Photos: Ale di Lullo

In Issue #167 of Australian Mountain Bike magazine, we have a story from the far eastern corner of Switzerland, in the canton of Graubünden. Legendary mountain biker Richie Schley and Germany's ever-versatile Steffi Marth tackled some big days on endless trails. Here's a little more about Steffi Marth - find the full story in our next issue.

Can you give us insight on the bike you used to travel in Graubünden and why you chose to take this bike and not another one?

"I used a Trek Slash 9.9 with 160mm travel. It´s a bit harder to climb because I have pretty beefy tyres and a soft setup but we did descend a lot, also on technical trails and my priority is more into having fun downhill than being fast uphill."

Tell us about yourself. When and how did you get into mountain biking?

"I started riding BMX when I was 12 years old. About 10 years ago I tried mountain biking for the first time and enjoyed it a lot straight away. In comparison to doing laps on a closed circuit in BMX, mountain biking is something I can do almost everywhere. I enjoy the nature and the views I get when I am on a mountain."

Do you remember your first ever mountain bike trip?

"My first big mountain bike trip was to the World Champs in Fort William. I remember how new and exciting everything was for me. I remember when we first drove into these amazing, unique mountains. The roads were so narrow and windy and I felt like in a movie. The racing was exciting and very different to the BMX races I was used to before. Looking back now I never enjoyed my mountain biking enough back in the day when I did 4X races as I was too tight up into competition. On some later trips I discovered the beauty of the highlands more and it´s still one of my favorite places to visit and ride bikes."

When was your first big trail riding trip outside of your home country as a pro? Where did you go to? What has stuck from that trip?

"My very first big trip was with my first team, which I am still part of: Trek Gravity Girls. We went to Mallorca and I remember it being one of the most fun things I have ever done. Everything was new for me - taking professional photos, being on a team, riding a DH bike, staying in a fancy hotel. I love these memories."

What made you want to go pro?

"I never really wanted to be a pro or thought about it. It just happened I guess. I always liked competition and racing but did a normal learning/ studying career besides that. After finishing my M.Sc. degree in Architecture I figured that my only real passion is mountain biking and I had already earned money with it before so it was a really natural transition to being a pro officially. I love the nature, the freedom you feel on a bike, the exercise and of course the traveling and meeting all these amazing people along the way. It´s just an awesome ride in general since I turned to be a mountain bike professional."

Can you describe the feeling you get when you are hitting the trails? Is there anything else in life that gives you a similar feeling?

"When I hit a trail it is always exciting and I look forward to it a lot. This feeling gets even stronger when I work my way up to the top by pedalling or pushing my bike. The harder it is, the greater the pleasure to ride down. At the same time I am always nervous because there are challenges along the way; a jump, drop or technical section. I love the challenges."