Place: Sauze d’Oulx
Number of trails: 16
Predominant riding style: All-mountain/trail
Sauze d’Oulx is part of a development group of Italian mountain bike resorts known as The Alpi Bike Resort. There are 7 other resorts within the group but Sauze claims the best trails and infrastructure.
Sauze has long been popular with British tourists in the winter months, at one point being one of the busiest resorts in the Alps. The summer, however, is a different case as the town reverts to quiet mountain village status; the majority of the lifts close and the slopes turn back to meadows. There is, of course, evidence of the bustling ski season with some high-rise accommodation but the town remains pleasant with plenty of trees and grass to keep it feeling like a mountainside community. The old town section is also very pretty.
In recent years the town has seen the potential for mountain biking and has taken the initiative not only to build a network of fantastic trails but also to host one of the most prestigious and important events on the enduro racing calendar – the Enduro des Nations. This event and several features in high-profile magazines has boosted summer tourism, although it still remains peaceful with a relaxed air to the town.
Being Italy, restaurants are abundant and the food is quality and always plentiful. A reason to visit in itself.
The trail network in Sauze mostly revolves around the terrain on offer underneath the two lifts that function during the summer months. These are both chairlifts, the Prariond-Sportinia and the Rocce Nere.
The chairlifts are fast and take you to an ultimate altitude of over 2500metres, although the majority of the trails are accessed from the lower Sportinia lift. From the summit views stretch seriously far, it’s a great place to start a ride.
Trails are mostly of a flowing nature with the hillside being a much mellower gradient than that of some French resorts and the natural features of the mountain are used well with rises, crests and fades making the ‘rollercoaster’ sensation that much more fun. There are berms where absolutely necessary and the odd jump thrown in along the way but the trails, although purpose-built, really do retain the ride character of natural trails.
Rocks are present but not overly abundant, tree roots feature on some of the more challenging trails and open sections send you flying down ribbons of narrow trail through the long grass. There is one ride that is completely the opposite of those previously described though, which consists solely of jumps, berms and wooden stunts, just to keep things interesting.
Still relatively ‘undiscovered’, another bonus to riding in Sauze is the lack of traffic with the trail conditions certainly benefiting. Braking bumps are non-existent in Sauze, so too lift queues.
This really is one of the best Alpine riding spots for those with a penchant for flow and definitely for riders with bikes at around the 160mm suspension travel mark.
How to get there
Fly to Torino and take a train to Oulx train station at the foot of the mountain – it’s a ten-minute taxi ride from there.
More information (including accommodation, trail maps etc.): Sauze d’Oulx mountain biking