our (sort-of-working) van chronicles part: 1

I have been meaning to do some updates, but I just have not had the time to sit down and actually write them. So here goes: Part One. We just got back from a 3 week trip in the VAN - which we almost thought wouldn't happen at all, because the van is not doing so great lately. Luckily for us she decided to get us to Austria for the world cup, then on to Italy with the Atherton clan, despite a lot of black, bubbling smoke and finally the van made it to Les Gets, France for the Tribesport enduro race and the SRAM product launch & media week.

If I had to describe the trip in one word, it would be RAINYMUDDY & lots of it. In Austria I rode with my full rain suit everyday. Sauze d'Oulx, Italy on the other hand, was a little slice of hidden bike trail heaven and we had 3 days of sunshine where it actually felt like summer. Then it was back to winter in Les Gets where we had 2 days of the toughest conditions of enduro racing that I have ever experienced. Let me back up and start in Italy.

Sauze d'Oulx, Italy is a tiny village in Northern Italy, located about 80km from Turin. Really famous for it's winter fun, it is fast becoming very popular in the summer for their bike parks & amazing trail network consisting of 3 valleys, 8 towns (Sestriere, Bardonecchia, Cesana, Pragelato, Prali, Claviere, Chiomonte & Sauze d'Oulx), 8 chair lifts & 2 gondola's that provides you with over 50 free ride routes and hundreds of kilometers of xc trails.

We went out there for a photo shoot that Sven had to do with the Atherton's as they are one of their sponsors and they wanted to get some shots of them riding and enjoying what the area has to offer. You know you are in a cool village when your van can't fit through the narrow little streets and you have to park far away from where you are staying and get guided to the chalet by the little old local ladies. A town with so much history, the church dates back to 1300. Hard to comprehend coming from a "new" country.

Enrico was the perfect guide along with everyone else that really made this trip very special. The chair lifts were not open yet, but that was not a problem as we got shuttled up to the top of various mountains by locals from the village in 4x4 vans, trucks, home made trailers and big Red. Gondola lifts were opened especially for us in Bardonecchia, which was unreal. We had the entire mountain to play on with no -one else around. A definite first for me. Nothing was a problem. I love that about the Italians. There is a solution for everything, they feed you until your stomach is about to burst and then some more, and their infectious passionate attitude is something we can all learn from. These people are passionate about their bike parks and I can see why. It is almost too good to tell people about it, out of fear of spoiling the un spoilt. I can't wait to get back there though at the beginning of August for the Enduro des Nations race that they will be hosting at Sauze d' Oulx.

Thanks to Enrico for your passion & amazing organization, the Atherton's for letting me ride bikes with them, the Faure Chalet for giving us internet & a bed to sleep in & the L' Asiette restaurant for adding those extra few pounds. You guys are amazing and your beautiful trails make me giddy just thinking about them.

Peace out

Anka x

Check out this link if you want to come do some seriously fun riding & racing: