If you follow the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup the resorts of Schladming and Leogang roll off the tongue as household names. Sam Hill dominating the turns of the Planai on his way to another championship and the grins on every riders face as they drop into the 'best track ever'. It seems every race run over the years in Leogang has brought some drama, Stevie Smith winning the overall on the last run of season, Aaron Gwin's chainless performance, or when he blew minds riding faster than any of us without a tyre? Safe to say, this part of the world has pedigree.
We couldn't be more excited to show you around this part of the mountain bike world. Read about these legendary locations and get yourself set for a new adventure!
Why Ride Leogang?
Leogang, an infamous name in the mountain bike scene. A location many are quick to judge having not ridden there, it's a bike park that is perhaps showing more direct focus on mountain bike than any other in Europe and now counts itself among the top echelon of ‘must ride’ destinations.
It's worth acknowledging that Leogang is a resort that has taken it's fair share of flack over the years for being too bike park. Though this should be taken with a pinch of salt as most of those comments have come from racers. No doubt, Leogang is a bike park, a very good one, to race here means tracks with minimal line choice and insane speeds to get a good result. But what the cameras don't show is how much fun riders are having here during practice, it's a great place to come and get loose and wild.
The majority of the riding is based from Bad Leogang, a short distance from the main town itself and in a small hamlet of purpose built high end hotels, restaurants and one huge bike shop that surround the Asitzbahn lift complex. At the base of the mountain you will find several jump lines, an airbag, drops of various sizes and without doubt one of the finest pump tracks known to man, built by VeloSolutions. All of this can be accessed at anytime with a short push, so you can sit out on the terrace of our partner hotel and enjoy the evenings entertainment with a beer or take part until the sun drops down.
Leogang has been a regular stop on the UCI World Cup circuit since 2012. The World Cup track, known as Speedster, is rideable all season with exception of the very start. The jumps remain as they are for the race, as does taping and the line itself. There's something special about shredding a trail as you see it on the TV, you do feel like a bit of a hero, zip tie race plate on and beep yourself in at the start for extra stokens! Despite what certain racers may say, it's a helluva fun track to ride. It's flat out, with plenty of flow and a decent amount of tech. You won't ride your bike faster than you can on this trail.
There are several flow lines of varying difficulty from the red trails Hot Shots and Hang Man 1, to the flow trails of Hang Man 2 and the Steinberg Line. It’s not all about berms and jumps here. There are several more natural lines with plenty of tech such the new Antonius and Matzalm Trails aswell as the more established roots of lines like Bongo Bongo. It’s fair to say the Leogang has riding for all abilities.
The flow trails suit the novice and even the harder trails can be tackled in by someone who hasn’t got years of experience under their belt. This doesn’t mean there’s not enough on offer for the seasoned shredder, the trails have multiple line choice options with jumps often graded with two lips and landings depending on how confident you are feeling. Of course this is all extra to the Speedster Wold Cup track.
There's more to Leogang than jumps and berms
Post riding the scene in Leogang is a mellow affair. Hotel Bacher on the front of the piste has an awesome infinity pool open to guests with views to the mountains, jump lines and pump tracks. There is also as a solid bar with friendly staff, offering a decent selection of drinks and good food. The outstanding hotel bar and restaurant in Mama Thersl is a great way to spend the evening, with superb staff, welcoming atmosphere and a food and drink offering that wouldn’t be out of place in a major city.
Saalbach and Hinterglemm
Saalbach and Hinterglemm are two neighbouring resorts that offer something similar and at once very different to Leogang bike park. If riding from Leogang you should take the Asitzbahn bubble to the very top and begin the long climb and traverse to Saalbach. It’s a long old ride and quite mentally challenging, but the rewards are worth the effort. This is also part of completing the Big Five Challenge, an enduro loop that covers all of the big peaks in the area and some amazing single track and bike park trails.
The riding in Saalbach is a mix of bike park turns and jumps, with a good amount of wooden features aswell as some outstanding technical singletrack, trails such as the Bergstadt being a highlight. In Hinterglemm you’ll find more downhill orientated bike park runs such as the Pro Line. The level of riding in Saalbach and Hinterglemm requires a higher level of skill than Leogang to enjoy, the trails exist for most levels but they are more limited and you may often find yourself out of your comfort zone if you aren’t comfortable on equivalent red runs in UK bike parks.
Schladming is a historic Austrian mountain town with plenty to see
Why Ride Schladming?
Schladming is a mythical name in the downhill mountain bike world. Anyone who has heard of Sam Hill will be familiar with the tales of the flat pedal thunder tearing Schladming and the competition apart in downhills golden era of 2004 - 2009. The World Cup track again made famous to the younger generation by Brendan Fairclough’s DeathGrip movie in which he and Josh Bryceland made this monster of a track look like a playground!
We think it's fair to say most downhillers have dreamed of riding here, you'd have to live under a social media ban to miss the fun that riders have when they get the chance to beeline here in between races, though it would also be fair to say the riding here is not expansive. Once you've ridden the lines that existed here before 2019 afew times and were up to speed, you may have wanted more. We certainly did and that is why we have held off on Schladming as a destination. However for 2020 this has all changed.....
The famous jumps and turns of the World Cup track has been the bike parks major draw card, it really is one of the best purpose built downhill trails ever made. It’s not for the beginner though, a high skill level is required to tackle the trail and enjoy it, it’s quite astonishing how easy the trail is made to look by the worlds best.
However, there is now far more to Schladming than the World Cup track! Most of the edits you see coming from the World Cup athletes that pilgrimage to this part of Austria are actually filmed on the incredibly fun blue and red trails above the mid station, to add to this in 2020 there has been a huge effort to construct one of the best jumps lines you could find outside of Whistler, alongside a new flow trail. Add to this the complete overhaul of the existing trail network including the World Cup track and Schladming is putting itself right back on the mountain bike map as must visit destination
Schladming's enduro zone - Reiteralm
Schladming's riding has long been dedicated not only to gravity based runs, but downhill bikes were necessary to tackle them. Alongside the development of new trails on the Planai lift, heavy investment has been made in the Reiteralm zone. The riding here feels a little like a mix of Austrian alpine and some UK bike parks. It's well built and natural at the same time. You'll find the trails here well marked and accessible to most abilities. The beauty of the riding is that you can hot the lines at any speed and have fun, and at the time of writing the trails are quiet and well looked after. There are more possibilities opening up in the area with development of trails that run all the way to the valley floor. Reiteralm is a short 15 minute drive from Schladming.
Post riding in Schladming you’ll find one of Austria’s oldest towns tourist towns. Littered with Germanic and Slavic influences in architecture and culture. A former mining town, Schladming turned it’s hand to winter and summer sports to great effect, hosting both ski and mountain bike World Cups in it’s recent history. Eating out is easy, with many options from traditional Austrian such as schnitzels, the best of which is found at Stadtbräu, to steak houses. Though the bars are not many in number, you will find the restaurants and hotels very accommodating to sitting out on their terraces sipping on a cold beer after a day on the hill. You’ll also find Europe’s largest apres ski bar at the base of the Planai, the four level Hohenhaus Tenne.
Images of Leogang & Schladming
What we can provide
- Accommodation | Airport transfers | Food | Guides | Lift passes | knowledge
What you need to bring
- Yourself and your bike, fully serviced and ready (downhill or enduro)
- A bike bag, Evoc, CRC, DaKine or similar
- Cash for schnitzel, wine, Local beers, Lunch and snacks.
- Stoke and loads of it
- Fitness if you want to make your way over to Saalbach
How do we make these holidays come to life?
We personally make countless research trips to destinations until we know the package is dialled in.
We go and meet the locals, speak to the people we need to, stay in their hotels, eat their food, ride their trails and understand the way they do things. We make sure we give something to community and work with the right people.
If we aren't excited then it doesn't happen.
We put ourselves in your shoes to make sure the trip is worth every penny. Check out how we got on during one of our 2019 research trips to Leogang and Schladming.
Video & Photo Credit - Scott Windsor / Flo Smith
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