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Explore New Grounds | The winners’ trip

From April 2020-June 2021, we ran a competition with two prizes of a mountain bike adventure for two along one of the 10 e-MTB routes featured in our Explore New Grounds e-book. The lucky winners were Lonne from the Netherlands and Peter from Austria. Lonne brought along her friend Lee-Roy and Peter invited his friend Atilla to join him. Find out how they got on with their SHIMANO STEPS EP8 equipped e-MTBs in the Swiss Alps – and how they explored new grounds in unexpected ways.

The adventure began with a high-altitude lunch in Pontresina, Switzerland, which would be base for the three days. A stone’s throw from St Moritz, the wildly romantic alpine village lies at 1805m and boasts a wealth of natural single tracks and beautifully sculpted flow trails on its doorstep. All four were in for a treat. 

The first surprise was discovering personalised Shimano and Lazer goodie bags in their hotel rooms. Kitted up from heel to helmet in their new gear, the winners set off on their SHIMANO STEPS EP8 equipped mountain bikes with their very own guide from H+I Adventures.

The afternoon saw a warm-up ride to Statzersee, approximately 3.5km away – and a chance for the crew to get acclimatised to the altitude and their bikes. They soon discovered SHIMANO STEPS EP8 e-bike technology was designed to handle trails beautifully. While the gentle purr of the drive unit allowed them to surrender to the surreal silence of the Alps.

En route to Statzersee, their guide Laura took the opportunity to pull off the trail to share some skills with them. As well as drilling down into the basics, she ran through the essentials of the basic tool kit and also sowed the seeds of more advanced mountain biking techniques. A perfect introduction to the next day’s ride to the famous Bernina Pass.

The famous Bernina Pass

It was a chilly morning as the crew departed for a full day in the mountains – including a hop across the border to Italy. But it was the type of cold that makes one feel alive. And as the sun cast deep dark shadows across the valley, silhouetting the trees on the mountain sides, they slowly warmed up as they began their ascent.

It’s a notoriously tough climb to the glacier-strewn Bernina Pass which hangs high above the valley. But the SHIMANO STEPS EP8 equipped e-MTBs gobbled up the kilometres and delivered the crew – fresh and invigorated – to the mountain hut, Alp Grüm, on the Italian side of the mountain.

At 2091m, this unique hotel and restaurant serves up regional dishes alongside stunning vistas over the Bernina Massif, Palü Glacier and Val Poschiavo valley. The perfect place to fuel-up on calories and caffeine before their descent back to Pontresina along a dusty trail which had them all grinning from ear to ear – and ready for beer!

Another unique dining experience awaited them post-beers – a trip to a local vegan restaurant! Hardly something you’d expect to find hidden in the Alps. But although they may have needed a little persuading, the skilled chefs completely won them over. And they hit the sack sated and enjoyed another good night’s sleep in the mountains.

Final day thoughts

Sadly, the weather won out on the final day. So the four headed out for a walk in the sweet-smelling pine forest instead, giving the winners a chance to reflect on this trip of a lifetime.

As well as the extraordinary peace and scenery, what stuck out for mountain biking newbie Lonne was the trailside training.

 “I loved the introduction to the technical skills such as balance and being in an active position on the bike.” 

This and her fantastic experience with the SHIMANO STEPS EP8 equipped e-MTB gave Lonne the confidence to cycle all day the next day – and to venture up to the mighty Bernina Pass. In fact, she declared: “I really enjoyed the descents and the climbs on the mountain trails!”

“The Exploring New Grounds trip organised by Shimano was an incredible e-bike tour in the best country for mountain biking in the world,” said Peter.

“I have never won anything in my life. Now I’ve not only won this trip but an unforgettable experience too.” 

Peter was particularly in awe of the beautiful landscape and fresh air. “It’s perfect for recharging body and mind,” he said. “You just have to take a deep breath to feel nature and let the fresh air flow through your body and mind while riding.”

New to e-bikes, Peter admitted he had been a bit scared as to whether the high alpine trails were suitable for e-bike beginners. “But with such an amazing e-bike, it was a pleasure,” he said. “Now I definitely have to get one!”