The Final Lap: A Change of Plan in Melago
23 January, 2017
Most adventures start out in a casual manner; in our case just two guys hanging out and chewing the fat, thinking about bikes and where best to ride them. That day a plan was born to go on a ride; a long ride, under the code name “Search, Ride, Sleep”. The dialogue went something like this between the two of us;
“The nights are already pretty cold, what about a place where we can still sleep under the sky with nothing but our sleeping bags?”
“Yeah no problem. What about the Provence?”
All said and done, the next step was to find an appropriate location; a place with good trails or at least suitable terrain, since we did not want to follow the tracks of thousands of other bikers riding the same old trails. We wanted the thrill of discovery. Lengthy internet searches finally rewarded us with our chosen destination: Gap. The next step was the task of compiling all our gear, plundering our basements for backpacks, sleeping bags, mattresses, and a stove. Then the bike-check: checking every bolt, brake pads and cables, and every bearing. For good measure, the bikes each received new WTB tires and a Reverse Components' bar and stem package. Better safe than sorry. Then the car was loaded and we were on tour.
However, plans change. By now, as it was very late in the season, it had gotten so cold and rainy that we had to divert from our initial plan and thus, had to improvise. In the time frame we had allocated, the alpine Reschensee had the best weather forecast. The only problem was, we had exactly one day to find new riding locations and book our accommodation. Both proved harder than anticipated as the tourist season had already ended, so most hotels had already shut their doors. Finding appropriate trails to ride was also difficult since we wanted some adventure and not the typical tourist stuff. In the end we found the Pension Tirol where a very friendly, Christian Schöpf greeted us after a four-hour drive. Even though we arrived late at night, Christian shared some of his local knowledge with us, sharing with us his personal favorites offering stunning views.
The early bird catches the worm, so in that spirit we got up at 5am to start our expedition in the area of Melago. It was cold and dark as we unpacked the car and set up our bikes. We mounted our lights and off we went up a narrow hiking trail, heading for the Weisskugelhuette, a cabin at a height of 2,541m. There are two trails leading there and due to our lack of planning we ended up taking the tough one, and tough it was. The first 5 kilometers took us four hours of alternating periods covered in sweat and frost, but it was worth it. Our early start rewarded us with a magnificent view of the sun rising over the mountain range. That morning we were alone up there, just us and nature and it was glorious. In front of the cabin at the top we prepared our breakfast; Irish stew and couscous with chicken, and as a final reward, a cup of freshly-brewed coffee served with the epic view of the surrounding glacier.
The sun crept over the horizon, slowly bathing us in its warm rays. The frozen pond next to us was a stark contrast. Satisfied and warm, we eased into the downhill portion of the ride, starting out on a nice wide trail which gradually turned into some sweet singletrack. Accompanied by the spectacular view of the valley below us the trail got tight and twisty, sprinkled with just the right amount of roots to be technical but fun. The occasional hairpin turn kept us on our toes.
But what would a bike ride be without the time to savour the little things? We had already made considerable progress down the mountain so we decided to take a coffee break right next to a stream. Holding a warm beverage and with the last breath of autumn in our faces, we could hardly believe that winter should soon settle down over this lush landscape. As we arrived back to our accommodation we were done for the day, longing only for rest and sleep.
The next day dawned and following an early breakfast we departed, just as it started snowing. It was our final lap. Happy about making such good use of the last day of autumn the previous day, we made our way home. Even before crossing the border back into Germany, we were immersed in planning our next trip, this time with at least one night under the stars. Living the great adventure of life.
For our trip we would like to thank Vaude, Reverse Components, Primus, Sea To Summit, Trek n Eat, WTB, Canon Germany, Bluegrass, MET and Conway Bikes.
Text / Photo: Alexej Fedorov Translator: Lukas Paul Edit: Alex Burchell