With the town at 1800 vertical metres and all rides starting in an upward direction, Livigno is a much loved training destination for world class road and mountain bike athletes. Many walking tracks are also open for mountain biking which means some epic rides are doable on some epic trails. Following the Dolomiti Superbike Gayes and I headed to this dream-worthy location with teammates Mike Blewitt and Naomi Hansen. Mike and Na were keen to enjoy some final prep before the Craft Bike TransAlp stage race which would start a week later.
I conveniently forgot that it takes me a good five days to feel fresh on the bike again after a solid race and struggled along behind my teammates full of admiration and awe. The TransAlp covers something like 20,000 vertical metres in about a week. After two days in Livigno, my legs were so blown I could feel the muscles un-contract at the top of each pedal stroke as though it was only the weight of my feet that helped the pedals move over and down. Even so, Mike and Na were so convincing in their belief that it was my mind that was blown and my body was still OK that I kept on riding and experienced some of the most beautiful rides I’ve ever been on.
We rode up above the tree line, then further above where it was too high even for the grass to survive. We moved through creeks and waterfalls coming from the snow up above, maneuvered around cows and goats with whom we shared the trails, into and out of Switzerland, through rocky avalanche territory and flew down descents so steep and exciting it that my stomach hovered over my saddle for longer than ever before. I marveled at this section of the world around me and wondered what each twist, turn or traverse would reveal next. With so much landscape to choose from trails kept cutting across the hillside luring us on, up, across and down. You have to work hard for the trails in Livigno but it’s worth every once of effort.
I found myself thinking how lucky I am to be part of such a great team who simply love the adventures that riding brings. Na expressed similar feelings in her own post on the MarathonMTB.com site. Mike and Na have a great way of working together on the bike which is set to make them a super strong partnership as they ride together through the long, scenic stages of the TransAlp. Check the MarathonMTB.com site for news on how that unfolds as well. I never understood the desire for long, hard stages like those until now. It, too, sounds like an amazing tour.
Photos: Gaye Camm, Mike Blewitt, Naomi Hansen, Kath Bicknell. Also a team effort!