MTB Region Review: The Bike Republic Sölden in the Ötztal Valley
Before I set off, I had a few big questions. Cross-country or full-face helmet? All-mountain bike or downhill machine? In both cases I opted for the latter – and I would advise visitors to Sölden to do the same, especially considering the speeds that can be reached on trails such as the Teäre Line and the challenging Zaahe Line.
In the flow: the start of the Teäre Line at the mid-way station of the Gaislachkogelbahn cable car.
Leaving from Innsbruck, it takes around an hour and a half to drive to Sölden. Public transport is also available – the train ride from Innsbruck to Ötztal Bahnhof takes just half an hour; from the railway station there are buses running into the Ötztal Valley. These buses are designed to transport not only people but also bikes and have a bike carrier on the back.
Accommodation & service
As expected, Sölden offers every type of accommodation imaginable – from five-star spa hotels to simple B&Bs. The website bikerepublic.soelden.com/accommodation currently lists 36 specialist bike accommodation options. Even the local campsite (www.camping-soelden.com) has its own spa area! And mountainbikers are, of course, welcome. The village of Sölden itself has five bike hire shops with an excellent selection of material. Visitors who come to Sölden without their own bike will be spoilt for choice. Last but not least, there are two bike schools offering courses and guiding. Little wonder that this region calls itself the Bike Republic! It has every base covered.
The Bike Republic Sölden proudly declares that it is home to 18 trails. However, visitors expecting a little bikepark feeling will be disappointed. Or not, as the case may be. It all depends on how you look at it. The network of trails is spread out across such a large area that sometimes you will be the only person far and wide. Get ready for a real solo adventure in the heart of the beautiful Ötztal Alps!
Teäre Line: now that’s what I call flow!
Airtime! Wooden bridge drop-off with plenty of run-out.
The most well-known and only artificially constructed trail in the Bike Republic is the Teäre Line. It descends 801 vertical metres and flows 7.1 kilometres from top to bottom. That is a pretty long trail, so despite its relatively easy riding this route should not be underestimated. My tip is to take a few breaks to admire the view or rest your arms and legs with a sit down on one of the many benches provided. Even experienced riders will be grateful for the opportunity to pull over and give their aching limbs a chance to recover. The trail is so well built that it is almost impossible to ride it slowly. But the combination of speed and tired muscles is a dangerous one that often leads to crashes – as I found out myself! So a word to the wise: be careful out there.
Anyway, enough complaining. The Teäre Line offers excellent banked corners for beginners and well-made small and medium-sized jumps. That said, the rock drop-off in the upper third of the trail is by some distance the most illogical obstacle I have ever ridden. It requires riders to do more or less a 180° turn and then somehow pick up enough speed over just a couple of metres to make it over the drop safely. The wallride, on the other hand, is great fun and even suitable for beginners wishing to take on this kind of intimidating feature for the first time. Another small point I have to criticize is the approach to the wooden bridge drop-off. The Chicken Line joins up with the Teäre Line right at the point where riders land after the drop-off. In the worst case scenario, this could lead to some pretty nasty crashes, especially as riders taking on the drop-off cannot see if the landing area is clear. This is something that the trail designers should change. Apart from that, I have nothing but praise for the Teäre Line. That’s what I call flow!
The Zaahe Line is currently under construction, though the upper section is already finished and can be ridden. It promises to be a great trail when it is finished, with big tabletops, even bigger berms and really fun jumps in the final section. Definitely a place for a few posing photos, especially on the rock jump which looks much more spectacular and dangerous than it actually is. All you really need to do is ride over it – the landing is also very safe.
Well-built jumps like this one make Sölden a top trailriding destination.
17 natural trails
As well as these two artificially constructed trails, the Bike Republic offers no fewer than 17 natural trails. Unfortunately we were not able to test all of them. but we can definitely recommend the Nene Trail and the Kaiser Trail. Riders who wish to use the trails near Hochsölden should bring a bike which doesn’t mind being ridden uphill. In fact, full-on downhill bikes are a little over the top for all the natural trails in the region – more agile bikes are more fun on these kinds of trails. Riders should be aware that no all the trails end at the same place. Sometimes it is necessary to pedal back or take a cable car.
The wooden obstacles flow up and down like a rollercoaster.
Despite the huge range of trails on offer, the prices for lift tickets are incredibly reasonable. A day ticket costs €34, while a half-day ticket (from 12:00 midday) costs €25 (Summer 2017). The most important lifts giving access to the Bike Republic trails are the Gaislachkogelbahn I and II cable cars. Bikes are transported inside the gondola.
So far the Bike Republic has only offered a few events throughout the season, but these are generally really good. Highlights included guided rides with pros Karen Eller and Holger Meyer, the legendary Singletrail Treasure Hunt and the women-only Girls Camps offered by SAAC. To check out all the events going on visit bikerepublic.soelden.com
There’s something big in the making in Sölden. The artificially constructed trails are professionally designed and great fun to ride, even if experienced riders will have had enough of the Teäre Line after two or three runs. No problem, because then it is time to move onto the many natural trails. The one thing that is maybe missing is the atmosphere you normally get at such trailriding locations. The centre of the village is long and stretched out, and not all of the bars and shops are open in summer, so Sölden is pretty quiet. It would be good to have a central meeting point for mountainbikers – but I’m sure it won’t take long for that to happen…
Here is a promo video showcasing the Teäre Line: