This tour started with a text from a friend: “Shall we go for a walk in Switzerland?”.Switzerland is one of those territories full of nature, mountains, beauties with an alpine flavour, but also a very expensive country to travel to. Better to be in a group when travelling in Switzerland as campsites are also expensive and sometimes sharing a room can be cheaper. Andrea, with whom I have already travelled several times, mailed me a ring track for a 3-days tour, I was already picturing the peaks of the Alpine passes, and I immediately replied “I’m coming”! Our journey started from Milan on a comfortable but expensive TILO train to Biasca. Meanwhile, a friend from Bologna joined the improvised caravan of cycle travellers, ready to go!
Day one: Biasca – Gotthard Pass (by Tremola) – Hospental (63 Km – 1,810 Elevation – Sunny)
Arrived in Biasca at 10.30 am, the road did not begin climbing immediately. The route includes some ups and downs that started to burn us some energies. We followed the track that partially separated from the state road to take us on small cycle paths. After 25km we stopped for a second breakfast before arriving near the real climb. From Airolo the old road started to climb the Gotthard Pass, famous for its last 7 km still paved in cobblestones, known as “Tremola” (trembling). From Airolo the climb became narrow and challenging for the first part, but then it widened, and the view around became alpine. Going up I thought that the cobbled part would have been very hard and I wondered if I could find an alternative, but when I reached it everything around was beautiful, the sky, the mountain, this old road, its charisma. The climb wasn’t too hard, I was happy when between hairpin bends I could admire the landscape flowing slowly towards the summit. On the street, there were many cyclists, but also noisy motorcyclists, unfortunately. There was still 5 km to the top, when crossing a bridge that was under maintenance, I realise how demanding the restoration of this old road was. As often happens, there are no words or photos that can describe the beauty of such a unique and special climb. You have to go through it to appreciate it. Getting to the summit that welcomes its many tourists with its flags on the last ramp, knowing that you did it, that you didn’t stop, that you have conquered it. The descent to Hospental was short and fast, we definitely faced the Gotthard Pass from the best side! We arrived in Hospental, a small village with a few houses, recommended by a cycle tourer friend (Angela) because of the comfortable hostel with a hearty breakfast included located there. Indeed, Jugendherberge hostel is very welcoming, with its checkered blankets and wooden slippers. The only downside is that in Hospental there are no supermarkets, but we got away with a “gourmet” dinner!
Day two: Hospental – Furkapass – Oberalppass – Disentis (75 Km – 1,660 Elevation – Sunny)
After our healthy breakfast, we were ready to climb Furkaspass lightened from the bikepacking that we left at the hostel. In fact, our route would have passed through Hospental on the way back again before climbing Oberlappass. The climb to the Furkapass started a few km from the hostel. We climbed through hairpin bends that shift our gaze between the valley and the high mountains. After 13km we reached the summit, but we did not stop, we had planned to go down to the “Belvedere Hotel”, for the most popular shot of the pass, in reality, we didn’t know that going down from that side we could see, not only the high peaks that surrounded the valley below us, but also the “Rhone Gletscher” a glacier with a cave that can be visited right from the lookout. Needless to say, it was an enchantment to be able to extend our gaze so far. We went down and up to go down again towards Hospental pedaling against the wind and among the cars that in the meantime had crowded the road at the pass. Just enough time to load up our bikes and stop in Andermatt for a quick lunch based on brioches with butter and bananas. A light lunch because the climb to the Oberlappass started immediately. Leaving the village we began the climb, still pedaling against the wind, meeting other tourists, one in particular attracted our attention as he was scaling the pass riding a Brompton loaded with a trolley. A true hero! The climb wasn’t too long, we cycled under a cable car, next to the red train that connects the Swiss ski centers. Immersed in a classic Swiss landscape, we reached the Oberlappass after a long tunnel. There we met other travellers and a new hero, an 82-year-old Swiss gentleman who was cycling through the mountains, who had already climbed Lukmanier and Oberlappass and who was proceeding towards Erstfeld. We all admired him a lot with a little envy, hoping that one day we will be old like him! The road from Oberalppass to Disentis was a long descent, it would have been pleasant if there hadn’t been a strong wind that at times moved me and the bike altogether. Once in Disentis we went to Nangijala hostel, another very nice hostel in which we took advantage of the kitchen to dine in (and save some money) and the terrace to enjoy the mountain view before a strong storm forced us to get back inside.
Day three: Disentis – Lukmanier Pass – Bellinzona (84 km – 980 Elevation – Sun with some clouds)
We woke up in the clouds, but in time after breakfast, we could see the sky get clear. We started slowly towards the Lukmanier Pass, a few kilometers of descent, and then a first challenging section among tunnels, before emerging in a new paradise between mountains and the Sontga Maria dam. Again a long cold tunnel preceded the downhill finish. At the stop on the summit we met a couple of cycle travellers who had just left for a 2-weeks tour, also in bikepaking, also travel lovers. Our journey was coming to an end. Through a long descent on path no. 3 of the Canton of Ticino towards the valley, we left the mountain atmosphere to find ourselves among the Swiss villages. We cycled from Biasca to Bellinzona, following a safe cycle path surrounded by fields. We had a wonderful time, full of colours and climbs, of freedom and lightheartedness. Coming home always makes me feel a little sad, someone says that leaving is a bit like dying, but I think sometimes it’s the opposite. The light spirit of the holiday will fall asleep, until the next departure.
TOTAL BUDGET 3 DAYS ALL-INCLUSIVE: 146 euro