abound in cycling, ripe for debunking, but just one look at the drop-in was enough to convince me to let this one lie.
Luckily, the Arzler Alm – a new red trail on the same face – packs plenty of thrills without the potential for injury. It has a pro line with jumps and bigger obstacles, but a moderately proficient rider can see it all through; there is always a bail-out option that skirts to the side of the jumps. I mostly dodged them, but whether through bravado, stupidity or simply not knowing what was coming next, I increasingly found myself taking risks I never would at home.
“North Shore” sections – stretches of woodwork named after Vancouver’s North Shore, where they first appeared – are a case in point. I usually draw the line at a wall ride; here I found myself inching further up the almost vertical planks, packed tightly around several corners.
Further afield at the Tyrol Bike Park, also included on the Bike-City pass, even the blue-graded trail comes with some of this demonic carpentry. Crazy Heart, as it is called, is the perfect proving ground for anyone wanting to get a feel for the rougher, tougher terrain of the Alps.
Tyrol Bike Park is 30 minutes’ drive from the city centre, and is one of the few local riding spots that isn’t accessible by public transport. Do yourself a favour and book a day with an instructor here. Manfred Stromberg runs bikeride mountainbikeschule, and, despite his apparent fear of capitalisation and word spacing, is a good-humoured coach. He can also ferry you around in his very smart van. He had our mixed-ability group whooping and hollering in the manner of excited teenagers. High-fives were dealt out in pure joy instead of ironic selfawareness. We were stoked, to use the vernacular of cycling magazines.
Now is a great time to ride in Innsbruck – it is truly coming into its own as a mountain biking destination. Next year will be even better: Crankworx finished its 2017 run in Whistler this August but will be back in Innsbruck next June. By then, all of the new trails will have bedded in and the hills will ring to the sound of rubber on dirt; cowbells and gearshifts, the backdrop of the Alps a spectacular auditorium to the noise.
There is no purer bolt of adrenalin to riding by the very seat of your pants, skirting the line between triumph and disaster.
But as to what mountain biking actually is? I couldn’t tell you. Fun, I guess.