Via Alpinarica: da Montecarlo al Kosovo


127 giorni in solitaria in MTB partendo da Montecarlo ed arrivando al Kosovo, seguendo prima la Via Alpina e poi la Via Dinarica. Questo video è il trailer di una versione più lunga che sarà pubblicata in un secondo tempo. Sotto al video trovate la cartina dettagliata. Chi conosce le zone dove è passato si fa una domanda: è la bici che ha portato lui o lui che ha portato la bici?



  1. monorotula:

    Non credo che abbia fatto il "giro" senza assistenza. Con zainetto da 10 litri e magliettina fai poca strada in alta quota. Si vede una borsa da manubrio che va e viene, e un sacco a pelo che nello zaino non ci sta di sicuro.
    A journey, however extraordinary, is like a forest fire. Both are born from an insignificant spark. I had been roaming intermittently for a few years, regularly losing myself in the small French Vosges mountains which had welcomed me since childhood. I wandered along the paths on weekends, sleeping in shelters, under a tree or under the stars. I ended up crossing the whole mountain range. This experience of immersion, or rather of exfiltration from daily life was a revelation. I then arranged my first solo trip around the Mont Blanc in the Alps despite the fear in my stomach. This journey triggered my obsession for Alpine adventures.

    One winter evening while I was doing preliminary research on crossing the French Alps, I discovered the Via Alpina, a mega hiking trail which continues far beyond the classic route that I was then thinking of. It is a gigantic Ariadne's thread that crosses the whole Alpine arc from the Mediterranean Sea to the Adriatic. Rational thought was eclipsed by the shadow of the emotional; a situation conducive to achieving your dreams. The desire was born and would never leave me.

    Targeting the Via Alpina was like jumping from primary school to university. It was the beginning of several years of intense training in situations simulating the conditions I thought I would run into. I embraced all the opportunities that would move me along the path of resilience: freezing nights, rainy days, intense fatigue, or stress due to scarcity of drinking water. I am the type of person who believes that a real journey is not planned, but prepared. I wanted the surprise of discovering each landscape during the trip but having ensured that I had the technical and psychological toolbox to cross each one.

    The forest fire spread one ultimate time with the discovery of the Via Dinarica which crosses the Dinaric Alps, in the heart of the Balkans. It added the impossible to the improbable - but it all looked so elegant! At the end of the day, from a mathematical point of view, infinity plus infinity still equals infinity. My plan rose in its final form, which I will name the Via Alpinarica.

    I departed from Monaco at sea level. I was nervous and terrified by the magnitude of the journey, despite my hard training. I was hoping that the thousands of hours I had spent on the trails had given me a type of superpower: that of being used to the unusual. No prepared itineraries, no marked accommodations, no scribbled calendar, I needed freedom. The same freedom that allowed me to enjoy a few hours of a water hole discovered at the foot of a waterfall or to make camp at the edge of a high-altitude lake of unexpected beauty.
    My journey statistics:

    • 127 days
    • 12 countries
    • 3890 kilometers
    • 197000 meters of elevation gain
    • 3750 meters (highest point)
    • 10 pairs of braking pads
    • 1 red Tshirt

    I was sorely tested in the first kilometers, difficult due to crushing heat and demanding rock gardens. After a few days, when I would plot my progress on the map, it seemed hopelessly negligible; almost invisible; materialized by only a few pixels on my smartphone screen. In the face of my growing anxiety, I decided to move forward by setting successive modest goals. I was reassured when I reached these recurrent finish lines, but the final one seemed unattainable.

    Liguria, Piemonte, Mercantour, Queyras, I was crossing the mountains towards the North, the Mont Blanc in sight. I had never accumulated so many days on a bike. A fact that my body pointed out in the worst way, tendinitis of the fascia lata accompanied the Achilles tendons. I thought that the adventure was close to an end. A friend who was a Doctor prescribed reduced effort and cryotherapy. From here, I threw myself with enthusiasm into the icy waters of mountain streams and lakes several times a day. The tendinopathies faded progressively over the weeks while less worrying muscular pains replaced them.

    I had been gone for 5 weeks with the impression of having lived an adventure at the edge of the world and on a longer time scale. One of the most amazing things about such an adventure is that it distorts space-time in such a way that a day seemed to last a week, and a week a month. I had a theory to explain this: the absence of reference points present in daily routines; but above all, that the density of memories was such that the brain was lured into dilating time to keep coherence.

    A few days later on a fresh afternoon, on a summit overlooking the majestic Aletsch glacier, I saw a young woman get out of a cable car. She stopped only a few minutes to take a picture and then went back down almost immediately in the next cabin. My ascent had lasted more than 6 hours, and I found myself next to this person. At the time I found the situation unfair, but if we were in the same place at the same time, we probably were not living the moment with the same intensity. That afternoon, a fabulous descent of almost 2000 meters confirmed this thought.

    I had been pedaling westwards for a few days, to my great frustration. My goal was to get further east, but I had promised myself that I would follow the path of the Via Alpina. At the gateway to Austria, I finally met Christina, with whom I had spoken on social networks. She was finishing the Via Alpina she had started two years before. Our conversation quickly focused on my backpack, whose small size surprised many long-distance hikers. I had been optimizing this for years: purchasing extra light equipment to eliminate waste, but also creating some equipment myself, like my famous toothbrush tire-lever.

    I traveled light, but on the other hand I had to find a shelter every night. It is a stress that we have forgotten in modern times, and I became obsessed. With luck, a sharp look, and thoroughly studying the maps, I only spent about ten nights under the stars. When doing so, the Milky Way was so visible that it plunged me into insomnia, helped by the cold which regularly woke up me up in the middle of the night.
    All of the people I met were very nice and supportive, I rarely experienced negative behavior or comments (usually present in my local mountains), however, I did often hear this phrase:
    bigquotes With your bicycle, it will be impossible to reach the pass
    I believe this was mostly said out of concern rather than negativity. Either way, experience shows that their worries were misplaced. And if necessary, I could have disassembled the bike and climbed with the separate components, but the opportunity to do this did not present itself.

    I often made camp in the depths of bunkers built on the front lines of the last great war. The insulation was obviously mediocre but thermal inertia, wind proofing effect and especially the watertightness filled me with joy. In addition, the views from the tiny bunkers windows, previously designed for machineguns, were always superb. Some would judge the atmosphere spooky, but it reminded me of pleasant memories spending evenings in my local war fortifications when I was young. I was also fond of the numerous abandoned farms along the way, even if they were sometimes leaky and required some roofing work. Finally, the limestone massifs eroded by the chemical assaults of water regularly offered me small caves, often humid but always with an unforgettable view.

    With this sort of trip, nature obviously offered many challenges, especially in the case of fauna: insects thought my face was a great resting place; mice nestled in the folds of my sleeping bag; and most worrisome were the ticks who coveted my red blood cells doped with altitude. One of these hemoglobin robbers made my ankle swell until it was almost completely blocked. Time and the cold -that old companion of mine- cured the pain and the anxiety in a few days. A hiker told me one day about his exasperation with the nightly mosquito attacks and asked me for my survival technique. When I answered “earplugs", he burst out laughing. I specified that I treat the bites the next day with pain killing leaves available on the trail.

    The famous Tre Cimes in the Dolomites could be seen in the distance, they seemed unreal emerging from the foam of clouds. A few days later, battered by a powerful thunderstorm, I was at their feet but I couldn't see their heads, drowned in the altitude mist. The winds that were taking away my calories finally took away this veil that hid a dazzling beauty, soon flooded with sun. The terrible weather that I thought was a curse turned out to be a godsend, leaving me alone in front of this usually overcrowded place.

    The Via Alpina that I had quickly nicknamed "the monster" was almost over, I was following the endless Austro-Italian ridge that would lead me to Slovenia. August was coming to an end, the weather was becoming autumnal, pleasant during the day but demanding at night. Caves had the advantage of having an almost constant temperature, but the hygrometry as well. At this stage of the journey, I had learned to appreciate the bad nights in contrast to the terrible ones.

    The human presence was progressively getting scarcer with the exception of Triglav national park, mineral jewel of Slovenia. I could only confirm the rumors: turquoise waters of the Slovenian rivers are awesome, flowing in a bed of white limestone, revealing their intense color. I diverted from the Via Alpina when I met the natural park, which is strictly forbidden for bicycles. I could have carried it on my back like in Mercantour park, but this time there are plenty of kilometers. After this deviation, the return to the legit route was short-lived because I had to make an important decision: I was at the crossroads of the via Alpina and Via Dinarica.

    I saw the last marker of the path that had worn me out over the past three months. I had decided to continue to cross the Balkans from north to south through Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo. The trip would be different, the shelters almost non-existent and the abandoned constructions sometimes still booby-trapped from the war, I was told. So I started this new crossing with an extra bag to carry a tent and a bigger power bank. The transformation of the landscape was absolute. I abandoned the steep and arid peaks to embrace balloon-shaped mountains entirely covered with forests. The mountains had provided me with excellent vantage points, giving me visibility of the following days of cycling, however down in the forests I would be much more near-sighted. The days of total solitude were accumulating, it was a constraint that I usually accept without difficulty, but I felt a deep melancholy rising. While no living souls were around, the stigma of a tragic history multiplied around me: a farm riddled with bullet holes, a bombed house, a minefield. Intense conflicts had ravaged this area during the division of Yugoslavia, leaving no man’s lands.

    A mechanical breakdown added distress on an already cracked morale. In my head the trip was over, I had decided to finish at the next village, less than a day's walk away. There, I had already imagined myself boarding a bus that would drop me off at the nearest train station, where I would board a train that would take me home. When I arrived in the village, a woman kindly allowed me to stay in her farm for the night. I gave into a period of intense reflection, giving birth to schizophrenic discussions in my head. Surprisingly, I progressively considered continuing my journey. The next morning I pedaled south again, the bike frame tied with a piece of the neighbor's steel wire and the spare part already on the way to Sarajevo, where I would arrive about ten days later. Icing on the cake, I was escorted for more than a kilometer by the smiling daughter of my host, bare feet and raw rims without tires. I was back in the game, on a fragile repaired bicycle but with a motivation galvanized by rich and sincere encounters. The people of the Balkans had this singularity that pushed them to offer you almost more than they had for themselves.

    As I progressed in Serbia, the landscape moved from dense forest to a sort of savannah, mixing grass and trunks, sprinkled with numerous farms. Each of these farms looked self-sufficient, as if in a flashback to a largely bygone western past. But what I thought was under-development was perhaps forward-thinking after all, self-sufficiency and low carbon becoming the grail these days. If the trails had not been marked for several days, they were of remarkable quality and allowed me to double my mileage expectations. I was momentarily cut off in my momentum, literally and figuratively, by a barbed wire made invisible by its rusty camouflage. I had to organize a self-stitching workshop in the middle of the Serbian countryside, it was the first time I was on both sides of the needle. At this stage of the adventure, I was taken by an illusory feeling of invincibility that propelled me forward to the last peaks of Serbia. My addiction for mobility seemed to only have one cure : arriving.

    I had imagined this moment so many times. That moment when I would reach what I considered the end of the Alps, a ridge overlooking a plain whose horizontality betrayed the end of a journey made of verticality. I cried, once again with tears in which joy and sadness were intermingled. For the interim nomad that I was, this last summit represented the epilogue of this fabulous adventure in which space time fabric was dilated: mountains seems infinite while day seems like a week.

    Roaming is like a box of chocolate: you never know what will happen to you the next day or in the next hour. But surprise and wonder regularly emerge from the uncertainty. Of course, there are fears, doubts, and a lot of reasons not to go for it. But believe me, if a spark of desire springs up inside you, blow hard on it to start a forest fire.

    Last point I wanted to share with you, because it always raised a lot of questions:
    bigquotes How did you take all these framed pictures? You weren't alone?
    Yes I was alone all the time, I took high resolution videos from my camera and extracted snapshots from them. And yes, these trip back and forth added a few kilometers and elevation gain not counted in the final figures. To get best camera points of view I had to find tricks and to do so best accessories were wood sticks, stones and elastics.
  2. MagicTartaruga:

    +1500mt al giorno per quattro mesi è roba da fare invidia alle fatiche d'Ercole. :mrgreen:
    Sempre tanta roba, ma immagina di spalmare la tua uscita di 3-4h in 8h con una pausa pranzo.
    Alla fine si può fare
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