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Chasing trails on the island of the never ending spring

When thinking of Europe most of us think of big old cities, lederhosen and the Queen. But what barely comes to our minds are jungles, ancient forests, palm trees and volcanoes. On a continent that is so crowded that finding a free spot to put your towel by a lake is difficult, this is no surprise. Yet when you look, you can find just about anything – even volcanos.

At Moment Pictures we are all about searching for those places. For us there is nothing more rewarding than to actually experience the mountain in mountain-biking. And if you mix that up with the above ingredients and add some camping, grilling and a hell of a good crew, we are sold!

So this is where our journey begins. The task: find terrain that is as variable as the new SCOTT Genius is versatile. But, where do start?

Luckily our good friend Daniel Schäfer brings home some stunning photo content from his travels all the time. So we already had some locations in my mind that tickled our fancy and that gave us a starting point for some scouting. Daniel pretty much spent half his professional riding career on La Palma and knows the place by heart – a perfect partner for the project.

La Palma is an Island that had us wanting for more for a long time already – we hadn’t seen much video content from the island yet. Being part of Spain as one of the 7 Canarian Islands this one comes with the promising name of the island of the never ending spring.

With this in mind we started looking at locations and “bang,” there it was - an Island where you couldn’t possibly imagine more variety in such a small place. Being home to some of the world’s oldest rain forests, incredible Mediterranean-style single trails and stunning volcanoes, this island is pretty much what our filmmaker dreams are made of.

After spending some weeks internet-scouting with Dan we were all fired up to make this trip a reality. This one isn’t about the craziest, most epic adventure but about finding a place that is visually stunning, great to ride and to get you guys all pumped to jump on your steel (or carbon) horses and shred it!

Our crew consisted of the Tillmann brothers, Toni, (Director of Photography), Michi (Art Director) and Andi (Executive Producer/athlete) as well as Julian Mittelstädt taking care of all those amazing stills and of two other riders and friends Felix Heine and the Iraitz Etxebarria.

Once the general route was locked in and all the production planning was taken care of it was time to hit the road and jump on a plane to escape the mainland!

Day 1

After landing in La Palma after an easy 5.5 hour flight we first met up with local Daniel and welcomed Iratiz to join the gang. In Spain everything is a little bit slower than in good old Germany and getting a rental car was our first mental challenge after waiting at the counter for approx. 2 hours.

But hey, we are on an island, in Spain, about to ride bikes with a good crew, so no stress!

On the way to our apartment we already tried to fit in some location scouting and got a first glimpse of what to expect, and boy we were excited!

Day 2

Being La Palma greenhorns our first day was a full on dedicated scouting day to suck in as much of the Island and its scenarios as possible. And with this Island being such a gem it actually was possible. From rainforests to volcanos this Island has it all just within a couple of hours. The vegetation changes so quickly that sometimes you don't even realize the transformation.

After fixing some equipment and bike problems we sat down to finally discuss the next days and to create a battle plan. Being the Island of the never ending spring you can imagine that there is a whole lot of rain and clouds involved. So we had to create different scenarios of where we could film and at what time of the day and what weather circumstance etc. we might encounter.

Day 3

Our first day immediately brought us into a scenario that was very high on our “can’t wait to see it list” and that really can’t be found anywhere else in Europe but on the Canary Islands- ancient bay leaf rainforests.

These forests actually are some of the oldest rain forests in the world and are especially incredible as they are on an otherwise very vast island group. As the volcano Roque des Los Muchachos counts more than 2400 meters in height these forests are fed by the barely disappearing fog banks that dam on the volcano and dip the scenario in a moody atmosphere that could be straight out of Jurassic Park.

As amazing as this all sounds the name rain forest implies there might be a lot of rain! And who would have thought, there was! This first day definitely put the crew, equipment and rain gear to the test as filming a whole day in about 5 degrees, fog and pouring rain isn’t what we’d call comfortable. But with a lot of smiles on our faces re: the amazing scenery, flowy trails and the fact we were doing what we love the most - riding bikes - we finished the day with a big thumbs-up!

Day 4

The next day welcomed us with more friendly temperatures and the reason we came here, a completely different setting. Pretty much 15 minutes away from the rain forests were endless lava fields with beautiful pine trees setting the scene for our next day.

These special Canarian pine trees called pinus canariensis are stunning as they can reach a height of up to 50 meters and more impressively are able to grow in vast lava fields. These trees can rise out the ash like a pheonix and are specially adapted to the volcanic environment. With a specially developed bark they are able to resist to high temperatures and even if burnt pitch black are able to survive and regrow their branches.

With crazy wind speeds the sun came and went in seconds and changed from incredibly epic to frustrating and made this day a game of cat-and-mouse for dropping in at the right second to actually get the shot.

With another fun day in the bag this one set the mood for our next location.

- good vibes -

Day 5

Teneguia. This volcano offered another completely different setting with just fast, wide open lava fields that offered incredible views and speed. These fields were created in its last eruption in 1971 and definitely were super loose and something to get used to!

This location started with a wide open field that you would consider a freeride location just to flow into a man-made trail that right away winded down to the ocean. It’s hard t put this in words as this trail really was something else and gave you the feeling of being at the end of the world and approaching it. It was incredible and we decided we definitely needed to ride this again if we were to find the time!

After passing a couple of hikers that were actually stoked to see us and that interacted in a super friendly fashion we reached the ocean right at a lighthouse. Does it get much cheesier?

But the day wasn’t over yet. We right away jumped in the car again to catch one more location that day.

And of course: a completely different one again. On our first day we scouted an abandoned river bed that was running through a mountain village and that was surrounded by palm trees, cacti and Aloe Vera. This bed was perfectly lined up with the setting sun and therefore one of our prime sunset locations. As it always is this part of the day is the most stressful one as the golden hour doesn’t really do its name much justice.

In thirty minutes you have to give it all and hike and ride as much as you possibly can to get the most out of it. After a couple of good over-the-bars and breathless lungs we finally had what we were looking for in the bag and rewarded ourselves with an amazing barbecue at Daniel’s place. This whole project would have never been possible without his help! If you ever wish to ride on the island be sure to hit him up to guide you around!

Day 6

On day 6 we were finally able to rest our sore muscles a little bit and dive in into some Canarian tradition! The Canary Islands actually host some of the biggest carnivals of the world and our trip included a visit to the legendary white carnival of Los Indianos. All the  people on the island and ships full of tourists completely dressed in white gather for this traditional event to have a good time and of course to drink a lot of beer and caipirinhas.

The Dia des Los Indianos makes fun of the so called Indianos. Indianos back in the day were expats that came home from Cuba with great wealth and got themselves covered in white powder on their arrival to give themselves a more pale tone after their long travels on the sea. Nowadays more than 80,000 people gather in the 13,000 people city and cover the city in white powder. Next to Cuban music and sugar cane drinks people are absolutely stacked in the city’s tight alleys and have a good old time.

After a culture shock we still jumped on our bikes that day to make our claim true and ride the lighthouse trail another time. This time with a GoPro on our chest so you guys also have some fun with it afterwards.

As the scenery was so damn epic and we had enough of the civilization after the carnival we decided right away to camp out at the bottom of the trail. Cold beers, snacks and stargazing at its finest. This Island was a Bingo!

Day 7

But the last day even topped it all out! After another short pedal on the volcano we entered the lower Mediterranean-style forest and found a trail that definitely made it on our best-of list! Fast, flowy, long and ending in beautifully blooming almond forests this trail set a perfect ending point to our trip!

Thanks, SCOTT! Thanks to La Palma, thanks Daniel Schäfer, thanks Heimplanet, thanks Schwalbe! Thanks for making this possible! We definitely will be back!

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  • Video: Moment Pictures
  • Still Photography: Julian Mittelstädt / JMVotography
  • Words: Andi Tillmann / Moment Pictures