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Yanick Binz rides a bike for one reason: He loves shredding.

For the 16-year-old two-wheel addict, mountain biking is more than just a potential future career.
Röti, Balmberg, Weissenstein, the names of the mountain peaks overlooking Solothurn roll off of Yanick’s lips. His tall figure stretches, to point out a peak behind a rooftop. ‘That’s where we’ll ride later,’ he says. He visibly lights up when talking about his home trails, where he pushes himself and his Twostroke to the limit. ‘Then we drop down the ‘tropical trail’ and cut through my grandfather's wood. That route is about 2 hours.’ Given his age, his local topography knowledge is impressive.

But when you count the number of years Yanick has been on two wheels, you realise bikes are in his blood. As a toddler he imitated his father, an avid enduro motorcyclist, by charging round the garden–jumping, revving, and skidding. His first introduction to mountain biking came at the Solothurn Bike Days as a 4-year-old in a motorbike helmet, making the sound effects of a motorcycle on his bike. He was hooked–so were his parents.

Mountain biking has since become a lifestyle for the whole family–– ‘there’s such a coolness in the community,’ remarks his dad. Now Yanick faces the next challenge: his final year with the U17 before racing as a Junior. That’s where the Twostroke comes into play; a reliable bike for tackling the National Series, the European Championships, and training hard, day in, day out. He’s almost apologetic at not having a power metre, but reasons: ‘If I had everything now, what would I be working up to?’

He pops another wheelie, waiting to start the training session at his elite sports school, Sports Academy Solothurn. There’s playful competition amongst the teenagers. The coach, Roland Richner, watches carefully, giving input when needed. The wooded circuit with steep, rooty climbs and even rootier descents, is ideal for a team relay. At 16, Yanick is the strongest, but the younger kids are hot on his wheels. He clearly isn’t the only one with eyes on the National Team.

After school, his mum no longer shuttles him up the mountain; her current role is to scout trails when hiking. Self-motivated Yanick is independent, riding up with ease. It’s a long way from having fun in the garden on an abandoned bike. ‘I still love playing,’ he says, flashing his trademark grin. ‘I love it all: technical trails, downhills, the overtakes, the wet roots.’ His Twostroke rides like an extension of himself, moving instinctively with him. ‘It’s like a jump bike but so, so capable,’ he yells, before taking a set of doubles in full control, scrubbing smoothly then leaning hard over the bars to navigate the washed-out climb.

There are moments when talking to Yanick that you sense the focus of a future professional–an attitude picked up from his long-term coach. Yet, at other times–after shredding down a sketchy trail or watching Instagram videos–his excitement bubbles over and you see the kid that made the motorbike noises.
And does he ever rev the engine audibly these days? That’s between him and his Twostroke.

Claudia Egginger will be the first to tell you, she’s competitive.

She admits to this in a matter-of-fact way, with no evidence of ego or cockiness. The fact that she likes to push herself is a character trait that spans her work and her free time–most of which is spent riding cross-country mountain bikes.
She will also confirm she isn’t a morning person unless there’s an adventure waiting. Fortunately for 34-year-old Claudia, since taking up mountain biking six years ago, life is not short on adventure.

After a stint as a dutiful supporter and spectator at bike races, the sports science graduate wanted a slice of the action: ‘I really wanted to experience that sense of satisfaction I could see others were getting from finishing a challenging race.’ She was immediately hooked–preferring MTBing to running, where she felt restricted to the same 10km loop. ‘Even if you’ve already visited a mountain by cable car, it’s much more intense to ride up there on an MTB. My endurance wasn’t great at first, so I didn’t go so far, but now that I’m fitter, my whole life has changed.’

This is no understatement. Bikes play a major role in Claudia’s life, both professionally and personally. In fact, most of her social circle meet on bikes, she explains with a grin. On the weekends, bike parks, MTB marathons, and road rides all feature prominently but it’s the Twostroke that has recently been getting her heart racing the most.

‘It’s unreal,’ the ambitious rider explains, ‘I was so surprised when I saw my Strava after riding my favourite trail on the Twostroke; I got new best times both up and downhill.’ She wields her phone to show the proof: ‘I’d never have expected a personal best on that descent without a dropper, but I felt really confident. The geometry is so balanced that I can find a line down every trail without being scared of losing grip.’ As if to prove the fact, she takes a left turn off the gravel climb and negotiates the damp, steep descent with finesse. Living just outside Salzburg, Claudia has immediate access to mountains of all shapes and sizes, with an encyclopaedia of routes memorised and selected depending on work commitments and weather.

Given the amount Claudia trains, it is not surprising she looks so at home on a bike. ‘I like to have goals,’ she reveals modestly. 2020 was supposed to be the year of the Salzkammergut Trophy––one of Europe’s most extreme MTB races at 220 km with 7,000 meters of climbing, a race that’s a battle to even finish. ‘As a woman you’re a hero for beating the 16-hour limit. That black number on your bars means a lot.’ She’s done her homework, weighing up bike choices and reasoning that the low weight and capabilities of the Twostroke makes it perfectly suited to an event of this kind: ‘Marathons are getting more technical as bikes get more capable, so having 1 kilogram less is a major advantage.’

Just after breaking the tree line, Claudia realises it’s time to go back: lunch rides can only last so long.
Feeling refreshed with endorphins now coursing through her veins, she speeds back down towards Salzburg, and reality. ‘That’ll do for today!’ she yells cheerfully. ‘All I need is a little hill for lunch and I’m happy.’


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