Cycling and mountain biking in the Ötztal: Easy or extreme
As Dutch people, you could say we were born to cycle. A relaxed ride through the valley or a challenging mountain bike tour with a good steep bit, we love it all. So when we found ourselves in the mountains, biking was naturally at the top of our list.
Before our trip we had already looked into the options for biking in the Ötztal. We planned to check out the Ötztal Cycle Path, which goes through the valley, and perhaps finish up with a couple of hours’ mountain biking on a steeper trail. But our plans changed as soon as we laid eyes on the magnificent Bike Republic Sölden. We dropped everything, took a bike lesson and dove right into the downhill trails.
Casual start on the Ötztal Cycle Path. ©Ötztal Tourismus, Miranda Muller
Ötztal Cycle Path
Time for our first Ötztal bike trip. We wanted to start off slow, with a nice relaxing route through the valley, so we chose the Ötztal Cycle Path. This path goes from Sölden all the way to the beginning of the valley at the Ötztal railway station.
With our Ötztal Premium Cards, we were able to rent our standard mountainbikes for free.
We cycled downhill from Sölden and followed bike path #11. After riding for a while, we turned around and cycled back uphill, all under our own steam. For families or people who dislike cycling uphill, we recommend taking the bus to the end of the valley and then cycling back. There are special buses available that can accommodate bicycles, and you can look for these in the schedule beforehand. Very relaxing!
Bike Republic Sölden: not to be missed!
The first time we passed the Gaislachkogel in Sölden on our way up, we noticed loads of avid downhill mountain bikers at the Bike Republic Sölden. Fully kitted out with knee and elbow pads, they were boarding the gondola with their bikes.
What we saw at the top made our eyes pop out of our heads: this looked awesome! The mountain bikers were following specially designed mountain biking routes down the hill. We looked at each other and decided on the spot that we might just have to skip our “normal” mountain bike tour: we wanted to try this too! At the bottom we enquired at the bike rental stand, where they confirmed that we could rent everything we needed, including a special enduro mountain bike, protective gear and a regulation crash-helmet if needed. Next it was time to book bike lessons, because mastering such an exciting trail doesn’t just happen by itself…
Bike Republic Sölden: facts and figures
- 16 km shaped trails: 3 blue, 1 red and 1 black
- 29 km nature trails, 16 different single tracks in total
- 42 ‘normal’ mountain bike routes
- 2 pump tracks in the village of Sölden
Action at the Bike Republic? We are ready! ©Ötztal Tourismus, Miranda Muller
First Downhill exercise at the Pumptrack. ©Ötztal Tourismus, Miranda Muller
We booked a lesson at one of the bike schools and came back the next morning at 9 a.m. sharp to meet our instructor Alex at the pump track. We were feeling pretty cool with our newly rented bikes and equipment. Alex showed us the basics of how to sit, brake and steer.
I prided myself on already knowing a thing or two about cycling and mountain biking, but after his 15 minute speech I was a lot wiser. It all seemed logical enough, but would it work out in practice?
We practised our posture and then moved on to the pump track. This track is specially designed for people who want to practise their downhill skills. Alex called it a “playground for grown-ups” and that seemed to describe it perfectly. We had a blast riding over banked curves and bumps.
First time on the trail
Then it was time for the real work to begin! We took our suspension bikes with us onto the Gaislachkogl lift. After a few more tips from Alex we set out to conquer the Eebme Line, one of the shaped lines. The downhill routes are colour-coded according to difficulty:
- blue is the easiest
- red is the next-hardest
- black is the most extreme.
Of course, that day we stuck to the blue routes. The first few turns were thrilling, but I tried to stay focused on my technique, posture and steering. It was neat to see how Alex’s coaching worked out perfectly in real life. If you’d asked me the day before, I never would have thought that I would be riding like such a pro!
he trail is broken up into different sections. This was a convenient excuse to take breaks and let Alex give us some more tips.
We soon got into the swing of things and we had big smiles plastered across our faces as we rode down again and again. This was so much fun! Next we tried the Ohn Line, another blue route. The curves seemed to be getting easier and we were soon fearlessly attacking the bumps. After about an hour and a half we found ourselves back in the valley at the bottom of the lift, totally enthusiastic and hyperactive after our adventure. We had learned loads in just one morning, and we had so much fun! We’ll definitely be doing this again soon…
Miranda Muller from Indebergen.nl
Miranda Muller is Editor-in-chief at Indebergen.nl and the alps are her second home. She loves the variety of a mountain holiday: a great hike, a challenging mountain bike ride, an extensive lunch in the sun at a cozy mountain hut and at the end of the day relaxing with a nice book and a good glass of wine. And all that with a wonderful view!