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My visions of mountain biking through the alpine forests of Austria involved sitting down on the bike and maybe navigating a few tree roots and twist or turn here or there with a little adrenalin fun.
The minute I was passed the full face protection helmet dirt bike riders wear alongside a pair of knee and elbow pads, I knew I was totally out of touch with what mountain biking in Austria meant.
This is downhill mountain bike riding in the freakin Austrian Alps.
Prepared to be thrilled.
Bike Republic Solden
We were heading up to the Bike Republic Solden, which on their website, is described as a roller coaster on wheels!!
With trail names that mean “head-strong”, “strong-willed and stubborned”, I found myself once again wishing I had done some research into what kinda trail this was.
Bike Republic was opened in 2015 and has over 20 natural trails and three shaped lines consisting of steep curves, wallrides, scooters and also spirals.
The more difficult trails even have jumps! Labelled like ski runs, the trails range from blue to black, the blue being the easy “family” trail.
That’s Austrian family, not Australian family.
This was the most intense and scary adventurous activity I have ever done because the risk was so high.
I’ve done bungy jumping, white water rafting on the Nile and plenty of zip lines and obstacle courses. All of which you’re pretty secured into a harness and would be very unlucky to hurt yourself.
Even though we were getting flipped off the boat on Grade 5 rapids called the BAD Place on the Nile River, I felt pretty safe.
But not on the mountain biking, it was something that involved a high amount of concentration, intense physical exertion, balance, agility strength and fearlessness.
This was mountain bike riding where the seat was really low and bouncy – this did not matter as this was not sit down mountain bike riding. We were standing up the entire time riding down the hill.
It was only the intensity of the standing that changed – almost straight leg coasting, or crouched down tense muscles engaged.
Pump track training with Ride On
I was exhausted after the training and scared.
The training form the crew at Ride On bike school was excellent. They were very thorough in teaching, modelling and helping us get the technical moves before we went up the mountain.
Although I handled the dips of the Pump track and going down a slightly steep incline on the training track, I still felt shaky and considered pulling out.
I have no photos or videos.
I did not want to take anything that would distract my attention or add any extra weight. Some of my fearless friends on the trip took theirs so I thank them for the use of their photos!
Gorgeous views from the top of Solden
The trip started off beautifully – taking the gondola up to the top of the mountain – my mouth aghast, not only at the incredible view of the Austrian Alps but also at the realization that the higher we went the further down we’d have to come on our bikes.
This is Serious Mum. Lucky Mum did not know I as doing this or she’d be freaking out.
We pulled at the very top at the ICE Q restaurant on top of Gaislachkogl peak. I would have loved to sit down with a beer or coffee and soak up those views and play a little longer in the snow, but it was trail bike riding time and I was ready.
The mountain bike crashes
Becki, Sabrina and I began on the easier road hill to get to the first track. The others took a slightly harder trail to meet us.
I started down the hill behind the others and the next thing I knew I was flying over the handlebars and crashing onto the ground –first impact chest, followed by jaw and then head.
Thank goodness for the serious helmet.
I wasn’t even on the serious trail yet and my nerves got the better of me, somehow making me press a little too hard on the front brake and sending me catapulting through the air.
The girls didn’t hear my cries for help as they were in front and already moving quickly down the mountain. So I had to pick myself up, brush myself off, without hurting my scraped up hand and shakily walk down the mountain to meet them at the start of the trail.
I was so annoyed that I came off right at the beginning.
I decided to breathe deep and take on the trail – I Can Do This.
I was enjoying it and our guide from Ride On behind us kept calling out excellent instructions to me to help me remember how to stand and hold my body to guide myself through the twists and turns down the mountain.
The intensity of it was full on – the concentration that was required, the managing of my fear, and the physical strain.
Despite being high up the mountain where we had just saw snow I was hot and sweaty.
I was almost down the hill of this section when Sabrina came off her bike in front of me narrowly missing falling off the edge.
Oh My God. What are we doing? This is crazy. My confidence eroded even more.
I decided to skip the next section and ride down the road instead, gathering up my courage to attempt the next section which they said was the easiest of the lot.
I felt like I could do it.
I did handle the other part of the trail okay. If I didn’t come off at the very beginning I would probably have been okay to keep going.
But as we were waiting down the bottom for the others to come off the trail, Becki lost her balance and did a spectacular backward fall and multiple rolls with her bike down the hill and landed on her back narrowly missing a gigantic rock.
Right that’s it. I’m taking a taxi back!!
Enjoying the risk-free lunch views
She was completely shaken up and we decided to walk the rest of the way to the 300 year old mountain hut Gampe Thaya where we had organised to have lunch.
It was then I decided I was definitely taking the cab down.
Weighing up the risk rewards I realized the chances – due to my skill level and confidence – of me crashing again and really hurting myself were very high and not worth the reward of the adventure.
With my lifestyle and work I can’t manage injuries, and I don’t want anything like that to get in the way of my enjoyment traveling with the girls and doing slightly less adventurous, but fun things with them.
I was happy with my decision and relaxed on the sun terrace with a delicious farm lunch and incredible valley views.
It’s all a story to tell in the end
Boy did we have some stories to share and laugh over for the rest of the day.
The rest of the crew continued on with the adventure and met us down the bottom of the mountain in one piece and incredibly happy.
They said it was the mountain biking in Bike Republic, Solden was their favorite activity of our time in Otztal and definitely worth it. They were making plans to come back and do it again.
If you are visiting Austria, and looking for adventure this is the thing for you to do!
Even though I had the spills and an undesired premature end I loved the experience and the thrill of it.
It’s all a story to tell in the end, and we got some good ones.
Becki and I had to go to the doctors. Many thanks to Holger for taking great care of us. Becki was checked over for concussion and any internal injuries.
I had to have the gravel and stones embedded into my hand from my fall scraped out. Yeah. That was fun. I wanted to keep them in there and let them grow out to avoid the pain, but Holger wouldn’t let me!!
Nearly a month later, I’m still finding it challenging to do push ups and downward dogs. Even though my wound is healed, it really hurts when I put pressure on the heel of my hand. It’s very weird.
I visited Austria for the Social Travel Summit held in Kitzbuhel. I spoke on a panel called Standing out in a Digital Landscape. After it, I had the pleasure of joining a hosted tour to the Otztal Valley region for three nights with a group of seven other travel bloggers.
We had a blast together and I’m so glad our group dynamic was positive and fun.
Check out Area 47 – the most extreme water park in the world that we visited the day before.
Check out more in the travel video of my time in Austria:
The cool blogging crew I traveled with:
We had such a cool crew. Be sure to check out their blogs below:
- Becki Enright from Borders of Adventure
- Sabina Trojanova from Girl Vs Globe
- Peter Parkor from Travel Unmasked
- Guilherme Tetamanti from Quero Viajar Mais (Portuguese blog)
- Claudia Beatriz from Aprendiz de Viajante (Portuguese blog)
- Lucie Aidart from Voyages et Vagabondages (French blog)
- Veronika Tomanova from Veronka’s Adventure
Also in the photo is Holger from Tourism Tirol and our instructors from Ride On Bike School.
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Would you be crazy, or brave enough to give this mountain biking at the Bike Republic in Solden, Austria a try? Or have you already?