The bike has turned 200 years old this year and the two-wheeler has come a long way since back then: having started out as a means of transportation in the simplest sense, bikes have developed into high-end machines, that enable you to speed down the mountain side. The mountain biking trend has been picking up speed for a while now and with it the opportunities for female gravity enthusiasts as well. Over 80 ladies travelled to Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis for the “MOUNTAINBIKE Women’s Camp” to send it on the trails in the bike park. We spoke to Nina Schwab from Vienna about biking in a group, the advantages of camps and biking in general.
How did you get into mountain biking?
Nina Schwab: I got into mountain biking quite late – unexpectedly, during a surf trip to Bali. I was staying at the Chillhouse in Canggu and was looking forward to catch some waves. On a day without proper surf I was searching for an alternative and discovered that they also offered mountain bike tours. So I signed up for my very first ride on a fully. I had a great time on the trails and was really stoked by the experience. It was so amazing that I cancelled surfing the following day and hopped back onto the fully instead of my surfboard. When I got back home, I instantly got myself a proper mountain bike and joined the “Velochicks” club. That was two and a half years ago. Since then, I am out on the trails a lot and also compete in the “Enduro One” Series.
Why do you like to go biking in the Alps?
In my opinion, the Alps are the best mountain biking region in Europe. Regardless of the fact, that they are close to where I live, the Alps offer endless possibilities to have fun. Each region has its own character and beauty. I like to hit the trails whenever I can – also before or after work. It’s a nice change of scenery after sitting in front of a computer all day.
How were the couple of days in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis?
“Isch lei oans!”, is what my Tyrolean colleague would say. That means as much as “it is one-of-a-kind”. It is such a beautiful part of the country and we were welcomed in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The infrastructure was well prepared for mountain bikers, right down to the smallest detail. The toolkits available in the storage rooms come to mind. We thought that was great. And the alpine views at the Hög Alm, while we were eating local food, were fascinating.
Which trail did you like most and why?
We warmed up in the bike park every morning. To get the blood flowing and wake the body up, we hit the blue “Milky Way” or the red “Supernatural”, both are very flowy. There a small jumps, rollers and perfectly shaped berms, perfect to learn the ideal cornering technique or practice pumping the trail. The other trails can easily be combined on the way down to the bottom. The tables and drops near the lift station in the valley were a highlight. Everyone needs some airtime every now and then. My favorite trail was the Frommestrail though. Starting at roughly 2,500 m / 8,202 ft it meanders down into the valley past reservoirs and hills and transforms into flowy serpentines with root sections. Just awesome!
Do you prefer daunting tracks or flowy trails?
I think it is good to have a mix, but I do like the gnarly adventures. I love the challenge and like to find out where my limits are. Tackling difficult situations until they are mastered is a great feeling and the best thing to it! Patient observation and repetition helps find the right line and when you succeed, it boosts your confidence.
The third of five „Woman Workshops“ with UCI Downhill Masters World Champion Alice Kühne will take place in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis on July 22. Further opportunities are on August 12 and September 23. Find out more about registration here: bikepark-sfl.at/en/latest/events/woman-workshop-alice
Which bike did you have with you during the camp?
Alice Kühne: I had my own bike, a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp EVO 29, with me. However, I wanted to try out an enduro bike during the camp. Our guide and seven time German Downhill Champion, Antje Kramer, was kind enough to swap bikes with me. So when we hit the Frommestrail I was on a Liv Hail Advanced 0. I was really impressed how easily the Hail got me through root sections, ruts and maneuvered tight corners. A dream bike, it was difficult to hand back!
What did you learn during the camp?
We had an insane group of people and we all motivated and pushed each other to new heights. The chemistry was perfect and we had loads of fun. Not even rain and 200 vertical meters of hike-a-bike were able to wipe the smiles off our faces. The guides gave us a lot of great input during the rides and I improved my riding technique and also my confidence, especially when it comes to gnarly sections and bigger jumps.
Why do you think it is important that there are camps like these?
It is super important! It is a great opportunity to get girls and women to get to know and love the sport. It doesn’t matter where you come from, how old you are, or what your profession is. We all have one goal: to have a rad time on the bike and improve our skills without being pressured. The camps have a great vibe to them and you can decide for yourself, which skill-group you want to join. Oddly enough it actually helps to see others trying to overcome similar challenges. When you are working on them together in a group and receive proper guidance, you try things, which you may have not done on your own.
Why do you participate in camps and workshops for women?
Why not?! The camps are very versatile. You get to spend time with experienced guides and they function as role models. That is very motivating and helps to push you. It is great that you can decide which workshops interest you most; whether it is learning how to adjust the suspension or pick-up advice about sport photography or both.
What’s the difference between riding in women-only group and mixed groups?
I think it depends on who the people are you are riding with. Biking with the “Velochicks” is always awesome, but I also like heading out with friends in mixed groups. There is no difference to me there. But I have experienced “mansplaining” at events before, which was unnecessary. I am not surprised that some like to head out with female groups every now and then.
Do you have any tips for female riders out there or those who are thinking about starting out?
Yeah, I think solid fundamental training is vital to learn the techniques properly as early as possible. It will help you later on, when you progress to more difficult tasks and it also helps to boost your confidence thanks to early success. I have been very lucky with all my guides and coaches. If you want to get going, take a look if there is a club or if camps are offered in your region. It’s way more fun in a group and you get to know like-minded people. If you are in Austria, then you can always drop by the “Velochicks”. We have communities in Vienna, Graz and Salzburg.
For more information about Bikepark Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis visit our website: bikepark-sfl.at or facebook.com/bikepark.serfaus.fiss.ladis. Find more information on the region Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis visit: serfaus-fiss-ladis.at or facebook.com/serfausfissladis.
Photos: Killian Kreb, Christian Waldegger