ON A ROLL
After hurtling down from Grimsepass, the trail skirts the Aareschlucht gorge and shadows the shores of Brienzersee and Thunersee…
CYCLING THE AARE
FOLLOWING the flow of Switzerland’s longest River, the full Aare cycling route rolls for 305km, from the glacier-fed lake on the Grimsepass to the river’s confluence with the regal Rhine at Koblenz, via Switzerland’s outdoor adventure capital Interlaken and the country’s actual capital, Bern. Alternatively, you can join it in Interlaken, by Lake Thun, or simply bite it off bit by bit, cycling a section or two at a time.
The big bike ride is best done in seven stages. It’s a waymarked mixed terrain adventure through rural and urban environments, with 64km of the route venturing off road onto unsealed terrain, so a sturdy touring steed with reasonably knobbly tyres or a decent hardtail mountain bike with reliable lockout on the front forks and tyres that aren’t too aggressive are both good choices. Myriad accommodation options are available en route, including campsites, so pack those panniers wisely.
After hurtling down from Grimsepass (2164m), the trail skirts the Aareschlucht gorge and shadows the shores of Brienzersee and Thunersee, with Interlaken splitting the two lovely lakes. Going beyond Bern and Bielersee, towards the Seeland, the route takes a meandering riparian course through Mittelland forests, going via mediaeval Solothurn and Jura’s Baroque towns to the trail’s conclusion at Koblenz on the Rhine, not far from the famous falls.
For those who would prefer to stay away from sealed surfaces altogether, Switzerland offers endless mountainbike trails to mooch around and bomb down, from the singletrack-stacked resorts of Zermatt and Verbier, to the pedal powered playground that is Crans-Montana in Valais, and the less-ridden trails around Saint-Luc. If you fancy cycling on the shoulders of the Ogre, Grindelwald’s annual Eiger Bike Challenge (www.eigerbike.ch) sees 1500 rough riders taking on an 88km circuit with 3900m of altitude gain every August.
Mountain bikers at Lake Stellisee in Zermatt. In the background is the mighty Matterhorn (4478m). Pic: Switzerland Tourism/Christian Perret