Thursday, July 15, 2010

John Horscroft - Austrian Mountain Biking

The lure of a free mountain bike press trip to Austria was just too hard to resist recently but I learned a valuable lesson - read the small print every time. I love a bit British singletrack, plenty of rocks and roots and drop-offs, but I should have had a close look at the new 1000km Bike Trail Tirol because it doesn’t include much of that kind of riding. I guess I should have been pleased we weren’t doing the whole thing, just 100km in two days with a mere 2400m of height gain.

Most of the other bloggers and website journos were all in their twenties and thirties leaving me the granddad of the peloton. At least the hire bikes were good, Specialized Enduros, Epics and Stumpjumpers. I couldn’t resist the Enduro even if it wasn’t the obvious choice for climbing.

Day one was tough, tough in a way I’m not used to. 60km and nearly 1400 metres of ascent. Thankfully, the banter and the scenery took my mind off the sheer effort involved. The weather was kind to us, we took every opportunity available to scope out any jumps and drops we came across and the two hour lunch was great. Great until I hit the big climb of the day when it began to lie a bit heavy. An hour later, as I approached the mountain hut where we were spending the night, I’d burned it all off and all I could think of was food.

Next day was good in parts. The weather let us down in a big way. The heavens opened and I had to suffer the usual comments from the others, “You are English, you must be used to this!” I quickly pointed out that we hadn’t seen rain for two months. Two excellent sections of singletrack passed in a blur and were over far too quickly. Back to climbing on good gravel trails and a very damp party finally arrived at the mountain hut that effectively meant the end of all effort. I was soaked to my pants, but in a fit of optimism that morning, I’d emptied out almost all my spare clothing.

Thankfully, I still had my Power Stretch – a real life saver.

The final madcap dash down to the hotel was a steep rocky, gravelly trail with the drop of certain death on one side, fantastic fun and the scene of many a hairy moment and laughter aplenty.

If you fancy pushing yourself in a big way physically with lots of demanding climbs, a kind of Tour de Austria for mountain bikes, the Bike Trail Tirol will be right up your street.

A big thanks goes out to all the photographers who allowed us to use their images. Check out additonal great images from these photographers by visiting their websites below:

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