World-class trails and city living are two things that almost never go together, but Innsbruck, set in the Austrian Alps, is arguably the exception. It may be the country’s fifth largest city (and the capital of the Tyrol region), but with forested slopes rising into 2,000m-tall jagged peaks right from the city limits, you don’t have to stray far from the bustle of the streets to find yourself in a two-wheeled paradise.
This explains why Innsbruck is the only European stop on the Crankworx festival world tour this year, and as a fixture on the calendar for the past four years, it’s cemented itself as a favourite destination for many of the sport’s top pros. You’d be wrong to assume that the trails are just reserved for the elite though, as away from the insane jumps and race tape there’s a whole host of amazing terrain for regular riders, too. Here are just five reasons why you should see Innsbruck for yourself this summer…
1. THE TRAIL NETWORK IS AS BIG AS THE MOUNTAINS
Innsbruck has an expansive network of singletrack, including everything from scenic cross-country trails to gravity-fed and lift-accessed bike park descents, graded for everyone from first-timers to seasoned pros. Standout trails include the Nordkette, which starts atop the Seegrube cable car and drops 1,030m down 3.2km of steep, unrelenting terrain, and The Chainless One, which arcs its way through Bikepark Innsbruck on the opposite mountain, in curving berms and mellow jumps that are so flowy you don’t even need to pedal! The purchase of a ‘Bike City’ card gives you access to all this, including a lift pass, plus the kids’ park, pump track and the nearby Elferbahnen in Stubai – so the question isn’t where to ride, but how to fit it all in.
2. EVERYONE IS BIKE-FRIENDLY
In Innsbruck, not only are the trails great, but the locals are just as enthusiastic about helping you explore their stomping ground. If you feel a bit overwhelmed or unsure of where to go, then there’s no shortage of certified guides on hand. They can help you to brush up your bike park skills or guide you on a backcountry adventure. And, if you break your bike, or would rather rent one, then there are loads of shops with the expertise and equipment to get you kitted out right. Should you turn up muddy back at your hotel, you needn’t worry about being welcomed by turned-up noses either. Innsbruck is home to several bike hotels that will happily welcome grubby MTBers, with washing/workshop facilities and secure bike lock-ups.
You should learn the Austrian for “bon appetit”, because after a full day on the hill, you’re definitely going to work up an appetite. Mid-ride, it’s recommended you stop in at one of the high-mountain huts, where you can sun yourself, plot your descent and refuel on some traditional Tyrolean delicacies such as smoked sausage, dumplings and, of course, strudel! When you’re done for the day, simply blast down the trails and cruise out into town. You can take your pick of anything from riverside bars to fine dining.
4. THERE’S MORE THAN JUST MOUNTAIN BIKING
It’s unlikely you’ll get bored of riding, but if you do fancy something a bit different or simply need a rest day, then Innsbruck has no shortage of extracurricular activities. These range from alpine hikes up some of the tallest surrounding peaks, to climbing safe but wildly exposed ‘via ferrata’ routes – either on real rock or at Innsbruck’s Kletterzentrum, one of the biggest climbing walls in the world. If all that sounds a bit too adrenaline-intensive, then you can always take a ride up the Hungerburg funicular to experience the breathtaking mountain views and equally impressive architecture of the Zaha Hadid-designed stations. Even a mellow stroll around the historic old town, checking out the many museums, galleries, gardens and bars, is an enjoyable way to spend a day.
5. BUT IT IS THE PLACE TO BE FOR MTB FANS
Crankworx is back again for 2021 and, as ever, the festival promises to be the biggest MTB event on the Innsbruck calendar. From 16-20 June this year, the crème de la crème of the mountain bike world will once again descend upon the Austrian resort for a week of high-octane competition. With a packed itinerary of events such as Speed and Style, dual slalom, DH and slopestyle, expect to see a whole host of World Cup big names, plus the likes of slopestyle king Emil Johansson and whip-off queen Casey Brown, vying for wins. If you time your holiday right, you may even be able to see your heroes, witness all the action, and then, best of all – be inspired to go ride for yourself. Just don’t try too hard to emulate the pros, because that could end very badly! Spectator details are still to be confirmed, so keep an eye on the Crankworx website.
For more info on Innsbruck, click here