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Clockwise cycled tour around Switzerland 28.Aug. until 08 Sept. 08

Day 1. Thursday, 28.08.08 Bremgarten - Kreuzlingen
Kilometre 141.89
Altitude 572
Brugg, Koblenz, Schaffhausen, Diessenhofen. Constance, Kreuzlingen.

Stein am Rhein

Keiserstuhl

Steckborn

I follow the river Reuss until Koblenz where I reach the Rhine. Koblenz is the starting point of my circumnavigation of Switzerland. On the other side of the Rhine (Germany), the road is marked on my map, which means less traffic. It turns out that the road is not only quiet but provided with bicycle paths.
The frontier ch/de runs in zigzag and I cycle through an enclave that is, the reason during that day, that I change eight times the border.
Via the Rhine falls, Schaffhausen and Stein am Rhein I arrive at Lake Constance.
I notice that many cyclists ride around the lake or only a part of it. I see a Dutch coach with a trailer loaded with bicycles. The passengers wait to take receipt of their "fiets" (bike). Surely they will take part of a Lake circumnavigation.
At the Lake, it is not difficult to find a campground and I stop at the first one in Kreuzlingen.



The Rhine Falls at Neuhausen

Diessenhofen

Day 2. Friday, 29.08.08. Kreuzlingen - Grüsch near Landquart.
Kilometre 124.37 = Total 266.26
Height 307 = Total 879
Along the Lake of Constance, St.Margrethen, Sarganz, Landquart, Grüsch.

Sandsculpture competition

A pretty village at the Lake of Constances. Arbon

From the vicinity you can see how much you work it is

Even though I am close to the lake, my tent is surprisingly dry.
Due to the high fog during this early morning it is still a bit fresh but it will soon change.
I ride along Lake Constance through pretty towns such as Romanshorn, Arbon, and Rorschach, with many half-timbered houses.
From St.Margrethen, signs guide me to the dike along the Rhine, on which I cycle about 60 Kilometre to Sargans. The first few kilometres on gravel but further on, on fine asphalt. The biking trail is perfect for roller skaters and I encounter many of them.
For a larger break in Sargans I go into the shopping centre, have lunch and go shopping. (The kitchen is open right through) In the late afternoon, I continue my trip to the campground in Grüsch (Prättigau).

Work from Hundertwasser

St. Margrethen

On the dyke through the Rhine Valley

Wooden bridge to Liechtenstein

Day 3. Saturday, 30.08.08. Grüsch - Zernez
Kilometre 74.21 = Total 340.47
Altitude 1924 = Total 2803
Klosters, Davos, Susch, Zernez.

Bridge at Klosters. not allowed for bicycles

Halfway Flüelapass

Up to Küblis, the gradient is low. The next 10 km to Klosters demand much more, 350 meters ascent through a beautiful landscape makes it very entertaining. At Serneus (shortly before Klosters) I stop for a moment to take a picture of the bridge (bypass Klosters)
From Klosters to Davos it looks more like a pass with many switchbacks. Within a 5 kilometre climb and 500 meters ascent to Wolfgang, with up to 10%, makes me sweat, not to mention my panniers of approximately 20 kilos.
From Wolfgang to Lake Davos (junction Flüelapass) it is slightly downwards.
I have a final break, much to drink with 2 magnesium tablets to 300 mg, in order to prevent cramps.
Now I start the last 14 km climb to the pass.
I focus on a nice regular pedal step and not getting down of the bike, it is important. The only exception is a small stop for a photo but not for too long, because a longer pause is not good for my legs, at least for me.
With about 6 to 7 kilometre per houre I have enough time to observe the landscape. It is a mix between physical effort and enjoying cycling in the Alps. On the summit I changed my soaked bike dress and have a fine cup of coffee as a reward for reaching the 2000 m. climb.
13 kilometre is the descent to Susch. In order to enjoy the scenery, I try not to be too fast. I wonder whether the motorcyclists notice something of the landscape, the way they whiz.
In Zernez at the campground I have a warm shower and a delicious dinner with a half litre of beer. At my table I get the company of a tourist of the western part of Switzerland and have a nice chat. It will take me a few days to get to this western part.

On top of the Flüelapass

Retrospective view on Klosters

2383 Meter Flüelapass summit

On Sundays you are not alone

Susch in the distance

Day 4. Sunday, 31.08.08. Lavin - Poschiavo
Kilometre 62.06 = Total 402.53
Altitude 1008 = Total 3811
Ova spin, Punt la Dossa, Livigno, Forcola di Livigno, Poschiavo.

Self-built tricycle

For bicycles is a shuttle-bus

Galerie along the Lago di Livigno

From Zernez to Ova Spin it is 7 kilometre and a 400 metre ascent. At the 5 km descent to La Punt Dossa, I encounter a tricycle from the area of Stuttgart. The special is, that he has built the tricycle himself and it looks great.
In Punt la Dossa, there is a 4 kilometre long tunnel to the Lago di Livigno. 2 years ago, I could cycle through with my bike. In this spring was an accident with a cyclist, since that time cycling through the tunnel is not allowed. The expense for the shuttle bus transportation is Fr.8 or 5. I think it is a good alternative.
Along the lake is an 8 km long gallery situated which leads to Livigno, a duty-free city in Italy.
It is Sunday, and like all tourist resorts crowded.
The Forcola di Livigno is 500 meters higher than Lago di Livigno. The way up to the pass is not exhilarating, without switchbacks and almost no vegetation, it is more boring.
A very strong headwind almost blows me back. Four kilometres downward I reach the Bernina Pass-road to Poschiavo. What a difference, a fantastic descent through a beautiful valley with a perfect road surface makes the 1400 meters descent over a distance of 23 kilometres a enjoyment.
3 km after Poschiavo there is a campground where I can use the washing machine. I put in the coins, press the button and after dinner in the city, it is clean and dry. The only thing I have to do is to fold it and put it in my panniers.

A look back at the Bernina vally

Forcola di Livigno

The Lake of Poschiavo

A cozy place for dinner. Poschiavo.

Day 5. Monday, 01.09.08. Poschiavo - Lago di Piano
Kilometre 117.03 = Total 519.56
Altitude 420 = Total 4231
Tirano, Sondrio, Menaggio Lago di Piano.

Sondrio. Valtellina valley

Strada del Vino

It has rained last night and it is still dripping. While having breakfast in the tent, I hear the rain stopped. One hour later as usual I leave the campground with still wet streets but no rain.
The border city Tirano (Italy) is 13 Kilometre and 500 meters downwards I leave the Val Poschiavo and enter the wine valley Valtellina.
In Tirano, I see the first rays of sunshine through the clouds which invites to a cappuccino in a street cafe with terrace.
Tirano is the first city in the Valtellina, a long valley which stretches until the Lake of Como.
It is known for its wine-growing, both sides of the valley are planted with vines. Only at the end of the valley I see fruit trees in different varieties.
The temperature rises to 31 degrees at noon. Even without ascent I sweat.
I cycle on the west side of Lake Como until Menaggio where I leave the lake towards Lago di Lugano. Shortly ahead there is a small lake (Lago di Piano), with a campground on its shore.

The water comes from Maloya and Splügen Pass and flows via Chiavenna in the Lake of Como

Day 6. Tuesday, 02.09.08. Lago di Piano - Sta. Maria Maggiore
Kilometre 102.60 = Total 622.16
Altitude 1234 = Total 5465
Lugano, Monte Ceneri, Ascona, Centovalli, Sta. Maria Maggiore.

Lugano with San Salvatore

Locarno (filmfestival square)

The 15 kilometres long road to Lugano runs along the lake. Now I am in the sunny part of Switzerland with the highest average/hour sunshine, and today the sun shines all day.
At this early morning I go across the city to Monte Ceneri very well. On the descent to Ascona I don't have to use the brakes, because the road has a wide cycle stripe and there are almost no cars. After the rapid descent I reach the Magadino plain with the biking trail Biasca - Ascona. The biking trail follows the lake to the centre of Locarno. At the tourist info I inquire whether the road to the Simplon Pass is open again. When I left Bremgarten 6 days ago, the road was closed due to a landslide.
At Ponte Brolla I turn left into Centovalli.
12 kilometres and 700 metre up, I reach the artificial lake in Palagnedra. The colour is light green and makes a nice contrast with the wooded mountains.
A few kilometres after the border I get into a small mountain village called Re. I'm surprised to see such a large basilica. I find out that this place is a pilgrimage village.
In Sta. Maria Maggiore, I can choose among 3 campsites.

Ponte Brolla

Intragna

Artifical Lake: Palagnedra

Camedo (it/ch Grenze)

reservoir

Large basilica in the small village of Re

Day 7. Wednesday, 03.09.08. Sta. Maria Maggiore - Sierre
Kilometre 104.88 = Total 727.04
Altitude 1808 = Total 7273
Domodossola, the Simplon Pass, Brigg, Sierre.

Gondo with Stockalplerturm

A little village known as Gabi

Simplon Dorf

Today I have to surmount an altitude of 1700 meters, Domodossola - Simplon Pass - Brig.
I'm lucky to have the strong wind from behind.
From Gondo on (it/ch border), the climb begins.
After a landslide in October 2000, one third of the village was destroyed, the village of Gondo with Stockalplerturm has been restored since then. The name Stockalpler is closely linked to the Simplon. The "salt trade" played a significant role.
The reward for the strenuous climb is the descent. The good and wide road and the easterly wind let me speed up to 70 km/h.
It's too early to call it a day arriving Brig, but a coffee break is now the right thing.
The wind in the Rhone Valley blows usually from the west. Now with tailwind sunny weather and early evening hours, I cycle for a while, who knows what will be tomorrow.
I cycle until shortly before Sierre (Agarn) with the sun in front and wind from behind.

The Simplon Pass, to the left the restaurant and right the hospice

Simplon ascent

Constantly at work, still one way traffic, bridge in Berisal

Brig

Day 8. Thursday, 04.09.08. Sierre - Montreux
Kilometre 107.16 = Total 834.20
Altitude 211 = Total 7484
Sion, Martigny, Bex, Aigle, Montreux.

The Valais farmers have a lot of work soon

My new tent 1.7 kilos

Castle St. Mauriceon on the border Valais / Vaud

The weather has changed last night. The sky is covered and wind blowing from the west. Until Sion it doesn't rain but then I need the pelerine to Martigny. Luckily the rain stops when I arrive the city, so I can have a stroll and look for the tourist info. I want to know whether there is a youth hostel somewhere. The computer shows that the next one is in Montreux. I make a reservation for tonight in Montreux, it is only 40 to 50 Kilometre to go. I have plenty of time for lunch and explore the city. Today is marked in the centre.
In the afternoon I cycle through little villages like Bex, Aigle and Villneuve. Bex has salt mines since 1684. They are closed now but there are guided tours to walk through. Duration is 3 ½ to 5 hours.
The youth hostel is located at Lake Léman, near the famous Castle Chillon. (The castle was first mentioned in the year 1150)
In the evening I enjoy a glass of wine with a cyclist couple. Outside, a thunderstorm rages. We have a wonderful view over the lake, the lightning illuminate the whole lake

Between Sierre und Sion

Castle Chillon in Montreux

Day 9. Friday, 05.09.08. Montreux - Biel
Kilometre 142.37 = Total 985.57
Altitude 1249 = Total 8733
Vevey, Lausanne, Yverdon, Neuchatel, Biel.

Moudon (Valais)

Correvon (Valais)

Canéaz (Valais)

Probably it rained the whole night but luckily the sun is back again.
I cycle 15 km along the lake to Vevey.
With splendid weather, I leave the lake and take the path which leads up through vineyards along the hillside to Moudon.
The journey through the county of Vaud and Freiburg is very pleasant. Up and down through small hamlets and villages I arrive in Yverdon. I'm interested only in the old town from which I make some pictures, such as a castle of the 13th Century now used as a city museum.
The road (No.5) runs on the west side of the Lake Neuchatel. I avoid it as much as possible because to cycle through small villages like Champagne, Bonnvillars and Bevaix is much more pleasant.
I will stay in Colombier, to take the route into the mountains tomorrow morning. First, I call my friend Ferdie in Biel. He actually is at home and invites me to visit him, so I need to change my plan. Until Biel is just 40 Kilometre, that means 2 to 3 hours. He says he will have prepared supper by that time.
After the shower, a bottle of wine is uncorked to celebrate our reunion.

Castle in Yverdon

Lake Neuchatel at Colombier

Castle Grandson

Lake Neuchatel with the Alps in the background

La Neuveville

Day 10. Saturday, 06.09.08. day of rest in Biel.

Justice fountain

443 years

Am Ring in Bienne

Day 11. Sunday, 07.09.08. Biel - Keiseraugst
Kilometre 124.93 = Total 1110.50
Altitude 877 = Total 9610
Tavannes, Tramelan, Saignelégier, Delémont, running, Pratteln, Keiseraugst.

Who comes around the corner

Col de Pierre Pertuis

 

Power plant on a wild river

 

Typiscal landscap of the Freiberge

Reussilles

Yesterday it rained more or less all day. When leaving Biel this morning the roads are dry. It doesn't last long until the sun appears.
After a day of rest, I feel as fresh as at the beginning of my journey. The 600 meter altitude difference to Saignelégier I do without much effort.
I cycle up a narrow gorge. On the right, deep in the gorge I see a small power plant on the river. Amazing how intensive the hydropower is exploited.
In Sonceboz I turn to the right to a small pass, Pertuis Pierre (827M.).
Via Tavannes and Tramelan I cycle to Saignelégier.
I see many hikers, probably because it's Sunday. A men's choir, with whom I come into a conversation, is having their annual excursion.
The "Freibergen" (mountains range), have their own character and are different from the rest of Switzerland. Fir forests and meadows dominate the landscape.
Saignelégier is the capital of horse breeding in Switzerland (in special the "Freiberger" race). I have the impression that everything here revolves around horses.
Passing through the villages, I see many indoor riding arena and horse-riding places with its white fences.
In Delemont 3 creeks come together which form the Birse, who flows into the Rhine in Basel. I follow this river until Muttens. From here it is not far to Kaiseraugst, with one of the few campsites in this area.

In Saignelégier everything revolves around horses, even here in this roundabout

Riding events take place here

The current Justice and Department of Finance in Saignelégier

The Freiberge

Saulcy

Entry to the village Laufen

Beginning of the valley Laufental

Leaving on the other side of Laufen

Day 12. Monday 08.09.08. Keiseraugst - Bremgarten
Kilometre 91.42 = Total 1201.92
Altitude 503 = Total 10113
Rheinfelden, Bath Säckingen, Koblenz, Bremgarten.

Malva

The campground in Keiseraugst am Rhein

Evening pimrose

Bad Säckingen

Founder and patron of Bad Säckingen, Fridolin

Leibstadt

Laufenburg, left German side, right the Swiss part

Check-out is at 08.30, so I have to wait to leave the campsite for a while.
In Bad Säckingen I cross the Rhine to the German side of the Rhine. On the bridge, I take a photo of the monument of the founder and patron of the city, Fridolin.
Laufenburg is one of the many pretty little towns at the Rhine. I enjoy the view on the Swiss part of Laufenburg on a balcony with coffee and cake. On a table next to me I hear two Ladies speaking the Dutch language, and soon we are in conversation. One of them lives in Switzerland since 30 years and has invited her sister.
Around noon I reach Koblenz and the bicycle tour around Switzerland gets to end.
12 days ago I started my bike trip here. I have had good luck with the weather. Rain in canton Valais from Sion to Martigny (2½ our) and during the resting day in Biel, otherwise it was partly cloudy and a few days with blue sky.

Mouth of the Reuss into the Rhein at Koblenz

The circumnavigation of Switzerland gets to end in Koblenz

After 11 days of cycling, a rest day, 1,200 km and 10,000 meters altitude, the tour around Switzerland is finished. I'm back home in Bremgarten

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