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The Easy Way to the Top

The weather was improving and fine when we set off to cycle the 8 miles to Solden. This was along a newly installed bike track that run up the valley alongside the main road. We were travelling up the Oetz valley so going slightly uphill. Very swish with bridges to take the track across the river and roads. We marvelled at the cost of putting in the bridges and bike track. We do have to pay 2.50e tax for every day that we spend in this area and I wondered if this fee contributed to the cost of the constructions. The bike track was stress free cycling and easy with our mountain bikes.

We arrived in Solden and was met by a girl who wanted to sell us her day pass right up to the the very top of the mountain - to the James Bond villains lair. This was a great money saving start to the day. She was also shocked that I was going to do the red run downhill on my bike without being festooned in plastic protection. Actually no protection at all. I was immediately a bit worried myself as hordes of stoked young men surged off the cable car and raced back up the escalator with heavy duty downhill bikes to get back on the uplift. Up we went ourselves.

As a bit of a side note, it is generally more expensive this Austrian side of the border. We cannot stay in car parks in the camper van overnight. We are on a site that costs 30e per night (including the tourist tax) there are many camp sites in this valley and they are all a similar price. Whilst food is roughly the same price as Germany, beer from the supermarket is more expensive.

Up at the top of cabine, we were greeted by a very Hi Tec ski station, all clad in black with large graphics announcing the height above sea level, and a battered black Range Rover on a display stand - part of the James Bond experience, an enticer, and all very glamorous. And up again we went on cabine no 2, to take us to the very top at 3040 metres and coffee and cake in the very modern glass box construction, the Ice Q Restaurant and the site of the James Bond villains lair from the film Spectre.

We treated ourselves to cake with hot chocolate and rum with a very beautiful nougat cake.

We got outside into the thin air and my heart was racing - I couldn’t work out whether it was the altitude or the sugar rush from the hot chocolate and cake combo. Outside the restaurant we spent ages viewing the surrounding panorama of summits, whilst the Spectre theme tune pounded up from the dark interior of the James Bond Experience below.

Eventually we made it back down on the cable car to the head of the bike trails and we zoomed back down to Solden town (on the fast but slightly less bermy, blue run (well John zoomed, I clung on for dear life until I remembered how to navigate a berm) My once sound MTB skills are woefully eroded by lack of use.

Back at base camp in Langenfeld, we spent the evening in the water dome relaxing in sulphur salt and various outdoor pools at a delicious 35 degrees of warmth. We also couldn’t resist the raft tubes navigated on a large inflatable ring. Someone turned the lights out at about 9.30 and we did a couple of runs in the pitch dark which was very weird as you could not tell which way the tunnel was going to go as you wound down at speed from the start. Time for bed after all that, but what a totally indulgent, type 1 pleasure day.

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