Since lockdown in the UK began, two-wheeled transport has boomed. Bicycles have helped key workers reach their jobs safely, allowed families to spend quality time together outdoors and offered the perfect solution for many people wanting to stay fit and healthy.
Bikes have become so popular that shops are struggling to keep up with the demand. The Bicycle Association’s executive director, Steve Garidis, says initial figures from across the UK industry show sales of bikes below £500 have been ‘especially strong’ since lockdown. High requirement has meant most of Trek’s 2020 models have been bought earlier than expected and other smaller, independent stores have no stock left and are unsure when the next shipment will come in*. Plus, Brompton, the UK’s largest bike manufacturer, producing almost 50,000 folding cycles a year, saw a fivefold increase in online sales since the start of April and Halfords reported a 23% upsurge in share prices.
However, with lockdown easing, will people just jump back into their cars without a moment’s thought towards their new, eco-friendly two-wheeled friends, or will they continue riding bikes and include them in their holiday plans too?
For those leaning towards the latter, the Austrian Tirol could offer the perfect solution. Home to thousands of kilometres of road bike, mountain bike and long-distance touring itineraries, plus 115 single-track trails, it considers itself to be the number one cycling destination in the Alps.
Picture rolling along 3,800 km of super-smooth roads, blasting down 6,000 km of officially inspected and approved mountain bike paths or just exploring more than 1,000 km of long-distance routes.
Families can enjoy pootling through the countryside, pausing at one of the welcoming guesthouses and sampling regional cuisine. Foodies will love the culinary bikes tours, which combine spectacular scenery with superb food. Those who fancy going further, past medieval castles and historic monuments, might prefer one of the longer rides. And with electric bikes readily available, less experienced cyclists can easily take part too.
In 2018, Innsbruck – the capital city of Tirol – hosted the UCI Road World Championships. Here, the world’s best cyclists from 77 countries battled for top positions over eight, exhilarating days. Following this cycle fever, the region released 10 Great Rides that are perfect for enthusiastic riders wanting incredible views, sweaty climbs and heart-racing descents. Think glacier roads, mountain passes and high ridges. And for a special trial, why not try and beat Thomas Rohregger’s (former pro rider) ascent up the infamous Kitzbühel Horn? The steepest section is known as ‘Knödelfleischgraben’, meaning ‘Dumpling Meat Ditch’, and the current record is 28 minutes and 24 seconds…
But it’s not all about road cycling, The Austrian Tirol offers a combination of terrain for mountain bikers of all abilities too, with its tight switchbacks, tough climbs and technical tasks. Head to one of the region’s exciting Bike Parks, let professional guides lead you to that spectacular place or make the most of the lift-assisted Tirol Mountain Bike Safari, a long-distance route, more than 600 km, crisscrossing the heart of the Austrian Alps.
Renowned rides include the Hohe Tauern National Part in East Tirol, home to the Großglockner mountain at 3,798 metres, the highest peak in Austria; the Ötztal Valley with its range of trails, lines and enduro rides; or the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, which offers a combination of topography to test riders of all skill levels.
As the famous physicist, Albert Einstein, once said: ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving’. And what with life’s recent challenges, cycling could be the ideal solution…