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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Biking Down Gotthard Cross on Previous Tremola Highway

Is it known as biking if all you do is squeeze the brake and never pedal? That’s what I stored pondering to myself all the time as I used to be biking down the Gotthard Cross on outdated Tremola Highway in Switzerland. Granted, I nonetheless needed to flip (there was numerous turning) and preserve the bike upright as I traversed the serpentine cobblestone street, so it should depend as biking, I assumed. No matter if I name it biking, it was an immense quantity of enjoyable. And the most effective half – anybody can bike down Tremola Highway – no coaching vital!

Not solely was it an journey that few individuals tackle, however biking down the cross was a experience by historical past. It was the proper instance of taking the street much less traveled, which is one thing I all the time aspire to do once I journey. I can’t think about a greater strategy to expertise this historic cross that connects the North and South of Switzerland over the Alps.

Biking and Mountain climbing Switzerland’s Alps and Lakes

I spent my first 4 days in Switzerland in a cloud…like a literal cloud. The Swiss Alps? I don’t suppose there are any mountains right here – I couldn’t see something however thick clouds and rain for 4 days. That is actually not the situation you need if you end up in one of the vital well-known and picturesque mountain ranges on this planet. However you may’t management Mom Nature; generally you simply need to make the most effective of it.

Rigi Panoramic hike lake lucerne
Mountain climbing within the Clouds

Is Switzerland nonetheless superb when you may’t see the Alps? Sure – it is likely to be moody, however you may nonetheless get out and benefit from the trails, the tradition, the cows, and the transportation nonetheless rocks! I used to be with a small group of writers traversing our manner from Zurich to Lugano (north to south) by climbing and biking. Due to the difficult climate we needed to change a few of our climbing round Lake Lucerne, however we have been nonetheless in a position to get out and huff and puff our manner by some fairly epic climbs.

Gotthard Pass Clouds

We arrived on the high of the Gotthard Cross by van after a day of climbing within the rain. As most passes go – it was fairly barren; with not a tree in sight, and because of the nasty climate – it had a lightweight dusting of snow and was fairly chilly. I used to be simply excited to get into our heat, comfortable lodge room and get cleaned up after a tough day outdoor within the parts.

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Hospice St. Gotthard (in-built 1237) didn’t appear like a lot from the surface, however as soon as inside, it was beautiful. This historic constructing had a very trendy inside, all made from wooden. And regardless that it seemed prefer it is likely to be chilly and uncomfortable from the surface – it was cozy and comfy inside. In reality, the rooms kind of seemed like a large sauna.

Hospice St. Gotthard

I seemed out the outdated window in my room and noticed completely nothing however one more cloud. It actually didn’t really feel like we have been at 6,900 ft. within the Alps. My thoughts began wandering towards the subsequent morning – I didn’t know if I wished to go down this cross on a motorbike within the rain and sleet – it felt overwhelming in the meanwhile, so I went and had a beer and dinner as a substitute.

Proper earlier than I went to mattress, I seemed out the window one final time, and that’s once I noticed a faint gentle within the sky. What’s that? I put my glasses on and realized it was a star. Yippee! The clouds had dissipated and left us a transparent sky – instantly, issues have been trying up for tackling the famed Tremola Highway the subsequent day!

Gotthard Cross Historical past

Tremola Road Gotthard Pass
Picture courtesy of Switzerland Tourism – Ivo Scholz

The Gotthard Cross is also known as the ‘King of the Mountain Passes’ because it was one of the vital arduous and necessary passes in Europe. It’s named for a chapel constructed on the high in 1300 in honor of Saint Gotthard, a German bishop of Hildesheim. The cross connects northern (German-speaking) and southern (Italian-speaking) Switzerland. The event within the space began in 1200 and has undergone many transportation modifications by the centuries.

Tremolina Road by the numbers

The primitive path was first utilized by merchants shifting items from north to south of Europe. The primary ‘street’ was opened in 1830 and was made from cobblestones. The railway and practice tunnel was opened in 1882. Subsequent, a freeway tunnel was in-built 1930. Then the newer street tunnel opened in 1980. And eventually, the Gotthard Base tunnel for high-speed trains was accomplished in 2016.

If you wish to be taught extra concerning the transportation historical past, on the high of the cross, throughout from the Hospice the place we stayed, is a museum that covers the historical past of the street, railroad/automobile tunnels, and area.

Tremola Highway Biking Fame

The route is known for avid cyclists to overcome. It has been stated that if this street was in France or Italy it could be one of the vital well-known climbs in biking. The Tremola Highway has been one of many levels of the Tour de Suisse biking race for 38 years.

Nevertheless, it’s not only for the professionals, any bike owner can take it on. That is made attainable because of the shortage of site visitors on it, which makes it protected to experience for individuals of all ranges. And if you need a little bit enhance, you may simply hire an electrical bike to deal with the cross.

Need extra adventurous, curvy roads – I drove the well-known Trollstigen street in Norway – and it is also a wild experience!

4 Methods to Get Over or Beneath the Gotthard Cross

  1. Drive your self by the automobile tunnel. However be ready for enormous site visitors by this well-liked route connecting north and south Switzerland.
  2. Use the extra trendy street to drive over the cross.
  3. Go by quick practice by the railroad tunnel
  4. Take the Previous Tremola Highway by automobile or bike. That is completely the slowest, however probably the most scenic. And the most effective half is that you simply’ll virtually be alone – there may be little or no site visitors on this route – which makes it preferrred for biking and making numerous stops for footage!

Take the Cobblestones Much less Traveled

biking down gotthard pass

I did this experience firstly of October, which is usually a little iffy for the climate at altitude. Nevertheless, once I wakened, I pulled the curtains again from my lodge room, and there it was – my outdated good friend the solar. It had been so lengthy since I had seen him that I practically didn’t acknowledge him! However – his timing was impeccable as I actually didn’t wish to experience down the cross within the rain and sleet we had the prior day. Regardless that it was chilly on the high, the solar was out, the skies have been blue, and we had an ideal day for this biking journey!

We bundled up because it was nonetheless chilly at altitude, and as we obtained nearer to beginning, the extra nervous I grew to become. I seemed on the map of cobblestone switchbacks – it seemed like a pile of spaghetti. I had bike with good brakes; nonetheless, the little cobblestones mixed with the hairpin turns stacked on high of one another had me barely involved about my capability to remain upright.

Prepared, Set, Brake! Biking Down Gotthard Cross

I placed on my sun shades (one thing I assumed I used to be by no means going to make use of on this journey!), and my biking gloves, and began pedaling down the bumpy cobblestones. I possibly pedaled 4 instances…after which I by no means needed to pedal once more. Gravity launched me down the street, and the journey started.

Video of Biking Down Tremola Highway on Gotthard Cross

After all, I most likely made it 500 ft earlier than I finished to take footage! I had solely seen the street on Google Maps, and now seeing the serpentine turns in individual on a sunny day within the mountains was breathtaking.

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Not solely have been the views unimaginable – however I used to be mesmerized by the peerlessly sq. little granite cobblestones. They have been laid in little arcs like a murals. The granite dates again to the early 1800s; I had by no means ridden over something so outdated. With 4+ miles of cobblestones, it’s thought of Switzerland’s longest street monument.

There have been even sections the place they have been engaged on changing the cobblestones. It was like a large puzzle on the aspect of a mountain. It made me marvel what number of cobblestones have been used to assemble the street – one thing I used to be by no means capable of finding a solution to.

However the one thought that continued to roll by my head and eat me was, why aren’t extra individuals driving on this lovely cross? I solely noticed 4 vehicles all the experience down! Due to everybody being in a rush as of late and the development of the trendy rail and automobile tunnels, Tremola Highway was empty – which makes it the proper cross to bike.

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After we made it down the hairpin turns we continued all the way in which to Bellinzona the place we biked by lovely farms and villages all the way in which to the practice station. We had a full day of biking 43 miles (most of it downhill) into the Ticino canton the place instantly every thing grew to become extra Italian. And the solar was out all the time!

How You may Cycle Down Previous Tremola Highway

Biking the Tremola Highway is generally a part of an extended biking tour throughout Switzerland. I wasn’t capable of finding an organization that simply took you to the highest along with your bike and allow you to experience down for the day. Nevertheless, I believe you would prepare to do this by taking a bus to the highest along with your bike after which simply biking down.

hairpin turn tremola road

The corporate I went with, Eurotreks, affords a 9-day self-guided route that features biking down the Gotthard Cross. I used to be actually pleased with their bikes and the guides that we had so it’s an important choice if you wish to see and bike extra of Switzerland.

The place to get the most effective photograph of the Tremola Highway

After all, I took quite a few footage and movies on my experience down Tremola Highway; nonetheless, it’s arduous to get inclusive view of the entire hairpin turns whereas on the street. Earlier than you begin your descent from the highest, briefly comply with the principle street in the direction of the south descent (Freeway 2) – about half a kilometer. Park on the lot on the left and also you’ll discover the proper overview shot of the hairpins you might be on the lookout for. It’s even marked on Google Maps.

Tremola Road Photo Point
Picture courtesy Switzerland Tourism – Nico Schaerer

Let the entire others who’re in a rush take the tunnels by the Gotthard Cross, you may take your time and wind your manner down the historic cobblestones of Tremola Highway. It could be the street much less traveled, however it’s one of the simplest ways to expertise the Gotthard Cross. Decelerate, squeeze the brakes, and take all of it in…that is the way in which journey needs to be.


I used to be a visitor of Switzerland Tourism for this tour, nonetheless all opinions expressed listed here are my very own.

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