Celebrate the year of the bike in Switzerland

Riding in the Alpes Vaudoises, Western Switzerland

2018 is the year of the bike.

The Swiss national tourism board has chosen to focus its summer campaign on cycling. It’s a smart choice: more and more people around the world choose to spend their holidays on two wheels and the country is an underrated cycling paradise.

Over the last two years, I have worked with Switzerland Tourism to create content for their campaign. It started with listing the best cycling loops in the country with a group of experts. The next step was to put together technical information for each of them, and write a description for the Switzerland Tourism website. A fun job. But the icing on the cake came last summer: I rode and shot a good number of these loops with my friend Luca.

You will find a selection of these loops in the trip section of ALPSinsight, featuring photos, a description, technical information and tips. Their common denominator: they each feature at least one of the best cycling climbs in Switzerland.

Here’s my take on five of these rides.

1. In the Heart of the Valais

I am based less than an hour away from Martigny in Canton Valais and this short but tough loop above the Rhone Valley is one of my favorite rides. I love the brief gravel section at the top of Col du Lein and the hair raising descent back into Martigny from the Col des Planches. My favorite time of the year to ride this loop is spring, when the high alpine passes are still closed.

Leaving the Rhone Valley on the way to the Col du Lein

2. Entlebuch

I have been riding in Switzerland for 35 years but somehow I had never climbed the Glaubenberg and the Glaubenbielen in the Prealps. I loved these quintessential Swiss passes: small roads, beautiful views and lots of friendly cows. This loop starts and finishes in the Entlebuch region, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Climbing Glaubenbielenpass on the Panoramastrasse above Lake Sarnen

3. Classic Passes of the Alpes Vaudoises

Welcome to my home roads of the Alpes Vaudoises, in the western part of Switzerland. I live in Gryon, on the slopes of the Col de la Croix. It’s the first part of a 108 km loop that also features the Col du Pillon and the Col des Mosses. I rode it with Mike Cotty of the Col Collective – here’s the cool video they shot.

Nearing the top of the Col de la Croix in the Alpes Vaudoises

Nearing the top of the Col de la Croix in the Alpes Vaudoises

4. The Sanetsch Pass

Imagine the Stelvio without the countless cars, motorbikes and camper vans that make it not such a great experience in the summer months. That’s the Sanetsch. This 26km climb on a small, quiet road from the vineyards of the Rhone valley to the foot of the Tzanfleuron Glacier will blow your mind – and hurt your legs. Especially if you catch the cable car down to Gsteig on the other side and make it a loop with the Col du Pillon.

The Col du Sanetsch: 1690m of climbing and big views

5. Gurnigel

Gurnigel is another lesser known climb in the Prealps, this time between Canton Bern and Fribourg. Don’t miss this loop and the view from the top on Lake Thun. If you are staying in the Jungfrau Region- combine it with the Grosse Scheidegg and the Susten Pass and you have 3 days of cycling in one of the most beautiful regions of Switzerland.

Sunset ride on the Gurnigel

Come to Switzerland to celebrate the year of the bike on these roads! And visit our cycling trips section for more inspiration on cycling in our beautiful country.

By Alain Rumpf (aka A Swiss With A Pulse)

About Alain

To say Alain is a passionate, lifelong cyclist is a huge understatement. He lives cycling. As Chief Cycling Officer for Grand Tours Project, Alain is designing idyllic rides through the Alps which he enthusiastically shares with guests from all over the world. You can follow him on: 


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