Welcome to the tribe. We are very happy to welcome Marc Maurer from the Ryzon home of Cologne to the Project Horizon team. Marc distances himself from the dogged pressure to perform and instead focuses on what makes him happy: as an avid bike packer, he is always on the lookout for new adventures, foreign routes and exciting countries that he discovers on his bike. This is how he combines his passions, movement, pure nature and travelling. Get to know Marc in the following section, where he talks about what drives him.
Who am I?
I'm Marc, 39 years old, living in Cologne. I studied geography and Asian studies in Bonn, but have now been working as a freelancer in the event and trade fair sector for over 10 years.
What am I doing?
Working freelance allows me to work normal hours through the winter so I can head out and explore the world in the summer.
I am a globetrotter, adventurer, bikepacker and I love to travel the world on small and large adventures with my bike.
Why am I doing it?
I got into bikepacking after a two-year backpacking tour through Asia. At some point I found it boring to drive around by bus and train, I wanted to travel independently and without a schedule and not have to stick to any departure schedules.
So I combined my two passions - travel and sport -, assembled a bike, got equipment and just set off on my first big bike tour. For the first time alone with the packed bike heading east. From Cologne to Istanbul. Still no idea about the whole bike tour topic (the term “bikepacking” didn’t really exist yet), no smartphone or navigation system, no fixed route, no real time limit. Everything 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 cycle back. It just didn't feel right to get on a plane to get home. It seemed too easy, too boring. I just wanted to stay on my bike and see what's waiting for me around the next bend or hill. The cycling fever grabbed me and hasn't let go of me since.
Various tours lasting several months followed, eg through the Caucasus and Central Asia.
In the meantime, I almost only ride my bikes off-road. I just want to have fun cycling, enjoy nature and not feel constantly hassled by cars.
What do I want to stand for?
The constant thought of performance is repugnant to me.
I want to be on the road regardless of best times or comparisons. I don't care about numbers, not about how far or how hard I rode. It's about enjoying it, 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. To be able to experience adventures, to get to know foreign cultures and to 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. It starts again. A different country, different languages, different smells, different food. After a long time and the travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, we finally pack our bikes again, load them into the van and drive 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 meters in altitude are ahead of us in one of the most beautiful corners of Italy, over the Po Valley to the Dolomites.
It is not a race, there is no time limit. It's just a dedicated bikepacking event where you can test your limits and those of the material.
We planned enough time for the trail to be able to really enjoy the first trip in a long time. Five days is realistic and relaxed given the weather and terrain.
Even the first ascent to Monte Grappa is tough. On technically quite demanding single trails, it goes uphill at 30 degrees from sea level to over 1700 meters. 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 to sleep next to an old church. The selection of the sleeping place is not really optimal, since the church bells tear us out of our sleep every hour. Learned something again.
After a restless night, the first technical problems occur the following day. The material clearly suffers from the heavy scree descents. Andrea, the organizer, doesn't recommend a suspension mountain bike for the trail for nothing. But it is also quite mobile with our bikes. We just keep telling ourselves: “Every bike is a mountain bike”. My mechanical brakes still see it a little differently and sometimes really reach their limits.
The third day is the most spectacular of the entire Veneto Trail in terms of landscape and route. It goes steadily uphill, with another breathtaking view of the Dolomites waiting behind every bend. It goes up to 2277 meters, the highest pass of the entire trail. Sometimes it is so steep that you push more than you drive. 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.
Once at the top, we enjoy the view for a moment and then set off on the spectacular descent.
After that we stock up on food and beer for the evening and tackle the final climbs of the day. We keep an eye out for suitable places to stay overnight and, when it is already getting dark, we actually find a shelter. As the clouds are getting denser and darker, we are overjoyed to have discovered this hut. It even has an oven and we can dry our damp, sweaty clothes.
We start the fourth day with an easy downhill and have a long break for breakfast. Perfect for recharging cell phones, cameras and sat navs. The official trail is impassable due to landslides, so we have to switch to the road and make quick progress.
We are surprised by short hailstorms and have to seek shelter several times.
Due to the weather we decide to climb the last big pass of the trail the next morning.
We reach a ski area 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 storms.
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 all again. Rough gravel passages and slippery, damp single trails require our full concentration again.
70 kilometers remain to the finish and we only have the so-called "Prosecco Hills" ahead of us. These appear tiny and simple compared to the mountains of previous days. Short, steep climbs at 35 degrees await us. It's not just the climbs that demand everything from us, the scree descents are also technical and sometimes really steep. So steep that a passenger falls badly and the Veneto Trail is over for him and us. What an end to an otherwise great trip and great events.
Since we couldn't finish the Veneto Trail due to this serious accident, we'll have to come back next year and finish it off. Maybe then with a full-suspension mountain bike.
The perfect gear
What do you need on a trip like the Veneto Trail? Our Horizon Ambassador project relied on the following products and was prepared for all weather conditions on and off the bike. He had the following products with him:
Sydon Athletic Rain Jacket (in fact, Marc really liked the running jacket when packing his bike because the hood protects against rain and the jacket is comfortably loose)