Take two world champion expert trials riders, put them on a boat en-route to Corsica and let’s see what we get with the prefect mix of Hans Rey and Kenny Belaey.
But first, while we wait for Kenny to arrive from Belgium I suggest a little ride close to my home in the Calangues.
It is black; I cannot breath, I cannot move…as though from a dream I hear Hans’ voice calling me trying to find out if I am OK. The voice is distant.
A young man; 18 year old Kevin, stands on a dusty street corner on the outskirts of Antigua, Guatemala. Two years ago he received a bicycle from Wheels 4 Life through his school; “Escuela Proyecto La Esperanza” which was founded and is run as a UK based charity. They produce an excellent educational program for the extremely poverty stricken people of the Antigua area in Central America.
It’s weird. For the first time I’m wishing my backpack were heavier. Even bulging with overnight kit it feels too light, which means I’m out of water. We’re 3000 meters up on a remote Northern Argentinean mountainside, beneath a searing sun. And then comes the hammer blow: “We are half way now,” says Francisco, our local bike guide. We’ve been out on this trail five hours already today but it will be another four before we reach our day’s end point and can finally rehydrate. We look at our limp hydration reservoirs and then at each other.
This mini adventure will be in my memories forever, how I guided two Mountain Bike celebrities over two days to two peaks above 3000m/ 9000ft.
In February 2012 I contacted Hans Rey, who I didn’t know at the time, to write a foreword to a new book I was publishing with VTOPO. He immediately accepted in a very professional manner. After several emails back and forth I also decided to publish the French edition of a book Hans had recently released about his 25 years of Mountain Bike Adventures, the French edition will be published in Oct. 2013. To kick off the book, I proposed to do a trip together in the French Alps.
Hans, who has done many adventure trips all over the world, wanted to know all the details about the proposed trip and the route, he also invited Dan Atherton to come along to join us. I liked the idea, because these two riders are from radically different riding styles. Hans is a former Trials rider and Adventurer, Dan is built for speed. An interesting combination of skills at 3000m of altitude.
I had never heard of the Lofoten Islands until I was approached by an old buddy of mine and former racer Manfred “Mani-Shoot” Stromberg from Germany who was the photographer on this trip with German Enduro racer and photo rider Tobias Woggon. We had never done a trip together before, but my curiosity was sparked when they showed me some photos of this stunning and rugged looking islands above the Arctic Circle in Norway.
This place is not very well known amongst mountain bikers , apparently because it’s a backpackers paradise and the hiking trails and terrain are just too steep to ride off-road, especially in the Southern part of the islands, where we were bound for. Sounded interesting enough for me to take a closer look and give it a go. Tobias had been there the previous year, but without a bike – he told me the place was amazing but wasn't sure how rideable these trails would be.
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