Nestled in Austria’s Paznaun valley, the picturesque Alpine village of Ischgl hosted the very first Top of the Mountain Biker Summit between 6th and 9th August 2015.
After a welcome party on the Thursday evening, Friday saw most people’s attention turn to riding the unforgettable Silvretta-Hochalpenstrasse (high alpine road) with its 34 hairpin bends and some of the best views in the Alps.
The High-Bike TestCenter in Ischgl gave visitors the chance to hire one of its 50 brand new BMW, KTM, Triumph or Ducati machines for just that purpose. This certainly proved popular, with virtually the entire stock being out on the road before lunchtime.
While the majority of people chose to do their own thing, a local guide led a group of a dozen bikes on a 180-mile, 7-hour, anti-clockwise loop of the area via the Hahntennjoch Pass and a grand finale ascent of the Silvretta-Hochalpenstrasse.
Other attractions at the event included live music, cornering practice with KTM’s special training bikes, the opportunity to try KTM and Zero electric bikes on the test track and stunt shows with KTM E-Rider Dieter Rudolf and Triumph Pro-Rider Julien Welsch from France. As well as his remarkable streetfighter freestyle skills, Julien is an accomplished off-road adventure rider. Look out for a new online video in the next few weeks about his recent trip to Morocco.
Ischgl is something of a paradise for skiers during the Winter months, while Summer visitors flock there for the high-altitude hiking, climbing and mountainbiking. With a variety of haute cuisine restaurants rated among the very best in Austria alongside those in Vienna and Salzburg, Ischgl is also a must-visit destination for lovers of gastronomy. High-quality, affordable hotels are plentiful and the vast majority are overtly motorcycle-friendly. The Hotel Alpina and Hotel Yscla are two excellent examples in Ischgl itself and further along the valley there’s the Vivaldi and Hotel Luggi.
All visitors staying in Ischgl or one of its neighbouring Paznaun villages are given a Silvretta Card for the duration of their stay. It’s the Tryolean equivalent of a Golden Ticket and enables free and unlimited use of all the cable cars and chair lifts in Ischgl, Galtür, Kappl, See and Samnaun, public transport, indoor and outdoor pools in Ischgl and Galtür, the Silvretta Hochalpenstrasse (avoiding the toll) as well as discounted motorcycle hire at the High-Bike TestCenter.
The highlight of the Saturday at the Top of the Mountain Biker Summit, and the origin of the event’s name, was a parade ride by up the Idalp switchbacks to the Alpenhaus Restaurant at 2,320m.