Chapter 3: Salzkammergut Trophy: To Hell & Back

Chapter 3: Salzkammergut Trophy: To Hell & Back

At Team Ventus, we are immensely proud to share the remarkable achievement of our outstanding rider, Anna! She fearlessly conquered the challenges of the most extreme and arduous MTB race (Salzkammergut Trophy) covering 209 km with an awe-inspiring 7008 meters ascent. Anna's unwavering dedication, relentless spirit, and passion for cycling shine brightly, making her a true inspiration to us all. Her extraordinary feat is a testament to the essence of Ventus, where we encourage each other to push boundaries and embrace the spirit of winning. Congratulations Anna, on this incredible accomplishment! Your victory is a symbol of the indomitable spirit that defines Team Ventus. ✌

Read below Anna thoughts in the Ventus Rider's Diary:


200+ kilometres seems like a long ride, right? If you're a reasonably fit and ambitious road cyclist, it's a line you're bound to cross sooner or later, and you'll feel tremendously proud afterwards. A 200 kilometres (209 to be precise) is a great accomplishment indeed!

Now imagine riding all those kilometres off-road, with a heavier bike and low tire pressure. Most climbs in the double digits as far as gradients go, with conditions ranging from 10 degrees and rain in some years, to scorching heat in others. Forget recovering when you reach the top of an ascent - the downhills require full concentration and plenty of upper body work, on trails and hiking roads, over wet rocks, narrow stairs, slippery roots and ruts filled with loose dirt, or fast gravel that might throw you off the bike if you're not focused enough. All this repeated endlessly until you're in the straight line to the finish, completely drained of strength but ecstatic because you've accomplished something amazing.

Anna B in Salzkammergut Trophy, the biggest MTB race in Austria.


The Salzkammergut Trophy is the biggest MTB race in Austria. Based in the gorgeous Upper Austrian town of Bad Goisern, in an area of unique natural beauty (a UNESCO World Heritage site), this race offers something for everyone. From a kid's cup over several marathon options to the extreme distance and a large Expo area/test event, it's a celebration of all things MTB over the course of a long weekend. And from all these trials, nothing has become quite as dreaded and respected as the legendary "A" distance. The ultimate trip to Hell, with an actual Devil to chase you over the finish line and a hellish artwork of a trophy if you're lucky and tough enough to land a podium spot.

209 kilometres and an incredible 7.008 meters altitude difference
The ultimate challenge for cross country riders.

Anna B in Salzkammergut Trophy, the biggest MTB race in Austria.

Following last year's unlucky but ultimately satisfying fight for the podium over the 120+ kilometres "B" distance, I decided it was time to dream bigger. I am pretty good at going at a steady pace for hours, and I'm good at suffering. Seems like a match made in Hell, right?


Unfortunately my preparation, which went quite well until May, was interrupted by the worsening of an old injury. These things tend to happen if you demand a lot of your body. It is with a certain feeling of dread that I counted down the days to the event, knowing that I wasn't as strong as I wanted to be. I had more than enough mileage, but not the power I needed. Still, time flew by, and I traveled once again to the green hills and high mountains of Austria. There was no turning back now.


Finally the great day dawned upon us, almost 500 bikers lined up for the start at 5 a.m. and riding off to the booming riffs of Rammstein. I was feeling under the weather, having also developed mild flu symptoms during the night. I did not have a lot of power and tried to save some of it for the second half of the race. Climb after climb came at us, the field around me getting thinner after each grueling ascent and rough downhill.

Temperatures soared as the Sun rose higher. Across the dull curtain of fatigue and suffering I collected impressions - of spectators pouring or spraying cold water on passing bikers. Of incredible mountain landscapes. White hot serpentine gravel roads that seemed unending. Alpine postcards of vibrant green pastures with lazy cows enjoying their midday rest, overshadowed by massive rocky peaks.

Anna B in Salzkammergut Trophy, the biggest MTB race in Austria.

Water everywhere - dark and serene or white and furiously roaring, cascading down in narrow gorges, foaming over mighty rocks. People and their bikes, covered in dirt and grime, fighting their way towards the finish line. The various distances, which started a few hours apart, got mixed together after a while. An army of ants crawling up & down the mountainsides.

And then it was over, in a rush of relief and euphoria which pushed me to go faster during the last 20 or so KMs. I got off my bike and managed to smile, with a feeling of "what just happened"? I completed it. Got a humble second place - looking back at the struggles of the past months, and the fact that I rode unsupported, this is indeed the most I could expect of myself. I am not proud, simply glad to have made it to the end, despite all those moments of weakness and despair along the way.

Anna B in Salzkammergut Trophy, the biggest MTB race in Austria.

I now have in my possession one of the black finisher t-shirts that are unlike any other.

Because the label says SURVIVOR.

- Anna

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