Munich, mid-August. The sun beats down mercilessly into a glass-fronted office block, and the open-plan workplace boasts a suspected 40° C. Air vents? Useless. It’s no cooler outside. As her perspiring, red-faced colleague raises his arms towards the neon-lit ceiling, thereby spreading the acrid smell of sweat around the room once more, there’s only thing on Alexa’s mind: take me back to South Tyrol!

[emaillocker id=”115604″]

Urlaubsreif !
Ready for vacation!

These days, our lives are flooded with competitions, giveaways, and claims of hotshot prizes; pick any day of the week, and you’ll find one to enter if you’re after an iPad or a dream house. And then there are competitions that promise what you’ve long been dreaming of: a holiday. This is exactly the sort of competition that we held, a competition in which Alexa and Claire took part. Friends who ride together, Alexa and Claire first met at a crossfit class where they bonded over a t-shirt. Not too dissimilar to the symbolic rose on a blind date, the t-shirt was the sign that showed Alexa that the blonde girl on her right, who was at that moment swinging a 15kg kettlebell, obviously shared a similar interest in bikes.

Die Bewerbung hat sich ausgezahlt.
The application paid off.

If you deign to ask anyone if they ever have any luck with competitions, you tend to get the same answer: “Heck no, I never have any luck when it comes to those sorts of things.” And as a result, they steer away from even entering. But just think about that oft-touted cliché of “You’ve got to be in it to win it.” You’ll be surprised. Even the two adopted Munichers in question almost fell at the first hurdle: entering the competition. Just three hours before entries closed, they managed to muster up the energy to open the laptop once more and type a few lines, juggle a few pixels on some photos with the mouse, and press send on the application email with their PDF attached.

Their effort paid off! Three weeks later Alexa’s telephone rang – inopportunely in the middle of a meeting, leaving her with no option but to brutally cancel the numerous calls from Max, the macho ENDURO fairy. She finally responded to an email that he sent. Naturally, the girls were interested, and their response was affirmative.

Das Warten hat ein Ende – es kann losgehen!
Holiday is here!

Mid-July arrived and bags were packed. Since the joyful crowning of the winners, only four weeks had passed and now the holiday was here: one week in the Isarco Valley, Val Gardena, and Alpe di Suisi in stunning South Tyrol. Naturally, the girls only have one activity planned for a week in this spectacular scenery of the Dolomites: riding until the doctor comes! Incidentally, just one day before the trip Alexa had been close to calling one such professional to combat a stomach bug – not nice and no fun, but luckily over quickly.

Die Woche beginnt mit lockerem Einrollen.
The week kicks off with a gentle roll-in.

The week kicks off with a gentle roll in and around Brixen. Taxis occasionally step in to assist, dutifully getting the girls to the other side of the valley to explore some fresh woodland with technical forest trails, and other times they take the gondolas. This takes them and their guide Alex up to one of Brixen’s highlights: the Plose. A real tourist mountain, this has more than enough in store for riders too. If you’re after some true South Tyrolean delicacies, head to the Rosshütte; if you’re looking for some seriously fast descending, opt for the newly-built Flow Trail; or if you want to just enjoy the amazing views, then settle yourself on one of the Alpine meadows or at one of the mountain huts. You can always regroup with your mates at the Domplatz in the town to enjoy a glass of Hugo at one of the pavement cafes.

Mit vollem Bauch auf den Uphill.
Filled up for new adventures.

Alexa is already familiar with our second destination, having spent a lot of time carving up the snow on her skis. “It’s much more beautiful here in summer though,” she says enthusiastically. There is no sign of the hordes of people that flock here in the winter. And getting in touch with nature is far easier without the crowds, as the might of the mountains is more impressive and the food at the huts even better. Those who have never tasted Schlutzkrapfen, Kaaspressknödel, or drank a Hollerschorle are missing out; the feeling of sitting on a wooden bench, suffering from a delicious sense of overeating (as the call of the Kaiserschmarrn for dessert was just too tempting) is unbeatable.

Moderne Lifte erleichtern den Aufstieg.
Modern lifts lighten up the uphills.
Wer Kaaspressknödel oder Hollerschorle nicht kennt hat etwas verpasst.
The local cuisine was almost as good as the riding!

Despite having refuelled, the first few metres back on the bike aren’t easy. Luckily, the trails from the huts only have one direction: downhill! And that’s trails in the plural with a huge range on offer, whether you prefer technical, rocky ones, or high-speed woodland ones. There’s no need to worry about the sweat-inducing climb back up to try out another trail either, as the modern lift network saves you the hassle.
Speaking of chairlifts… on Alexa and Claire’s final day of their dream holiday, they decide to head up from St. Ulrich to Europe’s biggest Alpine plateau, Alpe di Suisi. After five days of riding at their limits, it was a welcome change – as they were suffering the residue of arm pump from hell and callouses to rival those of an Olympic weightlifter. As the area has positioned itself firmly as a family-friendly destination, relaxation and adventure are high on the agenda wherever you look. Equally as comfy as a horse-drawn carriage – the vehicle of choice for those who can’t (or won’t) walk – the girls pedal along the Alpine meadows with Wolli, their bike guide, towards the closest mountain hut. They encounter the same game there: aperitif, main course, dessert, and schnapps! Often burnt and strong enough to tinge your eyebrows, this drink was fortunately a delicious fruit brandy – nice!

After the girls fed their already full stomachs a touch more alcohol, they headed off for the final downhill of the holiday. They then paid a visit to the busy lake of Fiè, one of the most popular tourist hotspots on a sunny day. Its beauty couldn’t be tarnished even by the tourists, and it provided the ideal refreshment on such a hot day.

Entspannung muss auch sein!
You have to relax sometimes!

While Alexa and Claire might be back to the reality of sweating in their office this August, we’re more than sure that their hearts and minds have wandered back to the Dolomites. Five days in South Tyrol meant five days of incredible trails, amazing food, and unbeatable views – what more could a rider’s heart need?

If you enjoyed the scenery make sure to take a closer look at our spot checks:
Eisacktal | Val Gardena | Alpe de Siusi

Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Sebastian Hermann

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.