Length: 18 km
Altitude metres: 1.900 altitude metres
Ascent: mountain railway, bike
Recommended bike: Tour fully, enduro
Biking technique: ●●●●○
Biking fun: ●●●●○
Best time for travel: March - November
Possibility for a stop: Überetscher Hütte
Tramin is situated in around 250 metres above sea level. At the summit of the Roen in 2.116 metres above sea level, you get the feeling that you could spit directly onto the plates of the people in Tramin. And in between there are 1.850 altitude metres: of trails!
The Mendel funicular in Kaltern commenced operation on 19 October 1903. It accomplishes 854 altitude metres from St. Anton to the Mendel Pass. The total length of Europe’s most inclined railway is only 2.374 metres, the maximum gradient is 64% - unbeatable arguments for a shuttle day. Using the funicular is of course only for the purpose of cultural education! Although we do save some muscle power for a very demanding trail tour downhill from the summit of the Roen.
Starting in Tramin, we first pedal through the vineyards with view to Lake Kaltern opposite the Lakes of Monticolo and the ruin of the Leuchtenburg Fortress which juts out from the dense pine tree mixed forest. The network of beautiful flow trails is already known to us from the tours of the past few days; today, we are on the premium tour of the programme. The still low sun immerses nature in incredibly intense colours. A good route for rolling and warming up. It takes around nine kilometres and 350 altitude metres to the lower terminus of the Mendel funicular.
Once arrived at the pass, we are quite surprised. It’s really busy up here: Shops, hotels, motorcyclists and hikers. We quickly get on our bikes and are away from the hustle and bustle and enter the forest already after three minutes.
The number of bikers who cycle all ascents right through to the summit can be counted on one hand, says Armin, our host. Okay - challenge accepted! The first steep snappers to the Romeno Alm are still easily taken. The quaint hut invites to stop for a break and is a wonderfully pleasant contrast to the hustle and bustle at the Mendel Pass. My personal tip: continue to roll for another 1.5 kilometres and 50 altitude metres to the Überetscher Hut. The quaint hut of the Alpine Association, Bolzano Division, is serviced with much dedication by a young team. It is simple and traditional. In the end, we opt for the steep but accessible route via the Malga di Romeno.
The sprockets of the chainrings and pinions groan, the leg muscles are so tense that they are ready to burst and I worry that I might rip the handlebar off any minute. But if our host Armin and his son Andi manage to get up there, then I will too - even if I have to bite into the handlebar. Once arrived at the top, the orchards in the valley look like a giant patchwork rug.
You shouldn’t lean out too much to the east; as if cut by a guillotine, the rock face drops almost vertically downhill to Tramin. The view to the Dolomites is fantastic. We recognise the old route of the Fiemme Valley railway which is a great bike route leading to the Trudener Horn. Getting up early is just as much rewarded as every single bead of sweat to the summit. And now for some downhill fun!
Slightly wavy leads the trail initially to the summit cross and then beautifully playful with short root passages, gravel curves and short counter ascents to the Schwarzer Kopf (2.031 m). The downhill run to the summit cross of the Schwarzer Kopf is called “daredevil passage“ by the locals and is quite a challenge - not many bikers dare to take the 50 steep, rocky attitude metres. But experienced enduro bikers will just love it! The route becomes more flowy again before a few more counter ascents on a forest path lead from the Wetterkreuz (1.844 metres) to the Grauner Joch (1.800 m). The less panoramic but more enduro-friendly part of the trail starts here. But this section is not for racing; you should use your head and self-restraint instead. The narrow, in part steep trail offers quite a lot: roots, coarse gravel and terraces. A few hairpin bends add a bit of spice. A trail with character!
We then frequently cross the gravel road which also leads to Graun and finally to Tramin. The trail is incredibly diverse: from flowy to extremely challenging, it has it all. And if you were worrying: there are no heavily exposed passages. Almost there, we stop at the Lenzenhof in Grau to enjoy panoramic Dolomites views and Kaiserschmarren.