The Alps are famous for their snowy pistes that keep keen skiers and snowboarders returning year after year. What you may not know is that the Alps have plenty to offer all sports-lover’s all year round. The mountain range is also home to many exciting cycling routes! Here are some top mountain bike destinations in the Alps
As the weather gets warmer, those visiting the Alps swap their skis for wheels.
So, if you’re tempted to do the same, here are the best biking routes in the Alps.
Le Tour, Chamonix, France
Le Tour is a legendary biking route located in Chamonix.
Famed for its breath-taking views that cyclists can admire en route, Le Tour is a trail you don’t want to miss.
If you haven’t been mountain biking in the Alps before, this is a great place to start. While there’s some tough terrain that will put you through your paces, most of the trail is gentle. This makes it the ideal starting place for those just getting to grips with cycling through the Alps.
One piece of advice: make sure you’re armed with a map!
Super Sauze, Sauze D’Oulx, Italy
Sauze D’Oulx isn’t home to a huge biking area, but, keen pedal-pushers should give it a visit at least once.
What the bike park lacks in size it certainly makes up for in terrain! The terrain suits every kind of biker, from amateurs to experts.
Not sure which trail to choose? The Super Sauze is one of the best routes in the area!
Some more good news? The Super Sauze has a thrilling, rather than scary, nature. So, it’s one adrenaline-junkies don’t want to miss.
If that wasn’t enough, the views of the French-Italian Alps are unparalleled.
Balcony Trail, Saint-Luc, Switzerland
Against a backdrop of some stunning views, the Balcony Trail is a cycling gem located in the Swiss Alps. For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s located near the famous ski resort Zermatt.
Saint-Luc is home to many exciting biking trails, from wooded areas to bike parks, but the Balcony Trail is by far one of the best routes.
Complete with mixed terrain, staggering sights and dizzying heights, the Balcony Trail is one of most thrilling trails the Alps has to offer.
Keep your eyes peeled for the sights! There are glaciers and rocky areas for you to spot and admire at your leisure along the way.
Col du Glandon, Bourg d’Oisans, France
Bourg d’Oisans is a small French town that has been transformed by its love for mountain biking. In fact, the area has been made up for cyclists, home to a number of famous routes.
Col du Glandon is just one of these. At first glance, the trail may look simple, as the gradient isn’t particularly steep. But, looks can be deceiving! Col du Glandon boasts several difficult downhill sections that would present any cyclist with a challenge.
The scenery might not be the best in the Alps, but cycling along one of the most famous biking trails is a reward in itself. It’s one you don’t want to miss!
Flaine to Samoëns, Samoëns and the Grand Massif, France
Boasting a varied and huge range of biking trails, Samoëns and the Grand Massif are must-visit destinations for keen cyclists.
Flaine to Samoëns is one of the best routes in this area, highly recommended by those who have given it a try. If you fancy taking in views of the stunning French Alps, including spectacular views of Mont Blanc and the Grand Massif, you’re in luck. It’s the perfect chance to admire the Alpine backcountry on two wheels!
But, the views aren’t all this route has to offer. Flaine to Samoëns is home to huge descents, which provide a challenge as well as a thrill. So, it’s easy to see why this route is one of the most popular in France.
Tempted to head to the Alps and put your cycling abilities to the test? Book your transfer from the airport in advance to secure the best deals!
Solden a destination to get outdoors all year round.
Nestled within the Ötztal Valley, in the Austrian state of Tyrol lyes the valley town of Solden. A great base for active people looking for fun and adventure all year round.
Solden is leading the way in environmentally friendly trail building using small diggers to remove the top soil and then hand crews to shape the lines then re applying the top soil so natural habitats are not lost. Over boggy and marshy ground bridges and tunnels are created to ensure good drainage and also to keep those habitats safe for the wildlife that lives there. Whilst on the trail we saw loads of wildlife including deer which added to the adventure.
Read about my adventure to Solden with Grip Grab here
Singletrack fun in Solden.
A lazy start with a fantastic breakfast at the Die Berg hotel. We looked out onto a rather drizzly mountain, hoping the sun gods would bless us with some good weather for our endure day.
At intersport I picked up my new ride for the day a Cube Fritzz race enduro bike with 160mm travel on the fork and 27.5 tyres it looked like a serious bit of kit!
Today was the day to try the other side of the mountain. After getting our bikes and heading to the lift, I was glad, in the weather conditions, to have my Grip Grab gloves and shoes covers to help keep me warm.
Arriving at the mid-station at 2,174m we stepped out into a blizzard of snow. I instantly felt the chill in my bones and didn’t need to read the temperature gauge to know it was below freezing.
The trail from the mid-point took my mind off the cold as I cruised down large flowing berms loving the freedom and exhilaration of the smooth trails, constructed by Bike Republic Sölden.
The ‘flow trails’ are man-made with features like board rides, rock crossings and berms. These trails are designed in a way that allows you to flow from feature to feature down the mountain, hence the name. Their flowing lines are cut into the side of the mountain and maintained by a team of trail builders.
We saw a lot of wildlife from deer, stoats and plenty of birds of prey. It is one of the reasons I love biking you can really get close nature and see incredible wildlife you wouldn’t see in a car.
The other thing I love about mountain biking is the ability to go on an adventure, a journey. We traversed the side of the mountain climbing and descending until we got to our lunch stop. A beautiful hut called Gambya Thya at over 300 years old. It had been run by the same family for years, making award winning cheese and ham. We were in for a treat! The quaint wooden hut was filled with ribbons from award winning cows and photos of days gone by. The little rooms were full of character and the family’s welcome arms made me feel warm after being in the fresh alpine air.
We tucked into Austrian delicacies, drank mugs of warming hot chocolate and sipped on schnapps made from pine cones. What more could a mountain biker need on a lunch stop?
Revitalised and well fed we headed out to continue our trail adventure, stamping more lines as we weaved our way down the mountain and back to the valley below.
Heading to the airport at 1pm it seemed like a missed opportunity not to grab our bikes and head back up the mountain. This gondola was bigger and you could wheel your bike right in and sit next to it. This was much more convenient than trying to balance it on one wheel in the other gondola. Up at the top the view was breath taking. The mountains stood elegantly in the sun, their white rocky peaks towering above the lush green valley below.
The first trail of the day was called Habe line, this was a new section of trail and in places the gravel had not bedded in yet, making the sharp turns a little more challenging. After the top gravelled section we came into a muddy section of berms hitting one a little too fast I has a moment of mud slide and ended up looking like a mud monster on one side! Typical on the day I had to pack to fly home!
A bit like snowboarding having the views and the viability in the mountains made the biking a whole different experience. The trail was dry (in most places) and the bike ate up the ground underneath it, rolling from berm to berm gathering speed before I would break and re focus on the next trail feature.
Breaking out of the forest descent onto a plateau we came across some very friendly alpine cows. They were so inquisitive coming right up to us and even licking one of the guys leg!
My favourite bit of the descent was a board ride snaking its way through the trees and down the mountain side, it was like you were flying through the tree canopy alongside the squirrels. My main challenge was keeping my eyes looking ahead as sometimes through the trees would be the most amazing mountain view, which would grab my attention for a split second as I flew past them.
The flow trails were really good fun. There is a good network of trails suitable for all types of rider, but the trails are not easy and should be treated with respect and not underestimated, after all this is a mountainous playground where the weather can change in a moment so you need to be prepared and understand how to handle your bike in order to stay safe and enjoy the trails.
A two day adventure in the Austrian Alps
Monday was the first day visiting Austrian Alps in the picturesque village of Solden nestled in the Tyrol region.
This scenic village is an adventurous paradise with skiing in the winter and mountain biking and hiking in the Summer.
The Solden tourist board (Bike Republic Solden) is creating great infrastructure for biking and I was keen to try it out. So along with fellow mountain biker’s Dave, Martin and Peter we headed out on the first adventure of our trip.
Our first day in Solden was spent testing e-bikes. I had a Hai AllMtn with 150mm travel weighing in at a hefty 25 kilos I was glad I wouldn’t be needing to ‘hike a bike’ anywhere!
We hired our Hai e-bikes from intersport in the village and set off to the pump track with our guide Alex, from Bike School Ride On. As a coach I was very impressed that instead of heading straight to the trails he talked about bike techniques and we used the pump track for him to give us feedback on our riding technique.
We then headed up the mountain towards our first trail, Monday was trying the ‘silent side’ of the mountain where there are no lifts so under our own steam, with the help from the e-bikes we headed swiftly onwards and upwards.
Having never ridden an e-bike before I was pleasantly surprised, the motor works when you’re pedalling and has four settings eco +, eco, standards and high depending on how much assistance you need depends on which setting.
The e-bike made easy work of the Alpine climbs, I used the standard and eco settings mainly, rolling up the gravel paths at an easy 16km the climb to the top took no time at all which was great I can really see the benefit of an e-bike for long days climbing in the alps for those who don’t have the needed fitness levels for such demanding climbs.
The first trail of the day was a black run called Jagers Notweg, Bike Park Solden have introduced a passport system where riders can collect stamps of each trail they have ridden in return for goodies, neat huh!
This was a natural trail with sharp, steep corners which I found a little too technical for my liking. I had to walk sections with the bike and this was really hard work the e-bike weighs almost half of me so lugging it around the trail was cumbersome.
The natural trails were brilliant, if not a little testing, with steep sections, rock shoots, lots of tree routes and the odd hiker to contend with. All natural trails are shared rights of way so you need to be alert and respect other trail users.
Jagers Notweg – the start of this black trail lulls you into a false sense of security as you traverse a very pleasant path with trees on both sides. The trail soon turns into a testing singletrack with hairpin turns, jagged rocks waiting to pinch either you or your tyre and roots at the most unhelpful of angles. The days previously it had rained which had made both rocks and roots slick and the payment for getting things wrong on this tiny trail was not worth thinking about so there was a lot of negotiating on foot this is where e-biking was an issue weighing in at around 58kg my bike at 25kg was nearly half my weight and keeping myself and it upright was a work out in itself.
Just as you think this little singletrack has thrown all it can at you, you reach a bridge and then a 10 minute climb to the double track path. Delighted to reach the top Dave and I chilled and chatted about our attempt at the most technical trail in the whole of Bike Republic Solden, happy to have that stamp in our passports we headed onwards and upwards. I was happy to have some assistance from the e-bike which plodded along nicely in eco mode my feet turning the pedals around 80rpm. Sometimes forgetting I had assistance at all until I stopped pedaling and the bike would coast along like a normal bike losing power. With an e-bike the more power you put in the more it gives back.
We then headed back up towards our lunch spot at Kleble Alm, a typical Austrian chalet serving delicious Goulash Soup. Batteries re-charged we headed down the Kaiser trail and back towards the village.
Overall I would say e-bikes have a great place within mountain biking to help those who don’t have the fitness level to have access to the outdoors and go on adventures.
Tomorrow is Enduro day using the uplift to get to the top and enjoying the flow trails on the way down.
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