Biking Down Gotthard Cross on Outdated Tremola Highway


Is it referred to as biking if all you do is squeeze the brake and never pedal? That’s what I stored pondering to myself the 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 plenty of turning) and preserve the bike upright as I traversed the serpentine cobblestone highway, so it should rely as biking, I assumed. No matter if I name it biking, it was an immense quantity of enjoyable. And the very best half – anybody can bike down Tremola Highway – no coaching needed!

Not solely was it an journey that few individuals tackle, however biking down the cross was a journey by means of historical past. It was the proper instance of taking the highway much less traveled, which is one thing I at all times 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 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 situation you need if you find yourself in one of the vital well-known and picturesque mountain ranges on the planet. However you may’t management Mom Nature; generally you simply should make the very best of it.

Rigi Panoramic hike lake lucerne
Mountain climbing within the Clouds

Is Switzerland nonetheless wonderful when you may’t see the Alps? Sure – it may 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 approach from Zurich to Lugano (north to south) by mountaineering and biking. Because of the difficult climate we needed to change a few of our mountaineering round Lake Lucerne, however we have been nonetheless capable of get out and huff and puff our approach by means of some fairly epic climbs.

Gotthard Pass Clouds

We arrived on the high of the Gotthard Cross by van after a day of mountaineering within the rain. As most passes go – it was fairly barren; with not a tree in sight, and due to 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, cozy resort room and get cleaned up after a tough day outdoor within the components.

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Hospice St. Gotthard (in-built 1237) didn’t seem like a lot from the skin, however as soon as inside, it was beautiful. This historical constructing had a totally trendy inside, all product of wooden. And though it seemed prefer it may be chilly and uncomfortable from the skin – it was cozy and cozy inside. In actual fact, the rooms form of seemed like a large 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 have been at 6,900 ft. within the Alps. My thoughts began wandering towards the following 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 mild 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 – all of the sudden, issues have been wanting up for tackling the famed Tremola Highway the following 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 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 adjustments by means of 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 ‘highway’ was opened in 1830 and was product of cobblestones. The railway and practice tunnel was opened in 1882. Subsequent, a freeway tunnel was in-built 1930. Then the newer highway tunnel opened in 1980. And at last, 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 highway, railroad/automobile tunnels, and area.

Tremola Highway Biking Fame

The route is famous for avid cyclists to beat. It has been mentioned that if this highway 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 levels of the Tour de Suisse biking race for 38 years.

Nonetheless, it’s not only for the professionals, any bicycle owner can take it on. That is made potential because of the dearth of site visitors on it, which makes it protected to journey for individuals of all ranges. And if you would like just a little increase, you may simply lease an electrical bike to deal with the cross.

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

4 Methods to Get Over or Beneath the Gotthard Cross

  1. Drive your self by means of the automobile tunnel. However be ready for large site visitors by means of this widespread route connecting north and south Switzerland.
  2. Use the extra trendy highway to drive over the cross.
  3. Go by quick practice by means of the railroad tunnel
  4. Take the Outdated Tremola Highway by automobile or bike. That is completely the slowest, however probably the most scenic. And the very best half is that you simply’ll virtually be alone – there’s little or no site visitors on this route – which makes it ideally suited for biking and making plenty of stops for footage!

Take the Cobblestones Much less Traveled

biking down gotthard pass

I did this journey at the start of October, which could be a little iffy for the climate at altitude. Nonetheless, once I wakened, I pulled the curtains again from my resort room, and there it was – my previous buddy 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 wish to journey down the cross within the rain and sleet we had the prior day. Though 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 bought 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 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 perhaps pedaled 4 instances…after which I by no means needed to pedal once more. Gravity launched me down the highway, and the journey started.

Video of Biking Down Tremola Highway on Gotthard Cross

After all, I in all probability made it 500 ft earlier than I ended to take footage! I had solely seen the highway 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 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 previous. With 4+ miles of cobblestones, it’s thought of Switzerland’s longest highway 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 surprise what number of cobblestones have been used to assemble the highway – one thing I used to be by no means capable of finding a solution to.

However the one thought that continued to roll by means of my head and eat me was, why aren’t extra individuals driving on this stunning cross? I solely noticed 4 automobiles the complete journey down! Because of everybody being in a rush today and the development of the fashionable 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 means of stunning 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 all of the sudden every thing turned extra Italian. And the solar was out the complete time!

How You possibly can Cycle Down Outdated 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 journey down for the day. Nonetheless, I feel you possibly 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, presents 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 amazing choice if you wish to see and bike extra of Switzerland.

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

After all, I took plenty of footage and movies on my journey down Tremola Highway; nonetheless, it’s laborious to get inclusive view of the entire hairpin turns whereas on the highway. Earlier than you begin your descent from the highest, briefly comply with the primary highway 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 might be searching for. It’s even marked on Google Maps.

Tremola Road Photo Point
Photograph courtesy Switzerland Tourism – Nico Schaerer

Let the entire others who’re in a rush take the tunnels by means of the Gotthard Cross, you may take your time and wind your approach down the historic cobblestones of Tremola Highway. It could be the highway 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 way in which journey ought 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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