Words by: Jon Bokrantz Photo: Daniele Molineris
I am Jon Bokrantz, mountain bike ambassador for Norrøna. I have been riding bikes for the vast majority of my life, and this year I am celebrating 10 years together with Norrøna. A decade of unforgettable memories. When not riding, I spend my days doing research, teaching, and industry utilization as a researcher at Chalmers University of Technology. Insider pro tip: if you want to ride your bike a lot, consider pursuing a PhD!
I have always spent my summers traveling. Close by in Sweden and Norway, and further away such as The Alps and Canada. In particular, I have come to love one country a little bit more than all the others: the land of pizza, pasta, and cappuccino. Because who does not love the rugged trails of Finale Ligure and a gelato on the beach? Who does not love the steeps of La Thuile with Mont Blanc as the backdrop? Who does not love the dust bowls of Pila? Of course, I am talking about Italy, and right now, I want nothing more than to go back.
My last Italian trip, the locus of this story, went to Canazei in the heart of the Dolomites. After a halted pursuit of racing the full Enduro World Series (EWS), I wanted some sort of final redemption. The goal of the trip was simply to enjoy one more EWS race, solely have fun on the trails, and closing that chapter of my life with a good memory. I teamed up with my good friend Jonas Franzén, and we spent a week in Canazei riding and racing together, hanging out in the basement spa of the hotel, and drinking Radler on the balcony. Pure perfection.
After the race, I met up with my partner in crime when it comes to Italian photography: Daniele Molineris. We worked together on a shoot in La Thuile the year before, and we could simply not miss out on the opportunity to immortalize the combination of Italian limestone peaks and Nordic outdoor clothing. However, this time we only had one morning to shoot in good weather; a few key hours of sun squeezed in between two blocks of rain. After a 3 am wake up, we headed up to catch the sunrise at Col Rodella, arguably the most scenic spot in Canazei and one of the most famous ridgelines in all of Italy. From there starts “Tutti Frutti”, a narrow trail with massive white peaks in the background, meandering down some 1000 meters of elevation to the city center. This morning it was just us. A few people with bikes and a couple of cameras. Totally calm. Waiting for the first rays of sun to appear over the highest peaks.
One of my most vivid memories from that morning is the sequence of sounds as I dropped into the first run. Ten seconds until the sun will rise; shoes clicking into the pedals; a few deep breaths; gears shifting; the rumbling of tires on dirt; the clattering as the shutter opens and closes at double digits per second; the wind flow through the helmet; and that tiny tapping noise just as you slam the breaks to slow down. Such a good feeling. We live for these tiny moments.
After spending a few hours on the ridge and working our way down through the woods, we rolled into town about the same time that everyone else got out of bed. Had some coffee and watched the dark cloud cover roll in over the mountains, just as expected. We then packed up our bikes, drove to Venice, and flew back to Sweden. If someone at that time would have told me that this would be the last time I would travel to Italy in several years, I do not think I would have believed it. Since then I have both been looking back as well as looking forwards. Because sooner or later, I know I will be back.