If you haven’t been following along with the adventures of Kait Boyle and Kurt Refsnider you are missing out on some seriously incredible and inspiring journeys. Their latest trek took them way up into the Alps where they created 5 different rides exploring a few different regions of the Alps with the intent of linking as many high quality trails together as they could.
The Full Trip Stats:
Check out the full trip itineraries below (as well as some seriously jaw dropping images!)
Alps trip summary
Eight years after riding a self-designed 800-mile point-to-point mostly singletrack route through the Alps from Nice to Zurich, we envisioned returning to the Alps and approaching bikepacking in more of an Alps-style. In 2014, we rode entirely self-supported, camped out 6 out of 7 days of the week for 4 weeks, cooked the vast majority of our own meals, and rode hardtails with 100mm forks and rigid seatposts. Despite the sheer challenge of the ride (30 passes and 200,000 feet of climbing!), the Alps remained in our minds as a destination for world-class big mountain riding with ample opportunity for multi-day routes facilitated by the massive network of trails and the fact that bikes are allowed on nearly all of them.
Now, older, stronger, and wiser, we returned with the goal of riding as much incredible trail as we could handle, and our routes and travel style would be built to meet that goal. We identified four different locations to ride 3-5 day routes, and planned to use the robust public transit system to transfer between regions. Additionally, the culturally significant system of rifugios, or mountain huts, allow for riding with less camping gear and food. Lastly, the extensive infrastructure of trams, gondolas, and lifts that support the winter recreation economy offered opportunities for us to save a lot of time and energy otherwise spent on 4,000-6,000’ climbs. Oh, and we took Pivot Trail 429 full-sus trail rigs, the best-suited bike for this kind of a trip.
So, the vision was to link high-quality trails together to explore a few different regions of the Alps, relying primarily on rifugios for shelter and meals and the cable-car infrastructure to bypass massive climbs, thus allowing us to ride farther and on more trail with more energy each day. And that’s precisely what we did, and it was amazing. =)
Ride 1: The Stelvio Route
We called it the Stelvio Route as it is mostly within Stelvio National Park, the oldest national park in Italy.
Ride 2: The Davos Loop
Ride 3: The Engelberg Loop
We changed plans and rather go to Chamonix, we pivoted and met photographer Fred Marmsater in Engelberg, Switzerland. The massive UTMB trail running race week inspired the change, as everyone we spoke to recommended avoiding the Mont Blanc area during that week. Instead we met to ride a few days in the Urner Alps, from Engleberg.
Ride 4: The Aosta Ride
Riding in Aosta may have been the most anticipated for me and Kurt. We had heard it was amazing but had a hard time finding much of any beta, which only increased the allure.
In the end, we rode a lot of trail. It’s hard to wrap our heads around it, but every day had at least one incredible descent, massive views, a hard climb, fun experiences with the people, and delicious food and drinks. We moved every day, and by the end of it our minds were as tired (or more) as our bodies from processing technical trail, navigating language and culture, route planning, and travel logistics and decision making. In just 3 weeks we rode a life-time of world-class alpine trails, and are so grateful for the experience to do so in a way that immersed us in the mountain culture of the Alps.
Want to know what Kait & Kurt packed for their trip and the rigs they brought? Check out the video below!