From planning to the finished MTB trail: two trail construction specialists explain how they apply Swiss know-how to tourist destinations worldwide
by Patrick Bardelli
MTB pioneers from Pontresina, Switzerland, are creating new mountain bike trails in Montafon, Austria. I visited the construction site at 1,500 metres above sea level.
In winter, the gondolas of the Hochjoch cable car take ski tourists up the mountain. Now, at the beginning of June, they’re at a standstill. It’s too early for the summer tourists – that’s hikers and mountain bikers.
I’m in Vorarlberg, in a valley called Montafon, above Schruns Tschagguns. Not a place that’s known for mountain biking. But that’s about to change, as a mountain bike trail is in the making – supported by know-how and helping hands from Switzerland. Since 2003, Allegra Tourism has helped develop numerous mountain bike destinations. The company from Engadine operates on a global level, advising clients on the planning of the entire infrastructure, services and positioning in the market, as well as taking care of the construction and maintenance of trails and hiking paths.
After six years of planning, the diggers started their work on the mountain in the spring of 2022. The three trails with a total length of around seven kilometres will open around mid-August. That’s an average of 70 metres a day that the construction crew is expected to advance – diggers first, shaper second. Sometimes they cover more, often less, depending on the terrain. Check out the video above to get an impression of the construction work. For English subtitles, click the gear icon, «Subtitles/CC» and «Auto-translate».
There’s hardly any mountain biking in the region, as Markus Büchel from Silvretta Montafon Holding GmbH tells me. The company runs the cable cars and is responsible for the new trails. The valley is a go-to place for winter sports and hiking, but not for biking.
The company has high hopes that the new trails will change this and kick off mountain biking in Montafon. This is a challenging task, as locals are critical of tourists on two wheels. I’ve experienced this myself. It’ll take Markus Büchel and his team quite some effort to create and anchor acceptance for biking among the people living in the region. The new trails from Switzerland are a first step in this direction.