Richard ‘Gaspi’ Gasperotti, an MTB and adventure lover, and an ex freeriding professional shares his insights into introducing your family to the great concept of taking a cycling holiday together.
As a professional biker and a family man at the same time, I frequently face the dilemma of what kind of vacation should I arrange for everybody to enjoy. I believe not to be the only father dealing with this issue since there’s probably no man in existence who would leave his family waiting in the parking lot until he’s finished with riding in the bike park. That’s why I always do my best to pick the holiday destination meticulously.
A perfect place, in my opinion, should offer a splendid bike park to meet my cycling passion and, on top of that, a family-oriented attraction to satisfy my wife and daughter. Water and amusement parks or wellness centres were the reasons why we left for Austria, right after the lockdown regulations were released. I love this Alpine country for the mountains, the Radler (a lemon ‘shandy’ – a beer mixed with sweet soda), kind people and overall high-quality services. A brief look at the map brought forth the decision to visit two different places: Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis in Tyrol and the Salzkammergut region in the Eastern Alps.
To connect three Tyrolean villages was an outstandingly innovative decision in terms of the tourist industry. I visited the location six years ago but since then all the attractions and services have expanded unbelievably. The local bike park is a perfect example of successful development. Consisting of three blue, four red and two black trails, a jump area, a pump track for kids and an airbag for safe learning of a new trick, the park gives the biker everything he or she might dream of. Moreover, the area connects to other twenty trails that are regularly maintained by the original bike park builders.
When the park manager, Christian, presented the plans for the next-decade expansion to me, I had to admit that this biking paradise will be the subject of more than just a few-day stopover in the future. The advantage I liked the best was that I could leave my family in the Summer Fun Park, which is located right next to the upper station of the cable car leading to the start of the bike park trails. Children can enjoy a lot of fun in the park including ponies, trampolines, a bouncy castle and about fifty other attractions. Getting my daughter Eli out of there was almost a superhuman feat.
The next morning, I arranged a meeting with a local rider named Andreas who took me up to the Frxommes trail. Starting at the altitude of 2,489 metres, it features a lot of fun on its total length of nine kilometres. In the meantime, my wife Teresa and daughter Eli were having a good time in the Murmliwasser water world. It cost me a great effort to bring them back to the hotel in time to catch up with dinner. In the end, my whole gang was happy, which probably has something to do with the resort motto that reads ‘We Are Family’.
We arrived at our next destination of Dachstein/Salzkammergut in under five hours by car. Unfortunately, the weather got worse with a lot of rain expected. We found our accommodation in the town of Bad Goisern, which is famous for being the starting point of the popular MTB Salzkammer Trophy race. Despite rainy clouds gathering all over the sky, we fell in love with the place right upon our arrival. Shoals of trout were swimming in the creek just by the hotel, young men in Austrian folk costumes were drinking beers to celebrate the beginning of the holidays and it seemed to me that everybody took it as easy as possible. The area offers 1,500 km of bike trails. Most of them feature an exceptional elevation, which makes them suitable for e-bikes. I had the opportunity to try out mine on several of the Salzkammer trophy’s tracks. Everybody can apply for the race by purchasing a start number and a digital chip in the tourist office. Participants are encouraged to choose the starting line according to their own decision, which makes the event extremely flexible. Mandatory check-points scattered around the track record your ride. In the end, you get the results online so you can immediately see how well you were doing against the rest of your virtual competitors.
Before a heavy downpour caught up with us, I also checked the Bike Arena Obertraun where many significant international events took place. I must say that I have never seen such a cramped track. The 5.6-km-long circuit covers an area of less than 300 square meters! My daughter Eli preferred to build forest houses for invisible dwarves and I bought her a pine-flavoured ice cream as a reward for keeping up with me around the track. Due to torrential rains, we appreciated the opportunity to visit the Hallstatt mines where long queues used to be a problem before the lockdown because buses were delivering hundreds of tourists from Asia every day. This summer, though, we got in in no time. In the end, I was glad it rained because, otherwise, I would have missed this beautiful sight due to cycling non-stop. In addition to the salt mines, they also have the Ice and Mammoth Caves on offer. Once again, Austria was a pure joy not only for me but for the entire family.