Photography & Words: Samantha Saskia Dugon
Driving into Sölden we were welcomed with an evening thunderstorm, but despite the pouring rain, the streets were filled with happy mountain bikers enjoying a beer after a long day on the trails. It was easy to see that the Sölden area is a paradise for outdoor lovers with an abundance of sport shops selling kit for cyclists, hikers, and climbers.
After settling into our hotel and prepping the bikes, we headed down for food and met up with Manuela from the Sölden Bike Republic to talk about our plans for the next few days and what we could expect from the trail in Sölden.
After dinner, we headed out for a quick wander along the river, which after the storm, was in full flow and looking intimidating with the amount of power and speed it was moving at.
A miniature model of the mountainscape around the valley.
Day 1 / Bikepark
Rising early, we were ready for first lifts and headed over to the Gaislachkoglbahn. From the top of this lift, we rode down the Eebme line to get to the Langegg lift where we would reach the top of the Ollweite line at over 2600m altitude where you were treated to a view over the Otztal Glacier as you rode around a crystal blue lake before descending down back into the valley.
The Ollweite line is a manmade trail that is red graded, however the trail grade systems in Sölden are closer to UK trail centre grading systems than alpine ones. The trail is nearly 7km long with over 700m of altitude to descend and features rock gardens and smooth berms along with plenty of places to jump and hop around. There is also a large rock feature halfway down the trail that is situated at the perfect place to stop and look at the view once you’ve gotten over the rocks.
Once we finished the Ollweite trail we rode down a short piece of fireroad and onto the blue graded Gahe Line. This trail was full of smooth berms with well-built jump after jump, perfect for honing your skills and building your confidence. The jumps increased in size the further you got down the track making it the perfect progression track.
After dropping back down into the valley we got the Gaislachkoglbahn lift again and left our bikes there as we got the Gaislachkoglbahn II lift to the very top of the mountain at 3000m for some risotto and tiramisu before heading back down to finish the afternoon off with some more riding and shooting.
In the afternoon we hit the red bike park trail, Teare, before splitting off onto the black Zaahe line for some big jumps.
The Teare line had a great mix of flowy corners and nicely built jumps that left you with a beaming smile the whole way down and wanting more the moment you got over the last jump.
Day 2 / Klebe Alm
All the trails on the bike park side of the hill are all very similarly built, with smooth hardpack man-made terrain. The main difference between the trails is how many jumps, rocks, drops or gaps they may have meaning that a red trail will be a bigger version of a blue you’ve just ridden which is perfect for honing your skills and going bigger and faster with the confidence that you build.
But away from the flowy trails, on the other side of the valley you’ll find a variety of trails which are steeper, more technical, natural and loamy than the bike park side of the valley. Fewer people rode these trails which made them feel raw and fresh and the perfect place to have a chilled enduro ride out. These trails also add variety to the terrain found in Sölden so you do not get complacent with bike park and man-made laps.
With a gradual fire road climb to the top, it’s easy to lap sections of the trail as it is broken into segments dropping in from and out onto the fire road all the way down the hill. We rode the Klebe Alm Trail which despite being only 1.6km long, packs in a hefty amount of vertical descent dropping 500m in that distance. The track provided a nice challenge to get down but it can be attacked at any speed, making it a great trail for many confident riders.
One of the perks of pedalling up to the trails on the other side of the valley is the little mountain hut serving beautiful coffee and cakes. We stopped for some quick energy before heading down the rest of the Klebe Alm trail.
To finish off the second day of riding we headed back over to the bike park side of the valley and took the Giggijochbahn to the top of the mountain and rode the Leiterberg trail. This trail was more natural and techy than the usual tracks at the bike park, with natural root and rock features with slippery mud after the rain all the way down as well as some pedally trail sections to keep you on your toes as you dodge the rocks.
Despite our trip only being short, we managed to pack in a lot of riding and a hell of a lot of fun in that time. Being a growing destination for mountain biking, the number of trails is constantly on the rise with the Bike Republic constantly wanting to add more variety. Talking to Manuela, she shared some of the plans that the area has to add to the growing array of mountain biking trails they have, saying that they were in the midst of creating a long, technical and natural singletrack trail perfect for enduro lovers which would help balance out the number of flow trails that they're already excelling at. ***Sölden will be operating daily from June 11 to September 27, 2020.
Pinkbike would like to thank: Bike Republic SöldenBaeckelar Wirt HotelBike Republic Sölden mountain biking trails