Max Schumann about his Vinschgau trip
"These trails have been high on my Must-Ride list for a long time. This summer I finally got the chance to ride them. And I can't wait to ride them again. That's alpine flow at it's very best!
For years I have had this list in mind. The list of absolute trail highlights in the Obervinschgau. Trails in high alpine terrain far beyond the tree line, where scree and glaciers shape the landscape and the flow of the Vinschgau flowtrails arises.
However, I normally visit the Vinschgau in late autumn or early spring. We are enjoying the flowy paths in lower areas, but can't ride the high alpine regions. That should change now this year. Finally, I will tick off these three simple but still amazing alpine trail highlights:
Stelvio Pass, Madritsch Joch and Göflaner Schartl.
We start early at 6 am with a shuttle ride towards Stelvio. At this time of the day the traffic is nice and low on the popular pass road. And so we reach the pass even before a coffee can be served in the Tibet hut. Too bad, we have to start poor in caffeine into the ride.
However, the view onto te trail and into the valley awakes our biker souls. The trail extends in front of us in the gravel and leads into the distance. On the right hand, the Ortler massif sits high above us. A mountain of ice and rock. We will halfway ride around it in the next few days. On singletrack, in buses and cable cars.
The ride begins and wakes us up definitively. At first still flowy and only slightly technical, the descent slowly becomes steeper and awaits with some sharp switchbacks. After 500 rocky vertical meters of decending, the trail passes the road again. The Hotel Franzenfeste offers a good opportunity to finally get a long-awaited cappuccino. With apple strudel as a second breakfast. Perfect.
The ride continues: Getting deeper into the valley and into the forest. The trail remains technical and steep and leads along a wild stream further down.
At Trafoi the first big trail of the trip is finished. After another short coffee break, we continue on the road down to Gomagoi. From here we take the bus to Sulden, where we take the Gondola up to the mountain hut Schaubachhütte. Here we want to stay the night. If you were keen, you could ride both trails (Stilfser Joch and Madritschjoch) in one day, but downhill records are not our goal. We want to start very early the next morning to be up at Madritschjoch in the very first light of the day.
The Schaubachhütte is cozy and easy to reach. It sits exposed in the high alpine scree and glacier landscape overlooked by the Ortler massif. We spend the evening with TrivialPursuit guessing games and prepare for an early start the next morning.
Way before sunrise we crawl out of the bunk beds, fold up the sleeping bags, nibble on cheese slices for breakfast, and pull over our jackets.
The stars are shining far above our heads as we are slowly cycling up the steep track towards Madritsch Joch. Behind us, the dark and quiet hut is becoming noticeably smaller and the mountains around us are appearing more and more tall and impressive. We climb a good 600 meters up to Madritschjoch at 3150m. Considering the 2,500 meters of decent, down the other side towards Martell and all the way to Latsch, an absolutely fair price. We reach Madritschjoch excactly at sunrise. Almost blinded by the first sunrays that rise over the mountains to the east. We are once again deeply impressed by the quite and peace up here at this time of the day.
In front of us an absolute dream trail leads down into the valley. Regarding the high alpine terrain the trail is impressively flowy, in almost moderate gradient and with more round than sharp switchbacks.
Riding down smaller and larger obstacles challenge our skils, but it never really becomes too wild. I have to stop several times and shake my head. I can hardly believe that I have never ridden this trail before. That I have never taken the time. And I know already after a few meters: I have to come back.
We reach the end of the trail. Shortly before the hut Zufallhütte, the first hikers come to meet us. We are glad that we have had the majority of the descent for ourselves. It proves again: "The early bird catches the worm, but the early biker misses the hikers!" Since the hikers have just left the hut, the hut keepers are cleaning their place. The chairs are on the table and the coffee machine is cold. So again today our morning coffee will be had with second breakfast further down the valley.
After Madritschjoch dream trail the route follows the valley in different road-track-trail-mix variations down to Latsch. If you are motivated, you can add the the trail from Göflaner Schartl. Alternatively, this tour can of course always be ridden from Latsch as a fine day trip.
Since we are already back in Martell, we dare. A thousand meters of altitude waits to the saddle. First slowly pedaling on narrow streets, then pushing and carrying up a hiking trail. At the top of the ridge, there is once again a tremendous view over the Vinschgau valley followed by another dream descent. The trail starts off gently and flowy, following the ridge. But as soon as it drops into the larch forest, the trails changes its character radically. Suddenly it is rough and rocky, but still ridable. From the Kreuzjöchl there are two variations. Either turning left towards Holy Hansen trail and following its perfectly shaped flow down to Schlanders. Or turning right and ride steep but less rough back towards Martell. We choose to ride over the Martelltal and marvel at the beauty and the fun that the Vinschgauer paths have to offer.
Reaching the valley floor, I am still shaking my head. These trails are almost too beautiful and flowy to ride to be leading through these high alpine regions and to be so easy to reach. And they are definitely getting high ranks in my "best trails ever" list."
MAXimFLOW Alpine Highlights around the Ortler massif from Bikehotels Südtirol on Vimeo.
Text: Max Schumann
Fotos/ Video: Tobias Woggon