Today the mountain stages arrived with some serious climbs, especially the final ascent up the Gotthard pass. Finally the flat and monotonous roads were behind me. Now it was all about lakes and mountains, the way we know Switzerland!
The start was nothing short of sublime. Riding next to the Walensee was just beautiful. I had done my military service there almost 20 years before and it was quite something to go back again, in for sure a very different uniform ! I reached also the Obersee before the first difficulty of the day, climbing over to Feusisberg and the Raten Pass to go back down to Agerisee to tick off Zug. Again, stunning scenery but more climbing than I anticipated
Next to tick off Schwyz canton I decided to go to the city Schwyz. Now this was a small detour but how many times will I be able to see it? Furthermore, this is the canton of origin of my grandfather so I really wanted to spend the time to enjoy it and soak in the scenery. It did not disappoint – what an amazing town and canton. Especially when I reached Brunnen and the Vierwaldstättersee; STUNNING. The road from Brunnen to Altdorf next to the lake was a little tricky and dangerous, but the views were out of this world. A must do !
From Altdorf there was only one big obstacle in front of me : the Gotthard pass. 35km and 1500m of climbing. This was going to take a while and the sun was starting to really beat down on me. At the beginning of the climb I met an British rider called James and we talked for a little while, it’s nice to meet friendly people on the road. Our conversation stopped as I was cheered by my cousin and her family ! What a great surprise to see them there, so nice ! Later on the climb I overtook my British friend again, who was struggling a little. Stupidly I didn’t ask for his number as I knew he was also stopping in Airolo but maybe I would see him later ?
The Gotthard pass is just crazy. The steepness sometimes is brutal – but overall it’s just very very long. The main difficulty are the laces up to Andermatt – luckily there is a new cycling path otherwise it would be very dangerous for cyclists to share such a road with cars and trucks. After Andermatt I thought the most challenging part had been wrong – no no ! The last 3km were on cobbles, ouch ! This was very tough but what a crazy way to finish a climb. I reached the pass and the views were amazing. To go down I had 2 options : the main road (smooth surface) or the iconic Tremola pass (cobbles). Of course I chose the Tremola ! Maybe a mistake as it was very uncomfortable to ride on cobbles but I was here to soak in the experience and discover amazing routes. It did not disappoint.
I reached Airolo around 7pm and met one of my fellow competitors who would cycle the whole night to go to Bern… I had other plans : a beer and a pizza and enjoy my evening. And who did I meet in the pizzeria? My English friend James arrived late but we enjoyed a few beers telling ourselves our war stories of the day. Great way to finish the day !
I ticked off 5 cantons today which means I have 21 / 26 cantons
- Glarus : Näfels
- Zug : Oberägeri
- Schwyz : Schwyz
- Uri : Altdorf
- Ticino : Airolo
All in all : 187km and 3070m elevation. EPIC.
Check my ride on STRAVA
Highlights of the day :
- Tremola Pass