Are they mountains or walls? Imst, Austria

In my experience, there seem to be two types of holiday makers. Those who like to plan and those who don’t. Like most either/ors, there are not really just two, but many types, sliding in along a continuum from one extreme to the other. I go well with a loose plan: reach ‘x’ place eventually, but allow enough time to take in whatever might surprise and amaze along the way.

Sleep in a castle. Tick.

The above formula recently translated to: head from Paris to the Dolomites, seek mountains. And so it was that I got to spend one night in a chateau-come-backpackers in Nancy (falling asleep to the sound of French party music, waking to the sound of a violin and a guitar), enjoy a four country drive when the rain put a dampener on riding and woke up the next morning in Imst – a sleepy alpine village in Austria.


Imst is a breathtakingly beautiful place to go riding. Contour lines and switchbacks dominate maps of the area, marked trails head up and out of town in every direction and mountains look like walls. Locals of all ages look like their legs have been carved with a chisel.

Gayes vs the mountains
Ride profile. Note the hot chocolate stop on the way back down.

I made the rookie error of interpreting a hard trail as technical rather than steep and was greeted with nearly three hours of constant climbing and stunning views. Happy to be pedaling, and propelled by the green and white peaks in all directions, I felt like a pig in mud. The stand out moment was a symphony of cowbells that echoed through the landscape as I continued to enjoy the rhythm of the hill.

Symphony of cows

Unable to check out, accommodation has been booked for the next two days. After that, I’m looking forward to meeting my teammates, Naomi and Mike, in the Dolomites to hear about what they discovered on their own journey to yet another amazing, surprising place.

Photo bombed!

Photos: Kath Bicknell and Gaye Camm (who, after dinner and beer, has agreed to go riding with me again. Thanks Gayes).