Photostory | Dolce Vita and riding by the seaside in Finale Ligure
Pizza, pasta and wine – planning a holiday to Italy and these are the first things on your mind surely? But this warm-blooded country, where mamma’s home-cooking, motorway chaos and gelatos reign supreme, has tons more to offer –just think about those breathtaking trails that lead you right down towards the Med.
You’ve either heard about it or you’ve been here; there’s no escaping this lovely, little Italian village. On the Ligurian coast almost exactly halfway between Genoa and the border with France lies the biking mecca of Finale. Not far from the town of Savona, the ancient village of Finalborgo invites riders for some Mediterranean sunshine, stunning scenery and tasteful promenading like all true Italians. But aside from the history and the tasty food, it’s the words ‘rollercoaster’, ‘Nato base,’ and ‘DH Men’ that unites mountain bikers with this area. Exactly, we’re talking about one of those winter-sun-blessed paradises, a place of escape for when the filthy cold winter at home gets too much.
The Harz had yet more snowfall at the end of March, which meant the start of the season was once again postponed. Peak fitness wasn’t quite reached either and the bike had new parts that needed to be ridden in… This wasn’t how it was supposed to be! As guides from the Trailtech mountain biking skills school, we picked ‘any old’ Italian village for a bit of much-needed pre-season training and the obligatory 22°C vitamin D boost.
We left the wintery north behind in favour of the sunny south, and after an exhausting night in the car, fitfully sleeping in our two VW vans, it was now time for layers off, sunnies on! Even before we checked-in to our lodgings for the week, some of us were already a touch sunburnt. The schedule for the next few days included shuttles, rides and filming. But naturally, we wanted our share of ‘la dolce vita’ too. So while we’d thrash along the trails during the daytimes, the evenings were reserved for exploring the region’s culinary offerings.
During the first few days we devoted our time to improving our descending skills. Thanks to Finale Freeride, the exhausting climbs up to Nato base were abandoned in favour of a comfortable ride up in an old Ford Transit with bike rack. The old vehicle groaned under the weight of 10 riders and equipment, with its growling and smoking indicative of its displeasure. It didn’t fail us during the trip though and by the end of the first day we’d already clocked countless kilometres of riding, and we fell promptly into bed after dinner.
The fun with the Ford had to end one day, and after three days with the motorized shuttle, we were then faced with mere leg power to get us up the climbs. Whether it was the ride to the Osteria del Din, located below the Colle del Melogno, or the evening ride towards San Bernadino – it didn’t matter. Getting fit for our upcoming tours and skills courses in the Harz was our objective, so we cranked our way up the surrounding hillsides time after time. By the end of the week we’d recorded a pretty significant amount of altitude metres – both up and down!
Thanks to ION we received our team kit for the season ahead of our departure for Italy, so this was a chance for some self-promotion. We spent one day filming, and captured some incredible shots. Thanks to Daniel and his VW van, there was no undue exertion to reach mountain peaks and filming spots, meaning a more relaxed approach to the sessions. Armed with a fair amount of equipment on our backs, we made our way down the trails, first riding sections, then checking them out before pushing back up. A continuous rhythm for the day that has resulted in the Finale Flow video (you’ll find it at the end of the article), in which the Trailtech guides find their flow on the dust-ridden and technical trails of Finale Ligure.
The day of filming eventually ended on a high with a stunning sunset high above the Nato base, before we reconvened for dinner in Finalborgo. Over pizza, seafood and some amazing wine, we reflected on the past week, and unanimously reached one conclusion: we’ll be back!
Words & Photos: Sven Frank