The call of the mountain is even stronger during winter, when the snow breaks the tree-tops and the cold weather freezes the bones. During this time, when most people put their bike to rest, an adventure between two Italian buddies began. They aimed to search for the COLD VEIN, that vein which comes back to pulsate in the winter wilderness.

This was an experience that brought Giorgio and Francesco to find more than what they were searching for. A journey through their own limits, where what is important, is not the width of the tires but the extent of the horizons.

The video is dedicated to Walter Belli, a dear friend who had a bad injury during a DH session and who is still fighting every day with the wilderness alive in his heart.

A huge thanks for those who continues to believe in our project: Adidas Eyewear, Alpine Threadworks, Chromag, Endura, EVOC, Ferrino, Five Ten, Formula Brakes, Genesis Bikes, GSI Outdoors, Leisure Lakes Bikes, Porcelain Rocket, Rode, Rycote, SOG Knives, Vittoria.

Cold Vein
MONTANUS Montanus is an all-seasons project of “Bikepacking – social sharing,” born in Abruzzo, the Italian region where the mountain chain Gran Sasso shows its majesty. Two friends, Giorgio Frattale and Francesco D’Alessio, were able to put together their outdoor passion with their love of mountain biking.

Montanus is an attitude, an intimate journey. Montanus is the call of the wild of Buck, the dog in the novel of Jack London. Montanus is the smell of moss on your gloves, the dry mud on your bike, the frost on your sleeping bag. Montanus is the life outside from the ‘comfort zone,’ it is an inspiration for those who want to experience nature. Montanus is about enjoying the slow ride, perceiving the smells and taking in the colors.

Where did you film The Cold Vein and why did you choose that location?
We filmed “The Cold Vein” on the Gran Sasso d’Italia (2912mt – 9554ft), a mountain located in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. It holds the highest mountains in continental Italy south of the Alps, and is part of the Apennines. That is a spectacular location to ride a bike and have some winter adventures. Wide landscapes, tons of snow and crazy cold temperatures make this mountain the perfect location to search for the Cold Vein and to film it.

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What was your goal and vision behind the film?
We like bikes, we like mountains, we like snow and extreme cold conditions. So we went out there to live our dream. This was the vision, the goal was to prove to ourselves that we were able to do it.

How long did it take you to edit the film?
We started to film at the end of January and finished editing it on April 15th. It took 2 and half months to complete it. I don’t know how long the edit took us exactly, because we would make edits while we were filming.

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What did you shoot the film with?
We used an old (2009) Canon 500D. Giorgio built an handmade slider modifying a broken pc scanner. He built a zip line support for the camera using an old rollerblade too, but in the end we decide to not use it.

Where are you from, and how has that shaped you as a cyclist?
We come from L’Aquila, a small mountain town in Abruzzo region, central Italy. We have a 9,500 ft mountain in our backyard, the Gran Sasso (Big Stone in english) that shaped us like the elements shaping its peaks over several thousands of years. So you can define us a sort of “mountaineers with bikes”. 🙂

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What is your cycling background? Have you always been into bikepacking or at least getting out into the backcountry?
My first MTB was a 1990 Specialized Rockhopper when I was 18. It is a tough 4130 Cro-Mo rigid bike with rack mounts and 2.5″ tires. Now it is in the dark side of my garage.

Now we ride rigid bikes with fat tires and rack mounts. It’s so crazy we’re getting back to this starting point after 25 years.

We have a bmx background (street/dirt jumps) too, but it turned quickly into freeride MTB during the summer 2004. A great period in which we rode our 60 lbs Banshee Scream (Marzocchi Monster fork + 3” tires) down the mountains on some crazy freeride trails. In 2006 we and 4 friends produced “Clorophilla,” a mountain bike freeride movie, distributed worldwide from a USA company that specialized in extreme sport videos. In the summer of 2013 me (Francesco) and Giorgio started to have some long distance trips with our all-mountain/enduro full suspension bikes and heavy backpacks. Montanus project was born in that period. Our riding was evolving into the future and the future was evolving into the past. We sold our aluminum full suspension bikes, and Stanton Bikes supported us with two 650b Switchcback Cro-Mo hardtail frames, then we mount a complete set of bikepacks (supported by Porcelain Rocket).

Now we’re riding fatbikes with no suspension forks, a radical change in such a short period of time, isn’t it?

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What was the tipping point to transition to more of a backcounty / bikepacking discipline?
Just a word: wanderlust! It was a strong desire to ride in different directions to explore new locations.

The 27.5+ concept seems to be the ideal bikepacking rig, what are your thoughts on the wheel size and how do you see bikepacking evolve?
We prefer to take it easy and simple, ride rigid bikes with fat/midfat tires. Fat, 27.5+ or 29+? It depends by two factors, the distance of your trip and the type of soil.

We think we will see specific bikes for bikepacking in the future, with dedicated bags mounts on the frame (no more velcro straps) and new solutions for handlebars and forks.

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Who is that guy we always see in your photos, and is their a third or are those shots taken from a Tripod (what tripod)?
Eheh! We’re a two men crew: we ride bikes, we designed logos, we shoot photos using a remote control, we film ourselves and edit all our movies, so we have no filter. That is the plus of this project: our eyes are your eyes! Yes, we use a tripod to take our photos. A light, cheap and “no brand” one.

Your photography is splendid, what camera do you typically take on your trips?
Thanks, but we know we have great technical limits. We use an old Canon 500D to take photos and film our videos, a sort of toy. In Italy we use to say “Spremere l’olio dai sassi,” it sounds like “we’re able to squeeze olive oil from stones!” LOL, we’re planning to buy a better camera.

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What is your motivation behind your trips? How do you make so much time to go out and play?
A simple mix: riding bikes and exploring new lands. Yes, Montanus take us a lot of time but we’re super lucky guys. We have a lot of twins that can alternate with us in the project! LOL

What is your favorite piece of gear that you bring with you on your trips?
Giorgio’s prefered gear is a SOG KIKU knife. My favorite one is the GSI Pinnacle Dualist, an integrated cooking system. I like pasta, I’m italian, you know!? 🙂

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What bike and bags are you currently running and why?
We ride 2 Genesis Caribou, Cro-Mo fatbikes with rigid forks, anything cages and so on. The bikes were perfect for our winter adventures. We mounted two complete bikepacking sets by Porcelain Rocket. They took all the abuse we could throw at them in dusty, muddy and snowy conditions. They are simply bomb-proof!

 What is next for The Montanus crew?
The snow is melting away so we think that our tires may “lose weight” in the next trips. We’re planning some travel outside of italy.

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Your facebook tag list is large, who would you like to thank?
A huge thanks to Enrico Guala and Andrea Balli (4Guimp), Vinnie (Endura), Antonio (APR Italia), Michela (Vittoria), Alberto (Adidas), Scott (Porcelain Rocket), Giacomo (Formula), Chris (SOG), James (Genesis), Beth (Leisure Lakes Bikes), Luca (Ferrino), Kurt (GSI Outdoor), Neil (Alpine Threadworks) and all the people behind the brands that are supporting our project.

Special thanks to our mountains that offered us an incredible scenario for our trips.

You can follow the adventures of Montanus on:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MONTANUSthewildside
Instagram – https://instagram.com/montanus_thewildside
Vimeo – https://vimeo.com/user23760556 
And now on Mountainuswild.com


Ciao and see you on our next adventures!

4 Comments

  1. Awesome video and writeup! my first mountain bike was a Ross in 1983 or 1984. My second was a 1989 Specialized Stumpjumper.

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  3. I have just stumbled upon this video and post, which I must admit I loved. It’s precisely the kind of experience on a bike I would welcome. In my twenties I lived in the French Alps and I am familiar with the kind of territory these Italian guys were exploring. These days I live in my native Scotland, and although I have less opportunity to get into the wilderness, I have recently purchased a Fat Bike frame to give me the chance to explore further afield. The photography was very impressive. Longing to return to my beloved mountains.

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