I’m a hard core mountain biker. I’m about having fun while riding up, up, up. I love to ride the mountain, I love to ‘log miles’, I love to gain elevation and I love to pedal hard. So why should I consider lift-served mountain biking? Hop a gondola or lift to the top, taking the bike up the mountain??? Does this sound appealing to anyone? After all, I got into the sport because I’m after lung-burning uphill climbs, sweating up the hills! Or am I wrong?
Indeed, I was more than sceptic when a colleague told us about the lift assisted Tirol Mountain Bike Safari. However, I’m willing to learn a lesson as well and that’s why I decided to organize a large-scale media visit on that topic. For 15 days, me and 32 journalists explored the options for getting up the mountain with bike all across Tirol, from Nauders on Reschen Pass in the Southwest to Walchsee in the Northeast.
Want to know how I think about it now? Well, honestly speaking, to me mountain biking is still worth the uphill pedal.
HOWEVER: I found riding the lift assisted Tirol Mountain Bike Safari totally stunning for a variety of reasons:
- Understandably enough, lift-served mountain biking saves lots of effort and time, giving you nothing but a green light for day after day of heart-pumping riding. You’ll see and experience more of the country.
- The daily stages are cleverly designed—despite the lift assistance, there are still leg-sapping ascents to negotiate that have to be rewarded with mouth-watering culinary delights at the end of the day. If you’re after strength-testing uphill climbs, stage 1 is the place for you, gaining around 1,500 metres. Stage 14, to the contrary, has a ‚mere‘ elevation gain of 350 metres. Two stages do not utilise mountain lifts at all.
- With so many options that let you take your bike up the mountain, beginners can get on the same lift as true pros, ride a separate trail, then meet again at the end of the day. Thus, all levels of riders can push their own limits and all can enjoy a wonderful bike trip together in Tirol.
- Lift assisted mountain biking is perfect for those who prefer the downhill rush side of the mountain bike equation. The singletrack options at Nauders, Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis and Kitzbühel Alps Region (Kirchberg, Westendorf) satisfy every gravity hog’s hunger. Beginners can ride down separate gravel trails.
- Chair lift and gondola rides are perfect to absorb the wonderful scenery and take some quiet time listening to nature. It’s like a bird’s eye view, in flight. Simply contemplate your good fortune while sitting there, surrounded by mountain beauty, enjoying the views or chatting with your neighbour. Rest and relaxation at its best. And yes, I’m serious!
- Those who want to ‘log miles’ and gain elevation can do so nevertheless. But there’s no need to….
Mountain bikers taking a rest in Pinnistal, a side valley of Stubaital.
Fast Facts on the Tirol Mountain Bike Safari:
- Distance: 670 kilometres of mountain bike trails are broken up into 15 day stages
- Cumulative Elevation Gain: 26,000 metres; 12,000 metres of which are serviced by gondolas and chair lifts
- Lifts & Gondolas: 18; the Tirol Mountain Bike Safari Flexi-Pass allows you to ride 17 of these gondolas and lifts within the network. Lift tickets include bike transportation.
- Highest Elevation: 2,385 metres (Stage 2 atop Fisser Joch Col)
- Trip Planning: On stages 1-8 you can benefit from baggage transfer services to ensure a comfortable ride, unencumbered by heavy baggage. There are places to stay for all tastes and budgets along the Tirol Mountain Bike Safari route; 66 accommodations have been awarded the Approved Accommodation for Cyclists designation. Specialised tour operators offer Mountain Bike Safari Packages that include accommodation, baggage transfer services, tour guiding and more.
- Singletrack Mountain Biking: En route, avid mountain bikers will find 13 adrenaline fuelled singletrack options and 3 amazing bike parks.
The 15 Stages of the Tirol Mountain Bike Safari:
Specific information about each stage, including GPS data for download, comprehensive tour descriptions with trailside eateries and accommodations, tour operators and baggage transfer services can be found at http://www.tyrol.com/bikesafari
If you are pushing a mountain bike, you are still mountain biking. I’d rather sweat up the hill and push my bike down ;o) (Copyright: Michal Szyplinski)