The track narrowed, the sides got higher, the path steepened, I spotted the bush and seconds later I had vaulted both bike and bush and was lying in the most scenic spot I had ever had the displeasure to fall off a bike in…
It’s fair to say that Ischgl might not be the best location for your fourth outing on a mountain bike but it definitely offers some of the most scenic riding I have done in my very short mountain biking career.
Ski resort in winter, by summer Ischgl bills itself as a mountain bikers paradise. Having planned to camp but been thwarted by the campsite turning out to be a building site we had ended up staying in a ski apartment. The bonus of this was that our accomodation included a Zilvretta Card which allowed us to use all the cable cars and drive the Zilvretta pass for FREE! When you think about how much a days skiing can be this was amazing value. A gondola whisked us and our bikes up to over 2000m. My fears about the European trail grading system were realised as the ‘easy’ blue trails at the top of the lift proved anything but. Cue, first of many falls and lessons of the day. Lesson 1: cycling across snow patch = fall.
After getting down the first trail, tears streaming down my face I’ll admit I almost gave up. Thankfully we had to go up to get down and at the top of the chairlift an easier trail appeared. After a few runs of this, my confidence began to improve slightly and there were bits I even enjoyed!
Lunch of chips and processed meat saw us ‘ready’ to take on a red trail, hoping to head over into a valley that wasn’t quite so scarred by ski resort paraphernalia. As we left the chairlifts and naked pistes behind the scenery became more dramatic and beautiful. However, the trails now graded red or moderate were becoming a lot narrower. Lesson 2: if the guide suggests you may need to walk 100m of the trail, I will be walking almost all of it! This quick up and over single track turned into multiple falls, bruised knees, pride and ego and essentially became a walk with a heavy mountain bike. Not cool.
I thought things might get easier once we were going downhill again, no such luck. The trail led to a beautiful valley but was way beyond my skillset. Thankfully, we eventually hit tarmac and could ride again. We rode up to a fantastic viewpoint where I was promptly bitten by a horsefly. On the return from the viewpoint the most spectacular fall of the day occurred, this time not myself but Tom flying off his bike and somersaulting as he caught some gravel on the tarmac road. Battered and bruised we were relieved beyond belief for the road to pass the middle gondola station where we happily accepted a free, non cycling, ride down.
Ischgl is undoubtedly a great place to mountain bike. I just need a few more skills under my belt to make the most of it!