Kilian Bron versus the Dolomites (Warning: most epic vid you’ll see today!)

MISSION, [mish-uh n] 

1. countable noun

Any important task or duty that is assigned, allotted, or self-imposed. Synonyms: assignment, job, labour, operation”

Nobody told me what I should be doing. The “Missions”, as I call them, are just my version of long and original bike rides. They often end at night, after sneaking into all the most unlikely places discovered along the way.

I always liked getting off the beaten track, exploring each and every spot to find out what’s behind this corner, mound or mountain. I like to ride differently, in original places. That’s what MISSION is all about.

When I’m not on my bike, I used to spend time in front of my computer. Not only browsing… but also looking for undiscovered spots while getting inspired by imaginative videos and concepts. Most of my inspiration comes from the outdoor community, but what truly captivates me is getting to uncover creative minds.

This season, we launched our own web series “MISSION”. You have already followed my adventures through different episodes: riding atypical spots all around the world, or mixing other outdoor sports.

After a first episode on the highest sand dune of the world, another one on the Chachani volcano at more than 6000 meters (around 20000ft), a third MISSION in the Namibian desert, welcome in the Dolomites for the last project of the year.

The Italian Alps are famous for mountaineering and technical hikes. You never go walking in the Dolomites without your harnesses and ropes. Most of the routes are very steep and are accessible only via Via Ferrata. But first, let’s get some context elements! If the region is now extremely popular for outdoor activities, it’s not only due to its gigantism and beautiful sceneries.

The Dolomites actually have a quite harsh history, going back to World War I. All the paths taken in this episode haven’t always been places of sharing and exchanges between hikers, mountaineers (and sometimes mountain bikers). Both Italians and Austrians have excavated these lines with their hands, before getting in dreadful battles.

It’s important to clarify the fact that these trails, where I do what I love most today, have not been used and intended for these reasons. Far from it actually!

But when the change follows this direction, when a war zone becomes a place of exchange, it’s reassuring!

Unlike other destinations, I started this trip with a full week of tracking. I spent my time to carrying my bike on my back, sleeping in different mountain shelters. I had to turn around for quite many summits…

Antoine Montegani shared this experience with me during the first days. He has much more experience than me in this environment. Basically, he was my ‘reason’, able to say ‘STOP’ when we really had to stop. The Dolomites are very steep and unstable but in the heat of the moment, I’m fully aware I’m not reasonable enough and I’m able to forget how dangerous mountains can be. Sharing these moments with a trusted friend is paramount!

The images speak for themselves. Your Via Ferrata can quickly become very delicate and risky due to landslides and changing weather. All these elements make the expedition delicate but it pushes us to be constantly focused. This is the key to success! Being aware, accepting the risks or giving up is a difficult exercise. Especially when you have a bike with you!

I was voluntarily under pressure for this episode, even before the first tracking. Mistakes are not allowed, which means you need to be prepared. As you can be prepared for a major race or a job interview eventually… Before each technical line, I had to respect a simple process : put myself into my bubble, analyse, anticipate and then ride!

It’s like a rehearsal. Where nothing else but the tracks matters. By this, I mean You have to forget about the steepness of the cliff, about any interference, about absolutely anything that could disrupt the success of your line. These elements are all parts of the scenery, but you must absolutely focus on the one and only line. Looking both your hands brushing the cable life line, without touching it, and choosing your line to the nearest centimetre. There is no place for doubts!

In this bubble, I remember feeling everything in slow motion. You are able to anticipate the smallest details and you know in advance that everything will be fine for the rest of your descent.

The concept is not only to test yourself on dangerous trails. This is not a show nor a race to the narrowest path. Through mountain biking, I discover magic places. Some of you could tell me that you can walk there too. Except that I give a lot of importance to my riding skills. As a reward after every summit, I know that I will then be able to express myself and please myself. In this episode, I also wanted to add a real notion of piloting to the impressive and offbeat aspect of the ridden spots.

Speaking of spots, you’ll find three distinct ones in this video. After a nice exploration of the Tre Cime region, we stopped at La Marmolada. The highest peak of the Dolomites, also called the “Queen of the Dolomites”.

I must say that it was impressive! To replace it in the episode, the « Queen of the Dolomites » appears after the dam, at the imposing glacier. We have also ridden long smooth faces, previously carved by the advanced of the same glacier.

The spot is huge, that’s amazing! Definitely a different style from the Tre Cime but all these mountains are a reminder that you are nothing. A simple stone would make you disappear …

A few meters away, gigantic blocks of ice stand out and burst on the rock, in a huge noise that is spreading throughout the valley. It’s a special atmosphere!

30 seconds later, the contrast is obvious. Absolute calm except for a slight sound of water flowing and a few birds flying over the glacier.

Restless or quieter moments, you must maintain the same level of alert while exploring mountains. If the trails are not always technicals, let’s not forget that we live in a different environment than our local bike parks, where everything is done to provide a safe environment for mountain bikers.

To finish, we were closed to Val Di Sole. Very close by one of the most steep and difficult downhill track worldwide. It’s actually part of the same resort. Above, the forest gives way to rocky terrain and famous Via Feratta. Some forced us to make adjustments on the bike. Always related to the video, I remember this narrow rift where I could barely sneak into.

A last episode very intense, to end the season on a great note. A new experience as stressful as exciting that allowed me to discover more than just landscapes. Each trip, you discover and learn more about yourself!

Story // Kilian Bron

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