Words by Stuart Kenny | Photography by Jay French
Innsbruck has hosted the Winter Olympics twice. The majority of the 120,000 inhabitants of the city are either keen skiers or snowboarders.
Innsbruck has one ski pass that gives you access to 300km of snow-sure pistes, including a bunch of snowboard parks, an abundance of beautiful tree-runs and one of the steepest ski runs in the world.
You’ll drive past the huge Bergisel Ski Jump as you drive into Innsbruck. And as you drive out of Innsbruck too. It’s a landmark; a constant reminder that Innsbruck, by and large, is a winter city.
Now forget everything we just told you about the Austrian city.
We’re here in summer, pointing the front wheel of our mountain bike down a lovely piece of trail. It’s over 30 degrees Celsius. We’ve just jumped off the gondola, having been happily ferried up to the top of Bikepark Innsbruck on the edge of the city, in a town called Mutters.
There are sharp grey mountain peaks to our left. Hikers head up to the summit, a few hundred feet up from the gondola station we’ve just departed. Below them is a meadow of green, stretching forest on one side and a fire road which leads to a lake and city views currently beyond our reach. At our feet is the entrance to the trail.
With Crankworx Innsbruck on the same week we’re in town there are no lack of riding buddies.
It’s the first time Crankworx has taken place in Innsbruck and a clear sign of intent from the city. The other stops on the Crankworx circuit; Les Gets, Rotorua and, of course, Whistler are already destinations renowned for their riding.
We’re on the bikes with the Mons Royale crew, geared out in merino wool to wick away the inevitable sweat of riding in 30+ degrees heat. Kiwi freerider and Mons pro rider Connor MacFarlane is at the front of the pack. At least in terms of talent. He has competed at Red Bull Rampage, after all, and is a regular feature at Crankworx.