In one, two or three days through the scenic mountains of the Niedere Tauern range. The mountain bike adventure Stoneman Taurista beckons with fabulous panoramic views, unspoilt nature and sporting challenges in the Salzburger Land. Rating: well worth it!
The Stoneman Taurista is a mountain bike challenge through the impressive mountains of the Radstädter and Schladminger Tauern, opened in summer 2018. A total of 123 km and 4,500 metres in height have to be conquered along this well-marked tour past glittering mountain lakes, lush alpine meadows, rustic alpine huts, proud mountain peak crosses and splendid panoramas. Creative mind and initiator of the trail is the former mountain bike professional, Roland Stauder. With the Stoneman Dolomiti in South Tyrol as his model, he concepted the Stoneman Taurista – as a demanding sports event with adrenalin guarantee and finisher prize, yet without the pressure of competition.
Obvious then, that a long-distance fan such as myself was hooked, when I heard about the Stoneman Taurista. Thus, my dear family and tour bike were packed up, a hotel booked where my husband and child could while the time away pleasurably in my absence, my starter package picked up and off I head to the Tauern-cross challenge!
Each to his own
Pleasurable tour or heroic trail? Sightseeing trip or training course? Your own physical condition and ambition alone decide the characteristics of this undertaking. As either the Stoneman Taurista is undertaken in one go or split into two or three stages. Those completing the course, receive as a reward a trophy in gold (day tour), silver (2 days) or bronze (3 days) and are added to the official finisher list.
Six access resorts (Flachau, Wagrain-Kleinarl, Radstadt, Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Forstau und Obertauern) and 25 various accommodation partners along the circular trail ensure freedom of choice with regard to starting and finishing points, route allocation and budget requirements.
In perfect tour weather conditions, I start off on my personal Stoneman adventure in Altenmarkt. Last wafts of mist swirl through the valley, whilst I slowly wind up higher up towards the sunshine. Just as I’ve finally found my rhythm, the little red Stoneman signs point me in the direction of the forest. It smells of dark earth and blueberries. Conifers and opulently growing ferns line the trails in all colours of green.
3 mountains, 3 worlds
When it says 4,500 m, then there are naturally some mountains included. The Stoneman Taurista essentially encompasses three ascents. Each of which has its own individual traits.
The Rossbrand counts as the ultimate mountain for views. More than 150 (!) alpine peaks are visible from its highest point. As this lies amid a high moor, it gives Radstadt’s local mountain an archaic-mysterious feel in addition to the sporting challenge.
Crossing the Schladminger Tauern from Forstau to Obertauern it starts getting high alpine. Hereon there’s a long carrying passage over the Seekarscharte along the extremely steep gravel access to the rocky-framed alpine idyll at the Oberhütte. You need to conserve your energy!
For the third ascent the locals have exactly one description – long. Indeed, the forest track uphill climb from Flachau to the Griessenkar is relatively hard going, which makes the following descent over the Hard Rock Trail of the Bikepark Wagrain even more fun.
Break with a snack?
Due to the pace of the course, the alpine huts along the route are real places to yearn for, real oases. Of course, the possible time slots for refreshment stops varies. “Gold bikers drink an alcohol-free wheat beer standing up. Silver bikers sit down at least and bronze bikers enjoy a snack too“, grins the owner of the Vögei-Alm. For me breaks on sunny terraces and viewing points are all an indispensable part of the tour. How gentle the rays of sun tickle your face at these opportunities… how honest the taste of home-made bread, smoked ham and cheese feel on the palate… and boy you’ve earned it.
And thus I cycle on, sweat profusely and marvel constantly – about the inconceivable 360°-panorama on the Rossbrand and the not lesser impressive high alpine world at the Oberhüttensee Lake; over the Johannes Waterfall – a gushing, whooshing natural gem near the Gnadenalm leisure area; and how euphoric a half decently completed downhill in the bike park can make you feel. Lots of things virtually force me to pause for a moment – from the rate hare’s tail cotton grass on the edge of the path, the carefully stacked “stonemen“ to the exuberant flowers on the weather-beaten wooden house fronts. Overall there’s so much to see, that I almost forget, how much energy I’ve had to put in.
The Stoneman promise
As Roland Stauder drew up the first Stoneman in his home, the Sexten Dolomites, he was following a vision – everybody should be able to cycle the trails, everyone should experience a feeling of success and everyone should get a trophy. After my circular tour amid the fantastic backdrop of the Salzburger Sportwelt and Obertauern, I dare to assert, you can feel this spirit along every kilometre of the way along the Stoneman Taurista…
Photo credits: Lisi Hager