Bike touring in Switzerland – 11th to 13th of September 2020

Map of our 3 day bike touring in Switzerland. © 2021, Justine Le Cam.

DAY 1: Zürich – Euthal / 81km, 1’300m elevation gain

10AM: I roll my heavy bike out of the apartment and lock the door. I’m mentally saying goodbye to the comfort of my bed, couch and bathroom for the next 3 days. Our route is mapped on my phone, the camping spot for the first night is booked and our panniers and saddle bags are loaded for 3 days of cycling and camping: off we go! Holding Lucy (my bike) with one hand and opening the entrance door with the other, it feels like it is going to topple over, on one side or the other, at any time. The first part of the bike ride is on known territory and I’m thankful for that, as I need some time to get used to the bike’s weight and instability.

1PM: We stop at a bakery in Baar for a much deserved lunch break. Funny how a sandwich and coffee tastes so much better after you’ve ridden 50 km. Shortly after getting back on the bikes, we leave the road and follow a gravel trail in the forest, along the Lorze river. Away from traffic, we enjoy the steady climb and the freshness provided by the trees and proximity of the water. It feels very much like an oasis of peace.

3PM: Happy to leave the heavy traffic leading to Unterägi, we climb high above the Ägerisee and navigate a pleasant network of small farm roads. It’s relaxing to be away from the bustling traffic and we stop on a bench, to enjoy the peacefulness of the place. The sky is the purest blue, punctuated with little white clouds. Children are playing under the watch of their grandmother and farmers are busy taking care of the fields. We just sit there and soak the September atmosphere.

Lucy ready for an adventure. © 2020, Justine Le Cam.
Bike touring in Switzerland. © 2020 Nevin McCallum.
In front of the Einsiedeln Abbey. © 2020, Nevin McCallum.
Bike touring in Switzerland. © 2020, Justine Le Cam.

4.30PM: On the way to Einsiedeln, the mapped route is leading us to a small gravel road with a steep gradient and tons of rocks. We are slowly making our way up, when a van comes down the other way. The road is narrow and I have to put my foot on the ground, to stop and wait on the side. On this steep section, I give up getting back on the heavy bike, so I push Lucy on the last few meters up the hill.

6PM: After 80 kilometres and 1’300m of elevation gain with heavy bikes, we roll into the camping of Euthal, our home for the evening. Nevin takes a swim in the Sihlsee before we set up the tent, shower and cook a hearty dinner of cheese, couscous and cured sausage. The sky turns pink over the mountains close by, that we know very well for hiking and skiing regularly. We go to bed when the light has faded, feeling very content about that first day.

Bike touring along the Sihlsee. © 2020, Nevin McCallum.
First camp with the mountains in the background. © 2020, Justine Le Cam.

DAY 2: Euthal – Pfäffikersee: 65 km – 700m elevation gain

11AM: Before leaving Euthal in the morning, we stop at the local bakery/convenience store and stock up on cheese and carbs for this second day on the bike. The day starts with a climb up the Sattelegg mountain pass and my thighs are burning, reminding me of the 1’300 m climbed the previous day. At the top, sitting on a bench in the shadow of the trees, I savor my Mandelgipfeli (sort of almond croissant), which at that precise instant tastes like heaven. Descending on the other side of the pass is not more relaxing than the ascent: my hands are cramped on the brakes before every switchback. I’m glad when the route leaves the main road and turns into a gentle flat section on the side of the hill.

2PM: We bike along the shores of Lake Zürich for a while, it’s a sunny Saturday in September and people are out. We both get lured into ordering a plate of rösti for lunch: shredded potatoes topped with bacon and a sunny side up egg. Directly after lunch, the route is leading us up a steep neighborhood in the baking sun. We quickly regret our lunch choice, sitting heavily on our stomach.

6PM: We roll into the camping of Auslikon, on the shore of the Pfäffikersee. A helpful little 4 year old guy, who is going camping for the first time (a few kilometers away from home) lends us a helpful hand to set up the tent. We jump in the lake before having dinner on the shore, watching people stand up paddling at dusk.

Nevin ready for the second day of bike touring. © 2020, Justine Le Cam.
Going down the Sattelegg pass. © 2020, Nevin McCallum.

DAY 3: Pfäffikersee – Zürich: 38km

11AM: We kept the route for the last day short and that morning we are glad we have less than 40km to ride to get back home: we are tired from the last 2 days of pedaling as well as sleeping in campings. We ride along the Greifensee, which is quite busy as a triathlon is taking place, before stopping for lunch on a terrace. We learned from the previous day that we should keep it rather light as we still have 20-something kilometers to go in the hot sun.

3PM: We are glad to arrive back at home, even if the day was short, it feels good to not have to sit on a saddle or pedal for the next hours. We left the apartment only 2 days ago but it feels like we’ve been away for much longer et farther away. We are very satisfied with our little getaway adventure and already talking about the next one. With bigger tires this time!

Above Ägerisee. © 2020, Nevin McCallum.
Sunset on the Pfäffikersee. © 2020, Justine Le Cam.