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Bikepacking Torino-Nice, in B/W

The Torino-Nice Rally celebrated the second edition of its mass start in September 2017. Andre set off to ride the route a week earlier with Joachim, and thankfully added a black & white film camera to his kit list...

Pannier: Hey Andre, nice one for finishing the TNR route! What brought you to ride it?

Andre: Ha, a series of (un)fortunate events…

My initial idea for 2017 was to take part at the Tuscany Trail this year, but my cousin decided to (selfishly) get married over those dates, so I needed a new plan. Then, hearing my news, Joachim (Rosenlund) asked me if I wanted to accompany him and ride the TNR, which I knew was much tougher. But I said “Yeah, why not?” and so I had to go…

Pannier: And…how did you find it? How long did you take out to ride – it’s around 700km, right?

Andre: Most of the route was on hard-pack and gravel terrain with some parts, like the Col d’Izoard and the Col d’Agnel, on paved roads. The climbs were tough and took me out of my touring comfort zone for sure. Sometimes I had to push my bike, but 95% roads were rideable and the views that met us at the top and around pretty much every corner were a pretty good reward. Given my old  skateboard-knees (code for ‘I’m not that fast anyway’)I had to take it pretty easy so it took me around 11 days to finish. Taking photos, and camp-stove percolator coffee takes time too, of course. But those are things I really enjoy on a bike trip so…


Pannier: Your photos are so so evocative. What camera were you using for the B/W film shots?

Andre: I used my trusty Leica M6, a Voightlander 35mm and an orange filter for some drama in the sky. The Ilford HP5 and FP4 are my favourite films, everything is developed at home and then scanned in…

Pannier: It seems like it might be hard to not enjoy riding the TNR. What were your favourite experience(s)?

Andre: Oh, thats a tough one. Generally, the views and mountain life! But, if I had to choose some:

– The feeling when you stand on top of the Col d’Agnel on your birthday and you realise that you’ve climbed up to 2744m under your own steam.
– The Strada d’Assietta with Joachim was great, the ‘Death Road’ and the rollercoaster-gravel-switchback ride down the Col de Tende were pretty amazing, too.
– Getting stuck in a hailstorm at 2000m in the middle of nowhere is also a once-in-a-lifetime-experience.
– And finally, arriving in Nice after nearly 15,000m of climbing was a very emotional moment for me. I didn’t expect that I’d be able to complete it…

Pannier: Last Question. Any recommendations for people wanting to ride it?

Andre: Get yourself a low granny-gear, take your time and just go. Every curse and every drop of sweat is well worth it…


Andre Kniepkamp

For more on the Torino-Nice Rally, check out our Q&A with routesmith James Olsen.

Safe travels…