URT Day 34: Canyon Oakley Freeride Camp in Leogang

Aug 4, 2011
by David Scorer  
Images proved tricky today. The layout of “Flying Gangster” (the freeride trail) means that it is very difficult to walk down either side. Obviously walking on the bike park trails is stupid, not to mention prohibited! But given the objectives of WorldBikeParks and the URT we, or rather Tim, make the effort to reach the places mere mortals can’t for photographs. However the steepness of the terrain and the density of the woodland proved a real challenge. And to add to the difficulty the trail is ‘defended’ by an electric fence to stop the nearby cattle from wandering on to the trail (a good thing though as a meeting would be bad for biker and cow!). Whilst trying to set up a flash on a tripod straddling one of these fences he accidentally brushed a tripod leg against the electric wire, sending a magnified shock up his arm and causing such a severe flinch he sent the tripod sailing 30ft through the air and into the cow field. You can image how pissed he was! But despite all these problems he returned with his usual high quality shots of the guys from the Canyon Oakley Freeride Youth Camp charging down the hill...

When you start running out of energy here then lunch is easily on hand in the Cafe-Bar B3 right by the finish area of the park, looking out over the final berms and jumps. You actually have to ride past it on the way back to the lift for your next run, so it enables real quick turnaround times for refueling and lets you get back to the trails asap! It’s run by husband and wife team Tom and Alex, who also run the Rivus Apartments just next door. This is reasonably high-end self catering accommodation right next to the lift so if you want to splash out on a group biking holiday this looks just the thing.

During the day I met up with Kornel from Leogang-Bergbahnen, responsible for all things bike park, and with Sabine and Adrian from the Bike School Elements Outdoor Sports. Leogang is targeted more at advanced riders than at beginners, which is perfectly fair enough as the demand is certainly there. But it does get busy, with slower riders making their way down the same trails as the fast ones, and there is actually huge potential to expand and appeal to the less experienced riders as well. A new chairlift is in the pipeline just along the valley, built over terrain which is far less steep and so much more appropriate for beginner to intermediate tracks. So there is much more to come! We also discovered that Leogang is the driving force behind the GraVity Card project, a collaboration between leading European Bike Parks to provide a discount season ticket to access all the parks. If you are planning a road trip the GraVity Card offers incredible value for money and you will be pleased to hear that even more bike parks will be joining the project in the future.

Finally, the rain has caught up with us at last. Torrential downpours started early evening and show no signs of stopping. We are off to Saalbach-Hinterglemm tomorrow, which is actually just around the corner, so only a short drive. It means we get the same weather so there is no escaping it this time! The waterproofs are coming out. Might make blue-sky images like this just a little bit more difficult to obtain...!


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