I didn’t stay at home for a long time after returning back from the Elbe tour in Germany, and after almost two weeks I set off for another trip. This time I left my Author Ronin bike and touring panniers at home instead of my full suspension bike. The destination was Innsbruck in Austria. Besides attending an ongoing bike festival, Crankworx, it was a great opportunity to finally visit my friend, Tomáš, that lives in Innsbruck with his girlfriend, Veronika.
I shared the ride to Innsbruck with Ondra and Pavla, the friends of theirs. Going with them in a van was handy because I could take my full suspension bike with me in the end. So there were several days of just riding local trails and watching spectacular rides of the world’s top riders ahead of me. It couldn’t get any better!
We arrived at Innsbruck around 3 AM. Pavla and Ondra continued to another town and left me at the local university sports grounds where I was supposed to find a spot for sleeping. As I rode on the cycle route next to the Inn river, I could only guess the magnitude of surrounding mountains whose silhouettes I barely saw in the darkness.
The river banks are quite steep and overgrown with bushes in this area so I quickly got to the airport without seeing a good sleeping place. Looking at the map it didn’t seem to be different behind the airport so I turned around, went back and entered the bush at one place. It was too late to set up a tent so I just put the Tyvek pad on the soft ground, and ate a tortilla kebab I brought from Prague. When I finally got down to my sleeping bag it was around half past four in the morning and I could see the first morning runners on the path through the bush.
After waking up and packing up my stuff I went to the river to wash my face. Finally, I was able to see the majestic mountains that surround Innsbruck from both sides. It may be a common view for some people, but for me, the mass of rocks offer spectacular scenery every time I see it and its energy that still can be felt simply astonishes me.
I arrived at the city before 9 AM. I stopped by “Coffeekult”, a local chain of cafés with its own roastery, had a morning coffee there and continued on my way to the city center. I didn’t like struggling through the crowds of tourists there so I visited another café on Tomáš’s recommendation. I just couldn’t miss the spot with the name “Breakfast Club” because I ran a blog with the same name with my girlfriend about breakfast spots in Prague (hibernated at the moment). After breakfast, I took the shuttle bus from the central station that brought me to Crankworx.
Crankworx is a gravity mountain biking festival that originally took place only in Whistler, Canada, but it turned into a four-stop world tour with locations in (besides Innsbruck obviously) Rotorua, New Zealand, and Les Get, France. The final stop was in its home in Whistler Mountain Bike Park, of course. It is one of the biggest events of this type and therefore going to Innsbruck was the simplest way to see the world’s top riders live in action.
There were five events at Innsbruck’s Crankworx stop — whip-off jumps, dual speed & style, pump track, slopestyle, and downhill. The downhill was the only event which non-pro riders could take part in. The contests took place in Bikepark Innsbruck Muttereralm which consists of two sections. There was the only downhill race at Götzens, whereas all other races were held at Mutters. The event itself is accompanied by a big expo area with lots of bikes, clothing and component manufacturers booths.
After lunch, we took a cable car to the top of Mutters and crossed to the Götzens trail. Even though the first part of the trail was officially closed due to the upcoming downhill race on its second half, it was possible to ride it anyway. The “do not cross” tapes couldn’t stop us from riding the last section that leads directly to the start of the downhill race. While Tomáš was already waiting down at the start line for his training ride, I was still collecting my bike and myself from the roots and blueberry bushes as I flew over handlebars. “You have to slow down” I was telling myself. Tomáš registered for the race and went practicing on the trail. I had to use a tarmac road to get down to the cable car station as the route was closed due to the race.
When I got up to Götzens again, I headed to lake Panoramasee. As the name suggests, there is a beautiful view of Innsbruck and its surroundings. The water was crystal clear and despite the ban on swimming, there were a lot of people trying to escape from the exhausting heat in the water. I just lay down on the wooden lounger, relaxed and enjoyed breathtaking panoramas for a while.
From the lake, I headed to the Mutters trail. This part of the bike park offers easier tracks compared to the ones in Götzens. There are a few jumps at the beginning which I skipped after the previous crash. Then the track goes under the cable car and through the forest. There were a few root sections that were too hard even for my 140 mm suspension and riding skills. On the other hand, these sections are not very steep so it’s a great chance for inexperienced riders to push their riding skills.
The first half of the trail ends with berms in open meadows. From this point, you can go up by cable car again or continue down to the lower station but that trail is not as entertaining as the first half as the way goes mainly on double tracks and fire roads.
There were the finals of dual speed & style in the evening. It is a very attractive discipline from the viewers’ point of view. Two riders must be as fast as possible during the race but they also get points regarding the tricks they land during it. After the win at both previous speed & style Crankworx races, one of the favorites was a Czech rider, Jakub Vencl. Unfortunately, this time he ended at 13th place.
On Friday we started with breakfast in Götzens. After that, Tomáš headed to a training and I went to Mutters, slowly improving my riding skills as I rode the track several times.
I went back to Innsbruck by myself in the afternoon. I found a single track next to the river Sill. And I didn’t regret it at all! The narrow path in the valley surrounded by the trees was in strong contrast to the views you could see upon the hills. The trail, that leads just a few feet above the river, had an easygoing flow, even though there were sections where I had to hike the bike because of the rocky terrain. On the way to Innsbruck, you can see several waterfalls there and have a rest at rocky beaches.
In the evening we went back to Crankworx to watch the finals of the pump track. Another Czech rider, Tomáš Slavík, took part in the race. The pump track is another exciting discipline because riders start without a chain on their bike and the only way they can speed up is by “pumping”. The rides were evenly matched and riders even had equal times during the final rides. All this with a supporting crowd created a thrilling atmosphere during the race.
Whilst Tomáš and Veronika went directly to Crankworx on Saturday morning, I followed their recommendation and headed to Arzler Alm trail. The trail is accessible by public transport from the city center. The cable railway takes you above the city and from that place you still have to pedal quite a lot but it is totally worth it, not just because of the breathtaking views of Innsbruck.
The Arzler Alm trail is 3 kilometers long and has pleasant flow and playful bends. There are almost no steep or technical sections but you can still have fun on the wavy ground and small jumps. Even though the trail looks easy, be careful because slipping there would be painful.
The track ends down in the city, near the river. From this place, you can go up again and enjoy another perfect ride on this super enjoyable trail. If you think I am making things up, watch the official trailer and see for yourself:
After riding at Arzler Alm, I took the shuttle bus to Götzens, went up and traversed to Mutters. The trail was already damaged because of the enormous amount of people that rode there during the Crankworx. It was a huge difference compared to the smooth track on the single trail at Innsbruck. Mainly the root sections were too hard for me but there were still some parts and jumps that I enjoyed. There were final rides in slopestyle down in Mutters that was moved from Sunday to Saturday because of the bad weather. I stayed there for two or three rides and then headed back to Götzens to watch the downhill race and support Tomáš.
The track in Götzens was steeper but was in better condition so I really enjoyed my last ride at Innsbruck’s bike park. I bought some snacks and enough chilled beer cans down in a shop and went to watch Tomáš’ ride. Unfortunately, Tomáš had a crash at one of the root sections in the upper part of the track and lost lots of time picking himself up. Never mind, next year he will do better! After his ride, we left our bikes in the van and went up to watch how the fastest guys on the planet will tackle the track.
All in all, Crankworx was a great event. However, the atmosphere suffered due to the fact that the event was held in two places. Sometimes it was quite frustrating to go from one venue to the other one. Another stain on the otherwise well-organized event was crowded stands during pump track and speed & style races. You had to stay right at the barrier, otherwise it was impossible to see the track and enjoy the race.
On the other hand, the biggest benefit of whole Crankworx was the possibility to see the pros riding and borrow top quality bikes from various manufacturers in the expo area and try them out on the trails. Unfortunately, I always forgot my ID where I was staying so I missed this but next year — and it is confirmed that Crankworx will come back to Innsbruck — I will do my best to take advantage of this possibility.