Written by: Hans Rey
Photos by: Markus Greber
Bikers: Hans Rey & Brian Lopes
The Tutti Frutti Epic MTB Tour is a one-day bucket-list ride that includes most of the new and existing trails at the Carosello 3000 Mountain Park in the resort town Livigno, Italy.
The 45km long tour includes only a few hundred meters of uphill pedalling since all the trails can be accessed by gondolas and chairlifts. Riders don’t have to be as qualified as my partner for this maiden tour, Brian Lopes. All of the trails are either red or blue (intermediate or beginner), suitable for most skill levels and perfect for Cross Country, All Mountain and Enduro bikes.
The local trail crew has so far built over 25 kilometres of purpose-built flow trails in the past years, according to a master-plan that I had provided with Trail designer Diddie Schneider 7 years ago. Add to this the already existing network of natural trails and you have over 3500 meters/ 11,500ft of vertical descent. Livigno’s slogan Feel the Alps is now unofficially Feel the Flow.
After working with Livigno for the past 10 years and after building the first ever Flow Country test trail there with Diddie Schneider in 2010, we slowly developed the “Flow Trail Center” on the Carosello 3000 Mountain Park. This is not a hardcore Bike Park as Livigno already offers on the other side of the valley, but this is more like a trail center, where everybody can ride, beginners can share the same trails with experts and pros, and don’t be mistaken by thinking trails for families and novice riders will be boring for experts, not if they are built properly.
My riding buddy for this initial ride was no other than my longtime friend and mountain biking icon Brian Lopes, a former World Champion and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer, just like yours truly. Brian has a very special connection to Livigno, since he won here the 2005 4X Worlds. We both brought All Mountain bikes, my GT had 150mm front / 130mm rear and Brian’s Intense had 160mm front and rear.
The Tutti Frutti Epic starts and ends in town at the ‘Livigno Centro’ gondola station. A bike day pass from Carosello 3000 will allow you to use all the uphill assistance needed to complete this epic. The entire route will be marked with checkpoints in numeric order and maps and apps will be available.
The first gondola will give you beautiful views of the remote mountain village of Livigno and its lake, situated in the heart of the Alps and located just east of Switzerland. The first trail starts at the Costaccia restaurant and is one of my favourites, Roller Coaster is a red trail and is the only full-length Flow Country Trail in Italy, 4kms of berms, whoops and incredible views before heading up again, this time even higher with the Vetta chairlift.
The next section will include a number of trails, including Coast To Coast, S-Way and the last part of H-Dream before arriving on the far side of the mountain by the other gondola, the Carosello 3000 mid-station.
A short gondola ride and cappuccino later and we cruise down the newest trail on the map, its called Bikers United and we were the first to ride this trail. It is always fun to follow Brian, his skills are so incredible, even on a beginner trail he can link up new and interesting lines, some of them I have never seen anybody else ride or jump before, like linking two innocent rollers into a burly double jump.
After a quick selfie photo with the Scottish Highland cattle, which roam these mountains, we are back in the Gondola for an overdue Instagram update and to give our arms a rest.
The next stage will be twice as long, taking about 18 minutes, if you don’t stop much, it combines the upper part of Coast To Coast trail, H-Dream which is a red trail with some bigger jumps, but all of them can be rolled and there are no surprises. The key to great trails are three pillars: Sustainability, Safety and Predictability. That applies for expert trails the same as for beginner trails.
At the end of H-Dream is a short transition from Carosello Mid Station to Blueberry Line another super fun and flowy red trail. This trail will spit you out at one of the many mountain huts and restaurants along the tour, Tea Borch, where one can get refreshments and typical local homemade foods. Livigno has, as part of its extensive trail network the 30km Panoramica XC trail, that contours the entire valley. At this point of our tour we jump on the “Panoramica” Trail for a the next 3km, before we pedal back on the “Ciclabile” bike path along the river Spöl to the Carosello 3000 bottom station.
Now we are about half way through the Tutti Frutti Epic, but the grins on our faces are already in full extension. Next stop is 1200 meters above on top of Carosello 3000 Peak at 3000 meters, just as the name implies. Here we stop for lunch and relax in a sun chair for a moment. The views are incredible, Switzerland to the immediate West and to the East we have clear views of some of Italy’s tallest mountains, the Ortles-Cevedale, Gran Zebru and Stelvio glacier.
The charismatic mountain town of Livigno lays quietly far below us with all its beautiful hotels and shops. In the old days Livigno was cut off from the rest of the world during the winter months, due to the snow fall none of the passes could be crossed and the residents, mostly farmers, were on their own and cut off from the rest of the world. Nowadays things have changed, Livigno is accessible year around, the town was awarded duty-free status by the European Union, therefore it is also a shopping destination, besides being a ski and biking Eldorado.
Next Checkpoint on the Tutti Frutti itinerary is Madonon, it’s a pedal to get there and takes a good rider about 25 minutes, but its worthwhile the ride and one of the highlights of the tour. For me, this spot is extra special, the first time I rode there in 2008 I proposed to my wife Carmen at this very spot. To my surprise, since I had never been there before, I found a charming little mountain hut overlooking the entire valley as well as the glaciers of the Bernina Massif.
Huts like this one are spread scattered around Livigno high up in the mountains as shelters and are open for everyone, you can even sleep there, they often come with a stove and provide simple shelter in case of bad weather. If you are lucky, Iike I was when I first came there with my to-be–wife Carmen, as well as this time with Brian, I found a bottle wine there left by the last visitors. This point is marked by a Madonna statue that is lit up at night and is one of the landmarks high above the village. Nearby is also a toilet with a million dollars open air view.
From here we backtracked the single trail to the tiny Lac Salin Lake, from where we head to the backside of the Carosello 3000 Mountain and descent on a natural trail in the Val Federia valley. This descent is a long time classic for mountain bikers in Livigno, it drops into one of the most beautiful and remote valleys you can imagine. Halfway down we stop at Alpe Federia, this is the place where all the cows of Livigno (and one farm family) spend their summers. They offer home cooking and since it’s almost the end of our ride, we toast with a beer.
Thirty minutes later we arrive back in Livigno, Brian insists to stop by the lake for a swim while I have the Gelateria Talgliede in mind, knowing that the owner has already created a new ice cream flavour called TuttiFrutti.
The whole tour took us about 4:30 hours, including lunch, coffee and ice-cream.
Tutti frutti, oh rutti
Wop bop a loo bop a lop bom bom!
Tutti frutti, oh rutti
Now it’s your turn to ride this epic.