Pila, a small village in the north of Italy, is an incredible place that has played a huge role in mountain bike history in the western Alps and is nestled up in the mountains next to the French border. If you’ve already been there, then you probably first stopped in Aosta, the small town down in the valley below Pila. From there you probably took one of the most popular gondolas among Europeans downhillers, that takes you from Aosta to Pila. Straight from the city of Aosta you climb up to more than 1800 meters and enjoy an incredible landscape, surrounded by the highest peaks of the Alps such as Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa. The scenery up there is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful alpine landscapes a man can experience.
All photos by Alex Luise
Despite the relative young age of mountain biking, Pila is a place packed with history. A World Cup downhill race was held in 2005 that was won by Sam Hill and Anne-Caroline Chausson. According to the bike park managers, it is hopeful that Pila will host another World Cup Downhill in the future. The terrain in Pila is fantastic, it’s never muddy in the rain, and the loamy surface makes you think you’re somewhere in British Columbia. In the summer, under the magnificent sun, the slopes become dusty beyond belief, but without ever losing their grip.
Some of the world's fastest downhillers travel to Pila to train during the summer in Europe. On the trails of the bike park, including the famous World Cup course, you will fall into an ecstasy of flow. The pick of the bunch is a trail called Rientro, something like “Go Back” in English, which is a connection between Pila and Aosta. Most of the local riders here live in Aosta, so hey go straight out the door with the bike and then up to Pila with the gondola. They spend the whole day riding in Pila and then they “come back” home after a gorgeous day of riding using the Rientro trail. On this trail there’s a very special section called the “Sam Hill’s Slope”, a must-ride for those who want to improve their downhill skills. Sam Hill’s Slope is pretty much the gnarliest, steepest and most enjoyable bit of trail that you can ever imagine. Sam Hill shot here a video back in the days of the Iron Horse team, which is why this place is connected to Sam.
The list of videos that were shot in Pila is really long which proves this is a magical place, a spot that every gravity loving rider should visit. Last summer Formula were here, along with the AB Devinci Team, to test our first downhill fork, the Nero. The idea was to collect only black and white images in order to capture the contrast of light and shadow that you can experience in this wonderful place.
Pila is an incredible place and it's worth checking when you're free next summer to book a week in Pila. Among incredible landscapes, phenomenal trails and glasses of excellent wine, we are sure that you will not regret the choice.