Just having glanced at the topography on Google Earth, we knew we were getting in to something special when we came over to Val d'Isere in France for the World Cup finals. Arriving in person at the height of summer to the French Alps went so far beyond our expectations that we began to plan ways to stay on as long as possible as soon as we arrived.
Though a far cry from the potential hardships that accompany the typical car camping experience, there are no guarantees in RV living when it comes to the random neighborhoods where the wheel estate is parked. Living in an RV for an extended period of time can be a bit trying since much of the overall experience is determined by how nice a situation (as in quiet, availability of sweet riding and general neighborhood) that you are able to situate yourself next to. The laid back lifestyle of the people that we found in the small towns dotting the tremendous mountains that make up the French Alps offered up some of the best mobile living we have experienced to date.
Mary and I spent as much time as we could rotating between the small villages nestled in the mountains east of Annecy, France, where we felt comfortable living in our "normal" transient lifestyle. The infrastructure here is set up nicely to accommodate RV tourism and we were able to find our version of "the good life" even amongst the substantial summer crowds.
We took full advantage of the training options that came in all shapes/sizes, ideally beginning most rides on flat valley bike paths that gave easy access to an almost inconceivable number of fantastic climbs with a choice of severity depending on what the training called for. There are years of fantastic riding spread across the entire Rhone - Alpes region and our time there was really just enough to scratch the surface on a deep wealth of treasures. We found our Seven IMX 29er (cross country mountain bikes) to be perfect training tools for this area. Having the ability to equipped them with a variety of tires including standard MTB, cyclo-cross and pure road, gave the bikes the ideal personality for any and all of our choice of rides. Having disc brakes, gearing for every situation and suspension to smooth out the daily punishment ensured that we were comfortable and on top of our game in every riding situation.
Mary and I were happy to be able to utilize this vertically endowed area as a training base for the upcoming UCI Cross Country Mountain Bike World Championships on September 8 in Saalfelden, Austria. We feel honored to be able to represent our country, team and sponsors once again at this season-defining competition. It is always motivating to have an event like this on the horizon as it gives special meaning to the training and discipline required to try and arrive to the event with our best form.
After a considerable training block in the mountains, Mary and I took a short break and made our way to Friedrichschafen, Germany to attend our first Eurobike trade show. We were pretty amazed by the international flavor of the event and number of companies both familiar and unfamiliar that had made the effort to be there. A staggering amount of time and money goes into planning preparing and building up a trade show like this, and though the show only lasts a few days the contacts and relationships made there can be critically important to any company or team's success. Mary and I are responsible for all aspect of our team program including managerial duties, so it worked out well for us that this year's show did not for once conflict with the cross country world championships and we were able to be there to make some impressions for our team and sponsors.
The show was a good reminder of how hard people in the bike industry work and how passion for the bike is something that is found on all levels of the industry. The 9 to 5 work day really has very little to do with what is going on for many of these folks whose standard mode of operating seems to involve red eye flights, waking to alarms before even dreaming of REM sleep, staying up late networking / partying (can be tough to differentiate in this industry) and living off any manner of foods can be bought in the immediate vicinity of their continuous work day meetings. We want to give a much deserved shout out to all of those involved in this fantastic and demanding industry and thank them for the hard work!
We are now headed to the world champs and are excited to race in what is Mary's 11th and my 10th Worlds! It is a bit of a disappointed that we will not able to be compete on the same weekend or venue as our gravity enhanced counterparts. In years past, it has been amazing to share the world championship weekend energy with all disciplines of mountain biking, making it easy to check out the latest equipment progress and witness the otherworldly display of riding skill and speed. Hoping the organizers will see this split as unnecessary and see how it puts undue stress on the teams, media and fans who will need greater resources, time and energy to be at both events held a week apart, or not. Anyways, we are looking forward to this special weekend of racing and hoping for good luck, legs and energy as we give our all.
Wishing you great rides and good health.
Mike and Mary
Team Kenda - Seven - NoTubes