Biking with children
“Always look in the direction of where you want to ride”, explains the bike instructor Sabine. “And bend the knees to absorb the impact”, she calls over to my son, Nico. The kids on the bike course make their first rounds, and by the look of the enormous grins on their faces, they’re having great fun. What we adult mountain bikers take for granted, the kids must first learn: How to brake correctly, negotiate bends, transfer weight – all these exercises are on the morning programme before we hit the trails.
Every beginning is tricky
It’s best to send children to a bike camp or hire a bike instructor, so they are able to learn the basics. Only when they feel safe on the bike, will they venture out into the world of bike trails. “Use the rear brakes and ride the curve”, Sabine instructs. The children’s group carry out the last exercises before they tackle the Milka Line for the first time. After two hours of basic training, beads of sweat are running down their foreheads, and no wonder, so much action and the heat of the midday sun zap your energy. We take a swig of water from our bottles and Nico and the other children are geared up with knee and back protectors and ready to go. I accompany the children on my bike and help out Sabine.
Tip for all kids and beginners: The Learn to Ride Park in Saalbach!
At the top, Nico is keen to get started, but I shout loudly “Stooop” “Safety first” a top priority! We can’t get started until everything is checked and adjusted appropriately. I check that all the protectors are properly fitted, and the helmet is secure. We’re all ready to go. I head off in front, with junior behind me. We’re a little wobbly negotiating the first two curves, but by the third curve, we’d cracked it, and did an excellent job of negotiating the steeper curves. The sparkling eyes of Nico said it all, he’d caught the biking bug. “Cool stuff” he yelled. The day has come to an end, and there is much planned for the following day. We want to tackle the Hacklberg Trail.
Hacklberg Trail Project
The Hacklberg Trail is my absolute favourite trail in the Home of Lässig *, however, for Nico, it is his first experience. Excited, he looks over towards the summit of the Schattberg. “Do we have to go up there?” he questions. We purchase our tickets and take the SchattbergXpress, a modern gondola which takes us a total of 1,000 metres in altitude up to the summit, from where we will ride downhill. Whenever I am standing at the top of the Schattberg, I am fascinated by this valley and its numerous trails and downhill tracks. No matter on which mountain in the Glemmtal you stand, there is always a downhill trail. Behind me, the backdrop is the white crested peaks of the Hohen Tauern and below me the endless Alpine pastures of the Pinzgauer Grasberge. I immediately feel relaxed when taking in this view – Nico, however, is feeling nervous. I once again repeat the basics of biking, and off we go. No, not down, but up the mountain. Pushing the bikes further and further up the mountain. One advantage of a strong start is that 15 minutes later we are warmed up and standing on the summit of the Westgipfel and finally get started.
*Cool and laid-back or “lässig” as the Austrians say.
Pure pleasure on the Westgipfel trail
The first couple of curves are located in a parallel position to the ski piste, and the terrain is rocky. After an easy-going flat section, the trail becomes steeper and winds down towards the Hacklbergeralm. Nico is no longer nervous, he’s having great fun and is riding with confidence. After a short stop at the hut, we continue to the second part of the trail which dips into the forest with many curves leading to the Westgipfelbahn middle station. North Shore elements interchange with rapid forest passages and we arrive faster than expected at the door of the Bergstadl. The Hacklberg Trail ends here, but for us, the fun is not over. Of course, we ride the Buchegg-Trail which takes us back to the valley. At the bottom, Nico asks only one question: “When will we return to the Home of Lässig for biking?”