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Stories from the mountain summer

Bike & Hike

Up and down

Cycling is popular as never before and there’s a real hiking boom. It’s only logical that a combination of both has launched a new trend! It’s called “Bike & Hike”, which means you do the first stage on your bike and then continue on foot to the summit!

For bike guide Thomas Holaus, it’s just part of his job, but Tamara is already tingling with excitement on this early morning. Can she really ride up to the Wedelhütte (mountain restaurant and lodge) at 2,350 m above sea level on her bike? She’s never done it before – it always seemed much too strenuous. But now her friend Gebhard has convinced her that she should tackle this bike adventure. Strong argument: the modern e-mountainbike which bike guide Thomas is now explaining to her, as well as how to ride it. He knows Zillertal and the Fügen-Kaltenbach region like the back of his hand. Today’s goal: by mountain bike – or e-mountainbike – from the Mizun reservoir, located right on the Zillertaler Höhenstraße and up to the Wedelhütte. Park the bikes at the hut and continue by foot on the “Stoamandlweg” hiking trail up to the summit cross. “Off we go!” cries Tom. And while Tamara and Gebhard are enjoying the panoramic scenery, they take the opportunity to put a couple of questions to their biking expert.

Why is Zillertal such a sought-after destination for bikers?
Its biggest advantage is its variety! Whether you’re underway with the family or as an ambitious biker – there’s something for everybody in Zillertal! There are over 1,400 km of cycling tracks and eight cable cars to whisk bikers up the mountain in comfort – ready for adventure! The infrastructure is well developed, and the many new Bike & Hike stations round off this perfect package. As I like to say: here, we have full catering with all the options (smile).

“On an e-mountainbike, the summit is
easy to reach, even for less
passionate bikers.”

Thomas Holaus, expert

What are Bike & Hike stations?
They are specially-constructed and signposted stations on the mountain, where you can leave your bike and continue on foot. Most of them also have a charging station for e-bikes. The idea behind this is very simple: You can start in the valley and do the beginning and the first uphill stages of the trail by bike, thus getting pretty close to the summit. This is followed by a hike, which is a perfect finish to the day. On the return route, there’s no need to plod the whole way back down the hill on foot – you can just grab your bike and enjoy the ride. It’s fun – and easy on the knee joints.

So, this offer opens up the mountains for bikers whose physical fitness is not quite as good?
That’s quite right. Especially if you borrow an e-mountainbike – which is possible in many of the towns and hotels in the valley – the summit comes into easy reach, even if you are not such a passionate biker. This combination makes it possible for anybody to conquer a mountain.

What do I need to know?
It’s important to have the right equipment: helmet, gloves, weatherproof clothing and good shoes are paramount, as well as a mobile phone and a first aid kit. But above all, it’s important to plan your tour in detail beforehand – and to check the weather! The best way to do it is to go on a discovery tour with a bike guide.

Today, the weather god is smiling on our cycling trio – clear blue sky! Tom, Tamara and Gebhard are just parking their bikes at the Wedelhütte. Now, they will take the “Stoamandlweg” hiking trail (see info box, left) to the Wimbachkopf summit at 2,442 m. “What a great view!” says Tamara with a beaming smile. After the trio has registered in the summit book, they go on to the Kristallhütte (mountain restaurant and lodge), and then take a hiking trail back to the Wedelhütte. Here, they pause for well-earned refreshments, and Tamara reviews the day’s experiences before the group mounts their bikes for a comfortable downhill ride back to the starting point. There’s no need to ask: Tamara’s first Bike & Hike adventure is certainly not going to be her last.

Image: Andreas Monsberger and text: Johannes Stühlinger
Zillertal magazine Summer 2019

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