This was a hell of a good time on my bike.
• 4 countries, 1650 kilometers and 58800 meters of elevation in 21 days
• 50+ mountain passes
• 1 flat tire, 1 back tire, 1 pair of brake pads
• 1 dead iPhone, 1 dead GoPro
In 2012 I crossed the French Alps on the famous GR5 trail, but then I started thinking about going to Slovenia and finishing the job: I wanted to cross the Alps from beginning to end. I've been planning my trip since last year, aiming for some time in the summer.
Preparation was centred on three points:
• Get the bike setup right. My Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt was perfect with a 140mm fork, it makes the bike a bit more capable in the rough terrain.
• Get the logistics dialled. Having everything I'd need: parts, extra kit, and new shoes... I needed to prepare the itinerary and a backup, so I bought a GPS and loaded the route on my phone too.
• Get ready. I know myself well and my weakness is that I ride too much, so sometimes I can overtrain and be fatigued. I didn't ride in January and March, but in April and May I rode a lot, doing long and technical rides (about 30,000 meters or 90,0000 feet of elevation per month). June was more normal to relax.
June 27 I'm on a plane wearing my bike kit and riding shoes. I landed in the afternoon, got my bike box, unpacked it, and started my ride. Straight to the mountains, I was feeling free and so happy to start a new adventure.Slovenia
After just one hour of riding the rain came, but I wasn't feeling bad about it. This was the start and I was making the most of this new trip. The landscape was beautiful, with small mountains, deep forests, and castles everywhere. I left the Ljubljana area and quickly started to cross remote and mountainous zones. I loved the rough trail and the nice villages.
But the rain didn't stop. I rode the first three days in the rain. I lost my phone and camera in a big thunderstorm, possibly due to a close call with some lightning? Well, Slovenia was a short, beautiful, and intense. Italy
I entered Italy on the trails through a beautiful canyon on a centuries-old path. It was rough, but the sun came out and I passed Venzone with a blue sky. The itinerary brought me to Sauris Lake area, where the riding was as good as the food! Awesome riding to enter the Dolomites. I was so happy to enter the famous region, taking in the iconic mountains was humbling. Eventually I crossed the Alta Badia area before entering the Sasso Patto small range. Here the landscape was unique, with green meadows and deep forests dominated by white and massive peaks. This was the beginning of the South Tyrol region, a beautiful place where I was happy to find so many good trails.
I bought a new camera in Moreno and took the road to the famous Stelvio pass. It was a long long day on a bike lane with a big pass at the end, so I took the detour to find the balcony trail—unfortunately I was out of luck, the trail was destroyed in a land slide years ago. On my way back to the road, I had a stupid crash and cut my calf quite deep, and I had to ride 18 kilometres to get to the hospital. A few stitches later I was back on the bike and climbing the road. The descent from Stelvio pass was incredible, riding this carved trail was impressive! I had a ton of fun, and after a few big passes I arrived in the Livigno area to ride a few smooth trails. Switzerland
After the Livigno area, there is a 2694 meter pass where I entered Switzerland and the Uris canyon. After passing through the Saint Moritz valley and its beautiful lakes I entered another mountainous area, crossing two or three passes every day. I was on the trail for more than ten days, but still feeling pretty fresh, despite the rain, the efforts, and the camp nights. After Andermatt, I changed my route to admire the Rhône's glacier. The trails up there were sketchy and rocky, but the view was worth it!
Just before entering the Grindelwald area, a deep valley with massive mountains, the storm came back and hammered me again. The landscape turned apocalyptic. Still, riding near the Eiger was an experience. The grades there are rough, with huge climbs (1100 meters each time!), steep descents, and incredible views of waterfalls, cliffs, and glaciers.
I finally entered the Valais region around the resort of Les Diablerets and was pretty happy about that because from there I knew the people spoke French! A beautiful zone, with awesome riding. I went through the region quite fast and reached the Tour du Mt Blanc shortly, which meant a fantastic ride with some of the best views in Europe! After Val Ferret, I entered Italy for a quick visit, where I knew a balcony trail that gives me a huge smile every time! I was so pumped to be so close to France and to realize I was actually crossing the Alps for good. France
When I passed Courmayeur and the Italian Mt Blanc, I crossed the Seigne's pass and entered France in Savoy. I had to stay high in the mountain and cover a large distance in the Beaufortin range, famous for its cheese but not for the alpine trails. It was the third time I was actually crossing the French Alps, so I knew about the options, the climbs, and the downhills. I made my way through Tarentaise Valley then Maurienne, finally arriving in Galibier range making a stop in Briancon right before starting the last part of the trip. Entering the Queyras, I arrived in the southern Alps, with beautiful landscapes, warm and dry weather, and most importantly, awesome trails! I posted on the Izoard side and remembered the ton of fun I had on the balcony trails following the valley. I posted the different and classic cool of the Queyras while entering the Ubaye region. I saw the landscape changing again when I got into Verdon valley, with high alpine trails, massive mountains, different vegetation and the Mercantour National Park very near. I love this place and always have a good time there! The closer I was getting to the sea, the dryer it was, with rocky trails and warm weather.
The riding in the region of Nice is just mind blowing. The twentieth day was the longest and most physical one, with almost 4000 meters of climbing in one day. I camped near Valberg for that very last night, and my dad joined me for the company. It was a good time, and emotional also as I was getting to the end of the trip. I was ready to finish with it, and close this chapter of my life after planning it for so long. This feeling of achievement is always strong, and gave me so much energy for the last day. I needed it—this last day was hard and hot, and especially because I choose to climb one last mountain. This mountain is also the mountain where I first learned about big mountain biking, twenty years ago.
I rode the last mountain, crossed the river, and followed the Var river to the sea. Riding the bike lane, I was reflecting on my trip, from where I started three weeks ago. I ended on the beach, happy, shivering, and tired. My mom and one of my best friend were there to meet me.
I don't have many words about it. The moment was strong and represented why I do this, for the adventure, for the achievement, and for sharing.
This is my personal story that I hope will inspire you to take your bike and ride.#vivelavie
Not always the time to draw...