Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Anne-Marie and Sandra’s excellent adventure comes to an end

What a way to end that trip!

I am new to the racing culture, growing up I would sell bikes and sports equipment to some great athletes but I never got to assist to events of that level and meet or ride with humans of that caliber. I knew Sandra was fast, but seeing her race along these other world class athletes was impressive.

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Cycling is such a big deal in Europe, so many fans were assisting with either a cow bell or a beer in hand. The course wasn’t easy, super slippery due to rain the previous days and made more challenging with some tough rock features. There were lots of tumbles and crashes, but these ladies were so tough and so so fast.

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With her best world cup result, Sandra got the star treatment, being asked for autographs and getting interviewed. So proud of her and so happy I got to witness such a race. What a great way to start her race season!

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Sandra than headed to the next race in Czech republic and I to Munich. Time to try a schnitzel and drink my first German beer. My Munich visit also included a run along the river, long walk to soak in the culture, coffee shop hunting and bakery sampling 🙂

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Anne-Marie and Sandra’s excellent adventure continues.

We arrived a couple of days before race day in Albstadt. Quite a contrast from Obertraun, we left the Austrian mountains behind and are now in a rolling, wild flower covered hill area. It’s hard to imagine that a World Cup actually happens here and it is actually a challenging one with some good climbs.

As I typically do, I chose the hôtel up the hill, a nice family own and operated hotel up one of the only climbs in the area. Trailheads a few meters away, views of a castle and tones of kilometres of fun cross country riding to do.

It’s impressive to see a small quiet European town get invaded by all these pro athletes, all the team’s and company’s tents and caravans. Mountain biking is such a big deal, it is pretty much taking over the town. Riders are everywhere and roads are closed, but residents do not seem the least bit annoyed.

I get to race my bike here 😁. Not with the pros, just a masters marathon race, but still, I get to race my bike in Germany. My brand new Liv Obsess advanced that we (Brad and Alessandro) built a day before I flew over.

Sandra pre road the course with me and as usual, we get the ugliest, rainiest day to ride our bikes for over 2 hours together. As always we have a lot of fun!

What did I get into? I zip tie my race plate, get on my bike (that I polished with Armour-all the night before) and line up with 350 people to ride 46km of road-gravel-grass-mud.

AWESOME! It wasn’t easy, but lots of fun. A mass start with so many people of all levels and spectators cheering everywhere on the course, I loved it! I was so exhausted when I finished, I grabbed some juice and pastries at the finish, road to the car, grabbed a large 6€ pizza, drove to my hotel room and poured my self a glass of wine.

Once I cooled down, I looked at the results and found out I finished 3rd 😁 I missed my podium photo, but got the ugly t-shirt. I want to do this again!

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Anne-Marie and Sandra’s excellent adventure not without coffee

Or wine!

Sandra is a professional mountain biker , she has travelled the world and races to the highest level. I was worried we would have to follow a strict diet of only healthy everything accompanied by water. Sandra’s diet is healthy, but it has to include coffee and wine is 👍🏻.

It’s awesome since we are in countries where even the truck stops house great coffee roasters and good wine is 4Euros a bottle!

Before we left Austria, Sandra got to try Ebiking with her uncle and I got to walk old Salzburg. While she was spending her post race rest day under a huge thunderstorm riding an ebike, I was getting fireworks from my Garmin for climbing all these stairs to the fortress and walking in all these covered alleys and cobbled stone streets.

I may have had a very good coffee or two 😁

The best coffee and friendliest coffee shop is Salzburg’s only roaster 200grad. It was an essentiel stop before starting our 5 hour drive to Albstadt, Germany. It may not take that long to drive to our next destination, since Sandra seems to have race car driver genes in her.

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Anne-Marie and Sandra’s excellent adventure begins

Sandra isn’t just a pro mountain biker, she is also an experienced traveller. We get along great! We ride bikes, are addicted to good coffee and don’t mind the weird Google map routes. She also speaks German and has welcoming family in many different countries 🙂

First stop Austria

No better way to discover a country then by bike. Sandra’s uncle took us and his ebike on a couple of rides around Salzburg. Amazing network of trails, we rode around Salzburg, to Germany, along rivers, through forests,…I can still smell the subtle smell from all the wild garlic growing in the woods.

We left Salzburg for Obertraun, Sandra is here to race, I am there to relax and help when needed. No stress! But I am probably more anxious then her, being tech support for her race is a first for me. My job will be to hand her water and be ready for any mechanical. The night before we went over the required tools and I got my instructions. Now all I can do is cross my fingers and hope that I do not drop a bottle or that she gets a mechanical.

She killed it! amazing 5th place result, no mechanical, no dropped bottle. PERFECT! I got to watch the pro mechanics fix Pauline’s flat, Eva yell (or talk loudly the italian way) at her feed person for handing the wrong bottle, U23 athlete pass all the elite women and just enjoy how fast these ladies are!

As I said earlier, I am training for a 50km run, did I also tell you that Sandra talked me into doing a mountain bike marathon race? And that it takes place in a few days in Germany? I’d better get back to the training and find places to run or ride. Not a tough job at all! So many trails in Obertraun, I ran up in the alpine, until the snow line stopped me, then on lower trails crossing rivers and beautiful forest. Rode my bike along rivers, railways, on trails and paved roads. So well marked, that even if I don’t understand german, and with my orientational challenges I didn’t get lost once (Maybe a bonus climb or 2).

I still can’t believe I am in Austria, riding my bike, and running.

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Bikepacking

Withdrawal

It’s been close to a month since I got home, almost one month since I stopped everyday and I am going crazy itching for the next adventure.

The same thing thing happens every time I get back from a cycling adventure, probably just normal withdrawal steps.

I wonder why I ever left

You have to know that I live in one of the most beautiful place on earth! Supernatural British Columbia, Canada. I can ride the road, the trails, mountain bike, trail run and I can eat anything I want whenever I want.

I enrol in every race, challenge, training program available

The trip wasn’t already over that I had enrolled in a ultra marathon training program, just worried I would be bored when I got home. I also committed to running the full Vancouver marathon and join every Strava challenge I could find. Then life happens and some of the plans fly out the window!

Vive la simplicité volontaire

After living out of a single bag mounted under my saddle, I get overwhelmed with all the clothing and different sport options . Blue or black jeans? Sport bra or grown women bra? Trail running shoes or pavement runners? Gravel or road bike? Can we move in our sprinter van? Then Black Friday happens and some good deal can’t be passed and what about a new bike? Titanium? Custom new bike?

Then I loose it!

Where can I go? How long can I leave? Should I spend the year doing short trips and plan a very super long adventure for the following year? Can I leave tomorrow? What if I Road across the country? Road trip in Europe? What about cyclo cross season?

Not sure how to handle this, probably by continually riding everywhere, with friends and keep exploring. Any thoughts where I should go?

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Bikepacking, Taiwan

One last ride

Yesterday’s ride made me wish we didn’t waste time going to Kenting. We rode from Taipei to the northern tip of Taiwan using some really nice pike paths trying to avoid major roads. Clear blue skies all the way, ocean views and great company made this 100km ride very enjoyable. My butt is glad to not have to sit on the saddle anymore, but I wish I could stay longer and see more. We keep discovering new places and the riding route possibilities seem endless.

we got to ride with friends again today, we worked together to push through the headwind and visits areas even my Taiwan native friend never visited. If only we had time to go to the beach! We got to practice some cyclo-cross skills 🙂

Our last full day in Taiwan has been spent walking through Taipei. Ouch! I am a lot better at the two wheel exploring then the pedestrian thing. Cool bike shops, more great coffees and some food truck snacks.

I wish I could stay longer, but my butt and saddle aren’t friends anymore and I may need to get back to work and plan for the next adventure!

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Bikepacking, Taiwan

The end of the nomadic lifestyle

Getting back to Taipei ended up being really easy. There isn’t a straight answer when asking about bringing a bike on a train or a bus, you will be told that it depends on the train, the bus, the driver,… Luckily enough, we met another cyclist who took a bus and was told to buy plastic bags, take the wheels off and throw the bike in the bus, so we did the same thing, bought a roll of garbage bags at one of the so many 7-11’s took the wheels off and brought our expensive trash on the high speed train. One hour and a half later, we had travelled 370km and were riding our bikes on the street of Taipei!

Back in that organized chaos that is Taipei, all these scooters and cars going all directions, I kinda like it! First stop…eggs benedict at our favourite coffee shop 🙂

I am so happy to not have to pack my bag and bike for the next 4 nights.

The plan is to spend a few days taking it easy, ride my bike around town, taste every latte from all those different cafe’s, visit bike shops and relax.

Then Angela arrived to town! Not even a full nights sleep after her 14h flight, jet lagged, she invited us to climb a little mountain, just 800m of climbing in 24km. Thanks for showing me this route!

Tomorrow will be a flat easy day!

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