We ride because we´re here and because we ride in all conditions
Story by GripGrab
Snow! As we leave the gondola which has comfortably carried us and our bikes from the village of Sölden to the Gaislachkogl Mittelstation, we realize the true conditions. It was not only cloudy and rainy. It was, in fact, a snowstorm! This is not exactly what we signed up for, but being on a mountain and being from Scandinavia (well, that´s not entirely true… We deployed two Scandi guys, a tough Brit female mtb rider, a big smile enduro chap also from the UK and a nose pierced local Austrian guide) there was only one way down – And that wasn´t with the gondola – unless one was willing to buy rounds of drinks tonight and every single following evening for the rest of the year!
We buckle up with our personal choice of gear. Shell jackets, leg warmers, comfortable Skullcaps and protecting HeadGloves are put on as big snowflakes swirl the air. Martin and Hannah go all in with CloudBurst waterproof gloves, while Alex, Dave, and Peter aim for maximum control with the Raptors. A few quick shots are made under the ´you are now entering the Bike Republic Sölden´ rock arch, and then we´re off down the Eebme Line. Working the wet and soft trail provides a blood flow and we feel vitalized and adventurous! The trail and the rider in front are all there is. Our world is one of motion – We´re riding the clouds like Chinese fairy tale figures. It´s whiteout and intense.
We group up at a new trailhead and Alex, our Austrian guide delivers a quick brief on the next leg. It´s a perfectly shaped trail with endless flow sections and wooden bridges build across nature that needs to be preserved. A line built by the best, with the pure joy of riding in mind! We have descended through the clouds, and the surrounding landscape has come into sight. With a bit of luck, we will get a sweet feeling of what the Ohn Line has to offer regardless of the wet and soggy conditions.
´This is not something we normally do´ Alex says, referring to our bad weather ride. Peter smiles with mud spatter all over his face and replies with a cocky ´that´s my motto!´ and heads off down the trail. This trip is already epic. Welcome to Bike Republic Sölden!
We cruise down a combination of super cool berms, wooden bridge sections, and flowy trails. The bridges appear slippery, but provide good grip and offer a cool and fun ride. There´s not a single soul in sight, and we are most likely the only riders out in this weather.
We splash through a few puddles, but generally, the trail is extremely well drained. Dave, Hannah, and Peter are flying down the switchbacks, across bridges, going high on wallrides, all with big muddy smiles on their faces. Further back Martin and Alex take a few moments along the Ohn Line to get some action shots.
Down and up again
We descend through the forest and via the technical Schteckler Trail, we end up in the village of Sölden right by the pumptrack. After a few rounds pumping we´re back in the gondola. We´re not done with the mountain! Once again, we find ourselves in the clouds under the rock arch.
Traversing the mountain
This time we choose the natural Bartigs Bödele Trail which leads us to the Rettenbach glacier road. Being a natural trail, the riding is a welcoming experience after the joy ride earlier. We cross the road (and make notes of a future road cycling trip to the top) and continue on the Rettenbach Alm Trail. A stunning trail traversing the mountainside.
Gampe Thaya – Paradise found
For the first time today we get an impression of the views. The Hoher Söldenkogl is visible as the peak penetrates the clouds along with several other mountaintops from the range across the Ötztal Valley.
Our aim is the Gampe Thaya hut. Normally a busy mountain hut with sunbathers occupying the deck, the wooden hut, traditionally decorated with cowbells and flowers, is on this brutal day a welcoming shelter for our small group of muddy riders. As we park the bikes and enter the cozy space inside, we all share a feeling of ´last-minute rescue´ before famishing.
The Gampe Thaya (we love the name – sounds like a place in the Himalayas) is a family run business, producing their own diary, meat, and vegetables. We make ourselves comfortable around a table and share our impressions of the trails. Martin explores the many rooms with his camera and returns with a big smile wearing wooly slippers, borrowed from the hut. Life is great!
Being in an authentic wooden Austrian hut, 2.000 meters above sea level, decorated with numerous ornaments like musical instruments, prizes won for best cheese, cowbells and historic photos, it is hard to imagine a better place to be. Pleased and fulfilled from riding, we chat, joke and feel tranquil and harmonious. Traditional welcoming drinks are being served, and our souls get warm from gratitude and grace.
A big pan of Gampe Pfanne, which is a delicious and mouthwatering mixture of several dishes, is served to us. It includes Tiroler Gröstl (roast potatoes with meat stripes and fried egg), Käsespätzle (little flour dumplings with different sorts of cheese), Eingezetteltes Kraut (cabbage), Hauswurst (homemade sausage) and Knödel (dumplings). We dig in and enter a zone of calmness, friendship and bliss.
The grand finale comes with a pan filled with sweet omelet prepared with sugar and applesauce. Rum is poured over and set on fire! Simply spectacular! We have been given a royal treatment at Gampe Thaya, and we´re uncertain if we can cope with any more treats without becoming spoiled enduro brats…
The outside conditions are a contrast to the ´I don´t want leave ever´ambience inside. But we´re on a mission. Like knights getting ready for battle, we prepare and adjust our waterproof shoe covers and AquaRepel Warmers. Gotta stay comfortable in all conditions. We´re ready and prepared for flow time!
Ecstatic and upbeat from our visit to Gampe Thaya, we cruise down the Ohn line once again. Familiar with the wooden sections and berms, each rider checks into their zone and descends down towards Sölden, like it was their last ride. Peter finds time in his zone to get involved with a cow and has to stop for a photo of his new best friend.
The clouds drift slowly by on higher grounds as we settle in the hotel sky pool. It´s been an adventurous day on the trails – a day to remember forever. The dirty ride.
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GripGrab is based on a passion for cycling and running and the dream of building a brand of products that makes these sports enjoyable no matter how cold, wet or windy it is. Great quality accessories make the difference between being too hot, or too cold, between being wet or dry, aerodynamic or flappy and between being seen or not seen.These are the products we live and breathe for.