Legs littered with mosquito bites, a sore back, and a crust of sweat on his brow. He might be exhausted, but he’s certain of one thing: today was the best ride that he has done in ages. And that was mainly because he’d been riding on his own all day, basking in solitude.

We’ve never been as well connected as we are today. Our smartphones keep us in the loop with news from all over the globe, buzzing with messages from friends, emails from colleagues, and incessant likes on Facebook. Forget checking your house keys, the remaining battery on your iPhone is crucial – after all, you could always call the locksmith in an emergency.

Endlich Wochenende und, noch viel wichtiger: Endlich Offline.
The weekend is finally here, and it’s time to finally go offline.
Eine Wochenende fernab nur für sich zu sein ist eine erfrischende Idee.
A weekend far away from civilisation and reserved wholly for yourself appears to be a refreshing concept.

We rely on this constant network these days, filling us with a sense of security – even if it’s only digital. No matter where we find ourselves in the world, we’re never alone. Friends are just a click away. Yet being continuously in contact can be a pain – at least for Andi. The line between private life and work has blurred, with work emails pinging in at 8:30 PM whilst he’s relaxing with a glass of red wine.

Das Rocky Mountain Sherpa eignet sich perfekt als Begleiter für Solomissionen.
The Rocky Mountain Sherpa couldn’t be a better companion for solo missions.
Die Kaffeezubereitung ist sinnbildlich für die absolute Entschleunigung.
No coffee machine here, you can expect it to take a little longer in the wild.

Try going offline

Friday afternoon, and work is out for the weekend. Andi, the media designer in our team, shuts down his iMac, switches off his phone, and begins his one-man quest: two days offline, two days with just his own company, two days of solitude. But, of course, he’ll still have his bike. The weather forecast looks promising, so he loads the car and sets off towards the Alps. He spends the first night in a musty room with embroidered bed sheets and checkered curtains in a small guesthouse. The following morning, swapping four wheels for two, he pedals off minus phone, friends, and stress.

Zuerst das Wasser zum Kochen bringen …
Start by boiling the water…
…, das Kaffeepulver ,…
… add the coffee, …

Preparation – the key to success

Riding holidays are second nature to Andi: he rode through South America with friends last year and got familiar with thin mountain air. On a fat bike, naturally. His kit, which he laid out graciously on our oak parquet flooring before stowing it away into custom bags, certainly has some stories to tell of the adventures it has been on. Everything is proven, whether it’s the ultra lightweight one-man tent, the compact down sleeping bag, the ethanol stove, or the superb titanium dishes, which have fed him well.

… und dazwischen immer wieder: warten.
… and just keep waiting.
Am Sherpa finden sich zahlreiche Möglichkeiten, Proviant jeder Art unterzubringen.
The Sherpa has so many options to hold all manner of supplies.

Benefitting from his past experiences, Andi’s chosen Rocky Mountain Sherpa weighs just 18kg, including all his equipment. Not a bad figure if you consider that Andi won’t even be carrying a backpack, declaring to everyone in the office as we cast a critical gaze over his preparations, “Backpacks can be really painful for your back if you’re riding for long stretches.”

Andis gesamte Ausrüstung ist auf geringes Gewicht und Packmaß optimiert.
Andi’s kit has all been fine-tuned to be as minimal as possible in both size and weight.
Manche freuen sich am Freitag Abend auf ein Partywochenende, Andi freut sich auf sein aufklappbares Ein-Zimmer-Appartment unter den Sternen.
While many see Friday night as the start of the long-awaiting party weekend, Andi can’t wait to settle in his pop-up one-room-apartment under the stars.

Far removed from everything

The 2×10 drivetrain on the Sherpa make the climbs almost non-existent, and that’s even with all the extra luggage. With 120mm of travel at the front and 95mm at the rear, the full-suspension Sherpa with 27.5+ tyres offers a huge amount of comfort, as well as lot’s of confidence. After a giant pothole-strewn fire road climb, gaining around 700 metres of altitude, Andi is faced with the first downhill. Wet rock faces and slippery roots cover the ground in this forest with its mossy trees. Grip isn’t an issue thanks to the 2.8″-wide WTB Trailblazer tyres, which roll fluidly over everything in their way with their low air pressure. Today isn’t about KOM-chasing; Andi rides in a controlled manner, his gaze fixed on the trail ahead of him.

Etwas Gepäck am Rad bedeutet nicht, dass man vor ruppigeren Trails zurückschrecken muss.
A bit of luggage on the bike doesn’t mean you can’t ride rough trails.
Auch beim Radfahren entsteht kein Zeitdruck und das Erlebnis an sich steht im Zentrum.
Riding without time pressure, with the experience of the ride at the core.

Crashing in the middle of nowhere is never a good thing to do – especially not without a phone. But he doesn’t waste time worrying, and instead ventures further into the unknown. After a few more hours of infinite ups and downs in the saddle, he’s beat. Time to kick back. Spotting a small, sheltered clearing, he comes to a halt and decides to set up camp. Around 2,000 metres above sea level, surrounded by snow-capped summits, he pushes his pegs into the rocky ground and spreads the tent for protection from the elements.

Selbst im abgeschiedensten Backcountry gibt es willkommene Zeichen der Zivilisation.
Even in the most isolated wilderness, there are certain welcome signs of civilisation.

Comfort is what you make of it

Swapping iPod and mobile for a book, Andi reads by the glow of his headlamp. He’s content, having boiled his pasta and heated his instant sauce on the stove. It was no Michelin-starred meal, but it filled the hole, and that’s good enough for him. He’ll sleep in the tent, which is significantly less romantic-sounding than under the stars, but at least he’ll get some respite from the hungry mosquitoes, who are already showing a keen interest in him. No more starchy white bed sheets and spring-worn mattress from the guesthouse; Andi has his sleeping bag and a high-tech, lightweight air mattress. The sun’s rays can take on the role of alarm clock, he decides.

Gerade bei Abenteuer-Trips  haben sich die Plus-Reifen bewährt.
Plus-size tyres excel when it comes to adventurous trips.

As is custom, Andi begins the morning with a coffee – and this Sunday is no exception, although it does require a somewhat more laborious procedure: fire up the stove, boil the water, add the coffee, and wait until it has settled. The definition of deceleration…just like waiting for the dew on the tent’s groundsheet to dry in the sunshine before it can be packed away.

Auch der schönste Ausflug muss eine Ende haben: Sonntag Nachmittag geht es wieder in Richtung Tal, zurück ins moderne Leben.
All good things have to come to an end, and Sunday afternoon means a return to the valley and modern life.

Let’s get back to business

The bike is loaded again, and so it’s time to set off. Despite the additional weight, the Sherpa remains an agile ride thanks to its compact geometry. With the weight evenly spread across the front and rear panniers, it maneuvers remarkably well, even on technical terrain. As he approaches his car after the second full day of riding, he has begun to appreciate the solitude and recognize just how relaxing an ‘offline’ life can be. Once home, he smugly deactivates email notifications on his phone and settles down with some red wine, safe in the knowledge that he won’t be disturbed this evening. Cheers!

Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer

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