During my previous hikes in the Alps I got to know those pesky mountain-bikers only too well. On the Tour de Mont Blanc I’d seen them whizz by, spraying gravel and mud or weaving between the pine trees in a flash of luminous lycra. Give me a nice, gentle cycle ride, I thought, through rolling vineyards with a glass of chilled white wine at the end of the trail. Mountain-biking seemed just too much like hard work.
But here I was in Wilder Kaiser, the eastern corner of the Tirol region of Austria, with plenty of gorgeous mountain scenery that just begged for some mountain-biking.
I hope you enjoy my video below about the Alpine Sports in Wilder Kaiser, Austria
I’d come for the annual Alpine Sports Week that gives hikers like me a chance to try out some of the other outdoor activities on offer. Each day the group would try a different activity, from high rope climbing to canyoning, trail-running to Via Ferratta and of course mountain-biking. The best thing is that during Alpine Sports Week, the 5 days of activities are on offer for the knock-down price of €99.
For mountain-biking without tears I had a secret weapon, an e-bike which enables you to pedal up the steepest mountain with ease, prompting envious looks from those poor souls who have gone for the traditional bike option. My e-bike had a small motor attached to the frame which cut in whenever the going got tough. At the press of a button I could go into sports mode, touring mode or turbo mode to muster up some extra oomph on the hills. Suddenly mountain-biking seemed a much more attractive proposition; less sweat and more time to admire the view.
At Going Bike, we were kitted out with helmets, gloves and water bottles, then followed our leader Markus who runs mountain-bike tours in this valley. The path ran beside a stream, then we cycled up a bit of a hill and 20 minutes later reached the cable car station down the valley. Thank goodness that we could load the bikes into the cable car and reach the top of the mountain without even breaking into a sweat, taking in the views on the way. In no time at all we were at the upper cable car station, a surprisingly busy place, with a childrens’ playground, cafe and trampoline.
Before we were let loose on the mountain, we had a talk on how to ride down safely. According to Markus the trick is to keep your feet parallel on the pedals and to lean back, with your ‘aaarsh’ at the back of the seat. We set off down the mountain with iron-man Markus leading the way, joking and laughing although you could tell that he was a hard-core sporty type and not taking any prisoners. I’d have loved to pause to take a few more photos and enjoy the Alpine views but there was no stopping Markus.
The tracks we followed downhill were broad and surprisingly manageable although you had to concentrate to avoid skidding on the gravel. For most of the time I was freewheeling downhill, growing in confidence all the time, taking in the views when I had the courage to glance up from the path. I’d love to have stopped in those Alpine meadows, with lush green grass sprinkled with purple clover, yellow buttercups and lacy white flowers, but Markus was insistent in his quest to get us down the mountain.
At the halfway point we stopped at a mountain restaurant and enjoyed a well-earned rest and some hearty dumpling soup for lunch. The sun was out and we all sat at one big table beside the cable car station where the cute red cable cars were strung up the mountain like beads on a necklace.
After filling up the water bottles, we were off again down the mountain, a line of bikes following down the winding trails. Only one lady skidded and fell at a sharp bend while I managed to topple over in a rather undignified fashion when I came to a halt but couldn’t touch the ground.
By early afternoon we reached the bottom of the mountain and arrived again at the cycle shop. As Markus took my bike he patted me on the back, and told me; “You are a warrior woman, it was hard but you never gave up!” Pleased with my efforts, despite a stiff ‘aarsh’, aching thighs and wobbly knees I was happy to bask in his praise, although secretly I knew the e-bike had done most of the work.
Outdoor activities in Wilder Kaiser, Austria
Heather tried out her outdoor activities as part of Alpine Sports Week in Wilder Kaiser. This special week long event allows you to try out 6 different mountain sports over 6 days under the guidance of expert instructors at a special price of €99 (normally €358). Add your details to their mailing list here to get more details for next year. In addition to the high rope course and mountain-biking that Heather tried you can go canyoning, trail running and do a Via Ferrata. Sign up here for more information.
All of these activities are also available throughout the summer to try as you like. In addition the region is a paradise for hikers with many day walks as well as multi-day hut-to-hut walks of 3 to 5 days in length. A similar mountain-bike tour to the one Heather enjoyed can be booked through Going Bike who rent e-bikes and other bikes from their shop in Going and run group tours.
For more information on things to do in Wilder Kaiser visit the Wilder Kaiser tourism website and their social media channels on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ and keep up with latest news on the Wilder Kaiser blog. More information about things to do in the Tirol region of Austria on the Tirol tourism website.
Read more articles about Alpine Sports Week
Bemused Backpacker – Real Mountain-biking and Cultural awakening in Tirol
Scarlett London – Exploring Tirol by Bike
Daniellicacy – Wilder Kaiser, Austria – Mountain Biking
Emtalks – Exploring Austria – the Wilder Kaiser Region, Tirol
How to get to Wilder Kaiser
Heather flew from Bristol to Munich with BMI Regional who fly 12 times each week on this route, so you often have a choice of 2 flights per day. The ticket includes 20kg checked baggage and full at-seat in-flight bar and snack service at no extra charge.
Transfers from Munich to Wilder Kaiser take around 1.5 hours and can be arranged through Four Seasons Travel who have a desk at the airport. Alternatively Innsbruck airport is around 1 hour drive from Wilder Kaiser.
Where to stay in Wilder Kaiser
Heather stayed at the comfortable, family run Vitel and Panorama Hotel Sonnenhof in Going. This four star hotel is furnished traditionally with plenty of Tyrolean wood and has a spa and indoor swimming pool. I enjoyed the hearty breakfast spread with a full selection of muesli, fruit, nutty German breads and freshly cooked omlettes as well as fresh juices, honeycomb and anything else you would wish for. Check prices and book your stay here.
Thanks to Wilder Kaiser Tourist Board who hosted Heather’s stay and provided the experiences mentioned and to BMI regional who provided Heather’s flight to Munich.
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