Dogtag Blogger Hannah Attenburrow reports on her recent MTB trip to Austria - first time using an e-bike!
Surround by 3,000m snow-capped peaks, wheels crunching the gravel beneath, laboured breathing and the sweet smell of Alpine air. It can only mean one thing, a mountain bike ride in Austria, on this adventure things are a little different. Arriving at our lunch spot I didnt feel as exhausted as usual, my legs feel worked and my lungs full of fresh air but I am ready to go. The reason. Dave and I climbed with a little horse power, not lassoed farming donkeys but an e-bike. This latest adventure to Austria with Grip Grab was a whirlwind tour of Solden a region in the Tyrol growing its mountain biking scene. So far so stunning!
The e-bike made easy work of the Alpine climbs, using the standard and eco settings, rolling up the forest tracks at an easy 16km, climbing to the top took no time at all. While we were pedaling Dave and I enjoyed the views of the valley below, the lush green canopy and delicate mountain flowers. Usually it would be head down and pedal hard to enjoy the view at the top. This new way of travelling made the climbing more enjoyable and I was starting to see the benefits and accessibility of an e-bike.
E-bikes open up the world of cycling to all fitness levels and mean friends and family of different abilities can ride at the same pace.
In Solden there are plenty of bike hire places. We hired from Intersport on the main road their helpful and friendly team set our bikes up, including suspension and gave us a good demo into the e-bikes and how to use the motor.
Sipping schnaps and eating Goulash soup we were soon refueled and ready for the next part of our journey. We headed towards a natural trail called Jagers Notweg a black run. Arriving at the start the first and most important job was to stamp our trail passports. Bike Republic Solden is its own republic with its own dialect, which is used to name the trails.
Jagers Notweg – the start of this black trail lulls you into a false sense of security as you traverse a very pleasant path with trees on both sides. The trail soon turns into a testing singletrack with hairpin turns, jagged rocks waiting to pinch either you or your tyre and roots at the most unhelpful of angles. The days previously it had rained which had made both rocks and roots slick and the payment for getting things wrong on this tiny trail was not worth thinking about so there was a lot of negotiating on foot this is where e-biking was an issue weighing in at around 58kg my bike at 25kg was nearly half my weight and keeping myself and it upright was a work out in itself.
Just as you think this little singletrack has thrown all it can at you, you reach a bridge and then a 10 minute climb to the double track path. Delighted to reach the top Dave and I chilled and chatted about our attempt at the most technical trail in the whole of Bike Republic Solden, happy to have that stamp in our passports we headed onwards and upwards. I was happy to have some assistance from the e-bike which plodded along nicely in eco mode my feet turning the pedals around 80rpm. Sometimes forgetting I had assistance at all until I stopped pedaling and the bike would coast along like a normal bike losing power. With an e-bike the more power you put in the more it gives back.
We soon where at our next trail, well signposted with grade color, direction arrow trail name and instructions and trail rules.
Dancing our way down the Kleblealm trail we encountered flowy sections where the bike gripped the ground and spun you round the corner, the silence on the mountain dented by whoops of joy as we descended further into sections which traversed the fire road climb. These were more technical and needed slower speed and concentration to guide the bikes over rocks and roots moving at a slower pace I kept in mind on what Alex had said at the pump track about keeping my weight centered over my bike with my collar bone in line with my headset I felt like I was gliding down the mountain. All too quickly it was over as the trail spat us out onto the road.
The benefit of e-bikes was evident. They allowed us to enjoy the fresh air and the views from the climb and exhilarating technical downs. We had more energy to enjoy the downhill and technical trails making us potentially safer and more able to negotiated difficult trail obstacles.
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