Iceland On One Wheel

Chapter I – Inner Balance

Every rock, every little bump in the ground is there for a reason. In a world, where nothing ever seems to be enough, the small details that keep together the whole are sometimes too easy to step over. On this land, stripping down to the bare necessities of equipment, exposing oneself to situations whose outcome is unclear, becomes the real adventure.

With one car, two tents and three wheels four longtime friends from three countries take it upon themselves to explore the cold, steaming hills of Iceland. In order to get our bodies and skills ready for this trip, we had gone on three shorter trips to the Italian Alps earlier in the season. Incredible peaks, rocky and technical trails, wild camping without showers, not seeing any other humans for days, dealing with rainy days and getting lost. On the night before the flight that would take us north, we took our unicycles apart, put them in our bag and stuffed the little clothing the weight limits allowed around it. What would the cold rough land of the vikings bring? We had no idea, if we were honest.

Photo by Stephanie Dietze

Mountain unicycling is demanding on your mind and body. With one tiny spot connecting you and the ground to keep your balance, it’s crucial to stay focused, to notice every detail of the ground in front of you. If you let all the steam, the softly shaped hills and fluffy snow tops distract you, the next thing you’ll take in is the earthy smell of the clay-colored soil your nose was lucky to miss.

Photo by Stephanie Dietze

Staying focused is as crucial as being humble, knowing when a line might be above your capabilities will save you from injury or worse. So place your feet securely on the pedals, pull the brake and lean back at the same time, pull on the seat to hop over a rock and don’t break too much in the slippery mud, because a sliding unicycle is even harder to balance.

Photo by Jesper Andersen

Photo by Giulia Tessari

Photo by Stephanie Dietze

Photo by Stephanie Dietze

Photo by Lutz Eichholz Photo by Lutz Eichholz Photo by Stephanie Dietze

Every mountain and every trail is unique. We never know what it will be like to ride it, until we actually do. We’ll get up early in the morning, eat a quick steaming breakfast that’ll keep us warm from the inside, then stuff everything we need for the day in our backpacks: shin and knee protection, gloves, helmet, first aid kit, maps, camera, lenses and batteries, sandwiches, fruits, clifbars, plus a light down puffy and rain jacket, if we don’t already wear them. On our way up, we try to read the trail. That section looks rideable, these switchbacks could be fun. Will I dare to ride down this big rock later? Big views and jokes at the top. Before the cold wind can make us freeze, we put on our gear. “If you brake, you lose,” says Lutz and vanishes down towards the valley. Jesper and I look at each other, grin, and hop on our unis and follow him down the trail.

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Iceland On One Wheel – Video

Every rock, every little bump in the ground is there for a reason. In a world, where nothing ever seems to be enough, the small details that keep together the whole are sometimes too easy to step over. On this land, stripping down to the bare necessities of equipment, exposing oneself to situations whose outcome is unclear, becomes the real adventure.

Kudos to Lutz Eichholz for putting this video together.

The Bellunesi Dolomites: Of Summits and Thunderstorms

There are many things that can go wrong during an adventure. You never know what to expect, which is part of why some of us love to go out exploring. If all goes well, you had a great day. If it doesn’t, you probably have a good story to tell. Some stories, however, aren’t worth the risk you take. On a recent trip to the Bellunesi Dolomites in Italy, I ended up being in a situation, that I am not proud of. It took me a while to decide whether to publicly write about it or not. But in the end, everyone involved agreed on doing so, if only to prevent other people from doing the same mistake.

So here we go. A couple of things I have learned in the mountains:

1. Start your day early.
Or, if you don’t, shorten your tour accordingly. On the day we climbed Malga Vallazza, we had arrived in the mountains rather late and decided to turn around before we reached the actual peak.

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2. Wear purple shorts. As often as you can.
Lutz is a pro at this and looks flawless every second.

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3. Learn how to read maps.
By now, Lutz and I have gotten pretty good at interpreting dashed and dotted lines as well as altitude profiles. Sometimes we’ll look at a map for half an hour or more, to find a trail that could be rideable. And even then, there’s a good chance it’s not rideable at all.

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4. Know your companions.
Do not invite anyone to come with you, before asking them about their experience in detail. Ask them about their gear and any fears they have. If someone shows up in a sweatshirt and sneakers, does not bring a rain jacket and tells you she usually hikes in flat landscapes and is afraid of heights: Do not bring them along. For their and your own safety.

Bring along strong and strong-minded people like these:

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IMG_6768 Continue reading The Bellunesi Dolomites: Of Summits and Thunderstorms

Basecamp at Lake Garda

There’s one principle of mine, that I haven’t yet broken: “Post your photos and stories before you head off for the next adventure” is the reason why my photos and stories ever go online in the first place. I definitly am geeky enough to enjoy hours of photo editing all alone in a dark room, forgetting to turn on the light for hours. But before I’ll do that, I’ll write some copy for my friends at komoot and Lieferheld, run, unicycle, play frisbee, bake sourdough bread, go camping for a night, meet friends for a philosophical talk over a good cup of coffee or watch the sunset at Tempelhofer Feld. So here I am, again, well after midnight, writing a blog post before I’ll do my famous ten minute packing and head off to the train station before it gets light.

Here’s what my Easter consisted of:
Italian flora, rocks and a new helmet (Thanks, POC!)

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Lutz, his purple new jacket and lots of yummy CLIFbars.

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Great poses.

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Ostern Gardasee (13 von 277)

Snow at 1200m…

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…resulting in early descents.

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Long hikes up.

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