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Madonna della Guardia

“Oh my god, that what so sick! The high-line on the left is so scary, the slippery off-camber rocks, just holding on to my handle bars! Man, it doesn’t get much better, this is such a good track!”

It’s Sunday morning in Italy; we grab a croissant and espresso on our way to Finalborgo. The level of excitement rises as the Landrover Defender shows up and Teo makes his entrance. Shuttling with Teo in Finale Ligure is just the best; it’ll be a good day!

“Teo, where do we go?” – A few seconds of silence and some facial expressions are followed by; “we go, where you want to go”. The Italian accent and the peacefulness of the moment are probably the reason why we keep coming back time after time.  - “Let’s do a run from the DIN, down the roller coaster, OK?” – “Si, we go where you want to go”.

We’re slowly waking up as we ride down the roller coaster. We roll back to the car and Teo has some small plastic cups prepared, serving us a home-made espresso, how good can it get?

“Madonna?” – “Si, Madonna”. From the bottom of the roller coaster it’s only a little drive up to the start of the Madonna Della Guardia. There we are, at the end of the fire road. We take the bikes of the rack and roll down to the famous church; the Madonna Della Guardia, what a view!

We decide to start from the church rolling into ‘Kill Bill 1’. Tight turns and the fast hard-pack make it hard to look far ahead. The trail always has some surprises, even though we’ve ridden it so many times. A few pedal-strokes are needed every now and then, maybe because we’re braking too much, or because of our over-excitement.

The trail ends halfway down the mountain, on a fire road. We turn right and roll down for a few meters towards the second part of the Madonna Della Guardia trail. “You know that gully where you go left, right, left and then straight, and then you enter the long rock-section? Try to death-grip!” – “haha, should I go first, or do you want to follow me?” We find ourselves in a very unnecessary sprint, trying to be first on the trail, to not get completely dusted.

The first few meters of the Madonna are not very steep and get my heartbeat up to 200. But it’s not long before it really gets rough. The first steep gully is so dusty and holes are so deep, it is just carnage. Riding up high in the corners and trying to jump little gaps; we’re right in the middle of what probably represents bike riding very well! It just keeps going and if you’re able to do it under 2 minutes, you’re competing with Greg Callaghan and Wyn Masters on Strava.

Maybe it is the last section that makes the 'Madonna Della Guardia' so memorable. It’s not often that you find that section empty, there are always some riders trying to figure out the best lines. The high line on the left is probably the fastest, but the rocks are a little off-camber and the slightly moist weather makes the grip a little unpredictable. “Oh my god, that what so sick! The high-line on the left is so scary, the slippery off-camber rocks, just holding on to my handle bars! Man, it doesn’t get much better, this is such a good track!”

We roll down to Teo, who is patiently waiting leant against his Defender, enjoying the last few peaceful seconds before we’re back and ready to go straight up again.

The Madonna Della Guardia, a trail that offers everything and delivers on the rough and fast sections. A trail that summarizes what we enjoy riding most and what the RAAW Madonna is made for.

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