It's the first document ever to have been posted on the Trento Bike Pages, on October 7 1994
I live in Trento, a small (100000 inhabitants) town in the North-East of Italy. Trento lies in the Trentino province, which in turn lies in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region. The other province, Alto Adige/Südtirol, is a mainly German speaking area, so place names there are always given in Italian and German.
The region lies completely in the Alps. 2000m (6560ft) high mountains are within easy reach from Trento itself. In the region, there are many mountains beyond 3000m (9840ft), among the highest in Europe. Because of this, a standard trip for local bikers involves what I would call a substantial uphill part. Most of the mountain bikers I know consider a 1200-1300m (about 4000ft) height difference a reasonable one for a single trip.
There is an extensive network of "strade forestali" (= forest roads, I guess you would call them multi-tracks), some 4700km (2920mi) in Trentino alone, and I guess even more in Alto Adige/Südtirol. This on a total area (Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol) of 13613sq km (5265sq mi). Forest roads are well maintained and normally pleasant to ride, with good gravel road-bed and reasonable steepness, no more than 10% for most of the time, say. There are also plenty of single tracks, but here the steepness, and the roughness of the surface, can easily beat most of us. The landscape is Alpine: forests, lakes, meadows, etc., and if it is The Rocks you like, well, the Dolomites are here. The scenery is very beautiful (I may be biased here, but not much). If you think, like Jay Orendorff, that "the best part about mountain biking is not the gear, speed, or 'big air' but the feelings of solitaryness and introspection that can be achieved on those 'epic/mystic' rides", there is great stuff for you here.
There are a number of reasonably nice trips you can do starting from the town, but for many of the best trips you need to do some driving first. Another option is taking a train. The Italian Railways routinely add carriages for bikes on most local trains. Bikes are also allowed on some of the many cableways here. A good way to gain a free downhill ride.
Especially in Alto Adige/Südtirol, on many excursions you will find a number of small eating places along the way. So even if you're out for The Great Performance, it is not easy to resist the temptation of a Knoedelsuppe or a Speckbrot or a Kaiserschmarrn (this I probably misspelled); however, I do not think these items will ever enter in a serious discussion about proper nutrition for mountain bikers.
The standard reference for mountain biking in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol is provided by the two books by the Margoni Brothers, "Trentino in mountain bike" (also available in German) and "Escursioni in mountain bike". Well-researched, very informative works, with an ample choice of trips for every taste. The standard maps hikers and bikers use here are the Kompass ones, 1:50000 or 1:35000. There are some small booklets issued by local mountain biking clubs, especially in Alto Adige/Südtirol, available for free at Tourist Information places. They are quite useful, because of the local knowledge involved.
A word about biking etiquette here. Currently there are no restrictions to cycling on forest roads or single tracks. However, most of us considerate mountain bikers here are quite aware of the fact that this may change if people, especially hikers, start perceiving us as dangerous or simply annoying. Therefore when I meet a hiker, I always slow down (except when going uphill, of course: I'm definitely not a fast climber), make myself noticed as discretely as possible (no yelling "Make Way!"), and greet the hikers with a "Buongiorno/Gruessgott". When I'm on single tracks, I do not hesitate to stop or even get off the bike, when there's even the slightest problem in negotiating the way. Actually, I find most hikers here are quite ready to make way for bikers without you even asking, and I thank them profusely in these cases. Also, I find many people are fascinated by what you can do and where you can get with a mountain bike, and I'm always quite willing to have a chat with this kind of guys. Well, I'm always quite willing to have a chat with anybody (as you can judge by the length of this message); in this instance there is also a propaganda bonus attached.
Finally, my Department might set up a WWW server in the near future. When this happens, I may be willing to add some pages on "Mountain Biking in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol". (Added in February 1995: This actually developed into these Trento Bike Pages.)
Wishing you all a nice ride,