I have been living in Switzerland for 15 yrs. now (transplanted from the US) and enjoy riding the Swiss passes and Jura Mts.. Where else can you experience a great view, excellent roads (thanks to our $$$road taxes), a wide range of geography (the first place I saw "palm trees"!) and general Swiss effeciency and high standards adding to an overall fantastic cycling experience. OK, maybe I am a bit biased ... but not far off!
I have a collection of detailed bike maps, etc. to help plan my trips but have recently come across an item that could replace the majority of my maps, etc.! You could order this one item and be ready to plan your next tour to the swiss alpine passes.
I purchased an interactive CD entitled "Velo - Explorer, Schweizser Alpenpasse". It runs on any OS (Mac or PC) using your browser and the CD is in English, German, and French. You will find photos, video clips (tracking a biker descending the passes), and statistics galore on 45 of the major Swiss Alpine (road) passes. Stats include: times, location of food, doctors, etc., road & traffic conditions, suggestions of which direction to start from, surrounding views, and MUCH, MUCH more. You can get a break down of each individual pass with altitude charts, graphs, etc.. or they offer suggestions for "loops" where you begin and finish at one point giving a breakdown of times total elevation gain, etc..
You can print out the road maps and other helpful information to take along on the ride.
(side hint: I print them out on a colour printer and then spray them with "Johnson's Water sealer" which is in a spray can. It can be found in most hardware or do-it-yourself stores - being used on stone and bricks. It dries clear on the paper, doesn't crack, and makes it TOTALLY waterproof.)
I was not paid to give this promo - just thrilled to share a very helpful tool in planning my trips. I put to use right away and the other week made a loop across 3 passes over 2000meters (Susten - Grimsel - Furka passes) in Central Switzerland. The CD was great in knowing where to start the ride and what to expect.
And if your looking for affordable places to stay in Switzerland (which there actually ARE a few <g>), check out:
You can get some good prices and great off the tourist path gems for staying.
My next stop is to spend a few days hitting the passes in the SE end of Switzerland (over into Italy).
- Tim S.
ps.- and for the mountain bikers the author (professional cyclist himself) of the above mentioned CD has several similar CDs devoted entirely to mountain biking in the Alps.
I forgot to add another feature of the CD (as if I haven't said enough already...).
You can create your own tours while viewing a running total of mileage for your planned ride.
Also, I left out Italian as another language choice on the CD.
IF you plan a ride on the Swiss passes, I would suggest going between the middle of June - First week of July or last 2 weeks of August. Why? You miss the cold temperatures and avoid school holiday time which creates terrible tourist traffic in Switzerland from all over Europe.
When we road the last week in August, at 2000-2500 meters, the sun was hot, the air was VERY dry, and the breeze was cooool <bg>! The water in the bladder on my rucksack was cooler (after crossing the first pass) than when I started our ride at 6:40am, even though we were quite warm the whole ride. We couldn't have asked for nicer weather. If you go too early in May you may hit some ice on the road from the many springs and waterfalls along some of the passes or even snow at the tops. Swiss schools return around Aug. 13-15 and you will find a great selection of wild flowers and lots of butterflies on your rides at this time of year!
- Tim S.
(LOVING my new Titanium "Douglas" road bike from Colorado Cyclist!- well worth the 3 yr. wait to save up ...)