Tour 1998,  8 - 14 July

stagedistance (km)climbing (m)
Kilchberg - Luzern - Brünig - Meiringen1131410
Meiringen - Grosse Scheidegg - Interlaken - Zweisimmen1341950
Zweisimmen - Les Agites - Pas de Morgins - Lullin1432770
Lullin - Yvoire + Nyon - Marchairuz - Le Lieu1202560
Le Lieu - Mollendruz - Jougne - Les Étroits - Lignières1341710
Lignières - Bienne - Solothurn - Aarau - Kilchberg152240


Stage 1 (8 July 1998): Kilchberg - Luzern - Brünig - Meiringen


The weather forecasts were unfortunately correct: polar air had hit Switzerland during the night. It was unseasonably cold and it had snowed below 2000 m. No weather to start a bike tour. On the other hand, i really wanted to combine my 1998 tour with watching the tennis tournament of Gstaad for which we already had tickets. So i rode off towards Meiringen, but not over the Susten pass as first planned.
After the first small pass of the tour (the old-known Albis), i took towards Zug. Then i decided to avoid the main road to Lucerne and its heavy traffic, but this meant some hills to climb before riding down to the Lake of Four Cantons. I finally reached Lucerne around 11 o'clock and continued along the lake. Just when i was leaving it behind me, it started to rain. I took this as an opportunity to stop at a restaurant at Alpnachstad to eat a soup and a plate of pasta. I already knew the region from my service in the Swiss Air Force. I also knew the remaining of the stage from my tour 1993 but this time the weather was different. My legs didn't have a good output with these chilly temperatures.
At the beginning of the climb to the Brünig pass, i met another cyclist. He was from San Diego, California. We climbed together and, since it was still cold, we took a tee together at the pass. After chatting a bit, we set off again, but in different directions. I rode to Meiringen. Fortunately the road was not too wet and it was still a pleasure to speed down. After crossing Meiringen (also known from my military service), i just started to climb on the other side of the valley but soon stopped at a small and cheap hotel. It was near to the Reichenbach falls, well known to all Conan Doyle's readers as the place where Sherlock Holmes fell and died after a fight with his enemy Moriatry.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Oberer Mönchhof (Kilchberg)0450 
Schwendi (Meiringen)113790200
total113 1410


Stage 2 (9 July 1998): Meiringen - Grosse Scheidegg - Interlaken - Zweisimmen


For the second stage, the weather was better but there was no warm-up for the legs: the road climbed steeply from the start on. If you ever want to ride over the Grosse Scheidegg like me, then just some warnings. First it's steep, sometimes around 20%, and you should not expect to ride much over 10 km/h. Second there are unpaved places but the gravel is fine and you can still ride with a race bike. Third the landscape is of breathtaking beauty: wild stream, forests, pastures, high mountains and a glacier. The best is that the road is closed to private motor vehicles. A cold wind was biting me as i was approaching the pass but it soon became warmer as i began to ride down to Grindelwald. I rode through the famous and crowded station and headed towards Interlaken.
Once i had the bad idea to follow a road sign for bikes. For the hundredth time i swore never again to do this: after a while it lead me right onto a gravel road. Fortunately i did not get any puncture but it completely spoiled the pleasure of the descent. My experience with special signs for bikes is a disaster. Usually, such signs lead you to either one of the following situations:

To be just i ought to add that the 9 new bike routes across Switzerland appear to be better marked (red signs with white-on-blue numbers).
Along the south shore of the Lake of Thun, there is not much choice about the route to take. The landscape was nice but the ride not very interesting. After Spiez, i took towards the Simmental. I ignored all bike signs and remained on the main road. Too much traffic, but at least a paved road. I stopped at Boltigen to eat a soup and bread. It took almost half an hour to get the order. Did anybody tell anything about bernese people being slow?
I left my small baggage at the hotel as i reached Zweisimmen. From there i made a small ride to the place my family originally comes from: Lenk im Simmental. I went even a little further, till there was no longer any surfaced road. I just was able to see another mighty waterfall: the Iffigfall. Then i rode back to the hotel and waited for my dear Catrina and her dear father to arrive.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Schwendi (Meiringen)0790 
Grosse Scheidegg151960560
total134 1950


Stage 3 (11 July 1998): Zweisimmen - Les Agites - Pas de Morgins - Lullin


Friday had been a rest day as we went to watch the tennis quarter finals at Gstaad. On Saturday my bike tour resumed. The weather was cloudy again and rather chilly. Like three years earlier, for my tour 95, i went over the small pass of Saanenmöser. But then i rode west towards the Pays d'Enhaut. Strong head winds welcomed me there. At Château d'Oex, as i started to climb again, the road was wet and i feared some more rain. Fortunately, this did not happen. At La Lécherette, i took to the right instead of continuing to the Col des Mosses. I was entering a military zone, which road is open on Saturdays and Sundays. The whole zone is obviously very wild and i barely encountered anybody. Not even soldiers. Just a young donkey with his mother.
After Col d'Ayerne and the highest point of Les Agites, there is a 300-m-long tunnel. It is not lighted but there are holes through the rock bringing some daylight from the side. Since it is very narrow, traffics up and down are alternated. In the worst case, you may have to wait 3/4 of an hour. I let you imagine if, with my bicycle, i respected the rule... After the tunnel, the road was steep (but at least dry) and the curves very narrow. I was really glad to have good brakes. It was about noon as i arrived at Aigle. From the vineyards of Aigle, i crossed the Rhone valley to the industrial town of Monthey and started to climb to the Val d'Illiez, a region i knew from ski holidays. It was now warm and, for the first time of the tour, i was really sweating. I climbed to the Pas de Morgins, a pass leading into french Haute- Savoie. Despite of head winds, i rode fast into the valley of Abondance. There was, however, still a pass on my program: the Corbier. The landscape was very nice and my legs weren't yet tired. I finally chose to stop at Lullin, just at the foot of another small pass... for the next day.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Les Borsalets23101040
La Lécherette371380240
Col d'Ayerne49147090
Les Agites55156090
Pas de Morgins961370620
La Solitude (Bonnevaux)115830 
Col du Corbier1211240410
Pont de Gys129660 
La Vernaz134810150
Le Brevon137670 
total143 2770


Stage 4 (12 July 1998): Lullin - Yvoire + Nyon - Marchairuz - Le Lieu


Lullin is not very far from the Lake Léman (Lake of Geneva); it is a region where the Alps are not so high as further south but charming. And there are so many roads over small passes and with few traffic that it's a dream for cyclists. It was not yet 11 o'clock when i had already done five passes: Col du Feu, Col de Cou, Col des Arces, Col de Terramont and Col de Saxel. None is very high, but all are nice rides, especially with the fair and not too hot weather i had. Then i rode down to the lake, arriving at Yvoire. It was Sunday and this very nice old little town was full of tourists. I bought a ticket for the ship across the lake and waited on a bank under a tree, chatting with another cyclist.
As the boat arrived at Nyon, i got on my bike again and started towards the Jura mountains. I was first riding across a landscape of fields, vineyards and orchards. Then there were fields and pastures and, still further uphill, pastures and forests. Unfortunately the forests did not shed much shadow and it was now rather too warm. Looking back, i was still able to see all the way i had taken from the Alps in Savoie, down to the lake and up to the Jura. I finally reached the highest pass of the day, the Marchairuz. The descent into the Vallée de Joux was nice even if some curves appeared a bit irregular and surprising to me. Riding on the left side of the lake (Lac de Joux), i reached Le Lieu on time.
I had announced my visit to friends of mine who live there and i met them: Sylvie, Michael "Murk" and their 15-month old son Matthias. We had time to go to the lake to take a swim. The water was still cold because of the elevation and because of the poor weather of the last week. We also went to the parents and sister of Sylvie. They had just finished to harvest hay and we celebrated this around a bottle of wine. It was therefore no longer so early as we went back. After supper, we watched the second half of the football final of the world championship.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Col du Feu31120270
Col de Cou191120490
Le Vernay221000 
Col des Arces241160160
Les Courbes27900 
Col de Terramont311090190
Col de Saxel47940200
Les Crapons6060070
>>> Nyon73370 
Le Vaud89820450
Les Bâmes (Marchissy)90780 
Col du Marchairuz1031450510
Le Brassus1101030 
Le Sentier1131010 
Grand Sagne118107060
Le Lieu1201040 
total120 2560


Stage 5 (13 July 1998): Le Lieu - Mollendruz - Jougne - Les Étroits - Lignières


I woke up early and took breakfast together with Murk and Matthias. Sylvie had got up even earlier and was already away for a business trip. The air was still chilly as i said goodbye and hit the road towards Le Pont and to the Col du Mollendruz. The pass is not steep at all and, from that side, there is not much to climb. Then i rode down to Romainmôtier, had a glance at the old monastery (11th century, roman style) and climbed again towards Vallorbe. Sure it was a detour, but i just wanted to once ride the Mollendruz. It was only a small road and i did not find it at once but a fellow cyclist helped me. Then, especially after crossing the border to France, i was riding on a main road with more traffic. It first went up to the town (and pass) of Jougne, then down towards Pontarlier. Before reaching this town, however, i took to the right and went up to Les Fourgs. All along the way i saw many french flags celebrating the victory of France at the football world championship. Even people having no flag had found a solution to show their happiness: three t-shirts hung on the balcony, one blue, one white and one red.
I soon reentered Switzerland and arrived at the Col des Étroits. This pass has not two but three roads leading to it. I did not ride to Sainte-Croix but to Buttes. Unlike the previous passes of the day, this was a real, fast downhill. Once in the Val de Travers, i found a fair tailwind which helped me to ride about 40 km/h. At Noiraigue, the valley becomes so narrow that the road goes up to the left side and into a tunnel. I preferred to take the small and winding road on the other side. Then, as i arrived down at Boudry, i tried to remain above the main road along the lake of Neuchâtel. This was perhaps not a good idea as i had to go several times up and down, but i finally reached well-known roads across Neuchâtel, towards Saint-Blaise and finally up to my parents at Les Prés sur Lignières. It was not yet 2 o'clock and i was lucky to be early: it soon began to rain.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Le Lieu01040 
Le Pont51010 
Pétra Félix81140130
Col du Mollendruz10118040
Le Day32790130
Col de Jougne421030280
Les Hôpitaux-Neufs43990 
Col des Hôpitaux44103040
La Gauffre54880 
La Coupe (Les Fourgs)621140260
Les Envers (L'Auberson)671060 
Col des Étroits69115090
Derrière Cheseaux (Noiraigue)9779070
Les Cadolles11858080
Le Sordet121510 
La Coudre12255040
Les Gravereules133940450
Les Prés (Lignières)134920 
total134 1710


Stage 6 (14 July 1998): Lignières - Bienne - Solothurn - Aarau - Kilchberg


The last stage was to ride back to Kilchberg. Basically, i had two options: either the direct way along the main roads, or some detour over more interesting regions. Since the first choice meant some 150 km and the second at least 30 more, i decided to take the boring but shorter way over Biel/Bienne, Solothurn, Olten, Aarau, Baden and Zurich. At least the wind was rather with me and i was able to ride with an average of 32 km/h. I was glad to get back home.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Les Prés (Lignières)0920 
Mönchhof (Kilchberg)15246070
total152 240

PS / 25.7.1998