Austria: Day 5, Saalbach

26 08 2008

After yesterday’s fantastic decent it was decided an easier, but equally just as fun, singletrack on Saalback would be on the cards today.  Everyone would cable car up (well, except Matus – The Android), have an early brunch, take in the views and then tackle the swoopy alpine decent.

Parking about 12kms down the valley we decanted into more blazing sunshine, oh yes this is the life.  The climb up was a mean one, really really steep.  Matus was planning it in an hour.  In the meantime, we meandered along the pretty riverside cyclepath, gradually gaining a bit of height as we went.  My knee was struggling a bit so I just took it easy enjoying the holiday atmosphere and the sun on my back.  The river impressively raging alongside from the snow melt higher up.

The big debate began.  Were our bikes going to hang off the outside of the cable car or be allowed in ?  A few of us bit twitchy about seeing our beloved bounce down the mountain in a style unintended !  No worries, inside they went.  Out at the top the temperature drop was quite a shock, it was now only about 10 degrees and in summer garb we were feeling it immediately.  Er, Andrea, now where’s that cafe ?

Bikes parked up we nipped inside to wait for Matus on his monumental climb.  We couldn’t believe it we’re only halfway through our ordered delights and he was spotted at the window! He came to the table a bit ‘quieter’ than usual downed a beer as celebration, then was ready for more.  Jokes about peeling back his skin to reveal fine engineering were bounded around, all of us in awe of his fitness.  Turns out he hates cable cars and would rather climb any mountain than get in one, now there’s motivation for you 🙂

So off we went, taking in the easy top part of the new proper downhill run called ‘X-Line’, 10kms of downhill nutter trail which you can buy a cable car daily uplift (and hire the bike if you want) and just keep riding.  It’s not for the faint hearted though and we were strongly advised, not for us this trip.  Two options were in front of us.  Up and Up.  Option 1.  a complete b!tch of a climb that would actually be a push for everyone or Option 2. the back route which would be mostly rideable (that’s Matus rideable!).  We went for the back route, it wasn’t AS steep as option 1 but man it was still steep.  After the first few switchbacks it caught me out and a long push followed, my knee just giving up the ghost.  We eventually re-grouped at the top and then it was armour on for the fun bit.

Loose and sketchy at the top, we were veering straight off the right hand side of the moutain.  It was an impressive view.  This trail much more like Afan in it’s makeup, fast and swoopy with some technical outcrops to deal with on the way (remember the left hand line), we were grinning in no time.  More flowy singletrack followed by some really tight technical switchbacks then into more fast and flowing singletrack popping out by another restaurant and then a bit of tarmac and the Matus option or the safe option.  I took safe.  Fireroad.  Some of the others took the other option.  It was a narrow, rutted and wet in places little trail that finished in a really tight stepped turn falling straight into a steep off camber drop in.  By the time we got there a few had already finished the section but Rich was still to go, helmetcam running, nice and smoothly does it, nice and controlled, he enjoyed that.  Finishing off with really fast fun fireroad to the valley bottom.  The trail wasn’t as long as yesterday but it was good fun and depending on the weather later in the week we might be coming back.

Stopping in the chocolate-box village below for the obligatory ice cream (right next to a bike shop – thanks Andrea for your help in our KTM cycle jersey search for Rick), or Topfenstrudel if your name’s Donna, we sat in the warmth reliving the lovely little trail we’d just ridden.  Nothing too scarey, just good fun riding.  We were happy.  All that was left was the trundle along the river, gradually downhill this time, back to the cars and home for more beers on the balcony with the view to die for.  Tomorrow’s our rest day there’s been talk of glacier hikes, boat trips, gorge boardwalking and strudel.  Wonder which one will win ?  Lisa




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: