After years of talking about it, in 2018, the Rocky Trail crew finally finds itself at the start line of one of the toughest European mountain bike stage races, the Belgian MTB Challenge. Why hard, you ask yourself – images of smiling cyclists on bicycles with baskets of flowers and baguettes riding along picturesque river banks come to mind… looking at the elevation profiles of the three stages ahead, these vanish quickly.
Wind back a couple of days to the start of our European road trip – car packed with bike and the brand-new owayo ambassador gear, as well as a toddler and bags full of toys and a soccer ball, we set off from our home in Ried/Innkreis in Upper Austria towards Germany.
Our first stop is at the owayo headquarters in Regensburg where we meet the team and get inspired by the smooth operation of a German-precision custom clothing manufacturer – orders come in and are sent out that day or the next. All over the world! And since 2017, also to Australia. It is amazing to hear about the logistics and operations behind the incredible 3D-online design tools – customers can design their own custom-sportswear and get full technical and customer support by enthusiastic staff. Samples? No problem? Chatting to a customer service representative in your own language whether you’re in Italy, Germany, the US or Australia? No worries!
After a German-style lunch in the courtyard of an old monastery, we set of towards Heidelberg where we stay the night, playing soccer with Cosmo with views of its historic castle in the evening sun. We’re in holiday mood!
After conquering the traffic challenges of the German Autobahn, we finally arrive in Belgium on Wednesday – driving through beautiful villages with picturesque stone cottages, we are mesmerized by the Wallonia region right away. We descend into La Roche via steep winding roads and Martin says, “I guess, the elevation profiles weren’t wrong after all.”
We’re staying in a castle of a hotel right in the heart of the BeMC event centre – huge meadows, playgrounds and forests surround it and a 10 minute walk into the village rewards us with countless bakeries and smallgoods shops, surrounded by cafes and cake shops. We’re officially in paradise!
We can’t walk from one playground to another without meeting friends from all over the world – former Crocodile Trophy and Alpentour Trophy racers say G’day and the BeMC owner is the new General Manager of the Croc. With its founder, Gerhard Schönbacher flying in from Austria also, it´s like a family reunion and we feel right at home.
Ready for Stage 1 tomorrow on Friday, 11 May!
- Bike – Merida hardtail, Fox shocks, Shimano SLX components
- Outfit – owayo C5 Pro cycling jersey, owayo Cycling Shorts CP5 Pro
- Socks – M2O Industries compression socks