This year we have a couple of new members in the team, Gusti has recently become a Dad so little Ursin joined us for his first trip to the seaside. It was awesome and crazy at the same time to see Gusti take on this new role of responsibility, it’s good to see he’s still the same, wild Justy, that keeps us entertained. After a few years of injuries, it’s exciting to see Gusti free of metal work and riding his bike! The other one is Daniel Schemmel, our new junior rider from Austria. Last year I was the new guy so it’s nice to pass on that baton and start the initiation process with Daniel and show him the ropes with the team. Having some young blood in the team is cool to keep things light-hearted and just have a laugh with each other. Coming from an XC background he also brings a different perspective to racing, it is cool to compare approaches and riding styles.
Andre Wagenknecht was suffering with glandular fever last season so it’s awesome to see him back in action and to ride with him again. Our first ride together was an early but rad one. We wanted some photo gold so headed up San Rocco for sunrise to get some bangers with Matt. It was definitely worth the early start for the amazing views and Matt worked his magic to produce the photo goods too. The rest of the track we got to ride back into town for breakfast was an absolute belter too. Flowy, jumpy perfection all the way. One of those tracks you can relax on and enjoy all day. Perfect for a couple of half asleep lads with empty stomachs. The rest of the day continued with much of the same riding but with the whole team joining us for some mega trains and a bit of sessioning for photos. We stopped for lunch in a really cool little restaurant on the beach for the best fish in town. A few refreshing beverages later and we were back to the hills to ride until sunset. Days don’t come much better.
The following day we drove a little bit in the opposite direction and further into the hills into the relatively undiscovered biking paradise that is Molini. It’s always tricky to find good weather for riding in winter and normally when you do you’re limited to the kind of riding you can do. Not in Molini. They have everything here. Rene from Riviera Bike was our guide for the day and he was definitely the right man to follow flat out down these trails. Possibly the most hipster looking mountain biker I’ve come across, a total pinner and a rad guy too. The tracks were mostly 10-15 minute descents of every kind of riding you could think of. Rough and fast, tight switchbacks and open and flowy, all in the one descent. It’s the kind of place where it feels like the tracks were built yesterday and you’re the first riders down them. Hero dirt for days.
It had been a while since I’d spent some time behind the rear wheel of Nico. It didn’t take me long to remember just how special it is to follow that guy, especially when riding blind. These tracks showed all of the reasons that make his riding special. I honestly think that if I had walked these tracks I couldn’t choose better lines than those he finds riding tracks for the first time. He truly is the king of blind riding. We took a break from the high five-inducing trails for another epic lunch, this time in a mountain town above Molini, a total contrast from the previous days lunch just down the road. Adrian kept us entertained with some history lessons of the local area and the hosts kept our bellies happy with an endless supply of delicious food. Some more photos and riding in the afternoon and that was it for my stint at team camp for 2016. I was off to the airport while the rest of the team stayed on for another day of riding.
I’ll definitely be back to this area as there’s so much we didn’t get to see in our short few days. We all left the Italian coast full of smiles and ready to get racing started at our different first races of the season.