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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Biking Down Gotthard Cross on Outdated Tremola Street

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 That’s what I stored pondering to myself the complete time as I used to be biking down the Gotthard Cross on outdated Tremola Street in Switzerland. Granted, I nonetheless needed to flip (there was plenty of turning) and preserve the bike upright as I traversed the serpentine cobblestone street, so it should depend as biking, I believed. No matter if I name it biking, it was an immense quantity of enjoyable. And the perfect half – anybody can bike down Tremola Street – no coaching mandatory!

Not solely was it an journey that few folks tackle, however biking down the go was a trip by way of 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 approach to expertise this historic go that connects the North and South of Switzerland over the Alps.

Biking and 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 definitely not the state of affairs you need when you’re in probably the most well-known and picturesque mountain ranges on the planet. However you possibly can’t management Mom Nature; typically you simply need to make the perfect of it.

Rigi Panoramic hike lake lucerne
Climbing within the Clouds

Is Switzerland nonetheless superb when you possibly can’t see the Alps? Sure – it may 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 mountaineering and biking. Due to the difficult climate we needed to change a few of our mountaineering round Lake Lucerne, however we have been nonetheless in a position to get out and huff and puff our manner by way 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 because of the nasty climate – it had a light-weight 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 open air within the components.

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Hospice St. Gotthard (inbuilt 1237) didn’t appear to be a lot from the skin, however as soon as inside, it was gorgeous. This historic constructing had a totally fashionable inside, all made from wooden. And though it regarded prefer it may be chilly and uncomfortable from the skin – it was cozy and comfy inside. In truth, the rooms kind of regarded like a large sauna.

Hospice St. Gotthard

I regarded out the outdated window in my room and noticed completely nothing however yet one more cloud. It definitely 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 go on a motorbike within the rain and sleet – it felt overwhelming in the mean time, so I went and had a beer and dinner as a substitute.

Proper earlier than I went to mattress, I regarded 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 have been trying up for tackling the famed Tremola Street the following 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 probably the most arduous and essential 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 go connects northern (German-speaking) and southern (Italian-speaking) Switzerland. The event within the space began in 1200 and has undergone many transportation adjustments by way 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 ‘street’ was opened in 1830 and was made from cobblestones. The railway and practice tunnel was opened in 1882. Subsequent, a freeway tunnel was inbuilt 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 study extra in regards to the transportation historical past, on the high of the go, 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 Street Biking Fame

The route is famous for avid cyclists to overcome. It has been stated that if this street was in France or Italy it could be probably the most well-known climbs in biking. The Tremola Street 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 due to the shortage of visitors on it, which makes it secure to trip for folks of all ranges. And in order for you somewhat enhance, you possibly can simply hire an electrical bike to sort out the go.

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

4 Methods to Get Over or Below the Gotthard Cross

  1. Drive your self by way of the automotive tunnel. However be ready for large visitors by way of this standard route connecting north and south Switzerland.
  2. Use the extra fashionable street to drive over the go.
  3. Go by quick practice by way of the railroad tunnel
  4. Take the Outdated Tremola Street by automotive or bike. That is completely the slowest, however essentially the most scenic. And the perfect half is that you simply’ll virtually be alone – there may be little or no visitors on this route – which makes it best for biking and making plenty of stops for footage!

Take the Cobblestones Much less Traveled

biking down gotthard pass

I did this trip at the start 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 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 trip down the go 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 acquired nearer to beginning, the extra nervous I grew to become. I regarded on the map of cobblestone switchbacks – it regarded like a pile of spaghetti. I had an excellent 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 potential to remain upright.

Prepared, Set, Brake! Biking Down Gotthard Cross

I placed on my sun shades (one thing I believed 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 Street on Gotthard Cross

In fact, I most likely made it 500 ft earlier than I ended 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 superbly 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 surprise 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 way of my head and eat me was, why aren’t extra folks driving on this lovely go? I solely noticed 4 automobiles the complete trip down! Due to everybody being in a rush nowadays and the development of the trendy rail and automotive tunnels, Tremola Street was empty – which makes it the proper go 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 way of lovely farms and villages all the best way to the practice station. We had a full day of biking 43 miles (most of it downhill) into the Ticino canton the place abruptly the whole lot grew to become extra Italian. And the solar was out the complete time!

How You may Cycle Down Outdated Tremola Street

Biking the Tremola Street 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 trip down for the day. Nevertheless, I feel you would organize to do 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 pleased with their bikes and the guides that we had so it’s an awesome choice if you wish to see and bike extra of Switzerland.

The place to get the perfect picture of the Tremola Street

In fact, I took various footage and movies on my trip down Tremola Street; nonetheless, it’s arduous to get an excellent inclusive view of the entire hairpin turns whereas on the street. Earlier than you begin your descent from the highest, briefly comply with the primary 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 searching 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 way of the Gotthard Cross, you possibly can take your time and wind your manner down the historic cobblestones of Tremola Street. It might be the street much less traveled, however it’s the easiest way to expertise the Gotthard Cross. Decelerate, squeeze the brakes, and take all of it in…that is the best way 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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