The Biketrail Maker
Start-up power on the Carezza Trail
Philipp Erschbaumer is a passionate mountain biker, as can be seen in his brown eyes whenever he talks about his favourite pastime. And since a pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled, he has set his black curly-haired head the task of redesigning his home up in the mountains for anyone and everyone to enjoy a unique mountain biking experience: he builds bike trails. Together with Paul Jakomet, this young man from Nova Levante in 2016 set up the company T&B Factory, which stands for “Trailbuilding & Bikesolutions”.
Why bike parks?
“Even as a child I was constantly looking for new challenges with my MTB, but the natural trails could no longer meet the needs of the local MTB scene,” he recalls. In his opinion this is why it is nowadays increasingly necessary to build artificial trails for mountain bikers – even though the mountains actually represent a giant natural MTB trail. But there is another reason, arguably the key point of the demand: “There are plenty of newcomers who need safe terrain to practise on before setting out into the wild – and even experienced bikers will want to be on safe ground to improve their riding skills”. So a bike park is a sort of gymnasium for cyclists!
The beginnings of T&B Factory
Sometimes the timing is just right, as it was actually quite a coincidence that Philipp offered to plan and realise a trail in Carezza; a bike trail was long a topic of discussion here during the building of the Nova Levante cable car! So this young entrepreneur was in the right place at the right time – and with absolutely the right idea, i.e. to offer each mountain biker a safe and secure bike adventure so they will not just set off and become a hazard in the mountains, but rather try out the terrain first – or give those who want to try something new a challenge between pumptrack and jumpline. When the lift company and the local authority gave the go-ahead for the construction of the bike trail in 2014, Philipp’s dream came true: he founded T&B Factory and built his first bike trail. “I was really happy because I had long dreamed of a bike trail on my doorstep! That’s why I seized the opportunity and founded a company based on my own passion”, recalls Philipp as if it was all just yesterday. “Three friends helped me out with the start-up at the time... Paul was still a managing director in Carezza.”
“We wanted this project to show that mountain biking is not an aggressive sport, but that fun and give-and-take are the most important aspects.” And that is exactly what Philipp, who is responsible for the ideas and their realisation and Paul, who now takes care of the business side, have done. Philipp is particularly pleased that a solid bike scene has started up among the younger generation around Nova Levante. “The Carezza Trail has allowed us to make a valuable contribution to youth work”, he beams.
When a vocation becomes a profession
When we ask the 29-year-old about his hobbies, he simply laughs: “I spend every free moment on my bike!” This is of course not meant literally as, in addition to mountain biking, he also likes climbing and realising new projects and ideas. “We now have a fairly well-equipped workshop where we can do just about everything. At the moment we are trying to expand into areas that are not directly related to biking. I would like to work in the field of prototype building, mould-making and furniture design. In principle I always try to turn my hobbies into work. It is extremely important for me to enjoy doing what I do.” Combining his profession with his vocation – that is Philipp’s recipe for happiness!
Meanwhile there is now a T&B trail and a training park in Selva di Val Gardena up in the Val Gardena, while back at home in the Val d’Ega Philipp is also active in every aspect of mountain biking: along with his partner, he has designed the training parks in Nova Ponente, Obereggen and Carezza. “Demand is increasing because more and more people want to discover the mountains of South Tyrol and above all explore the Dolomites by mountain bike! So professional-quality infrastructures are of course a great advantage.”
From planning to park
How does a trailpark actually come about? “Every project is based on a local survey. Once we get to know and have an idea of the terrain, we can start planning. This step also involves detailed feasibility studies, master plans, then preliminary and execution projects. Once the planning is completed and the project is approved by everyone involved, we can start to realise it on the ground – co-ordinating and supervising the site from the first shovelful to the very first test ride. During the building phase we can always provide realistic images – renderings – so that the bike park can be promoted as soon as possible, which is of course very important for any visitor destination! And yes, when all is ready for riding, we are also responsible for its upkeep.” But that’s not all, Philipp continues: T&B Factory not only builds bike parks, but the two partners have also put their knowledge and passion to other uses. “As we know the exact requirements and wishes of the target group, we also get asked to develop entire models for the development of mountain-bike destinations – all very individual and localised, of course. Who knows better what a mountain biker wants than another mountain biker!”
The Carezza Trail in detail:
The Carezza Trail starts at the top station of the Nova Levante cable car at an altitude of 1,650 metres, with the rocky cliffs of the Dolomites soaring directly above. The Carezza Trail, Philipp’s pioneering project, has a length of 4.5 kilometres and ends just above the village centre of Nova Levante. “We designed the Carezza Trail so that every mountain biker can get something from the track while leaving the natural world unspoilt – regardless of their riding style!” Young and old, experts, skilled riders and beginners, as well as ever more families are all delighted with the bike trail: it is now the meeting point for the Val d’Ega’s MTB scene and a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike!
Planning new routes, testing new bikes, discovering new valleys and mountain trails – these are Manuel’s true passions! His bike is almost always on his mind – not just when he works as a Content Scout at clicktext, the South Tyrolean agency for corporate content...