Paula Zibasa Talks Passions, Trail Building, and Making Conscious Choices

For Paula Zibasa, a Crankworx Innsbruck frequenter and passionate mountain biker across all facets of the sport, her bike is an escape. Riding some of the world’s most beautiful destinations helps to keep her feeling good physically and mentally, which is why she’s so committed to protecting our trails.

Ahead of the 2022 Crankworx World Tour kicking off in Innsbruck, Austria, Zibasa sat down with us to chat about what mountain biking means to her and how we can preserve the sport for future generations to enjoy. Her interest in biking as a little kid quickly morphed into a passion for riding as a young adult, and she wants the world to be able to experience what she holds so near and dear.

On how she first found her passion for mountain biking, Paula shared: “I’ve been biking since I was a little kid, but the passion came when I was about 15. I started to be more conscious and realised biking is my little escape from daily life, biking made me feel so good, it helped my mental health and I got to meet friends from all around the world.”

In the same respect, she continued on her growing connection to the mountain biking community: “When I was younger I wasn’t really aware or part of it, but it’s so important to me now. Especially the Innsbruck biking community, because it’s this place where everyone is welcome and comes together for community rides, trail shape sessions and “coffee come togethers” where we collect ideas to improve biking in Innsbruck.”

Photographer: Melody Sky

As a rider committed to all facets of the sport, Zibasa often partakes in Specialized Soil Searching – a movement to recognize, celebrate, and support trail builders. After attending the Shape Day ahead of Crankworx Innsbruck, we asked her to explain the experience.

“Soil Searching is so much more than supporting trail builders, it’s also a lot about supporting biking communities all around the world, organizing races to fund “One World Sustainable Livelihood” and so much more. And the Shape Day is such a fun event to keep our trails nice and clean, we bring the tools, snacks and drinks and you just have to show up. It’s a really nice way to connect with new people and find out about new riding spots, and have good pizza after all the work is done, I’d sign up for it ;)!”

On why trail builders are so vital to the mountain biking community and how we can support them, she continued: “For me, the shapers are the artists of mountain biking and there’s no better feeling than riding a good set of jumps or fine berms. But also shapers are the ones who build us trails and maintain them – without them we are hopeless and with their job comes so much knowledge and responsibility. It’s not as easy as just taking a shovel and digging a trail. I think the whole mountain bike industry can support shapers by establishing projects like Soil Searching, organizing more shape days, and riders can take a shovel in their hand and support their local trail building buddies.”

Photographer: Moritz Ablinger

As an avid nature lover and outdoor enthusiast, Paula is passionate about protecting the planet and making conscious choices that will positively impact our future. We asked for her take on how we can ensure a sustainable future in mountain biking for the next generation of riders.

“I got into sustainability and climate change when I started freeride skiing in the backcountry and realized that climate change is a huge issue in this sport. I joined “Protect our Winters Austria” and started to learn overall about climate change, sustainability, and our planet in general. It’s been quite a journey and I’m still learning. It’s important for me to share the message that we have to start treating our planet better and stop living crazily wasteful. Instead of throwing your gear away if it has a few cuts, repair it or give it to someone who can’t afford it in the local mountain biking kids club. I don’t see a need to build a bikepark on completely fresh soil and destroy the woods for that, where there are skiing pistes to reuse. There’s not this one perfect way to ensure a sustainable future, but many little actions by each one of us can make a change.”

Lastly, as we head into a rapid fire few months of Crankworx World Tour events, we asked Zibasa what some of her goals were across the 2022 season: “It’s been just five months since my ACL injury and it’s been a long recovery. Usually an ACL has fully healed after six months. I’ve had intense physiotherapy and not as much time on the bike, so I don’t really expect anything, just a good time on the bike racing with friends!”

Well Paula, you’re in luck because if anything is guaranteed at Crankworx Innsbruck, it’s a good time on your bike.