Highlights of 2018
The H+I office team recount their favourite moments from the past 12 months.
Our Favourite Highlights of 2018
With 2018 racing to a close it’s time to reflect on another somewhat frantic but fantastic season of two wheeled adventures. We’ve had another busy 12 months in which we’ve done everything from launching a new tour in Morocco, to welcoming the Yeti Tribe Gathering to our home in Scotland, and exploring the wilds of Kyrgyzstan… There is too much to mention! Above all else though we have seen plenty of fresh and familiar faces join us across the world – that’s the bit that makes all the hard work worth it. Here’s to making 2019 every bit as good.
Sitting here in a Highland winter, the beautiful, sunny days of my adventure in Croatia in May seem like a dim and distant memory! However, mountain biking with friends – old and new – through the captivating countryside and coast of Istria was a real highlight for me. Day 2, in particular, was my favourite day of the whole tour. The trails that day are so diverse, starting with a short climb on to the grassy Cicarija plateau, where the air was filled with the scent of wild herbs such as thyme, verbena and rosemary, then descending through rustic woodland trails to the valley floor. This was followed by a couple of rocky, technical climbs (my favourite kind!) to the medieval village of Hum, where we enjoyed a bit of shade and a delicious, traditional lunch in the only restaurant in this, the smallest town in the world. We were very spoiled with fantastic weather, beautiful landscapes, tremendous food and wine, and gorgeous accommodation in Croatia – and there’s nothing wrong with that!
The most exciting times in the H+I office are always when a new tour begins to take shape. We’ve been mulling over a Moroccan tour for a while and 2018 was the year we could finally make it happen, it certainly did not disappoint! The stand out day from that two week long exploration with Eric Porter came from our very first pedal strokes in the High Atlas Mountains. Departing the town of Imlil with the prayer call reverberating through the valleys we pushed towards the shadow of Mt Toubkal… the trails that unravelled ahead of us were an amazing network of ancient paths, trampled into the hillsides by the hooves and feet of Morocco’s nomadic Berbers. A sign of things to come and a sign that this was going to create an incredible tour.
Out the door early on the 1st of January and into the warm rolling hills of Southern Spain. I was following the old adage of ‘start as you mean to go on’ and with this one outing I was sure that 2018 was going to be a winner. Luckily it didn’t disappoint.
Every hard earned climb and newly discovered descent played its part in a memorable 12 months but the absolute highlight was my 10 days spent in Slovenia for the Shimano XTR M9100 launch. A lot of hard graft, from all sides, went into pulling this media camp together so seeing it unfold so perfectly was a joy. As they always do, the Julian Alps delivered trail perfection and smiles all round for the media, Shimano and H+I teams; in all cases just the best bunch of folks you could ever hope to meet, work and ride alongside. 2019’s going to have to go a long way to top that one. The benchmark is sitting high but we’re ready to kick it up another notch…
It’s been an amazing first year with H+I. After countless videos, two new countries in two new continents and many many new friends it is difficult to narrow down one particular moment that rises above the rest. From 5000m up in the Kyrgyzstan Alai Mountains, through the valleys of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, to back home in the wet and windy hills of Scotland. However, despite the intense heat and humidity, and a sand storm blasting in our ears, the highlight of 2018 was sitting on top of the dunes in the middle of the Sahara Desert, watching the sun go down, living out several childhood dreams of films made many years before I was born.
There are so many moments I look back on with fondness;watching the sun rise over the jungle in New Zealand on the Old Ghost Road, sharing tea with locals in the Atlas Mountains, and the boisterously good times with the Yeti Tribe crew to name but a few… In the end it’s an easy pick though. On a whirlwind trip to Canada with Scotty Laughland I got to sample the delights of both the Yukon and BC, but ultimately it was one evening in the Yukon that was the cherry on top. Having started riding in the alpine high above Whitehorse at sunset, I was not expecting to have one of the most surreal experiences of my life. As the trail grew darker, the sky grew pinker… Almost to the point that all that was lighting the ridiculously amazing loam trail was a faint pink hue. Meanwhile, we needn’t worry about bear calling as the shouts and shrieks of appreciation were more than enough to warn any creature of our imminent arrival. The feeling of loam spraying on your shins is the single greatest pleasure one can have on a mountain bike. We ended back at the van at close to 1am. Unreal.