”Biking holidays? I’m sorry, but it’s probably too much. I don’t need hassle of planning my holiday, all the preparation work,” many may think. And hey, as much as pedalling is fun: The batteries should be recharged during holidays. Relaxation has to be part of the fun. The conflict of interest seems unavoidable. There must be a way to combine sport and recreation. However: The mountain is calling, and the bike wants to be taken for a spin! So we venture out our first biking holidays.
We will see how it goes…
The choice of destination is obvious: It has to be Saalbach Hinterglemm! Apparently, the winter sports metropolis attracts not only hikers and outdoor fans in summer but is said to be the “place to be” especially for bikers. Browsing the Internet, especially at saalbach.com, convinced me I made the right choice. The offer in the area is impressive and it quickly turns out: It is not an old run-of-the-mill bike park with artificial runs and masses of bikers on the trails. The whole region has a wide range of offers. You can reach parks, trails, shops, huts and much more with four cable cars that conveniently link them. Moreover, there are cosy restaurants, bars, shops and if I happen to want to give my bike a rest, I can enjoy: swimming, canoeing, climbing, a high rope course, hiking paths as well as suitable accommodation – from privately rented rooms to 5 star hotels with impressive wellness areas: all can be booked. Opinions posted on various forums also confirmed my opinion. I quickly convinced my girlfriend and two other friends and a hotel was booked without further ado. So, we are ready for the holidays!
The day has come at last! The suitcase is packed and the car is loaded. Off we go on our first biking holiday together. Hopefully we didn’t forget anything! Otherwise: There are many shops where we can buy or rent whatever we may need. Gloves, protectors, helmets, clothes, bikes, spare parts or, or, or …it’s all available in Saalbach Hinterglemm. It makes us worry less about anything we may have forgotten to pack. OK then! By the way: The journey is not complicated. No toll or vignette is necessary when you come from Germany through Siegsdorf and Inzell. From Vienna or Italy, Saalbach Hinterglemm is also easily accessible via motorways and highways.
Once arrived, we go and check out the place. The accommodation is quite cool. The amenities of the “biker-friendly” hotel include laundry service, bike washing equipment as well as a bike workshop with the most important tools. Our hearts beat faster when we see so many bike shops both in Saalbach and in Hinterglemm. We also easily found the locations of the four cable cars. Soon, we meet the first bikers who greet us with a wide smile. It must be a good sign! One of the bikers recommends a good trail to start with – the Talschluss circuit covering 500 vertical metres. Duration: just over an hour. This is exactly the right way to get acquainted with the area. The short Ossmannalm Trail is also perfect for beginners. No sooner said than done. Our biker friend didn’t promise too much. The Talschluss circuit was extremely pleasant and gave us a slight kick at the end. This is how it should be! The stomach growls and we go to the restaurant – the one we decided on at arrival. We choose a classic dish – Kasnockn, cheese dumplings, and Wiener Schnitzel. We are finally in holiday mode. Good night.
We love the hotel breakfast. We start the day in a relaxed way instead of hastily drinking the first cup of coffee before work. The anticipation for the upcoming tours guarantees double the fun. What turns out to be a great benefit from the very beginning is the JOKER CARD. We save money and have unlimited access to four cable cars as well as 400 km of routes and trails. So, we grab the card and head off to the Kohlmaisbahn cable car taking us to the beginner-friendly Milka Line. The speed is quite high but thanks to the simple routing you quickly get used to the ground and special character of trails as well the mountain environment in general.
This awakens the desire for more. So off we go to the Blue Line at Reiterkogel. Again, it does not take long to enjoy the trail. There are simple steep turns, small jumps, flat Northshore elements and wide tables that beginners can easily tackle. I take a break to enjoy the astonishing view over Saalbach Hinterglemm. But the joy is disrupted when the chain suddenly breaks. It doesn’t turn out to be a problem, I get a new one in the shop at the foot of the trail and it is fitted right there in the service station. We get hungry after the next two runs. We then have a delicious snack on one of the surrounding alpine pastures. The trail action combined with alpine idyll really sets the right mood.
The afternoon sun burns my skin, sweaty palms in the gloves and sweat under the helmet indicate that I have to take a rest! So, straight to the Käpt’n Hook open-air adventure pool by bike. Thanks to the JOKE CARD with its all-inclusive services we can save money. In the evening, we treat ourselves to a delicious steak. With our bellies full, we head off to visit the nearby bars. We quickly start a conversation with other bikers, who give us useful tips regarding activities that we could try on the following day. One of the locals talks to me about the legendary Hacklberg Trail with a glint in his eye. It ranks on the top of tomorrow’s to-do list, that’s for sure!
We choose the Blue Line as a warm-up again, just like yesterday. During the next mountain ascent, I itch to try something new and we head off to the Pro Line for the first time. It’s the perfect place to polish one’s technique and gain some speed – endless excitement and pure adrenalin. The integrated Evil Eye Trail is an exhilarating experience for trained freeriders. Waves, step ups and downs, steep curves as well as different drops are perfect for styling.
After a light lunch, we decide to tackle the Hacklberg Trail. Conclusion: It truly deserves to be called “legendary”! Super flow, plenty of air time and great diversity provide a real adrenaline rush. Of course, there should also be enough time to take some souvenir photos in this stunning scenery. Otherwise nobody will believe us! At the end of the day, I long for well-deserved relaxation: My girlfriend and I have a good, restful time in the wellness area of the hotel. We look back on the day and the great impressions. The remaining members of the group are riding around the area, visit the pumptracks at Wieserauberg and the Reiterkogel bottom station and enjoy a few drinks at the hotel bar.
Relaxation makes sense! My muscles were aching a few days ago, now they are supple again and ready for action. We had a royal breakfast and recharged the batteries. Off to Zwölferkogel. The Z-Line is kind of a warm-up. Then onwards to the demanding X-Line at Schattberg. Two test runs are definitely necessary in order to memorise the route, the key points and specific features of the 6 km long freeride run. It leads through meadows, rocky and forest paths with numerous jumps, berms and tricky root and technical passages. It’s really cool that you can time your descent of the X-Line. There is even the opportunity to compare the results with other riders online – competition in the virtual world, so to speak.
A crowning moment for me and my girlfriend is the time we spent on Hacklberg Trail again. This time, our friends try out the famous Bergstadl Trail, which is really special. Occasional botanical diversions are quite the norm here. At the end of the trail, we visit one of the Alpine huts to enjoy a well-earned after-ride drink. A comfortable place is the cosy sun terrace, great to chill out. The positive vibe between the hikers and bikers leaves a good impression. They all show mutual respect and exchange experiences. “Fair Play” is important for everyone.
Today, our bodies can relax, since we leave our bikes in the basement. We enjoy breakfast even more than on the other days. Actually, an excursion to Zeller lake was planned. Since the weather is not really suitable for bathing, we decide to go to the high rope course, which is Europe's largest of its kind, mind you! The Golden Gate Bridge of the Alps along with the treetop trail is located directly next to it. Various obstacle courses with the unique landscape as backdrop make sure that our spirits are up.
We finish off our chilled out day with a meal at a rustic restaurant. Awesome delicacies from the region are our meals of choice. Today, we’re drinking spirits: Here, it is said that nobody can deny a “schnapps of honour”. We go to bed a bit earlier. The last few biking days were pleasant but we are getting more and more tired each day. The next big challenge is planned for tomorrow.
We are fully motivated to start the next to last day of our biking holiday. Today, the BIG-5 Bike Challenge is tackled. We get up at exactly 9 o'clock, since 5,000 vertical metres are waiting for us. To put it in perspective – we have to cope with only 500 vertical metres on our own, the rest is covered with the cable cars. By the way: During the tour we can not only use the four cable cars in Saalbach Hinterglemm, but also those in the neighbouring Leogang, complete with its fabulous bike park. Therefore: Five mountains, five cable cars, over 5,000 metres in altitude difference as well as countless impressions combined with maximum freeride fun.
Once again, we are on the best trails in the region and still have time take one or more extra rounds. We decide on Schattberg with the X-Line and its impressive 1,000 vertical metres from the mountain to the cable car valley station. You can see the whole tour online at big-5.at. Worth mentioning: Each one of us has travelled 65 km by bike today. This is a really good result!
With a heavy heart, but with many unforgettable experiences, we eat the last breakfast and pack our bags, because it’s time to go home.
But: If the JOKER CARD is also valid on the day of departure, there is a whole day full of biking or other leisure activities before it’s finally time to grab the suitcase and to go home, much too soon. One thing is certain: During the past seven days, we only visited the trails closest to the lifts. There are so many other mountain biking and Enduro routes here as well as tours to other areas such as Leogang and Fieberbrunn. So there is still a lot to explore. The other tours will be on the next holiday plan, since one thing is clear: This was not the last biking holiday and we will return to Saalbach Hinterglemm soon. Very soon!