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Bikepacking, Baby!

Finally: Sunshine, gelato and (real!!!) rock climbs are back on the menu. I can’t even tell you when was the last time I climbed on real rock. (Ah yes. Yes, I can. It was on our trip with BotBot, when we went lead-climbing in Graz and bouldering in North Macedonia. ;)) But still, it’s been a few months since, and I need to get some of my favorite type of vert in – PRONTO.

Can’t ask for more as a young parent, right? Weeell… There is one more thing: We want to reach the rocks of our dreams sustainably. Because that’s our aim as Protect Our Winters (POW) athletes: We, that’s Ana Zirner and me, and we want – for our little daughters’ sake too – adventure AND a sustainable way to get to the rock. So no flying for us – it’s all about good old-fashioned human (leg) power!

In only a few days, it’s time to grab the kiddos, hop on our bikes, and pedal our way across the Alps to meet up with our partners in Arco, Italy, for some climbing adventures.

Co-Pilot riding Shotgun!

We – both Annie and Ana – are two athletes who wouldn’t be who they are now if not for their epic solo adventures. Ana crossed the Alps from east to west in 2017, then traversed the Pyrenees from the Med to the Atlantic in 2018, followed by a solo expedition down the Colorado River from source to sea in 2019, and capped it off by traversing the Caucasus from east to west in 2021.

Meanwhile, I embarked on my own adventures, cycling from Berlin to the North Cape in 2019, running a 1000-kilometer ultramarathon across Germany in 2020, and then paddling down the river Elbe from start to finish on a bike-rafting adventure in 2022 (on a packraft that Ana had already paddled down the entire Colorado river with, by the way!).

We’ve both learned to embrace solitude through our expeditions and adventures, and found freedom in the shadow of mountains, river and the woods. And while we were at it, we also learned a bunch for and about ourselves – the hard-earned way.

Ana and I met in 2022, in a bouldering gym in Berlin for the first time. We’d met virtually before, on a POW Zoom call, where I was introduced as the newest member of the athlete alliance to Ana. That visit in Berlin didn’t just mark the beginning of a friendship, but also came at one of the biggest turning points in both our lives:


You nap when you can…

Since our babies were born, life hasn’t been the same. Physical capacities are decreased, as we’re dealing with less sleep, less time for ourselves, and a whole lot more booger wiping than anticipated. But one thing has remained the same: We want adventures, if not even more than before. Because it’s not just about us going on a trip now – it’s about sharing everything we love about it with our daughters. From everything they’ve shown us so far, it’s clear that THEY must be the true professionals: Ada (2) and Nea (1.5) may be pint-sized, but they’ve got more than most of the adventurous spirit, and their curiosity and delight in life is big enough to inspire even the most experienced of expeditionists. (Trust me – I know what I’m talking about. )

So, off we go – not on a solo expedition, not a duo adventure, but a full-blown family expedition. Because we’ve not lost our minds and are able to run calculations about weight + vert + sleep deprivation = high potential for chaos, we’re going to be using eBikes and trailers to get to where we want to go. (The smaller trailer of the two weighs around 16KG by itself – 12KG baby and 20KG gear not included).

Together, we’ll be cycling over 500KM up 3700 vertical meters to get to our destination. Nea and I will be arriving in Oberaudorf by train (wouldn’t want to miss out on the Deutsche Bahn starring in its regular chaos-followed-by-comic-relief role). And then, starting on the 6th of May, Ana, Ada, Nea and I will be leaving Oberaudorf, Germany, to Arco, Italy.


OUR ROUTE will lead us through Innsbruck, Imst, Landeck, Schlanders, Merano, Bolzano, Trento, and finally to Arco – casually crossing the Alps along the way. The whole trip will take around 10days. Taking the train from Berlin to Arco would take around 12hrs.

So why are we doing this the human-powered way? (Other than the reasons above, and also because why the heck not? 😉 ) Because even though everything’s changed, one thing remains the same:

The journey is the destination.

“Where are we headed?!” – “ONWARDS!”

As we transition from “Me” to “We,” we have been asking ourselves a question as timeless as change itself: How do you go back to something you used to do, used to BE – when that person no longer exists?

So this adventure will be another way to go seek our answer. Will it be easy? Probably not. Will it be silly and memorable? Absolutely. Because even when you try your best to adapt to big changes in your life, no one should expect you to take them all in graceful stride. Especially not when there’s sticky fingers and runny noses to contend with. But hey, that’s all part of the adventure, right?

And if you want to join us… feel free to check out Ana’s blog or our Instagram channels (@anas_ways and @thebotbeyondthebrainz)! There, we will be reporting live from the tour, writing, and sharing the latest small and big adventure stories with you.

And with that, I am off. I have some last stainings to finish in the lab, and bike bags to pack.

2 thoughts on “Bikepacking, Baby!”

  1. I have a question. How will they do with the electric charging of the bicycles? Will the assistance last long enough?

    1. That is one of the questions I am asking myself, too. On average, we will be cycling between 50-70KM/day. And there are towns along the way. The e-bikes require a normal electric plug (as far as I understand, since it’s a rental I’ve only handled it once on a quick test ride). So we should be able to charge it every night in our accommodation as well as in cafés and restaurants along the way. I am hopeful that will be sufficient! 😀

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