62 hours of adventure – a short trip to the Swiss Alps

Mountainbiker auf Trails am Grimselpass, Wallis, Schweiz

Imagine a round trip in the Swiss Alps, with epic trails, great company and unforgettable scenery. What could be better? We, the Trail King & Queen crew, wanted to see how much bike adventure you can fit into one long bike weekend in Switzerland.

We live for the weekends and know from experience how much effort you have to put in to planning when you want to go mountain biking in a new region. Each time we invest hours of research to make every hour of the trip count and pack in as many trails as possible. Where can we go without using up half the time just getting there? How can we link up the longest singletracks? Can we get some assisted uplifts, or do we have to earn every turn? Where could we stay for the night, drink some beers and enjoy the local cuisine?

This time, our friends at Rodeo Bike Co. invited us along to test a new tour they had developed. To give our challenge an international spin, we started at Zurich Airport, where most riders from abroad would start their journey. It has direct flights from all major cities in Europe, and the airport’s railway station forms part of Switzerland’s high-speed rail network.

We had to change trains once in Lucerne before we got to Meiringen. We then continued our journey by public bus, known as PostBus in the Swiss mountains. Most are equipped with bike racks during the summer. Be aware these usually only have space for up to six bikes, so it’s worth reserving in advance to be sure. Romeo, founder and head guide at Rodeo Bike Co., did the trick for us.

By now we were in Valais: heaven for mountain bikers, with countless tours, routes and trails. Not just for expert bikers, but also leisure riders. Individual resorts also offer e-mountain bike hire and bike workshops.

You never know what the weather might do in the Swiss Alps, and it can change quickly. This time, it had suddenly changed overnight and created a magical – but distinctly chilly – landscape. Luckily, the sun came out and started to free up the trails again. We started our descent above the treeline with a scenic traverse through a beautiful, icy landscape. The stony track later turned into a forest trail over softer, smoother ground with occasional roots and a few steeper sections.

After a long descent of about 1,000 vertical metres, we reached the valley, where we enjoyed a late lunch at one of the great local restaurants. Thanks to Romeo’s good connections, we were able to spend the night in a rustic mountain hut, opened exclusively for us. To get up to the hut – quite a steep climb over rough terrain – we jumped in the hut owner’s little jeep. Somehow we all managed to squeeze on to the tiny vehicle for the ride up.

After a long evening of great food, local wine and a few schnapps from the hut owner, we all made it – somehow – to bed. The next morning was cold – even frosty. But beautiful, and we were ready to explore new trails.

The early rise was immediately rewarded. As the sun rose over the mountains, it bathed the trails and scenery in an incredible light. The frost on the trails melted, and they became grippier again. Time to let go of the brakes.

Mountain bikers riding at the Grimselpass, Valais

About halfway down we reached a hut with a friendly hunter, who invited us to make ourselves coffee. Gas stove, cups, coffee, Ovaltine, milk – we could use whatever we wanted. He couldn’t stay as he was just about to leave to track down dinner in the woods. For lunch we stopped in Binn, a charming village with houses in the original Valais style. The traditional wooden houses stand on wooden pillars topped with wide, flat stones, which stop rodents climbing up. We enjoyed a speciality of the region, «Cholera». A strange name for a dish they say originated in times of epidemic: no shopping required, the ingredients were in every larder. This vegetable pie, made with leeks, potatoes and cheese, lay heavy on our stomachs, but gave us the energy we needed for the rest of our ride.

Cholera, Valais

We continued riding through beautiful autumnal forest: a decent climb, in places with carriages and smooth descents. The interplay of trail and views put a big grin on our faces for the whole ride.

Mountainbiker on the Stoneman Glaciara route, Valais

La vue sur la vallée avec Brigue en arrière-plan. Il reste encore beaucoup de chemin devant nous avec des passages techniques caillouteux et, plus tard, un superbe sentier de traverse. L’itinéraire se poursuit ensuite le long du bisse, l’un des canaux d’irrigation historiques du Valais, qui servait autrefois principalement à alimenter en eau les pâturages et les champs secs, les vignobles et les vergers. De nombreux bisses sont encore en activité aujourd’hui et sont soigneusement entretenus. Notre tour se termine à Brigue, directement à la gare, où commence notre voyage de retour. Chaque heure, un train direct part en direction de la Suisse alémanique, sans changement jusqu’à l’aéroport de Zurich. Le trajet dure un peu plus de deux heures, suffisamment de temps pour trier les bagages pour le vol et ranger les vélos. Nous sommes en vadrouille depuis 56 heures. Ajoutez deux fois trois heures pour l’enregistrement et le vol et nous arrivons aux 62 heures de notre aventure en Suisse. Les nombreux trails, les plats régionaux, les histoires locales et les moments passés avec les gars de Rodeo ont été magnifiques. Merci Rodeo Bike – nous reviendrons.

The trip was made possible thanks to:

Trail King & Queen - an online shop offering mountain bike clothing for men and women Rodeo Bike Co. - on-site guides for a real mountain bike adventure Zimtstern Valais/Wallis Promotion Switzerland Tourism

All photos by Simon Ricklin

Pliés and deep snow

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