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Meet Nina Schwab

MTB rider, Van Adventurer and Mountain Bike Skills Coach

Vienna, Austria

I started riding bikes around age three, I guess. My parents are avid bikers, therefore it was always part of our daily life and vacations. I have been a bit off the bike during university and when I started working full time. I was focused on my career and biking was just one of the things I did on weekends with my friends, but it wasn’t a routine at all. I always challenged myself in different sports. I enjoyed the thrill of outdoor climbing, via ferrata, as well as kayaking, skiing, snowboarding and surfing. I also participated in half-marathons, trail running events and loved outdoorsy stuff like camping and bikepacking trips.

But I started with mountain biking quite late. And it was a little unexpected - I fell in love with the sport on a surf trip to Bali. I stayed at the Chillhouse in Canggu at that time and went on a mountain bike ride with the crew that later became the Bali Bike Park Team. It was my first experience with a full suspension bike and I was immediately hooked.

After the trip, I scanned the local MTB community for opportunities to learn more skills and maybe find some other like-minded people to hit the local trails. I was surprised to discover the Velochicks - a women’s bike club that also had a group in Vienna. I joined them and got myself a ‘proper’ mountain bike. Since then, I have been enjoying this wonderful sport to the fullest - always on the search for nice MTB areas and little adventures. I think (with a bike) it’s one of the most brilliant ways to get to know a destination.

I am very grateful for having been able to bike in some impressive locations in Bali, Canada, Scotland, England, Spain and other European countries. And there is more to come.

Nina Schwab, riding the Vall E+

I started building out my van in March of 2021. (I had always dreamt of doing this since my first van trip with friends in 2002 on Vancouver Island.) If you are interested, you can find some details and insights into my van conversion process on my blog

After the conversion, the first longer trip with 'Winnie' followed in July of that year. It was really cool to experience 'van life' with my own van, instead of a rental camper. The camper vans you can rent or buy are (usually) not built to store the bikes inside of the van. They normally have a bike rack at the rear and the space under the bed is not high (or wide) enough for a MTB. 

My van is built out for mountain biking (that is why I also refer to it as my ‘MTB Mobile’). It can easily hold at least two mountain bikes and has some convertible space (if more bikes need to be stored). Even heavier ones (like E-bikes) can be secured on one of the two mounts in the 'bike garage' under the bed. With the bikes inside the van, we don't have to worry too much to leave them behind when we go on a hike, swim or surf.

When we travel in the van, I love the flexibility in terms of location. On that first trip, we had originally planned to go to Slovenia but suddenly got a warning for flooding in the area. Plus, the weather forecast predicted heavy rain showers and thunderstorms for the whole week. As we were already on the road, we decided to head towards the sun and into Italy instead. We then passed through Slovenia on the way back and had a really good time with nice weather.

I am looking forward to exploring more of Europe with my van and taking the bike with me wherever I go.

Nina Schwab, with her van

Sometimes, I also love the thrill of a competition. That is why I entered the Enduro One Series in 2016 and still participate in races whenever I can and when they fit into my schedule. There even have been some accomplishments like the 3rd place in an enduro adventure race in Tyrol and another 3rd in a BMX competition in Italy where I participated just for fun. I was also super proud to land in 11th place in an E1 Enduro Race in Germany (Ochsenkopf) in 2018 with strong (pro) competition.

The good thing about mountain biking is that each day on the bike can be an adventure. You don’t necessarily have to participate in races to feel the adrenaline rush and flow that mountain biking brings. The good feeling and endorphins set in after every ride. And that's very special.

Sometimes, it’s not easy to fit everything into the daily grind with the job, family and friends. I also organize local women’s rides and bike clinics in addition to my own training. So when I am really busy, I try to schedule some me-time to balance everything out.

I especially enjoy biking early in the morning. That way, I get some exercise in and start the day with positive vibes. It’s a direct mood booster. And it’s great to clear your mind before (or after) a day in front of the computer.

I have been working in tech for over 10 years now. From managing, growing and shaping a startup into a sustainable business and engaging in new entrepreneurial endeavors on the way. I enjoy working in the IT environment and at my work I even see a lot of parallels with mountain biking. Being in a state of flow and focusing on the tasks at hand in deep work phases is similar to the feeling on the trail – being in your element and just concentrating on the things in front of you.

My first E-MTB ride was actually with a test bike from our local Liv store (GIANT Store Vienna). I was asked to organize a basic skill training for a group of E-bikers. I did some research on the topic but wanted to see for myself how it feels to ride an E-bike and what to focus on in the practice. I wanted to give them a good experience and adjust the training to their needs. With a ‘normal’ bike, I like the effort of an uphill but climbing is not my favorite after all. With that E-bike everything felt so smooth and uphill obstacles were easily tackled. So I quite liked the experience and had a lot of fun with it.

I like to use the E-bike for basic endurance rides as it is perfect for training in a specific heart rate zone. It’s not that the E-bike does all the work for you, you still need to pedal yourself. But that way, I can ride my favorite trails and train without being exhausted from the climb. It’s also very time-efficient and super practical for quick rides before or after work.

Nina Schwab, riding her E-MTB the Vall E+

Get the Bike

"With the ultra-reliable EnergyPak Smart 500Wh battery I’m all set for a big ride on the local Viennese trails (Wienerwald Trails #wwtrails). The handlebar-mounted RideControl Dash makes it easy to select pedal assist functions and view battery levels."

-Nina Schwab

"I love the Energize Jacket and wear it all the time as a windbreaker or rain jacket. It's loose enough to fit some additional layers (when it's cold) but tight enough to not get in the way during fast and technical riding." 

-Nina Schwab

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