Munich to Milan - Bikepacking Every Peak In Between

Words by ENVE athlete Joey Schusler

There is something a bicycle can give you, that really nothing else in the world can. Make that bicycle a mountain bike, and the amount of freedom and exploration at your fingertips is almost unparalleled. It was this feeling that urged me to spend the better part of a month crossing the Alps this past summer - for the first ever time setting off on an adventure of this nature alone. I would begin in Munich with my sights set for Milan, aiming to ride as much dirt and as many high mountain passes as possible.

Arriving into Munich was a wonderful feeling. I only brought what I would need for the adventure - nothing more, nothing less. This means I was on the airplane in my bike clothes. My bike came out in a cardboard box I would later leave behind, and I began assembling it right there in the terminal. Before I knew it, I was pedaling south along the river towards downtown Munich. The feeling of the first few miles is so invigorating knowing how many hundreds of hours and countless trials and tribulations may lay ahead. Rain gave way to sun and I was on my way.

Before the trip, when confronted with the question of why go solo, I wouldn’t say I really had a great answer. It’s just something I had always wanted to try, after countless trips of this nature over the past decade. About 5 days in, and well into Italy, my third country, I had the best day on a bike I have ever had. This was what I was searching for. The feeling of being solely responsible for my pace and my route, every single decision resting on my shoulders - I found a new rhythm on the bike I had never before experienced. I felt as if I was able to hop over a 3,000 ft pass with hardly any effort; being rewarded with all new views of the next valley beyond and an incredible new single track descent on the other side.


The miles flew by. I found a pace and level of enjoyment on the bike I had never before found. I would start the next big pass with enthusiasm and seemingly be at the summit again in no time. Fueling this was the perfect abundance of food and water, nearly around every corner in the alps. When I would get hungry, there always seemed to be an alpine hut or guesthouse, serving up a small beer and fresh pasta or pizza. I would eat and quickly be on my way again. When I was thirsty, a stream was never too far away to dip my filter-bottle into. All but one day of the adventure the singletrack proved to be amazing. The alps are really a wonderful place to be traveling and moving through the mountains.

My route took me on average over three large mountain passes a day as I wound my way through the Dolomites. I began to find more and more joy in the nature of my solo journey, but I equally began to cherish the characters I would meet along the way. Perhaps my favorite encounter was meeting a crew of four 18 year old boys out for a birthday rip on XC bikes. We miraculously got to the top of a pass at the same time, ascending from opposite sides. When I came across them, one of the boys whose birthday it was, had suffered a flat tire. Being the loose operators they were, they didn’t have a pump. I offered up mine and we became instant friends. They insisted I alter my route to drop in to the valley below with them. I agreed and down we went. The boys were absolutely shredding with reckless abandon, and I felt it my duty to keep up on my fully loaded bike, despite having already been in the saddle for 8 hours on that particular day. We were hooting and hollering all the way down, until we stopped for a beer at the half way point, singing happy birthday in Italian with complete and utter enthusiasm. We carried on down the valley as the crew eventually dissolved with everyone headed to their respective homes. This interaction was so damn fun, it fully recharged me.


This style of ride can change the way you view your bike. It’s incredibly rewarding to hop on, and ride for many days in one direction. The people and places along the way are really what make it all worth it! To me this is what the mountain bike is all about.

I finished my journey with a massive 130 mile day pushing into Milan, stopping for fresh Gelato no fewer than 5 times. What a journey it had been. While I love bikepacking with friends, I will always find time in the future for a good solo adventure too.


  • Days: 13
  • Miles: 533
  • Elevation Gain: 76,929 ft
  • Bike: Yeti Cycles SB120 LR