Milano - Sanremo, Enduro Challenge

So, picture this – it was late 2022, and we were having our Backcountry Finale Dinner. Amid the laughter and cheers, we came up with a wild idea: why not organize an enduro trip when most folks are out there pedaling their sleek road bikes? Sounds a bit crazy, right? But that's just the kind of crazy we love.

In early 2023, we tossed this idea around with one of our sponsors, KASK. To our surprise, they not only loved it but also suggested someone who might want to join in on this adventure.

We had a long chat about which classic road race we should tackle with our Enduro Bikes. In the end, we settled on Milano - Sanremo. Why? Well, it ends not far from our backyard, and we know the last 100 km like the back of our hands. The plan was simple: take the regular route and scout for alternatives on trails or white roads. Figuring out the right trails took us quite a while, but with a bit of Komoot work, we mapped out an intriguing path.

After a bunch of back-and-forth discussions, only Pippo, Fede, and Jack were up for this somewhat nutty project. Some folks wanted in, and others didn't – fair enough, right?

The Pro Rider Joins the Team?

A few months later, around June's end, Kask gave us the news that they'd invited Nathan Haas, a former pro road cyclist turned gravel racer, to join us on this 4-day adventure from Milan to Sanremo. We had a video call with him, and we immediately thought he was a cool guy. But let's be real, he's a pro racer, and we're a bunch of goofballs. After that call, we realized we needed to kick our training into high gear if we didn't want to keel over on this 4-day ride.

Shot of Nathan Haas.

So, towards summer's end (early September), we finally met up in Milan. On the first evening, we hashed out the last details, and the next morning, we hit the road at the crack of dawn – 5 am. As we pedaled towards Piazza del Duomo in Milan, it was pretty clear that Nathan was in tip-top shape on his gravel bike. Pippo couldn't help but say, "Not only does he pedal more than me, but I bet he's faster than me on the trails as well." Well, we couldn't be intimidated by a guy in lycra!

Shot of Backcountry's team riding.

Day 1 - Milan to Nizza Monferrato:

We woke up at the crack of dawn, cruising around Piazza del Duomo and the Galleria. We were sort of looking for the red carpet, but we couldn't find it for some reason. Back to the hotel for breakfast, and then we hopped on our bikes headed for Nizza Monferrato. Around 130 km lay ahead of us, but we weren't exactly trembling with fear.

Shot of the team riding in front of Milan's Duomo.

After the first 30 km, we hit some gravel roads, and eventually, Pippo goes, "Follow me, I know a trail." Well, that was a disaster, to say the least – it was full of fallen trees, and we lost about 2 hours covering just 3 km. After that "experience," we crossed the Ticino river and had to race against the clock to make it to Nizza Monferrato on time. Nathan was mad because we hadn't arranged a proper lunch, but hey, we're enduro riders.

Shot of the team crossing the Ticino river.

We almost made it to Nizza Monferrato, but our pals from Kask decided to give us a lift to the fantastic Braida Wine Resort where we had dinner and spent the night.

Enjoying the time at the resort.

Day 2 - Nizza Monferrato to Ormea:

This part turned out to be the most challenging of the adventure, and our backcountry team managed only a portion of it. Nathan, the brave soul, almost rode it all – our enduro bikes (or legs) weren't too thrilled with all the ups and downs around the Monferrato hills. Once in Ceva, we had an amazing lunch and pushed on to Ormea where we spent the night.

Onto the most challenging adventure.

Day 3 - Ormea to Monte Saccarello:

Finally, we got to Day 3 – this was our day. Nathan thought we'd be pedaling the whole day, but lucky for us, Pippo had arranged a shuttle. We wanted to show Nathan how awesome the trails are in Nava, with some help from our friends at Nava Freeride Paradise. We jumped on their shuttle and got to ride some cool trails.

Getting ready to take of with the shuttle.

Nathan's riding skills are truly impressive – we knew he'd be good, but we didn't expect that much. He rode full enduro trails on his gravel bike, it was unbelievable! Colnago Bikes are definitely sturdy!

Showing off skills.

Late in the afternoon, we made it to the top of Monte Saccarello and spent the night at Rifugio Laterza. The place was magical, the weather was perfect, and we managed to capture some of the best content we could have hoped for. After a hearty dinner and lots of laughs, we hit the sack, ready for the fourth and final day of our little adventure.

Drone shot.
reached the top of Monte Saccarello.

Day 4 - Monte Saccarello to Sanremo:

We set out fairly early from the hut and started following the long ridge toward the Mediterranean Sea. We were pedaling uphill, and it was pretty cold, but the weather was fantastic, and the views were breathtaking. Once again, we descended on a fast single track, and Nathan impressed us with his speed and control – it was mind-blowing.

Cold mornings.

From the beautiful Garezzo Tunnel, we had a massive descent down to Molini di Triora. Triora is known as the village of the witches, so we couldn't resist a stop in this crazy place. We rode right through the heart of the village and had a quick lunch. We couldn't linger because we still had 40 km to reach Sanremo, and it was scorching hot.

passing by the small town centre.

We rolled down from the mountains to the seaside towards Sanremo. It was one heck of a ride, but it was totally worth it! It was cool to see the contrast between a gravel biker and an enduro rider, but it was even better to see how, at the end of the day, we all just love having fun on our bikes.

Last ride back.
Finally reached Sanremo!
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