Welcome to the Tribe. We are very happy to welcome Marc Maurer from Ryzon, his home in Cologne, to the Project Horizon team. Marc distances himself from the pressure to perform and instead focuses on what makes him happy. As an enthusiastic bikepacker, he is always on the lookout for new adventures, foreign routes, and exciting countries to discover on his bike. This is how he combines his passions, exercise, pure nature, and travelling. Get to know Marc in the following section, where he himself talks about what drives him.
Who am I?
I'm Marc. I'm 39 and live in Cologne. I studied geography and Asian studies in Bonn, but have now been working freelance in the event and trade fair sector for over 10 years.
What do I do?
Freelancing allows me to work through the winter in normal times so that I can set off in the summer and explore the world.
I am a globetrotter, adventurer, bikepacker, and love to travel the world in small and big adventures with my bike.
Why do I do it?
I started bikepacking after a two-year backpacking trip through Asia. At some point, I found it boring to travel around by bus and train. I wanted to travel self-determined and without a schedule and not have to stick to any departure plans.
So I combined my two passions -- travel and sport -- put together a bike, got some equipment, and just set off on my first big bike tour. For the first time alone with a packed bike towards the east. From Cologne to Istanbul. I didn't know anything about bike touring (the term "bikepacking" didn't really exist yet), no smartphone or sat nav, no fixed route, no real time limit. Everything was new and exciting.
The plan was to fly home from Istanbul. But when I arrived in Istanbul, I changed my plan and decided to cycle back. It just wouldn't have felt right to get on a plane to come back home. It seemed too easy, too boring. I just wanted to keep sitting on my bike and see what was waiting for me around the next bend or up the next mountain. The cycling fever had taken hold of me and hasn't let me go since.
Various tours followed, lasting several months, e.g. through the Caucasus and Central Asia.
In the meantime, I ride my bikes almost exclusively off the road. I just want to have fun cycling, enjoy nature and not feel constantly harassed by cars.
What do I want to stand for?
I don't like the constant idea of performance.
I want to be on the road regardless of best times or comparisons. It doesn't matter to me how far or how hard I've ridden. It's about having fun, enjoying it and having a good time. Alone or with friends.
As soon as I sit on my bike, I feel total freedom and independence.
I love the feeling of sitting on a packed bike, having everything I need with me and setting off into the unknown. Being able to experience adventures, get to know foreign cultures better and feel nature is something very special.
It's nice to inspire other people to experience the same or similar things. To take away their fear of the new, the unknown, so that they can boldly start new adventures.
In June, Marc was on the Veneto Trail with his friends. The bikepacking event for mountain bikers took place in Italy and here you can read how he experienced the adventure and the time together.
Finally. Here we go again. Another country, different languages, different smells, different food. After a long time and the pandemic-related travel restrictions, we finally pack our bikes again, load them into the van, and drive to Citadella (Italy) to take part in the Veneto Trail.
The Veneto Trail is an "unsupported bikepacking adventure" for mountain bikes.
450 kilometers and 10,000 meters of altitude increase await us in one of the most beautiful corners of Italy, across the Po Valley to the Dolomites.
It's not a race; there's no time limit. It's simply a bikepacking event completed with dedication, where you can test your limits and those of your equipment.
We have planned enough time for the trail to really enjoy the first trip in a while. Five days is realistic and relaxed given the weather and terrain.
Even the first climb to Monte Grappa is a challenge. On technically demanding, single trails at 30 degrees, it goes up from sea level to an altitude of over 1700 meters. The following route downhill makes us forget all the initial curses and everyone has a big grin on their face. We end the day with pizza and beer and lie down to sleep next to an old church. The choice of place to sleep is not really optimal as the church bells jolt us out of sleep every hour. We learn something again.
After a restless night, the first technical problems occur the following day. The material already suffers considerably during the heavy descents. Andrea, the organizer, does not recommend a suspension mountain bike for the trail for nothing. But it is also quite rideable with our bikes. We just keep telling ourselves: "Every bike is a mountain bike." Nevertheless, my mechanical brakes see things a bit differently and sometimes really reach their limits.
The third day is the most spectacular of the entire Veneto Trail in terms of scenery and distance. It goes steadily uphill, with another breathtaking view of the Dolomites waiting around every bend. It climbs to 2277 meters, the highest pass of the entire trail. In places, it is so steep that you are pushing more than riding. The last part of the pass is really rough. We have to carry our bikes for several hundred meters and wish we had hiking shoes instead of cycling shoes with a click system.
At the top, we enjoy the view for a moment and then set off on the spectacular descent.
We then stock up on food and beer for the evening and tackle the last climbs of the day. We keep a lookout for suitable places to spend the night and, as it is already getting dark, we actually find a refuge. As the clouds get thicker and darker, we are overjoyed to have discovered this hut. It even has a stove so we can dry our damp, sweaty clothes.
We start the fourth day with an easy downhill and take a long breakfast break. Perfect to recharge our mobile phones, cameras, and sat navs. Due to landslides, the official trail is not passable, so we have to switch to the road and make quick progress.
We are surprised by short hail showers and have to seek shelter several times.
Due to the weather, we decide to climb the last big pass of the trail first thing the next morning.
We reach a ski resort that is almost deserted in summer. After a decent dinner and a few beers, we look for an abandoned house to spend the night there -- protected from hail and storm.
The next morning, we start early and wait a long time for the only espresso bar to open, only to find out that the bar is closed today. So, without breakfast and coffee, we climb the 1611 meter high pass.
The descent is a real challenge. Rough gravel passages and slippery, damp, single trails require all our concentration once again.
There are 70 kilometers to the finish and we only have the so-called "Prosecco Hills" ahead of us. These seem tiny and easy compared to the mountains of the previous days. Short, steep climbs at 35 degrees await us. Not only the climbs demand everything from us, but also the scree descents are technical and sometimes really steep. So steep, in fact, that a fellow rider has a serious fall and the Veneto Trail is over for him and us. What a way to end an otherwise great trip and great event.
Since we were unable to finish the Veneto Trail due to this serious accident, we'll probably have to come back next year and finish it. Maybe then with a full-suspension mountain bike as well.
The perfect equipment
What do you need for a trip like the Veneto Trail? Our Project Horizon Ambassador relied on the following products and was prepared for all weather conditions on and off the bike. He had the following products in his luggage:
Sydon Athletic Rain Jacket (in fact, Marc also particularly liked the running jacket while bikepacking, as the hood protects against rain and the jacket fits comfortably loose).