Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

10-day tour in Switzerland suggestions

Notices
Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

10-day tour in Switzerland suggestions

Old 03-28-16, 09:01 AM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
alan s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 6,977
Liked 191 Times in 130 Posts
10-day tour in Switzerland suggestions

Planning a summer trip, and thought it would be fun to catch a late stage of the Tour de France in Switzerland, combined with a week or so ride before or after. Looking at 50-60 mile days, intend to camp for the most part, and would really like to experience some mountain passes, river valleys, towns and off the beaten path places. A mix of everything, if possible. I'll be riding a World Troller with 26 x 2 tires, so any terrain short of single track would be possible.

Initial thoughts are to start in Geneva, see Stage 17 or 19 of the TdF, which would be fairly close by, and then ride the Rhone Valley, cross over Grimselpass, up to Bern (visit cousin who lives there), and then back to Geneva. Or do a reverse loop with the race at the end of the trip.

Found the Switzerland Mobility site, which has lots of maps and information, but not finding much about camping. Is there a good resource for camping sites? Home Schweiz Mobil - Schweiz Mobil

Any suggestions on the route or other ideas would be greatly appreciated. Also, what is the best way to get there from the US, in terms of cost and time? Fly direct to Geneva or some other city and take a train there? I'm pretty flexible on the route and the only fixed dates would correspond to the dates of the race stages (July 20 or 22).

And one final question, any suggestions for seeing a TdF mountain stage? My thought is to ride up the day before, camp on the roadside, wait for the race to pass and ride back down. Does that sound reasonable?
alan s is offline  
Old 03-28-16, 09:05 AM
  #2  
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 43,595

Bikes: 8

Liked 1,361 Times in 867 Posts
A friend used the Post Bus system to get to the summit of places then coasted down hills ..
fietsbob is offline  
Old 03-28-16, 03:15 PM
  #3  
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 2,025
Liked 123 Times in 91 Posts
My favorite day of riding in Switzerland was up the Grosse Scheidegg, a pass connecting Grindelwald to Meiringen in the canton of Bern. From Grindelwald, you climb with the stunning Eiger peak looming above. In eastern Switzerland, the Julier Pass had a stark beauty. In northern Switzerland, the canton of Appenzell has lovely bucolic scenery and little traffic. In SW Switzerland, the ride from Visp up to Zermatt is nice, with the Matterhorn your reward at the end. It's a dead-end road so you have to turn around and go back down to Visp.

There are plenty of campgrounds throughout the country. It's easy to find Swiss campground info online. Try again.
axolotl is online now  
Old 03-28-16, 03:56 PM
  #4  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
alan s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 6,977
Liked 191 Times in 130 Posts
Originally Posted by axolotl
My favorite day of riding in Switzerland was up the Grosse Scheidegg, a pass connecting Grindelwald to Meiringen in the canton of Bern. From Grindelwald, you climb with the stunning Eiger peak looming above. In eastern Switzerland, the Julier Pass had a stark beauty. In northern Switzerland, the canton of Appenzell has lovely bucolic scenery and little traffic. In SW Switzerland, the ride from Visp up to Zermatt is nice, with the Matterhorn your reward at the end. It's a dead-end road so you have to turn around and go back down to Visp.

There are plenty of campgrounds throughout the country. It's easy to find Swiss campground info online. Try again.
Those are great suggestions, especially the Grindelwald to Meiringen route. It's really hard to tell that's even a route until you zoom way in on Google Maps. Probably won't have time for the dead ends like Zermatt. 22 miles of climbing sounds tough, only to have to ride back down. Maybe a bus up and ride down would work. Got me thinking now.

After looking at the timing of trying to hit a TdF stage, my most likely route will be clockwise Geneva-Bern-Interlaken-Grimselpass-Rhone Valley and see Stage 19 finishing on Le Bettex, with a couple days to get back to Geneva.
alan s is offline  
Old 03-28-16, 04:11 PM
  #5  
Bike touring webrarian
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 2,077

Bikes: I tour on a Waterford Adventurecycle. It is a fabulous touring bike.

Liked 98 Times in 55 Posts
There is a Swiss cycling map that has all the longer Swiss cycling routes on it. Even though I had a 2 volume road map, the best one for biking was the cycling map and it is the only one I'd use if I went back to Switzerland.

The Swiss national cycling routes are, for the most part, very good and well signed. Follow them if you can.

I did a 12 day loop in Switzerland (journal here) and found it to be a wonderful place to tour by bicycle. However, don't assume that you can ride over a pass just because there is a road and "how hard can it be?" They have some very steep, long passes in Switzerland. On one of them, I decided it would be best to get off my bike and walk a bit. But, the road was so steep that I couldn't walk effectively because the cleat on the bottoms of my shoes caused me to slip as I was pushing my bike up the incline.

The Swiss train system is very good and you can almost always get a train to the top of the pass or nearly so. After 2 very hard days climbing, some on very loose gravel, I took the train from Interlaken to Gstaad and started biking from there. I felt no shame!

Here are my concluding thoughts on that trip.
raybo is offline  
Old 03-28-16, 05:11 PM
  #6  
Banned.
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 2,077
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Low gears!!
Squeezebox is offline  
Old 03-28-16, 06:21 PM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 6,503
Liked 858 Times in 443 Posts
Originally Posted by alan s
Those are great suggestions, especially the Grindelwald to Meiringen route. It's really hard to tell that's even a route until you zoom way in on Google Maps. Probably won't have time for the dead ends like Zermatt. 22 miles of climbing sounds tough, only to have to ride back down. Maybe a bus up and ride down would work. Got me thinking now.

After looking at the timing of trying to hit a TdF stage, my most likely route will be clockwise Geneva-Bern-Interlaken-Grimselpass-Rhone Valley and see Stage 19 finishing on Le Bettex, with a couple days to get back to Geneva.
Take the train. My wife and I took the train from Nidau to Grindelwald. Actually, we took 3 trains, but it is possible to get there by train.

We locked our bikes to this fence, left before daylight, walking the 5 km into the train station, and did not get back until after dark.

I'll second or third the desirability of low gearing.




Last edited by Doug64; 03-28-16 at 06:27 PM.
Doug64 is offline  
Old 03-28-16, 10:04 PM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3,150

Bikes: 2013 Surly Disc Trucker, 2004 Novara Randonee , old fixie , etc

Likes: 0
Liked 49 Times in 43 Posts
Originally Posted by alan s
Planning a summer trip, and thought it would be fun to catch a late stage of the Tour de France in Switzerland, combined with a week or so ride before or after.
Any suggestions on the route or other ideas would be greatly appreciated. Also, what is the best way to get there from the US, in terms of cost and time? Fly direct to Geneva or some other city and take a train there? I'm pretty flexible on the route and the only fixed dates would correspond to the dates of the race stages (July 20 or 22).

And one final question, any suggestions for seeing a TdF mountain stage? My thought is to ride up the day before, camp on the roadside, wait for the race to pass and ride back down. Does that sound reasonable?
Sounds like a great trip, but I'm wondering if 1 day previous to Tour is enough to get a decent camping spot vs legions of the Euro fans? Anyway a bike makes it easier to get thru clogged traffic to see the racing.
DropBarFan is offline  
Old 03-29-16, 07:02 AM
  #9  
djb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Montreal Canada
Posts: 13,335
Liked 1,009 Times in 828 Posts
I haven't biked in Switzerland but have been a few times, so just wanted to give you a heads up on the high cost of stuff, food and other regular items, clothes, you name it.
At least try to get an idea of some costs beforehand so you can adjust your budget to what the reality of daily expenses will be. I've travelled in France a number of times and CH is quite a bit more expensive than France, so be aware.
Sounds like a fun trip, I imagine the Swiss roadside fans will not be like the crazies we see on the tele, will be a neat experience to see the fleeting "woosh" of the peleton in real life. Fleeting being the operative word.
djb is offline  
Old 03-29-16, 08:29 AM
  #10  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
alan s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 6,977
Liked 191 Times in 130 Posts
Originally Posted by raybo
There is a Swiss cycling map that has all the longer Swiss cycling routes on it. Even though I had a 2 volume road map, the best one for biking was the cycling map and it is the only one I'd use if I went back to Switzerland.

The Swiss national cycling routes are, for the most part, very good and well signed. Follow them if you can.

I did a 12 day loop in Switzerland (journal here) and found it to be a wonderful place to tour by bicycle. However, don't assume that you can ride over a pass just because there is a road and "how hard can it be?" They have some very steep, long passes in Switzerland. On one of them, I decided it would be best to get off my bike and walk a bit. But, the road was so steep that I couldn't walk effectively because the cleat on the bottoms of my shoes caused me to slip as I was pushing my bike up the incline.

The Swiss train system is very good and you can almost always get a train to the top of the pass or nearly so. After 2 very hard days climbing, some on very loose gravel, I took the train from Interlaken to Gstaad and started biking from there. I felt no shame!

Here are my concluding thoughts on that trip.
This is great. Thanks for taking the time to document your trip. You sure covered a lot of ground. Maybe I need to set more ambitious goals. As it is now, most of my days are 40-50 miles. I'll need to at least come up with some longer options should the legs and weather cooperate.

Originally Posted by Squeezebox
Low gears!!
Originally Posted by Doug64
Take the train. My wife and I took the train from Nidau to Grindelwald. Actually, we took 3 trains, but it is possible to get there by train.

We locked our bikes to this fence, left before daylight, walking the 5 km into the train station, and did not get back until after dark.

I'll second or third the desirability of low gearing.
Your pictures are inspiring. I'll have 16 g.i. as my low gear, so hopefully that will be sufficient. If not, walking and trains will play a larger role.

Originally Posted by DropBarFan
Sounds like a great trip, but I'm wondering if 1 day previous to Tour is enough to get a decent camping spot vs legions of the Euro fans? Anyway a bike makes it easier to get thru clogged traffic to see the racing.
Hopefully someone who has done this will share their experience, but I don't expect it to be easy to get around or spend the night on the roadside.

Originally Posted by djb
I haven't biked in Switzerland but have been a few times, so just wanted to give you a heads up on the high cost of stuff, food and other regular items, clothes, you name it.
At least try to get an idea of some costs beforehand so you can adjust your budget to what the reality of daily expenses will be. I've travelled in France a number of times and CH is quite a bit more expensive than France, so be aware.
Sounds like a fun trip, I imagine the Swiss roadside fans will not be like the crazies we see on the tele, will be a neat experience to see the fleeting "woosh" of the peleton in real life. Fleeting being the operative word.
I'll be buying food at stores for the most part, and expect to pay some for camping, but the greatest cost is just getting there. Last time I was in Europe a couple years ago, it was shocking how much things cost, but it's vacation, so just a matter of setting realistic expectations. I'll be on a mountain stage for the TdF, so hopefully it will be a little stretched out on the final climb, rather than 200 riders passing in 10 seconds.
alan s is offline  
Old 03-29-16, 12:47 PM
  #11  
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 6,503
Liked 858 Times in 443 Posts
Originally Posted by alan s
Hopefully someone who has done this will share their experience, but I don't expect it to be easy to get around or spend the night on the roadside.
While not lucky enough to see a mountain stage we did see the 2011 finish on the Champs-Elysées. We scouted the finish line earlier in the week, and developed a strategy. On the day of the finish we were sitting as close as we could get to the finish line, and were pretty much alone for a couple of hours. It was worth the wait.

This was one of those cases where careful pre-planning worked well (re: planning thread). I needed to be in Paris to get some follow up work done on a relatively recent eye surgery. It was either cut our tour short and head home to get the work done, or arrange to have it done somewhere along our route. My doctor arranged with a doctor in Paris to do the follow-up. We scheduled it for the same week as the finish of the Tour de France. Catching the end of the tour went without a hitch, but my eye saga is a long story in itself. However, it all turned out OK, and the woman who owned the apartment we were staying at let us stay free for a couple more days because of my eye

It is worth the effort to see that class of cycling, and the extravaganza that accompanies the Tour.

Have fun!

Waiting at the finish line before the crowds showed up.

Ringside seat!
Doug64 is offline  
Old 03-29-16, 06:51 PM
  #12  
Macro Geek
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 1,362

Bikes: True North tourer (www.truenorthcycles.com), 2004; Miyata 1000, 1985

Liked 12 Times in 7 Posts
I third (or fourth?) the motion: Opt for the tiniest gear your bike can accommodate! You will not regret it if you find yourself climbing a significant mountain pass.

I biked from Zurich to Milan via Gottardpass. I had no problems cycling in the foothills, but the climb to Gottard was intense and brutal: almost two days of unrelenting climbing at altitude.

If you climb big passes, my suggestion is to take a break every couple of days. Give your body time to acclimatize to the altitudes, and to the rigours of this type of touring. On my trip, I didn't allow enough rest days, and paid for it. By Day 3 in the high mountains, my legs refused to deliver power to the pedals. I needed four days of rest for my legs to begin to recover.
acantor is offline  
Old 03-29-16, 07:25 PM
  #13  
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 2,025
Liked 123 Times in 91 Posts
FWIW, I once saw the TdF in the French Alps, practically by accident. To be honest, I have little interest in the Tour and I hadn't been paying attention to it. I discovered the night before I biked over the Col d'Allos that I would be going right into the next day's Tour stage during my descent. I crossed the pass early in the day, descended down to where the Tour would be coming up the valley and waited for the peleton while I ate a picnic lunch on a hillside. My descent was already closed to cars, but the police let me ride on the Tour route because the riders (who would be coming in the other direction) were still a long ways away. I must have been told 100 times by bystanders that I was going the wrong way.

I found the whole event to be a giant circus, with a seemingly endless number of advertising vehicles with annoying loudspeakers preceding the riders. The peloton passed by in seconds. The whoosh of air in its wake was the most memorable and impressive part, along with the constant stream of traffic when I biked away from the route afterwards---though I initially had about an hour of zero traffic because cars had parked on both sides of the mountain road intersecting with the Tour route and nobody could move (except for me) until the 1st car moved.

If I ever find myself about to intersect with the Tour again, I'll probably go out of my way to avoid it! But that's just me.
axolotl is online now  
Old 03-29-16, 10:15 PM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3,150

Bikes: 2013 Surly Disc Trucker, 2004 Novara Randonee , old fixie , etc

Likes: 0
Liked 49 Times in 43 Posts
Originally Posted by Doug64
While not lucky enough to see a mountain stage we did see the 2011 finish on the Champs-Elysées. We scouted the finish line earlier in the week, and developed a strategy. On the day of the finish we were sitting as close as we could get to the finish line, and were pretty much alone for a couple of hours. It was worth the wait.

It is worth the effort to see that class of cycling, and the extravaganza that accompanies the Tour.
Nice story, for folks spectating on the final Champs-Elysées stage I guess it helps that a lot of Parisians are elsewhere on vacation. That must have been spectacular--even on TV the setting & racing look beautiful.
DropBarFan is offline  
Old 07-06-16, 07:07 AM
  #15  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
alan s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 6,977
Liked 191 Times in 130 Posts
In the final planning and preparation stages. Heading over on the 15th to Geneva, and will be in Bern for the finish of Stage 16 and then to Martigny for the finish of Stage 17. Fortunately there is a rest day for the race in Bern, which gives me time to cover the distance. Hard to believe Stage 5 is today, and I'll be there for Stage 16. The rest of the trip is planned with fairly short days, providing lots of flexibility for weather and side trips.

From Martigny, the route takes me east to Andermatt, over the pass, to Interlaken and back over the mountains to Montreaux and then along the lake to Geneva. Most of the route is on the National Routes, which should make getting around a bit easier.
alan s is offline  
Old 07-06-16, 10:56 AM
  #16  
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 43,595

Bikes: 8

Liked 1,361 Times in 867 Posts
In the 80's a Friend said He used their Post-Buses and got a Ride to the top of passes , and just did the fun parts ,
going Down , descending.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 07-06-16, 11:18 AM
  #17  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
alan s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 6,977
Liked 191 Times in 130 Posts
Originally Posted by fietsbob
In the 80's a Friend said He used their Post-Buses and got a Ride to the top of passes , and just did the fun parts ,
going Down , descending.
Skiing, sure, but bike touring? I don't think so. Climbing is part of the experience and is fun. At least that's what I'll keep telling myself.
alan s is offline  
Old 07-06-16, 09:19 PM
  #18  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3,150

Bikes: 2013 Surly Disc Trucker, 2004 Novara Randonee , old fixie , etc

Likes: 0
Liked 49 Times in 43 Posts
Originally Posted by alan s
Skiing, sure, but bike touring? I don't think so. Climbing is part of the experience and is fun. At least that's what I'll keep telling myself.
Ride up & down Arizona Ave for training. Mountain climbs can be tough but at least pretty safe. Alps will be ultimate test for the brakes i guess. On a loaded BRP mountain tour I was surprised how much the crosswinds buffeted the bike around on descents, had to brake to 40 kph despite gentle curves.
DropBarFan is offline  
Old 07-06-16, 10:03 PM
  #19  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
alan s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 6,977
Liked 191 Times in 130 Posts
Originally Posted by DropBarFan
Ride up & down Arizona Ave for training. Mountain climbs can be tough but at least pretty safe. Alps will be ultimate test for the brakes i guess. On a loaded BRP mountain tour I was surprised how much the crosswinds buffeted the bike around on descents, had to brake to 40 kph despite gentle curves.
The bike is ready to go, with a few minor tweaks. Climbing gears and disc brakes should get me up and down well enough. Hopefully the gearing is low enough that I can just get in a rhythm and spin. If not, stopping to um...admire the view and take a few pictures...will be my excuse. Here are some photos from Swains Lock at Mile 16 on the C&O Canal.







alan s is offline  
Old 07-07-16, 11:08 PM
  #20  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3,150

Bikes: 2013 Surly Disc Trucker, 2004 Novara Randonee , old fixie , etc

Likes: 0
Liked 49 Times in 43 Posts
On those climbs I would definitely walk portions even w/low gears, heh. Swiss will dig a sharp-looking US trekking bike. Only visited there once but noticed they ride nicer bikes than avg Euro countries. Once in DC saw a pair of Swiss motorcycle tourists riding their BMWs with big metal panniers adorned w/Swiss logo on the back, pretty impressive.
DropBarFan is offline  
Old 07-08-16, 07:57 PM
  #21  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Canada, PG BC
Posts: 3,849

Bikes: 27 speed ORYX with over 39,000Kms on it and another 14,000KMs with a BionX E-Assist on it

Liked 57 Times in 49 Posts
Well, first off, I wish you the best in "making" every hill/mountain without walking the bike with the "Mechanical assist/advantage" of your bikes granny gears... Tho somehow I suspect it wouldn't be as much satisfaction as doing it with a single speed... "If" you would "just" put in a little more effort and get off your fat ass and train a bit more, you possibly could do the trip on a single speed and get WWWAaaayy more satisfaction/pleasure in doing it with a single speed than a 27 speed (as everyone is using those, but they "must" lazy attitude). Certainly more BRAGGING rights anyways... Good Luck.

EDIT; Yea, I know it's amazing what "some" people will call "cheating" , and using a 27 speed isn't considered "cheating" these days but really, if you ain't using a single speed... Yous is "cheating" yourself out of the manly pursuit of doing it ALL YOURSELF without any help/assistance/of a mechanical advantage...

Last edited by 350htrr; 07-08-16 at 09:27 PM. Reason: add stuff
350htrr is offline  
Old 07-08-16, 10:33 PM
  #22  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
alan s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 6,977
Liked 191 Times in 130 Posts
Originally Posted by 350htrr
Well, first off, I wish you the best in "making" every hill/mountain without walking the bike with the "Mechanical assist/advantage" of your bikes granny gears... Tho somehow I suspect it wouldn't be as much satisfaction as doing it with a single speed... "If" you would "just" put in a little more effort and get off your fat ass and train a bit more, you possibly could do the trip on a single speed and get WWWAaaayy more satisfaction/pleasure in doing it with a single speed than a 27 speed (as everyone is using those, but they "must" lazy attitude). Certainly more BRAGGING rights anyways... Good Luck.

EDIT; Yea, I know it's amazing what "some" people will call "cheating" , and using a 27 speed isn't considered "cheating" these days but really, if you ain't using a single speed... Yous is "cheating" yourself out of the manly pursuit of doing it ALL YOURSELF without any help/assistance/of a mechanical advantage...
Thanks. Definitely not into single speed bikes, and certainly wouldn't consider using one in the Alps. This is supposed to be a bike tour, not a bike/hike tour. Still, I could see taking a train up to Zermatt and riding down as a side trip.
alan s is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Rest_assured
Touring
10
03-18-16 01:42 AM
climber7
Professional Cycling For the Fans
2
06-15-13 12:33 PM
jsigone
Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg)
1
05-07-13 01:53 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Your Privacy Choices -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.