Lugano Bike Trip

I had plans to travel around Bolivia after the end of the Alpine winter season but the eagerly anticipated trip didn’t happen.  With the borders shut and international flights cancelled I found myself in Switzerland. When life throws you lemons…. I decided to spend the summer here, travel and photograph the country where I’d been pretty much based for the last seven years but I hadn't seen.

A friend and a fellow cyclist to whom I had confided, casually asked if I would travel and see Switzerland on a bike. In this instant the decision was made. "Yes, by bike. I’ll cycle to Lugano. It’ll be fun."

A cyclist up Col de la Croix, Villars sur Ollon
The first climb, Col de la Croix (1,778m)

Cyclist in Les Diablerets
Les Diablerets

Lugano was further that I had expected and the road more hilly than I had envisaged. The whole trip became longer and bigger.  I had opted for a scenic route through Gstaad, Interlaken, up to the Lake Luzern, down to Uri, over the Gotthard Pass to Ticino, detouring to Locarno, and finally making it on day five to Lugano.

I reached the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino on the fourth day, after three sunny days of meandering around crystal clear mountain lakes of Spiez, Interlaken, Brienz and Luzern.

Gstaad, mountains, Swiss Alps

The day I cycled over the Gotthard Pass (2,100m), connecting the cantons of Uri and Ticino, was absolutely fantastic. The climb was breathtakingly stunning. Big mountains, large open spaces and empty roads. The roar of freedom. Bolivia can wait.

On the top there were some pretty lakes, cafes and restaurants as well as the locals selling Ticinian fresh produce from the back of their vans, grilled sausages, meats and cheese.

Passing through some small towns and villages I finally reached Locarno the following day, and the day after, Lugano. Despite the pouring rain on the last leg of the trip - I must have been the only cyclist on the road in the whole of Switzerland that day climbing over Monte Ceneri from Locarno - it was worth it. Lugano, the final destination, didn’t disappoint. Drenched but exuberant, I made it on two wheels all the way from my home Alpine village of Villars-sur-Ollon. A 400km journey, five days in the saddle, one sore bum. Never did the pizza taste better and the wine flow smoother.

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