I have been coming to Leogang, Austria ever since the first Downhill World Cup they hosted back in 2010. This region in the Alps is famous for its winter months but is quickly becoming a popular biking destination. We can look back to the 2002 World Championships which was held down the Valley in Kaprun, Zel Em See which may have started it all. I competed as a Junior at that event and remember it fondly. It was the race where the great Nico Vouilloz won his 10th and Final World Championship Title.
Racing in Leogang was always a pleasure. It is a great, all-around track and the event has a relaxed atmosphere. This time around, however, I wasn’t here to race. I came to create memories that had nothing to do with racing.
Racing is all about being smart with your time and energy. There is no chance to site see or take in the surrounding trails when at a race. You barely have a chance to look around at the most magnificent mountain peaks which surround Leogang because you are so focused with the job at hand. The mountain ranges are truly breathtaking. I was excited to see what they had to offer away from the race scene and race track.
I insisted on starting my trip with a guilt free weiner schnitzel and a beer, something I would highly recommend when visiting. The next day our goal was to see as much of the riding outside the bike park as possible. The local tourism board has put great effort into some new trails which you can access by taking the lift which suited me just fine. There are also easy access roads to ride up to get some kms in.
The trails snake their way down some beautiful woods and can be enjoyed by most skill levels which is key to the success of the area. To break up the day I had lunch mid-way up the mountain “Après Ski” style which added to the experience. Watch out for the free roaming cows! If you’re looking for a longer ride, on day 2 we made our way out to an old hiking trail which is now legal to ride. Lovely raw single track again with out of this world views and it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere.
For all the years of racing here I had not ridden the actual bike park so I obviously couldn’t resist slapping some bike park turns and having some fun on the more man-made trails to end my trip. There is truly something here for everyone. With the region known for its delicious cheese, spicy sausage, crunchy vegetables and cleansing schnapps – the farmers in Pinzgau know how to honor their roots and made for great fuel to keep my energy levels up. I think it’s safe to say I will be back to explore in the future. Cheers LEOGANG
For more Episodes of "Chasing Trail", click HERE!Text
: Andrew NeethlingPhotos
: Keno DerleynVideo