Crafting our Slovenia mountain biking video
Escaping his desk at H+I HQ for a few days, see what Donald made of filming our Slovenia mountain biking video alongside H+I Director Euan…
Behind the scenes of our Slovenia mountain biking video
Each of our adventures is a multi-faceted and complex experience. There is so much to see and be part of that it’s always a massive challenge for us to try and re-present this and give a true reflection of the trip. As is the way of video shoots, you’re also trying to do this in a timescale which is much shorter than the real trip would be. Basically, making a challenging situation even more fraught. For our Slovenia tour video this is what we set out to do…
In just a three-day window our aim was to get to all the locations and film multiple versions of every shot we could possibly need to tell the story of our Slovenia mountain bike tour; a magical journey from the Julian Alps, through Austria and Italy, ending up at the Adriatic Coast back in Slovenia.
The best laid plans
Logistically everything had been worked out down to the finest detail. Flying into Venice late at night we knew we had a tight timescale ahead of us but were confident in our planning. We were to meet with Julian (our endlessly energetic videographer) and Danijel (our brilliant Slovenian guide) at 8:00 the next morning and then 72 hours of intense travelling and shooting would begin.
The plan was watertight and was virtually infallible – that was until our bikes (some fairly critical pieces of equipment for a bike film) didn’t make it to Venice at the same time as us! As is the way with these things we were pretty confident they would turn up within 24 hours but it still meant we had just lost one third of our shooting time.
Being the professional planners that we are we didn’t panic and immediately implemented plan ‘B’ – we went to Venice for coffee and cake.
The beauty of the city was striking and the coffee was great but neither was enough to detract from the frustration that we weren’t being able to do what we had set out to or that we were three very conspicuous and poorly dressed guys in the most romantic city in the world. Anyway…
Luckily, we didn’t have to stick out for too long as a late afternoon return to the airport found our bikes waiting for us and finally got us on the road for a now even more intense shooting schedule.
Without pausing for a second we were out of the airport, had loaded up our van and were on the road out of Italy and in to Slovenia with Dani behind the wheel. As we left the vine laden plains of Italy behind we headed into some of the most dramatic mountain scenery I have ever seen and on to Kranjska Gora for some wonderful food and the opportunity to rest our heads for a few hours before two manic days of filming began.
As the sun rose the next morning we were already on our way up Slovenia’s famous Vršič Pass for our first date with the trails. Any hint of tiredness was quickly forgotten about as we crested the top of the pass and set off (even further uphill) on some beautiful high alpine tracks. Swooping and diving between trees, bushes, sheep and the odd First World War relic we remembered how lucky we all were to be in this place and for this to be ‘work’.
After a few hours of playing on the trails we sadly had to pack up and head to an even sweeter section of flow.
Climbing to high above the Soča valley for over an hour was a hard continuation to the day but was definitely worth the effort. From the summit the views were spectacular and the riding took us from high meadows down through lush forests of beech and limestone. Having to stop intermittently for repeated shots didn’t diminish the enjoyment of this downhill and the ‘Cheeseman’ descent is simply the finest I’ve ever ridden.
At the foot of the hill our physically and mentally taxing day finished at the renowned Hiša Franco. Home to chef Ana Roš and one of the most recognised culinary gems in Europe.
A few hours of sleep again interrupted the pace of our filming but we were soon on the road to capture sunrise on the Soča River. On arrival the colour of the water was simply unbelievable as the first morning light penetrated into the deep turquoise flow.
From the banks of the Soča we moved on to some amazing valley trails, some of which were most recently used for the European Singlespeed Mountain Bike Championships. The riding was great but I was certainly glad I had more than one gear on the punchy uphills!
More filming in the cool valley floor and through small foothill villages saw us towards the end of the day’s shooting and a van transfer over the high Alpines to our last evening accommodation and another wonderful meal.
Home-grown olives, olive oil and asparagus sat alongside a selection of home-cured hams and salami. We stuffed ourselves with what we thought was our main meal but turned out to be just an appetiser. We then gorged ourselves further with the wonderfully fresh garden barley risotto that followed and washed everything down with organic ‘orange’ wine which had been grown alongside our food and aged under our feet.
While we ate, we filmed (again pretending this was work) and enjoyed the occasion, followed by a tasting trip to the wine cellar. Our host Alex Klinec was the most generous and inspiring producer and the meal was one that will last long in my memory.
Our last early start of the trip saw us greet the sunrise, this time in Alex’s vineyard, before we rolled on to our final stop of the trip in the Adriatic idyl of Piran. Fast and tight street riding gave way to the expanse of the harbour, a seafood lunch and finally a few minutes to rest before packing up and heading off.
For me the trip was over and my new favourite country had been found. I could head home tired but happy and clear in my resolve that I would be back to Slovenia as soon as I could manage.
For the rest of the crew the work wasn’t quite over and as we parted ways they headed west for more of the same in Spain…
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