Project Horizon // Marc Maurer
Welcome to the tribe. We are very happy to welcome Marc Maurer, from the Ryzon home town 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 hunt for new adventures, foreign routes and exciting countries to discover on his bike. This is how he combines his passions, exercise, pure nature and traveling. Get to know Marc in the following section, where he himself talks about what motivates him.
Who am I?
I am Marc, 39 years old, 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 I can hit the road 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 came to 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 to the east. From Cologne to Istanbul. Still no idea about the whole bike travel topic (the term "bikepacking" didn't really exist then), still no smartphone or navi, no fixed route, no real time limit. Everything was new and exciting.
The plan was to fly back home from Istanbul by plane. But when I arrived in Istanbul, I changed my plan and decided to go back by bike. 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 bike travel fever had taken hold of me and hasn't let me go since.
Several tours of several months followed, e.g. through the Caucasus and Central Asia.
In the meantime I am with my wheels actually almost only off the road on the way. I just want to have fun cycling, enjoy nature and do not feel constantly harassed by cars.
What do I want to stand for?
The constant idea of performance repels me.
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.
Once I'm 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 have adventures, get to know foreign cultures better and feel nature is something very special.
It is nice to inspire other people to experience the same or similar things. To take away their fear of the new, the unknown, so they can start bravely into 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. A different country, different languages, different smells, different food. After quite some time and the pandemic travel restrictions, we finally pack our bikes again, load them into the van and head to Citadella (Italy) to participate in the Veneto Trail.
The Veneto Trail is an "unsupported bikepacking adventure" for mountain bikes.
450 kilometers and 10,000 vertical meters are ahead of us in one of the most beautiful corners of Italy, across the Po Valley to the Dolomites.
It is not a race, there is no time limit. It is simply a bikepacking event made 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.
Already the first climb to Monte Grappa has it in itself. On technically quite challenging single trails we go at 30 degrees from sea level to over 1700 meters altitude uphill. The following downhill makes all initial curses forgotten and everyone has a big grin on their face. We end the day with pizza and beer and lie down next to an old church to sleep. The choice of the sleeping place is not really optimal, because the church bells tear us every full hour from sleep. Again what learned.
After a restless night, the first technical problems occur the following day. The material suffers already clearly with the violent scree descents. Andrea, the organizer, recommends not for nothing a sprung mountain bike for the trail. However, it is also quite rideable with our bikes. We just keep telling ourselves "every bike is a mountain bike". My mechanical brakes see that nevertheless somewhat differently and come the one or other time really to their limits.
The third day is the most spectacular of the entire Veneto Trail in terms of scenery and distance. It goes steadily steep uphill, with another breathtaking view of the Dolomites waiting around every bend. It goes up to 2277 meters, the highest pass of the entire trail. In places it's so steep that you're 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 click system.
At the top we enjoy the view for a moment and then set off on the spectacular descent. Afterwards we stock up on food and beer for the evening and tackle the last climbs of the day. We keep an eye out 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 and we can dry our damp, sweaty clothes.
With a loose downhill we start into the fourth day and take a long breakfast break. Perfect to recharge cell phones, cameras and navis. Due to landslides the official trail is not passable, so we have to switch to the road and make fast progress. We are surprised by short hail showers and have to seek shelter several times.
Because of the weather we decide to climb the last big pass of the trail the next morning first. We reach a ski area that is almost deserted in summer. After a decent dinner and some 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 on the 1611 meter high pass. The descent has it again in itself. Rough gravel passages and slippery, damp single trails require all our concentration again. There are 70 kilometers left until 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 again, but also the scree descents are technical and sometimes really steep. So steep that a fellow rider falls heavily and the Veneto Trail is over for him and us. What an end to an otherwise great trip and great event.
Since we could not finish the Veneto Trail due to this serious accident, we will probably have to come back next year and finish the thing. Maybe then also with a full suspension mountain bike.
The perfect equipment
What do you need on 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 (actually, Marc liked the running jacket a lot while bikepacking, too, because the hood protects from rain and the jacket fits comfortably loose)