Last year’s tour inaugaurated the route and we’re grateful to everyone who trusted us to do a good job the first time around. Those riders were truly Bike Switzerland pioneers.
Everyone had a great time, but they did give us four major pieces of feedback that we’d like to incorporate. Here’s what they told us:
- Start the tour with a warm-up. That first climb killed us.
- Give us a rest day.
- Lake Klontal was beautiful, but not worth the 300 meter climb perilous climb.
- Appenzell would have been a nice place to overnight.
Those riders will be happy to hear that we’re incorporating ALL of those changes into our tour in 2016.
Let’s go over each:
Change #1: Start the Tour with a Warm-up
- This year our riders rode the train from Geneva to Aigle to meet their bikes and begin the tour. But once in Aigle, they looked up towards the Tour d’Ai and saw a never-ending climb. Indeed, that climb is over 1200 meters, has some hairpins and a few 10%+ grades at times. It’s a tough climb. Many riders thought it was the toughest of the tour and so it’s a tough one to tackle when you might still be experiencing a bit of jet-lag.
But this is the “Alpine Tour” and there’s no getting around it, there are some tough cols. But we’ll start gently in 2016. In fact, we’ll start with a boat ride ! We’ll take a lake cruise from Geneva to the medieval village of Yvoire on our first morning. From there we will have a gentle ascent through the “Green Valley” and into the ski stations of France’s Chablais region.
Our first day of riding will end in Chatel France, just across the border from Switzerland. We’ll still be climbing around 1,100 meters on that first day, but much more gradually.
The following day, we’ll descend back into Switzerland before attacking our first major climb in Aigle.
Change #2: Give us a rest day
In 2015, we only had 7 days of riding. Of our four tours, this was the shortest and we didn’t think a rest day was necessary.
But now that we’ve added an extra-day of riding, a rest-day seemed justified.
Ideally, we’d put the rest day right in the middle, after our fourth day of riding. However, that would mean having a day off in an isolated valley in the hamlet of Fluhli.
Although we all enjoyed our time in Fluhli, Thun is the best place to spend an extra day. So, now after three days on the bike, cyclists will leave their bikes in Thun, enjoy the city and our 4-star hotel on the river, or join us on an organized hike up the Niederhorn (with help from the nearby funicular).
Change #3: Lake Klontal was beautiful, but…
In 2015, we finished our day on the pristine Lake Klontal. A great setting at a nice hotel, but the steep 400-meter, 7-kilometer climb (on a narrow and rather trecherous road) was quite a lot considering that this was also the day that we conquered our longest climb: The Klausen Pass.
It’s hard to say goodbye to an overnight on an alpine lake, but in Switzerland there’s often good alternatives. In this case, it’s the Walensee just up the road.
This will add approximately 8 kilometers to our day’s total, but it’s all flat bicycle paths.
Change #4: Appenzell
The idea in 2015 was to spend our last night in a quiet, isolated auberge in the middle of the countryside in the region of Appenzell.
We had no idea that the auberge would be hosting a wedding party until 3am, complete with large clanking cowbells and Schweizer-deutsch ballad.
But that’s just an unfortunate detail. The riders passed through the town of Appenzell on their way to their overnight and told us that they would have liked more time exploring the shops, folk-museum and the local brewery.
Of course, nothing stays the same: hotels lose stars, restaurants close and big tour buses often find their way to those once off-the-beaten locales.
But we’re here on location, riding our bikes and listening to your suggestions so that we stay on top of it all and as a result, almost every tour is better than the last.