ground, the bikes work great using full power support. At the
end of the trail I am sweat-soaked from a great workout.
We pass the ghost village of Hochsölden (only open during
high winter season), and the tracks and trails become deeper
with snow and ice. My memories from past snow rides on
non-assist bikes include plenty of on-and-off moments with
the bike. Not so with the e-mountain bikes. “Using middle-engine support and an easier gear to spin is the trick,”
Gebhard explains to me.
Snow cannons and rope ways mark the way through the
still-closed ski area. Everything is ready and just waiting for
more snow. The strong sunshine has turned the ski path into
a soft, deep, muddy track. Big icy sections make me fear of
getting a big mud bath any second, but the nice, constant
spin makes the bike ride smooth over those tricky sections,
and I can enjoy the view up the glacier.
When we arrive at the glacier finish area, the post-race
party is in full swing. Sunshine, music and lots of beer are
keeping 17,000 skiers and spectators at their happiest. We
find an open spot on one of the benches for a nice warm
coffee. As he is pushing his e-mountain bike through the
crowd, many people look at Gebhard as if he were an alien.
Out of curiosity, some come up to talk to him, and many want
their picture taken with him. Ah, the celebrity that comes with
Before we start our descent, we want to try the bikes on
prepped snow slopes. Unfortunately the slopes are still open
for skiing, which prevents much further adventure. Still, we
test a couple hundred meters of the groomed snow until
we get to the border fence of the racecourse. The big tire
studs make it feel like riding on gravel. “After a day of ski
instructing, I take the bike a couple times a week to ride all
the way up to the summit station for a nice workout. The
view, along with the peace and quiet, up there is incredible,”
says Gebhard, as he points to the peaks still high above us.
Screaming down the glacier road we pass the traffic jam
of hundreds of cars and buses, all clogged up as they try to
get back down to Sölden. Fifteen minutes later we are back
at the Gaislachkogl-Bahn in Sölden where we started our
ride. Hours later we hear and see the Swiss cowbells again.
They are still in full action, participating in the fan parade
through Sölden. Everybody is happy.