Choose a destination, select fifteen riders, set dates, buy flights, coordinate transfers, book hotels, find routes, find the best mountain passes and the most remote roads, decide km and gradients, organize breakfast, lunch and dinner, plan shootings, pack and make sure you do not forget anything… Hours and hours of dedication, meetings, nerves and headaches, but once D-Day comes, everything is behind, a new edition of Among the Giants begins and you know that everything is going to be all right.

This project is much more than High Mountain biking is to meet people from other countries, share experiences, live together, explore new routes and discover truly amazing places. A deep and real feeling that, thanks to the magic of cycling, makes many synergies flow and good atmosphere during those days, something inexplicable if you have not lived before.

“Today we introduce ourselves as strangers, the last day we will give hugs as friends.” By Andrea Schilliró during the briefing of this edition.

We are proud and happy to tell you that we are not mistaken in choosing Slovenia as a destination for this second edition. Actually, it was a big bet on the unknown and we gambled a lot, but finally, what we found in our trip in the north-west of the country was really amazing and managed to leave us all with our mouths open.

Now more than ever, we know that the title of this second edition “Slovenian Wild Roads” was the most successful.

ATG2. Slovenian Wild Roads

Day 1: Let’s get to know each other

After setting up in Lesce, a small town very close to Bled, and after unpacking all the bikes, we went to fill the stomach to recover strength and to make a brief briefing of presentation of ATG and of all the members that would form this edition, without formalities, accompanied by a beer toasting… ideal for breaking the ice!

Day 2: Bled circular route by Bohinjsko

It has been 90km and 1800m+ of gradient. A beautiful route, of variable hardness and where we saw the great peaks near, but without treading them in their stiffer slopes.

The first contact with the Julian Alps from Bled, while the first early bathers were refreshed in the glacier lake overlooking the medieval castle, we lined the first climbs. The route was planned relatively short and with a constant gradient, but not free of hard ascents, like the one that borders the mount Jeličnik nicknamed like the “Slovenian Mortirolo”. Stops in places with a lot of charm like Bohinjsko Lake and back, with intense descents and several ups & downs that, added to the perfect temperature that accompanied us the first day, made that on arrival in Bled, many could not resist the temptation of jumping head to the lake. It has been enough to be the first day of the route. GREAT.

Day 3: From Bled to Kranjska Gora

It has been 165km and 3000m+ of gradient, a long route and with major passes, we went into the Alps.

After leaving again from Bled, we entered this time in the high mountain. A first ascent to the Crni Vrh (pronounce if you can), took us to a different place, more Alpine; Huge valleys spread out between giant mountains and knowing that they waited for us many hours on the saddle, however it did not take away the smile.

After a few hours of “easy” riding, we arrived in the region of Trenta, there the best of the day was waiting for us, the Vršič pass.

A 12km pass with a generous altimetry, an entire cycling experience, is characterized by a hardness increased by a multitude of horseshoe curves that, until the last 3km to the top, do not let see beyond the next step. A final section with ramps up to 18% was the final touch of a beautiful pass that ends in a purely alpine landscape, deserted hills with some fir trees and nice sheep that greeted us effusively.

The descent to Kranjska Gora was not far behind in spectacular, with a multitude of curves of horseshoe with cobblestones, a cycling paradise.

Day 4: Visit to the great Mangart

It has been 117Km and 2800m+ of gradient, starting from Kranjska Gora and without time to raise awareness, we went up the Vršič pass again, but this time from its other slope, which lines previously described as paradise with its cobblestones and

horseshoe curves, huge sweat to start the day.

After regrouping at its summit and returning to greet the friendly sheep, we began the vertiginous descent and lined the road between wide valleys and always following the river Soča, which accompanied us for many km with its turquoise colour, which made us doubt whether it was Caribbean or Alpine water (the temperature generated doubts).

And there it was, in the distance we started to see a vertical mountain, a GIANT of those that make you feel small and worried if you are with your hands on a handlebars. The Mangart received us.

This pass is divided into two parts of 26 and 16 km respectively and is gaining in beauty as each of them. At the beginning of the port, you are greeted by signs warning of the harsh ramps of 22%, an omen of what is to come.

We could talk about the cyclopaedic benefits of this pass, tunnels, changes of slope, walls … but we would never end, it left us totally in love. We all agreed that it was one of the most beautiful passes we had ever climbed and that should be a real must for any cycling enthusiast.

On the way to the picturesque town of Kranjska Gora we did something that is already a “tradition” in the ATG, about 30 km of sprints, attacks as final brooch to the queen stage.

It was time to rest a bit and comment all the anecdotes, comic situations and hard times of the day, something that had become a ritual except that night was the last in Slovenia and we had a very special dinner in which we would taste the delicious flavours of the country thanks to the friends of Hiking & Biking Slovenia and the Gobierno de Eslovenia that took care of us very well.

Day 5: Taking advantage of the last hours

The end of the adventure was approaching, but, for those that our flight allowed, there was a final touch, 900m in 30km

We visited Austria through the Wurzen Pass, a road where vehicles are recommended to ascend and descend in first speed, ramps that made us shaking our legs (as the 600m to 18% constant section) and that, with certain sadomasochism, was our choice to end ATG 2.

Author: Sergio
Photographer: Brazo de Hierro (@brazodehierro)
Translater: Sandrine