Switzerland, 2019

Switzerland is considered to be one of the cycle-friendly countries and of course amongst the most scenic ones as well. There are more than 12,000km of standardised, signposted cycling routes throughout Switzerland. The many attractive paths along river banks and lake shores, with only minor uphill sections, are a special highlight. Such superb roads, unspoilt scenery make Switzerland a paradise for devotees of road cycling.

This swiss cycling expedition saw 4 cyclists from one of the world’s largest cycling groups – Mumbai Cycling Enthusiasts from Mumbai, India, ride through the country in a complete circle, starting and ending in Zurich. The riders rode across 14 days plus rest days in Geneva and Interlaken – A total of 921 kms.

The route saw us riding through countless swiss villages, towns and major cities, passing through spectacular routes across lakes, mountains, fields and small country roads as well.
We also rode through the famed Valais region climbs from Sion to Oberwald over 4 days.

The riders are Chetan Shah, Paresh Shah, Dr. Kunal Sehgal and Paresh Savla.

 


Zurich to Basel

On 10th May 2019, Myself and Paresh Shah started this expedition from Zurich on a particularly cold (8 deg C) and rainy day. Soon we saw the swiss way of cycling when within 500 mtrs of leaving hotel, we took a levely river trail that takes us riding well outside the city. Completely away from traffic, we couldn’t believe the start we got. The river trail was a absolute beauty of a bike path.

Amazingly the road took us through villages, fields, country roads, river side trails and amazing medley of scenery. We rode through countless yellow mustard fields and farms, cows with bells tingling all the time then became a regular feature of our daily rides. The quaint dark chocolate coloured swiss houses are a awesome sight.

Zurich to Basel – Ride in pics

We took a stop at a swiss village café for lunch and coffee. Then this became a daily stop to look forward to. We saw that every swiss café serves coffee with a biscotti or chocolate savoury. The ride today had its share of steep and formidable climbs.

The final ride in to Basel saw us riding with rains again.


Basel to Biel

Another Switzerland special. Riding through spectacular mountains, valleys, river trails and a lot of riding through fields and rail trail roads. In fact within no time of leaving the hotel, the cyclist only trail goes right next to the rail lines for about 2 hours. Such planning for cyclist safety and pleasure.

This led to spectacular cyclist paths through villages, lush green valleys. Not to mention lot of climbing – Remember we had bikes with luggage !

The ride through fields saw massive headwinds. Cycling became a effort then towards the last 1 hour, we got rains with cold winds when approaching Biel.

Basel to Biel – Ride in pics.


Biel to Bern.

This is a very short ride as bern is just 37 kms from biele. We left late at about 9 am after breakfast. The temperature was about 8-10 deg C and quite cold throughout the ride.

Again within minutes, we entered small village roads, fields and country roads. A mandatory stop for coffee at a small village. Some of the mountain roads were very steep climbs. The countryside road is also dotted with typically beautiful Swiss style long roof house.

Soon we entered bern amidst rains. Spent the rest of the day walking through the UNESCO heritage city square. This was a lovely experience, walking this part of bern and reading about the history of the place. We also had enough time to see the Einstein Museum.

Biel to Bern ride in pics


Bern to Lausanne 114 kms

We started early today in bitter cold at 6 degrees temp and lot of wind.so fleece cycling suits and full winter apparel. Again our ride went through lot of villages, country roads. In fact for over an hour, we rode on a lakeside gravel trail. Mesmerising experience. Now that we are riding here, we could really appreciate and look in awe at how Switzerland has managed to plan thousands of kms of dedicated paths in such a small country.

By the way, We climbed a lot today. Over 1100 meters. Quite tough in these weather conditions.

This is our 4th city. In 4 days, our cyclist paths never crossed the high speed express ways even once. What planning for cyclists. We can only learn and wish this gets replicated back home. All vehicles including trams stop for cyclists at junctions. Truly a dream for riders from Mumbai.

Lausanne has a incredible lake, a Olympic museum and other highlights.

Bern to Lausanne – Ride in pics


Lausanne to Geneva – 63 kms

We start riding on mesmerising lakeside cycling paths and small roads hugging the lake Lausanne for most of the route. Coffee stop at the lovely town of Nyon in a café overlooking the lake. Mostly flat roads today.

we noticed that Geneva airport has a cycling path starting right outside the airport doors. So, a cyclist can land and assemble a bike at the airport and start riding!

Lausanne to Geneva ride in pics


Geneva to Montreux – 100 kms

In our rest day at Geneva yesterday, we got a chance to explore the city. 2 more riders Dr. Kunal Sehgal and Paresh Savla joined us from Geneva for the rest of this expedition. Today was another awesome ride to montreux. The entire route goes right next to lake Geneva and then on a gravel trail hugging lake Lausanne.

The cyclist rides on lakeside paths, forest like trails and more. The opposite side of the lake are the majestic snow clad alps all through our ride today.

The climb to our apartment in Montreux was a killer at the end of our 100 kms ride. It came at the fag end of the day and completely shocked us with climb grades of over 15% at some points.

Geneva to Montreux ride in pics.


Montreux to Sion 80 kms

We started riding on the cycling path on the lovely lake montreux in the morning. Then our route took a small cycling trail along the rhone river. With snow capped alps all around, lovely music from my bike mounted phone and superb weather, we were in no hurry to finish the ride.

Coffee in a village coffee, lunch later in another small place in a quaint village, we were riding at a slow pace to ensure that the ride does not end soon.

Then we rode through grape fields and later through strawberry fields. Looking at such lovely. Fruits, we stopped at a strawberry farm to buy them. The farm owner last pointed us to a shack where fresh produce and juices are kept with prices mentioned. You pick what u like and put the payment in a cash box. Such trust and simplicity.

We ate as many strawberries as we could and drank a whole bottle of apple juice. Such simple but lovely memories of today’s ride.

The rhone river trail and the ride through fields was the highlight of the day’s ride.

Montreux to Sion – ride in pics


Sion to crans Montana, the skiing resort.

Almost impossible climbs today. We climbed some of the steepest climbs I have done till date. The Swiss alps are now much nearer and more beautiful. Again stop at a lovely village restaurant for lunch.

The initial 10 kms from sion was flat road along the river rhone. Then the deadly climbs begin. The climb grades were between 8-20%. After climbing for 3-4 hours, We came to our lovely wood and stone panelled resort. Luckily it had a hot water tub ):-

Phew. Done. Another day of climbing awaits us tomorrow.

Sion to Crans Montana – ride in pics


Crans Montana to leukerbad – 36 kms

A visual masterpiece. These regions are part of the valais region in Switzerland. A lot of wineyards on the way. Initially we descended from sion to sierre and then began the ascent to leukerbad.

Snow capped rock-faced mountains, lush green surroundings and quaint villages line the entire road up to the town of leukerbad. The town seemed heavenly with such surroundings. The climb was moderately tough. But the beauty of the place made us forget the climbs. This place is famous of its hot water baths.

The ride unfortunately did get over – with lovely memories of the journey. We ended this ride with a lovely dinner at a Italian restaurant and a walk through the town. In may, the number of tourists are so sparse and the whole town was left for us to explore at our will.

Crans Montana to leukerbad – ride in pics


The climbs :


Leukerbad to Brig

Before the ride, we had a glorious experience in a huge thermal hot water spa in the morning. The temperature was 6 degrees and surrounded by snow capped Rocky Mountains and fog. Sitting in the hot pools with The million dollar views was an experience by itself.

Today was mostly descent down and then flat roads all the way to brig. We started riding in slight drizzle and cold weather. Soon we reached Leuk and turned in to small cyclist paths and trails and reached the small town of brig by 3 pm.

Leukerbad to brig – ride in pics


Brig to Oberwald

OMG, today’s route was all along the route of the glacier express train. Lovely, quaint villages. Greens, snow-capped alps and lovely weather. We started with a long riverside bike trail to the base of the climbs. Then We started amongst the grape farms upwards towards the village of oberwald.

This is the same route as the famous swiss glacier express train. We saw few of them passing with passengers clicking photos of the snow capped mountains and greens. We felt very lucky to be right out there and doing this route at our own pace and ofcourse stopping for souvenir pics.

After a slight drizzle, Our route became so scenic as we passed few villages with populations of under 100 and infact had a nice chat with a lady, who lived in a beautiful wodden plank built house built in 1788 with her husband and explained the region’s history to us.

We then stopped at a cheese farm store and ate some lovely cheese and snacks.

This stunning ride in the valley was probably the highlight of the whole trip. Our wooden plank hotel was so beautiful and the owners treated us so well.

Brig to Oberwald – ride in pics


Oberwald to Interlaken

The original route to Interlaken via the famed Furka pass was closed due to snow. So we had to ride back to brig and take a train to the town of spiez. Then we started riding in to Interlaken from there.

We started riding in the morning cold and had small pockets of snow on the ground at few places.

This red glacier express train matched our jersey colors and the route is of course lovely and probably the best ride on our Swiss expedition so far. So we descended down to brig and took a train to spiez.

Then the ride to Interlaken was about 15 kms all along the lake. Interlaken is, of course, swarming with tourists, INDIAN restaurants and souvenir shops.

Oberwald to Interlaken ride in pics


Interlaken sightseeing

A visit to a cheese making farm by a small family in Grindelwald was a lovely experience and great learning about cheese making. We tasted and bought cheese from the cheese farm owner lady. A long walk through Grindelwald was the icing on the cake.

Interlaken was like any other busy tourist filled city with lot of souvenir shops and local produce. A lovely evening ride through Interlaken gave a good glimpse of the beauty of the city. We took the next day to explore Jungfrau with its snow adventures and peaks.

Interlaken – Grindelwald – Jungfrau in pics


Interlaken to Lucerne

The 2nd last day of our Swiss cycling expedition, today was A cold and rainy morning, we also got some incredibly tough and long climbs on this route. But the route is very scenic with lakes and villages all along the route.

Lake Lucerne is immensely beautiful and we had a long ride across the lake cycling path. We rode the first couple of hours with incessant rains. Soon the rains gave way to a glorious sun-soaked afternoon ride in the valley. We had a lovely lunch at an Italian restaurant and then rode the afternoon through mountains and lake paths.

The last 2 hours of riding into Lucerne was again in heavy rains. We dug into our energy bars to rode on to the city of Lucerne.

As usual, We walked through the town after the ride. The historic old town and bridges followed with a nice Indian dinner.

Interlaken to Lucerne ride in pics


Lucerne to Zurich

Today we complete our Switzerland cycling expedition by riding from Lucerne to Zurich – from where we started circling the country on our bikes. We completed this incredible Switzerland cycling expedition 2019 today with this final ride from Lucerne to Zurich.

Most of the road to Zurich is dedicated cycling paths along lakes, forests, railroads and green pastures.

We rode through the country in past 17 days and saw jaw-dropping beauty in small villages, alps, lakes and also actually saw the tremendous respect for cyclist safety in practice. Cars, buses and even trams would pass us only when it is safe. Hundreds of kms of roads have separate cycling paths.

Amazing, Spellbinding experience for all of us, We ended one of the most memorable cycling trips of our lives here.

Now to pack bikes Tomorrow and get back home . . . .

Final ride – Lucerne to Zurich in pics


Zürich to Leukerbad – On Google Maps

Leukerbad back to Zürich- On Google Maps

 

Our Journey video Link

Switzerland cycling trip 2019 – Ride statistics 

Ride Day #  Date  Daily itenary  Distance (kms) 
       
  08.5.19  Land in Zurich   
  08.5.19  Assemble bikes and test ride   
1  10.5.19  zurich to basel  90 
2  11.5.19  basel to biele  97 
3  12.5.19  biele to bern  36 
4  13.5.19  basel to lausanne  114 
5  14.5.19  lausanne to geneva  63 
  15.5.19  Rest day and assemble bikes of new joining riders   
6  16.5.19  geneva to montreux  100 
7  17.5.19  monreux to sion  80 
8  18.5.19  sion to crans montana  21 
9  19.5.19  Crans montana to Leukerbad,  37 
10  20.5.19  leukerbad to brig  46 
11  21.5.19  brig to oberwald   40 
12  22.5.19  oberwald to interlaken (part train ride also)  52 
13  23.5.19  interlaken Stay  / grindelwald / Lauterbrunnen day trip and evening ride through Interlaken  10 
14  24.5.19  interlaken Stay / jangfrau day trip   
15  25.5.19  interlaken to lucerne  74 
16  26.5.19  lucerne to zurich  61 
  27.5.19  Zurich – bike packing and shopping   
  28.5.19  Fly to mumbai   
       
    Total  921 

 

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