Winter is magic. After autumn turns the trees yellow and the grass brown, the first fall of snow covers the landscape in pure white. With winter returning, so does all the fun of skiing.
But ... eventually spring reappears, the snow melts, the days gets longer, and we can enjoy crisp green fields and warm nourishing sunshine. It's wonderful to get outdoors and enjoy this season too.
It's time to swap skis for wheels. Getting on to a bike and riding past lush green paddocks, through small forests in the Zillertal, is just beautiful!
There are a lot of bike paths in the Zillertal and one of the main paths travels along the Ziller river. It is located a comfortable distance from the main road and you really get the feel of being surrounded by nature.
In some parts there's a dirt trail that is used for both walkers, runners, and bikers - hidden in the forest between the main bike path and the river. This narrow track is harder to ride as you have rocks, roots, and other natural obstacles but if you have the patience to go slow and can handle a few more bumps, it will reward you with a lush green cover very close to the river's edge.
The bike paths snake through the entire valley. They are popular with with both locals and tourists alike. The local ski-hire shops convert into to bike-hire shops as soon as the chair-lift closes. There are all types of bikes for hire - kids-bikes, grandma-bikes, mountain-bikes, and e-bikes in several styles.
E-bikes are everywhere today. There's a boom in pensioners riding chunky downhill style bike with electric assist engines. They may look like they are ready for the Tour de France and keep the local bike shops profitable (I can't help but smile everytime they ride by) but at least they are out there, getting healthy and enjoying the fresh air and the beauty of the landscape.
Along all the Zillertal rad-weg are regular rest stop spots. I would almost call some of these places luxury bike rest stops - they always have a bench or a picnic table, there is often a map of the area showing all the bike routes, and in many places you can quench your thirst and refill your water bottle with fresh alpine water.
Regardless of how long you feel like riding, or have the stamina to, you can always enjoy the Zillertal. You can do a shorter return trip from any starting point, or you can ride one way as far as you desire and get the train back. The Zillertal Bahn runs from outside the Zillertal at Jenbach to Mayrhofen and you can find find train stops in every village along the train line. Some of the bike paths does lead you away from the river and along the train track for parts of the trip, but they will lead you back to the river eventually.
You can bring your bike along on the train for the return trip, for just a few Euros extra for your bike. http://www.zillertalbahn.at/page.cfm?vpath=bahn
Winter is amazing but it doesn't slow all year round. Where ever you are in the world, enjoy the outdoors when the weather is at at its best in any season!