We are finally on our way to Montenegro, a real trip into the unknown. Each one of us seems to be lost in their own thoughts as we drive along the stunning coastline, our eyes transfixed on the shimmering blue of the ocean. We have great plans and expectations and still we feel like our destination will be nothing like we expected it to be.
For me, the season is over, the last races of 2016 are done and I am looking back at a memorable World Cup Finale and World Championships. Right after the finale, I was headed to Whistler where I spent 10 amazing days riding, chilling out and partying. It’s the most amazing bike park in the world and needless to say, we had the greatest time. At that point, I didn’t really have the chance to think about the things that had happened during that eventful summer. Armin Walcher, photographer and a good friend of mine, Christian Czadilek, a filmmaker, and I were on our way to Montenegro. Our destination? We didn’t really have one, but expected to discover new locations, trails, to meet interesting locals and just explore the country, which is definitely off the beaten track. Those were our expectations, and I can safely say that they have been more than exceeded.
Our first stop in Montenegro was Petrovac, a small village by the sea. There, we stayed with the owner of a Jet Ski rental and his sister. The town is picturesque, but the deserted ruins of a hotel resort that has never been finished gives it a gloomy atmosphere. The investor of that one must have made some terrible miscalculations, that’s for sure. The guy’s English was rather basic, whereas his sister spoke fluently. However, they still didn’t seem quite able to figure us out. It was hard to communicate the main goal of our trip to them, namely looking for MTB trails in the area. As it turned out soon, there weren’t really any trails around so we had to change or plans. At the end of the day, I had one good trail session in the area. We went to a small island and believe me, the journey there was an adventure by itself. We explored the rocky area and found some great spots. The sunset there was spectacular, so it was definitely a day to remember.
As I have already mentioned, our expectations have been more than met. The people we met and what we experienced in Montenegro left us speechless more than just once. Looking for accommodation, we got to know Drago, who owns and rents out a number of bungalows in a picturesque little tourist town. He soon turned out to be a friendly and caring guy who provided us with tea and extra blankets as weather conditions got rough. Because of the great service, we would have preferred to stay with him a little longer, but the weather forced us to change our plans. Our clothes, gear, and even the photo equipment was soaking wet and we decided to leave in order to look for some place warmer.
After all, there was no heating in Drago’s and temperatures had dropped below zero. On the road again and starving, we decided to take a break at a National Park. A newly built hotel there convinced us to stay longer. We finally had the chance to warm up again and have a good shower, which hadn’t been possible before and so we were back on track in no time.
The footage and photos we have taken home from this trip couldn’t be more amazing. They were all taken within one week and within a distance of a few hours by car. That’s why I am still impressed by the variety and scenic beauty of Montenegro. All in all, I have to say that I didn’t spend too much time on trails during our trip. For me, Montenegro was mainly freeriding in an amazing landscape. I believe that’s a good thing because I have to stick to the trails all year anyway.
I’m thankful for this opportunity to visit a country which hadn’t been on my radar at all before. As well thanks to Red Bull for helping us out, thanks to Armin and Christian for putting in a lot of work, getting wet and cold most of the time! As well thanks to Land Rover Austria, Bikepark Leogang, Adidas Eyewear and Hotel SalzburgerHof Leogang for making this trip happen! – Markus Pekoll