... "when you hit that lip turn your body more to the right.. make it look cool bra".

Still, nice pics but soooo elfin Yeti!

Bottle on downtime. Broken carbon frames... overpriced with shitty service.
  • 5 2
 Weird. None of those instructions were given to the riders. Crazy how you can be such an expert yet you weren't even there... And your use of practiacally illegible bro/bra grammar to "prove" your point just makes you look like nothing more than a hater now doesn't it

Such a great first post from your brand new account ;-)
  • 1 0
 "an entire country stops for lunch"? Fifty years ago maybe, or in southern Italy during the summer with nearly 40 degrees Celsius. And noone sane would ever do an affogato with a cappuccino.
  • 2 0
 @davetrumpore you are a f*cking legend. thank you for blessing us all with your imagery.
  • 1 0
 Fab pictures of a fab place to ride. I was there for a week earlier this season and there are some great trails outside of the bike park.
  • 2 0
 Nearly each of these photos could be a photo of the year! INCREDIBLE WORK!!!
What period of the summer you were there?
  • 2 1
 @elkhan this was shot a few weeks ago during the last week of July. The best weather and trail conditions are July and August.
  • 2 0
 Any favorite trails near Aosta @davetrumpore ? I'm heading that way next week
  • 2 1
 La Thuile Is a great place to start.
  • 1 0
 Pila to Aosta 'freeride' trail is a 11km absolute blast ending at the town.
  • 1 0
 Check Pila, it's very close to the city. If you want to shuttle with some awesome guides there's a local gig called Aosta Valley Freeride.
  • 1 0
 @vmgscot: If you take it from the top of the Couis lift, you can add other 8.
  • 1 1
 If you really want to see the Valle Daosta, and take turns with beautiful scenery downloaded from here
Attention are tours with portage and there are no cable cars
  • 1 0
 Great work, It would be nice to see bike setup for each of you for this trip!
  • 2 0
 Giving "Photo Epic:" a whole new meaning...
  • 1 1
 Man, so very very cool. I want to do this some day. Side note, wish Yeti would make bikes that fit people over 6ft tall. Geesh they seem to hate the Reach.
  • 1 0
 What about those of us below 6ft? They seem to have gone from producing some of the longer bikes to now producing the shorter ones
  • 1 0
 Excellent work just love the photos! Will sit and stare at these for a while today while day dreaming about riding there.
  • 1 1
 Was there at the same time as you guys, & now as i read this on my morning tea break I’m thinking the exact words you wrote!
  • 1 0
 Incredible scenery and amazing photography. Looks like the trip of a lifetime, nice work Dave!
  • 1 0
 I've been fortunate to ski in Aosta Valley, but biking is prettydamn high on the list!
  • 1 0
 Excellent work as always Dave!
  • 5 5
 I come so close to punching anyone who refers to Yeti ownership as "tribe"

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