Ischgl, the beloved ski resort town in the Tyrolean Alps is bustling during the winter months, with plenty of varied slopes, and a reputation for excellent apres-ski culture. It doesn’t seem like the first choice for a summer Pioneer mountain biking trip. However, just like its ski slopes, the MTB trails in the surrounding Alps are second-to-none, and for now at least, relatively free of bike traffic. All in all an idyllic setting for riding, as our group of Pioneers discovered.
It turned out to be a varied weekend in all ways possible, from our Pioneers’ backgrounds to the type of trails they covered during the weekend. One thing that didn’t vary was the group’s enthusiasm, which was consistent from Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon.
So who were our trusty Pioneers on this trip, and what did they get up to?
At one end of the spectrum, we had the gents, Beat and Sven, both experienced MTB riders fully immersed in the MTB world (Beat works for the Swiss Epic Mountain Bike race and Sven regularly competes in mountain bike marathons).
On the other end, we had Sandra and Daniela. To put things in perspective, it helps to know that Sandra had just come off a year and a half on crutches due to complications after a broken foot, and Daniela had not spent much time on technical routes. But what they lacked in experience on technical trails, they made up for with their happy, can-do attitudes.
If ever there was an advertisement for community and the value of doing things together, it is this Pioneer trip. In spite of varied skill and experience levels, the crew cheered and egged each other on around every twist in the trail with a No rider left behind mentality, and at the end of each day, they settled into their deck chairs, beers in hand, to celebrate the day’s riding.
And what about the riding you ask?
“Amazing!” As one attendee declared. Ischgl is not yet known for mountain biking but that is sure to change. As it was, our Pioneers arrived right at the start of the summer season and got most of the trails to themselves, starting with the bike touring route they explored on day one.
Exploring the area and taking in nature was the emphasis on the first day. The route was non-technical so the group could fully take in the surroundings. These included the towering Alps and some postcard-worthy dams — turquoise water lined with pines, and to the other side of the dam wall a drop into the valley that makes your heart skip a beat, both at the beauty of the mountains and at the sheer drop.
Day two was ridge-riding at its best (made better thanks to a few gondola rides so the group could enjoy the views without the tricky climbs). Sunny skies smiled on them as they dashed along the mountain spines linking the highest peaks — four small figures in a big, big landscape.
To get the most out of the day’s riding, the Pioneers were accompanied by a guide, Heinz, who turned out to be a lovely addition to the crew, not only because he knew the remote mountain trails like the back of his hands. His what you see is what you get temperament and his willingness to join in the post-ride celebratory drinking made him a welcome honorary member of the group.
Day three dawned and our Pioneers were up early and raring to go. With no Heinz, komoot was put through its paces on the trails near Kappl, a town further down the valley from Ischgl. The route took them over lovely Alpine trails with great scenery and plenty of flow, ending at another gondola station. This time they left their bikes at the bottom as they rode upwards.
They were headed to a zipline station for a final adrenaline-packed treat. One by one they stepped off the ledge and zipped their way high above the valley floor. At 85 kilometers (52 miles) per hour, Daniela, Sandra, Sven, and Beat ended the weekend on a high and decidedly speedy note!
You can see the full Ischgl Pioneer trip Collection here.
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