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Turquoise waters of Lag da Breil. Pic: Ian Holmes

Not one to turn down an adventure, I especially couldn’t miss the combination of Switzerland and a first trip abroad following the easing of COVID restrictions during summer 2021.

An invite from HotChillee to join one of their Ride Captains checking out the Suisse trails was well timed with an outstanding component delivery to complete the build of a final pre-production 1816 Cycles frameset. 3 days hard riding in the Alps would be a decent shakedown for the bike.

Climbing out of Sedrun. Pic: Mark Tinker

Wow. Every corner gave an incredible vista or felt like a Disney movie scene. I was very glad of the 10-52t cassette; a few points I was looking for Deadman’s gear on the extreme climbs, but setup from the get-go felt great and the bike was taking everything being thrown at it in its stride. Strapping on the frame bag let me load up with extra layers ready for going over some of the mountain passes in freezing rain and ensured we had plenty of supplies.

2000m of elevation each day meant for some massive climbs. Pic: Ian Holmes

The route became a superb combination of quiet asphalt lanes, twisting dusty cycle trails, fast gravel fire roads and tough MTB descents. All elements combined to make not only a picturesque adventure but a serious all-terrain test on the latest frame. Our frames have always excelled in handling what we throw at them, but doing this day after day with nothing more than a checkover felt justified. The route needed a few small edits ready for the event-proper but the bike was handling it all with comfort and holding up better than my body was feeling.

All this climbing must mean for major descending too. Pic: Ian Holmes

Despite being only a short flight from the UK, and never far from local civilisation, for hours at a time we could have been the only people in the world, emphasizing this as a true adventure; look after your bike and it will look after you. The bike certainly looked after me!

Mostly gravel, all day. Pic: Ian Holmes

Each day involved major climbs; averaging out at about 2000m per day. Getting into a rhythm and tapping them out was my approach – the bike feeling light enough that it wasn’t holding me back, but sturdy enough that I could really throw it along some of the MTB descents that really peaked my downhill racing background.