Now, is that good or bad? The clouds have meanwhile become so thick that I can no longer see how far the drop right next to me is. Well, it’s definitely deep enough not to hear the rock I’ve just dislodged hitting the ground at the bottom. The trail which has been carved into the rock face is just about wide enough for me and my bike, and thank goodness for the steel rope that seems to be firmly anchored in the rock, but which disappears further ahead in the thick fog.
I clearly remember Harald Philipp saying that you can only experience the actual “flow” when you push the threshold of your personal comfort zone. And my shaky knees are proof enough that I’m clearly pushing my limits right now. But it has precious little in common with comfort, and I would not call it flow either – trying to layaway along the steel rope with my bike in my hand, focussing only on not falling into the deep abyss.
It seems like fierce battles were due to have taken place up here in World War 2 because the wide network of access and supply routes, storage depots and fortifications have been impressively integrated into the mountains. Fortunately, this region was then spared the war though, so that most of the trails are still in fairly good condition and “actually” perfect for biking.
“Actually” means two things: First of all, the trails are rather remote so you can only reach them by pedalling hard and long. Secondly, parts of the trails are so technically demanding and exposed that you really have to think carefully about what it is you’re doing up here. But then again, the reward is a one-of-a-kind bike adventure: spectacular landscapes and rock formations like you would never expect in Europe, with breathtaking views into unexplored valleys and canyons, often against the backdrop of the sea. Plus, the sun breaking through the fast-moving, constantly changing cloud banks, resulting in a spectacle of nature that lets the sensational mountain scenery appear even more dramatic.
There is no-one on these secluded rocky trails except for a few scattered hikers – and as time passes we actually get to feel the real bike flow. The rugged, exposed challenging sections along the route become a bit more easy-going and the jagged, rustic trail formations more gentle. While we had to re-position the back wheel for each and every turn further up, we can now circle around the corners more dynamically. We can also ride faster now. Gradually we even dare loosen the brakes a bit and let the bikes run. We fly through the Ligurian landscape, which changes character depending on the altitude you’re at. The best from around the world, all on a single trail!
Then it’s time for a break – after all, we’ve been on the go since early morning. But a cozy meal in a quaint mountain hut is not going to happen in this part of the world, which is why we are carrying everything we need in our backpacks. In addition to the rest of the equipment, we could easily fit our expedition food, a cooker, pot, a few bowls, and cutlery into the new Evoc Explorer Pro. So we find a spot on a crag to have our lunch. The backpack even had enough space for a small coffee machine without impairing our bike performance on the technical trails due to the higher weight on our backs. Coffee cups in hand we sit there watching the clouds and enjoying the “lightness of being”.