Uphill flow, endless trails and instagrammable serpentines winding through surreal landscapes: Every rider will find their own personal paradise at the Kronplatz and its surrounding area. Combined with its unique natural beauty and delicious Ladin cuisine, the region is much more than just the perfect testing ground for the Design & Innovation Award 2024 …
To make an accurate assessment of a product, it is not enough just to look at it and touch it. This is what distinguishes the Design & Innovation Award from all other awards. We spent 14 full days in San Vigilio at the Kronplatz in South Tyrol testing, tinkering, discussing, analysing and rigorously re-evaluating the latest products for you.
After two intense weeks, we all need some time to unwind. Some of us head for the sauna or the infinity pool, others prefer to hit the get in the saddle, where they relax with asphalt meditation, uphill flow and adrenaline kicks. Luckily we have all of this on our doorstep. One last after-work ride before packing up the tents – on the bike and into the UNESCO World Heritage Site they go.
Rich in variety
When you’re riding an eMTB like Ines and Max, the only thing that takes your breath away is the view. With the Dolomites as the backdrop and so many paths leading up, every climb here is taken to a new level. When you take the time to savour life, exchanging greetings with local farmers and stopping to enjoy the view along the way – that’s our definition of true happiness.
Once at the top, you can make a quick detour to the Messner Mountain Museum, or MMM for short. As the name suggests, the museum celebrates man’s encounter with the mountains. Messner’s passion for the mountains is reflected in every work of art there. And, of course, the view is the icing on the cake, as everywhere in this region.
Downhill! Enough cake, culture and MMM. Max and Ines race down the 8 km long, winding Herrnsteig Trail towards the valley. It’s an easy-going rollercoaster of a trail, at an altitude of 1,300 metres, suitable for almost all levels of ability. What was once a hiking path is now one of the first and longest designated trails in South Tyrol, and thanks to its numerous junctions, it can be rediscovered over and over again. Ines and Max opt for the easier option, where you can enjoy the beauty of nature without the risk of a somersault over the handlebars.
While others enjoy cruising through the countryside with an electric tailwind, the adventurous Julian decides to tackle the tarmac curves of the Dolomites. Normally a mountain biker, he also likes to switch off and let his mind wander in the saddle of a road bike.
As always, Julian’s goal is not to set the best time, but – you guessed it – to have the best time. He climbs 1,789 metres up the Furkel Pass at a relaxed cadence, soaking in the views. Just taking it easy. Once at the top, the hero shot at the golden hour is a must.
Sloped. Tears well up in Julian’s eyes on the way down. We’re not sure if he’s overwhelmed by the view or the wind: 83 km/h. He’s holding on tight. We normally find switchbacks like this at the bike park, but here they’re on the road too.
Our art director Julian (not that Julian, another Julian) wants to enjoy the gondola on our doorstep before heading back to his adopted country of Portugal. Before sunset, last minute, a quick trip up is no problem. In summer, 5 lifts take you up the 2,275 metre high Kronplatz. Again, this is unique in the Alps.
Helmet on – brakes off. Julian is rolling down the Herrnsteig’s little brother, which is every bit as fast and twisty as the main trail. Although there are no technically challenging sections here, those who dare will reach unimaginable heights on the countless tabletops. It helps to find your flow on the 120 berms, otherwise you have to pedal.
They all arrive almost at the same time at the hotel with big grins on their faces. Rowdy Julian rolls in with his hands in the air like a Tour de France stage winner, Max and Ines look like relaxed holidaymakers, and the other Julian comes back with traces of dust and stories of steep berms and great views. High-fives follow, Aperols clink. Cheers.
The Kronplatz region is not only the perfect testing ground for the Design & Innovation Award 2024 – it’s also the best place to switch off. Every trail is quickly accessible and surrounded by a breathtaking panorama. The perfect combination of sport and relaxation, uphill and downhill metres and Ladin cuisine make this place unique. We will definitely be back!
Words: Julian Lemme Photos: Peter Walker, Mike Hunger, Jan Richter