Biking Down Gotthard Cross on Previous Tremola Highway

Is it referred to as biking if all you do is squeeze the brake and never pedal? That’s what I saved pondering to myself your complete time as I used to be biking down the Gotthard Cross on previous Tremola Highway in Switzerland. Granted, I nonetheless needed to flip (there was a number of turning) and maintain 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 one of the best half – anybody can bike down Tremola Highway – no coaching mandatory!

Not solely was it an journey that few folks 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 after 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 Mountaineering 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 assume there are any mountains right here – I couldn’t see something however thick clouds and rain for 4 days. That is actually not the state of affairs you need when you find yourself in one of the vital well-known and picturesque mountain ranges on the planet. However you possibly can’t management Mom Nature; typically you simply need to make one of the best of it.

Rigi Panoramic hike lake lucerne
Mountaineering within the Clouds

Is Switzerland nonetheless wonderful when you possibly can’t see the Alps? Sure – it could be moody, however you possibly can 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. Because of the difficult climate we needed to change a few of our climbing round Lake Lucerne, however we had been nonetheless capable of get out and huff and puff our manner by some fairly epic climbs.

Gotthard Pass Clouds

We arrived on the prime 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 resort room and get cleaned up after a tough day outside within the parts.

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Hospice St. Gotthard (in-built 1237) didn’t appear like a lot from the skin, however as soon as inside, it was beautiful. This historic constructing had a very trendy inside, all product of wooden. And despite the fact that it seemed prefer it could be chilly and uncomfortable from the skin – it was cozy and cozy inside. In actual fact, the rooms type of seemed like an enormous sauna.

Hospice St. Gotthard

I seemed out the previous window in my room and noticed completely nothing however one more cloud. It actually didn’t really feel like we had 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 motorcycle within the rain and sleet – it felt overwhelming for the time being, 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 after 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 – abruptly, issues had been wanting up for tackling the famed Tremola Highway the subsequent day!

Gotthard Cross Historical past

Tremola Road Gotthard Pass
Photograph 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 prime 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 adjustments by the centuries.

Tremolina Road by the numbers

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

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

Tremola Highway Biking Fame

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

Nevertheless, it’s not only for the professionals, any bicycle owner can take it on. That is made potential because of the dearth of visitors on it, which makes it protected to experience for folks of all ranges. And if you’d like a bit increase, you possibly can simply lease an electrical bike to sort out 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 Underneath the Gotthard Cross

  1. Drive your self by the automotive tunnel. However be ready for enormous visitors by this fashionable route connecting north and south Switzerland.
  2. Use the extra trendy street to drive over the cross.
  3. Go by quick prepare by the railroad tunnel
  4. Take the Previous Tremola Highway by automotive or bike. That is completely the slowest, however essentially the most scenic. And one of the best half is that you just’ll virtually be alone – there may be little or no visitors on this route – which makes it ideally suited for biking and making a number of stops for footage!

Take the Cobblestones Much less Traveled

biking down gotthard pass

I did this experience initially of October, which is usually a little iffy for the climate at altitude. Nevertheless, after I awakened, I pulled the curtains again from my resort room, and there it was – my previous good friend the solar. It had been so lengthy since I had seen him that I almost didn’t acknowledge him! However – his timing was impeccable as I actually didn’t need to experience down the cross within the rain and sleet we had the prior day. Regardless that it was chilly on the prime, the solar was out, the skies had 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 acquired nearer to beginning, the extra nervous I turned. I seemed on the map of cobblestone switchbacks – it seemed like a pile of spaghetti. I had a great bike with good brakes; nonetheless, the little cobblestones mixed with the hairpin turns stacked on prime of one another had me barely involved about my means 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 perhaps pedaled 4 occasions…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 toes earlier than I finished to take footage! I had solely seen the street on Google Maps, and now seeing the serpentine turns in particular person on a sunny day within the mountains was breathtaking.

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Not solely had been the views unimaginable – however I used to be mesmerized by the superbly sq. little granite cobblestones. They had 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 previous. With 4+ miles of cobblestones, it’s thought of Switzerland’s longest street monument.

There have been even sections the place they had been engaged on changing the cobblestones. It was like an enormous puzzle on the aspect of a mountain. It made me surprise what number of cobblestones had 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 devour me was, why aren’t extra folks driving on this lovely cross? I solely noticed 4 automobiles your complete experience down! Because of everybody being in a rush lately and the development of the fashionable rail and automotive 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 best way to Bellinzona the place we biked by lovely farms and villages all the best way to the prepare station. We had a full day of biking 43 miles (most of it downhill) into the Ticino canton the place abruptly every thing turned extra Italian. And the solar was out your complete time!

How You possibly can 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 together with your bike and allow you to experience down for the day. Nevertheless, I believe you can prepare to try this by taking a bus to the highest together 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 proud of their bikes and the guides that we had so it’s a fantastic possibility if you wish to see and bike extra of Switzerland.

The place to get one of the best photograph of the Tremola Highway

After all, I took numerous footage and movies on my experience down Tremola Highway; nonetheless, it’s exhausting to get a great inclusive view of all the hairpin turns whereas on the street. Earlier than you begin your descent from the highest, briefly comply with the principle street in 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’re in search of. It’s even marked on Google Maps.

Tremola Road Photo Point
Photograph courtesy Switzerland Tourism – Nico Schaerer

Let all the others who’re in a rush take the tunnels by the Gotthard Cross, you possibly can 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 best ways to expertise the Gotthard Cross. Decelerate, squeeze the brakes, and take all of it in…that is the best way journey must be.


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

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