Tour Guide : Ups and Downs In Switzerland

Switzerland is, quite rightly, famous for its passes. And for me passes equal the most fun you can have on a bike. It’s complete fun to ride your bike up and down mountains in one focused go. Ride the road from Riggisberg to Rüeggisberg and down to Fribourg through the Naturpark Gantrisch. Long sweeping curves alternate with tighter turns. As you ride up to the top, after Stierenhütte and Selibühl, a fantastic panoramic view opens up on both sides of the road. I defy you not to stop and stare.

The Panoramastrasse 35 between Lungerner See and Sarnersee is a narrower road through a forested area that has some delicious twisties. As soon as the road levels out the landscape becomes more open and alpine where flowing sweepers take over.

Swiss roads feature all kinds of curves. There is something for every taste, from tight hairpins to hooking twisties and smooth sweepers. The Route-Blanche de Nyon is crowded with corners as it heads west towards the French border. Ride from Nyon and Lac Leman towards the border near Les Rousses. The area west of Lac Leman becomes more open after you’ve reached the top of the route. It is this well-blended combination of corners that I love.

Watch out for tight speed limits and for drivers who blindly obey them, regardless of the situation. Of course you can’t buzz through any country without engaging with its people. It helps to be friendly and amicable even if the locals do come across tight, stiff, or inflexible at first. If you crack the Swiss nut open, you’ll find they are very warm and friendly.

This is no joke: be prepared for all kinds of weather when riding in Switzerland – even snow! Temperatures change very quickly, so don’t get caught out. Avoid the worst of it by visiting between June and early October.

Swiss roads are usually very well paved. However, around the end of May and beginning of June you need to watch out for melt water running across otherwise dry tarmac in the passes. Smaller backcountry roads can sometimes be covered with patches or cracks. Keep this in mind and these roads can be a lot of fun. Route 9 from Château-d’Oex to Bulle is a smaller road that gently meanders through archetypal Swiss countryside. You end up at the impressive Château de Gruyère – a castle that offers you a great view over the wonderful landscape and the road you have just come down.

Don’t just head straight to the famous passes. Take the D12 from Thonon-les- Bains to Viuz-en-Sallas – the road you would take on your way to Chamonix. It runs through a forested area and small villages. The mountains make for a mesmerizing backdrop.

If you’re looking for night life I like the Alte Apotheke bar next to the River House in Andermatt and the Gasthaus Sternen in Andermatt. The Gasthaus is a typical Swiss restaurant with a cosy atmosphere. If you head for Zermatt you’ll find many good bars. My favourite place to go just for a drink is the Hexenbar. If you’d like to sit on a typical Swiss restaurant’s terrace in a typical Swiss village then pop by Hotel Croix d’Or et Poste in Münster/Geschinen. You’ll come across it as you ride out of the valley after the passes Grimsel and Furka.

Enjoy your cheese fondue? Love the raclette? Then you’re in the right place – especially in the more mountainous regions. If you prefer your potatoes, you’ll find many places that offer the Swiss Rösti. These are grated and fried potatoes that come in many variations. However, you will pay: when it comes to Switzerland, nothing is cheap. Apart from petrol. So my conclusion is to eat less and ride more.

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