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On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023

On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023

11.12.23 08:12 14Text: Gabriwa (translated by AI)Photos: Gabriwa, Veranstalter, "juls_fotografiert"Gravel biking amidst an impressive setting and truly breathtaking climbs.11.12.23 08:12 164

On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023

11.12.23 08:12 164 Gabriwa (translated by AI) Gabriwa, Veranstalter, "juls_fotografiert"
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Gravel biking amidst an impressive setting and truly breathtaking climbs.11.12.23 08:12 164

Is this still cycling or rather more of a staycation in the sense of the Austrian Tourism advertising? Why not both, the motivated organizing team around Andrea Friembichler must have thought during the route planning of the Salt & Lake Trail. A perfect combination of cinematic scenery and - literally - breathtaking climbs, in one of the most beautiful areas of Austria; what could possibly go wrong?

The Salt & Lake Trail is an unsupported bikepacking event with start and finish in Sankt Gilgen at the Wolfgangsee. Two route options are available: Route A with just under 430 kilometers in length and slightly under 8,000 meters in elevation gain, and a shorter Route B with "only" 250 kilometers and 5,000 meters in elevation gain. Neither of them is a casual ride. Anyone who wants to enjoy a beautiful weekend in the mountains should consider participating in this event.

  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023

Leidenfrost Effect

Johann Gottlob Leidenfrost discovered through meticulous observation why a drop of water seems to dance on a hot surface, i.e., a stove plate. As we all know, this is related to the fact that the water drop seems to 'ride' on a small cloud of steam, which in turn makes the drop itself get smaller and smaller until it finally disappears.

I myself also suffer quite quickly from frost; from temperatures around 10 degrees, I have to move diligently on my little steam cloud named Crux until I finally run out of steam. But more on that later.

  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
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  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023

Start in Saint Gilgen

The area is well known. The Salzkammergut is synonymous with homeland, tradition, and idyll like no other corner of Austria. Andrea Friembichler and her team, who themselves come from the area, decided after participating in the Tuscany Trail last year to organize a similar event themselves. Because there's nowhere as beautiful as home, they quickly put together the well-known local routes. After just under a year of preparation, the event starts on September 30 with nearly 150 participants, and I am one of them. The mood at the ship landing is good, the weather is acceptable for the end of September, and the adventure starts at exactly 9 o'clock. At the start, I meet some acquaintances, including Markus Zimmermann, whom I know from the Seven Serpents event. Daniel Pettinger, the locomotive from Leonding, also looks good with his freshly cleaned 3T Exploro.

  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
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  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023

The beauty of the Salt & Lake Trail is that it is not a race. There are no timekeeping, no lists of finishers, and no time penalties for rule violations. According to the regulations, it is even undesirable (to forbidden) to ride at night, as the federal forests, through whose area a good part of the path leads, have stipulated this as a condition. As usual, however, there are always a few motivated individuals, and so right from the start, it's full throttle until the bottom bracket is dusty. Unfortunately, I am also like a young dog, always up to 180, and of course, I have to be at the front.The euphoria lasts for the first two hours. As soon as hunger kicks in and the legs get heavy, I fully embrace deceleration again. "Beautiful area," I think to myself and take a look at Hallstatt and the lake. Even from the opposite shore, you can recognize the tour buses, sense the tumult in the town. There is certainly no shortage of lakes. Wolfgangsee, Hallstätter See, Altausseer See, Grundlsee - those who do the tour in summer have plenty of options for a quick dip in the cool water. At the end of September, my problem is rather not to completely cool down. Thanks to my Castelli Unlimited Puffy Vest (a gift from the gods!) it is somewhat bearable even for me.

Since lakes are only half the rent, there must also be a source of salt, and there are plenty of opportunities to break a sweat. Slower than expected, the journey progresses. Only in the early afternoon do I reach the Ennstal valley. Although there are no significant hills to climb, my progress is sluggish. After nearly ten hours, darkness sets in. The highest point of the tour is still on the menu for today, the Dachstein south face. However, after a short while, I come across a closed path; a fence and countless cows behind it suggest to me that it's enough for today. "Night riding ban," rings in my ears. "Fine by me!" A hostel in Radstadt is quickly found, and shortly after, I fall into a warm bed, freshly showered. FKT is out of the question now - no matter.

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  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
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  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023

Damage minimization

The second day could be better. The temperatures have dropped again, and the first kilometers really hurt. Although the sun is shining, I just can't get going. Since Radstadt, there has been an increase in riding on asphalt. There are a few highlights, but I find it increasingly difficult to enjoy them. I have arranged to meet acquaintances in Saalfelden in the afternoon for a coffee - a small ray of hope. After the urgently needed break, the Hirschbichl is on the agenda, a small pass between Weißbach and Ramsau near Berchtesgaden. On the way there, I unexpectedly meet my friend Daniel Ehrl, a short chat lifts my spirits and makes me optimistic. The ascent to the "pass" is actually no fun - steep, unsteady, and peppered with sections beyond 17%. After nearly eight hours of riding, I find myself back in Unterjettenberg. It's just before 5 PM, in two hours it will be dark. I make the more sensible decision for me and decide to ride directly back to Sankt Gilgen.

  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023

I reach my destination just before nightfall. The Wolfgangsee lies in front of me in a beautiful evening mood. Could it be better? I don't think so.

Following the positive feedback, it looks promising that there will be another edition of the Salt & Lake Trail next year. For those interested, it is advisable to keep an eye on the website and the Instagram account.

  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023
  • On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023On the Road: Salt & Lake Trail 2023