Safety and a fun experience are top priorities in the mountains. At its core, safety means the adherence to important rules of conduct and instructions, as well as accurate tour planning and adequate equipment.
As a healthy outdoor sport, cycling is great for fitness, adventure and a sense of community. The following recommendations by Alpine clubs help to make cycling and mountain biking tours safer, free from conflict, and more nature-friendly.
Cycling and mountain biking are endurance sports. A realistic self-assessment and being in good health help sportsmen & women to cope with the positive effects on the heart, circulation and muscles. For a positive experience, avoid being under time pressure and increase the intensity and length of your tours slowly.
A lack of strength and conditioning increases the risk of accidents and reduces the fun of mountain biking. A lack of fitness, recent illness or advanced age are good reasons to undergo a physical examination by sports medical professional who can help you to better assess your own limits. Keep in mind: Regular fitness and strength training will increase your enjoyment considerably.
Specialist literature, maps, the internet and local experts are valuable aids when choosing a bike tour that matches your skill and fitness levels. Always adjust your tour to suit the group, weather, and current conditions. Solo bikers beware: even small incidents can lead to serious emergencies.
Pay attention to the weather forecast. Rain, cold and heat increase the risk of accidents. Technical difficulty levels are not standardized for mountain biking. As a result, start out any tour in unknown terrain in a relaxed manner in order to keep up your strength for any surprises along the way. When riding in a group, all riders must be fit and technically up to the demands of the tour in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Prevent erosion damage by not riding cross-country. Only use suitable roads and official cycle trails and respect local closures and regulations to avoid conflicts with land owners, road owners and other outdoor users.
Shortcuts and detours off the beaten track are forbidden and absolutely "uncool" as they destroy our natural environment.
Thoroughly check your bike’s brakes, air pressure, wheel tightness, suspension and gears before every ride. Performing a professional maintenance check every year ensures that your bike is in perfect technical condition. To ensure good posture, optimally adjust your sitting position.
Pack warm clothing, rain and wind protection, and repair and first aid kits in your backpack along with a mobile phone (European emergency no. is 112), torch and sufficient food and drink. Gloves and glasses will protect your hands and eyes. A map or GPS are valuable orientation tools.
Was ist im Notfall zu tun?
140 - Alpinnotruf (Bergrettung)
112 - Europäischer Notruf
133 - Polizei
144 - Rettung
Regardless of whether you’re riding uphill or cruising downhill, always wear a helmet! In case of a fall or collision, a helmet can prevent head injuries or even save your life. Wearing protectors can prevent injuries.
Make sure that the helmet fits well and check that it is closed before every ride. Back protectors designed to prevent spinal column injuries are usually already integrated into modern bike backpacks. For more technically demanding trails, it is also recommended to wear knee and elbow protectors. Keep in mind that you are often faster on your bike than in a car when riding down forest trails... but without the benefit of a seatbelt or an airbag!
Pay attention to pedestrians by signalling your approach early and reducing your speed. Stop if necessary. A friendly greeting fosters a good relationship. Bike in small groups and avoid trails heavily used by hikers. Treat others politely and respectfully. It is good karma to briefly let others know how many are coming after you and to say "thank you!"
Adapt your speed to the situation. Bike attentively and be ready to brake as there could be unexpected obstacles at any point. Mountain bike courses can teach you the best biking and braking techniques. Pedestrians and animals move slower than you, so always be aware as you ride. Remember that in loose, gravelly terrain, the braking distance is longer and the braking process is more difficult than you might expect.
By braking in a controlled manner so that the wheels do not lock, you can do your part to prevent soil erosion and damage to the trail. Take your rubbish with you and avoid making noise. Considerate braking is of course also relevant to safety. Experts teach the correct riding and trail-protecting braking technique in mountain bike courses. Packing up your own rubbish is of course a matter of course, taking the rubbish of others with you down into the valley is particularly exemplary behaviour!
Please use dog waste bags along the cycle trails to avoid polluting the pastures and the natural environment. Do your part to keep the landscape clean. To avoid problems with pedestrians, please keep dogs on a lead!
Dusk is the time when wildlife typically feed. Bike during daylight hours to avoid disturbing them. Approach animals at walking pace and close any gates behind you. Avoid fast or hasty movements. Keep calm in the forest and don’t make any unnecessary noise.
Blue route - easy
Cycle trail or MTB route that is generally family-friendly and mostly passable with normal bikes. Largely featuring good road surfaces (fine gravel or asphalt and similar). Inclines are barely above 5% or max 15% over short distances. Has alternating inclines. Trails are mainly vehicle-free or little used by vehicles. As a general rule of thumb, these trails are free of special risk areas unless pointed out by special markings (e.g. signs) if necessary. Because some sections of the route are also used as agricultural and forestry service roads, obstructions from commercial traffic (e.g.: lorries, tractors, parked vehicles, dirty road surface, etc.) are to be expected in such sections of the route. In individual cases, it may be necessary to close off the route for operational reasons. Due to the Alpine terrain, unmarked risk areas may also occur as a result of natural phenomena.
Red route - moderately difficult
Requires sporty biking ability and especially defensive biking techniques. Mountain bike equipment is recommended. Inclines are between 5% and 12% or max. 17% over short distances. There are some complex winding sections. Vehicular traffic taking up the entire trail must be expected.
The route signs, including the road surface, drainage facilities (e.g. water spools), barriers (e.g. barrier gates), safety facilities (e.g. missing railings and fences) and information about risk areas, is exclusively intended for commercial traffic such as tractors and trucks. Such installations can in themselves constitute risk areas for cyclists. Barriers along the route due to operational requirements (e.g. tree felling and transport), goods stored along the route, operating materials and parked machines, and risk areas due to natural phenomena must be expected at all times. The steep terrain adjacent to the path is unsecured.
Black route - difficult
A challenging MTB route with numerous risk areas that exceeds the maximum incline of the red route and is even more difficult. MTB equipment is mandatory. Situational, anticipatory biking is required.
The following signs point the right way to the official cycle trails and MTB routes (wide forest roads, Alpine pasture and supply roads) and help you find your way. Whether or not a trail is safe is a matter of individual discretion. Ride at your own risk.
Please note that the information provided regarding safety in the mountains is a recommendation only on behalf of Tourismusverband Wilder Kaiser. All information is subject to change without notice.