Exactly a week ago at the SlowUp in Ticino I completed the first tour with the new electronic shifting on my gravel bike. That was a very chill little round. Today it’s time for a “real” test, a big ride with a lot of gravel, a lot of forest, a lot of uphill and a long downhill.
I start as so often directly from home in the center of Lucerne. But the ride out of the city is relatively relaxed, I’m on a quiet neighborhood road in a few minutes at the Reuss. I follow the river on a good, paved bike path north out of the city. At the edge of town, the river turns east and I continue to follow it through a wooded area. At the beginning it is still relatively busy, but after a few kilometers I am almost alone on the road and the path turns into solid gravel, on which it is very good to ride. An ideal route to warm up slowly after the start and bring the muscles to ideal operating temperature.
At kilometer 13 I pass the freeway service area St. Katharina Süd. This is directly accessible from the bike path and offers tables and chairs for cyclists to eat food they brought themselves or bought at the gas station store. But I am only a few minutes on the road, so I continue my ride (as always at this point). Shortly after the service station I cross the river and continue on neighborhood roads with a nice pleasant climb through Root. Then it goes next to the main road to Rotkreuz. Behind the train station at kilometer 20 I have a short break at the bakery. Some small food and of course also a drink. Especially the last one is important, because it is getting very warm and I noticed that I forgot my water at home. So I buy fresh water to take with me and I am ready for the onward journey.
Shortly after Rotkreuz the bike path leads through the middle of a golf course and reaches a small hill from where there is a first magnificent view of Lake Zug and the surrounding mountains. It is also possible to cycle around the whole lake without any climbs. But that would be too boring for me today. I also ride around the whole lake, but with much more distance and much more altitude meters. Nevertheless, it goes first a part along the lake by Cham through up to Zug. There I leave the Zugersee and go to the Lorze, a small river that flows into the Zugersee. I follow this river now 15 kilometers upstream to the Lake Aegeri, from which it rises.
The Ägerisee is a few hundred meters above the Lake Zug. Before it goes into the climb, I take a short break in Baar and fill up my energy store. Then I throw myself directly into the climb. Out of Baar it goes into the forest, first still with very moderate gradient on an asphalt road. This leads directly beside the Lorze to the Höllgrotten, which are worldwide unique stalactite caves. Surely very worth seeing, I have already seen great pictures of it, but today I have no time for it. For me it goes on directly without a break. From here, the path is no longer paved and it becomes much steeper, but is still easy to ride with the gravel bike.
From here on, however, you also have to pay a little attention and think for others: many vacation guests rent a bike at the top to ride along the river down through the forest. Many of them, especially younger ones, like to go a little faster. Since the path through the forest also has many curves, you should always ride as far to the right as possible and expect someone coming towards you on your own side who has taken the curve too fast. Fortunately, there are no crowds, so it is still fun to ride up through the forest. Much more fun than on the busy main road!
On the way, you pass a small hydroelectric power station in the Lorzentobel. From here you have a wonderful view of the viaduct of the old Lorzentobel bridge. In the background, you can see the modern structure of the new Lorzentobel Bridge. Of course, the old one is much more beautiful with its great viaduct! Through a covered wooden bridge on the other side, it then continues along the river through the forest upwards. One sees again and again places with landslides. This is normal here, the whole Lorzentobel is in movement. This leads again and again to closings. But that’s nature and fortunately not everything is artificially fortified here.
Then, when you leave the forest, you get to the main road and you’re almost on the top. When I arrived there, however, the main road was fully closed, even for cyclists and pedestrians. It was virtually non-existent, everything was torn up. But there was a prepared small detour across a field to another road. However, this was only gravelled and so steep that my rear wheel spun and I had to push the hundred meters. Then it went a small stretch along the main road into Unterägeri, where the Lorze rises from the Lake Aegeri. Done, I’m at the top!
Now it goes around half the lake to the other side. On the way I still found a nice bench in the shade of a tree overlooking the lake. After the strenuous climb, I took another break here and ate and drank something. This did me very good and is also very important, because on the other side of the lake I still have to cross the saddle. So there are still a few final meters of altitude waiting for me before I can enjoy the descent. After the break and around the lake it is of course very flat. Fortunately, because there came clearly noticeable headwind. If it had been additionally uphill, I would have certainly lacked the power at the end.
From the Lake Aegeri up to the saddle I did not take the rather busy main road, but followed the official bike route 9. This is a bit longer and partly also very steep, but the steep sections are quite short and above all there is almost no traffic. This little detour was also worth it for the eye, it leads through a beautiful area. After the saddle, I returned to the main road on the descent to destroy altitude meters. I had to really watch out that I did not get too fast here! Because if you keep your eyes glued to the asphalt, you miss the wonderful view from up here of the surrounding mountains and the valley with Lake Lauerz.
In addition, if you drive too fast, you can easily miss the turnoff that I took. Because who continues on the main road, ends up very quickly on the T8 bypass, on which it has extremely heavy traffic and which is therefore also partly four-lane. Not a pleasant place for cyclists! Therefore, I take directly after the parking lot of the restaurant Burg a small, almost hidden road down into the valley. But be careful: ride slowly! The very narrow road goes steeper and steeper downhill and partly I had to move my butt very far back behind the saddle to still be able to brake well!
Once down, I pass the cantonal capital Schwyz to Brunnen at the Lake Lucerne. Shortly before you get to the lake, there is a great gelateria by a small river. The name I do not know, but it is in the Olympstrasse and a mandatory stop! Of course, I also had a very tasty ice cream here and freshly strengthened I did the section from Brunnen to Gersau to the car ferry. That’s a good 10 kilometers along the lake, sometimes slightly uphill, sometimes slightly downhill, but for me of course again with headwind! Nevertheless, thanks to the excellent refreshment I made it quite quickly and I even had to wait a bit for the ferry.
The ride with the car ferry (CHF 10.– for an adult person including bike) is pure relaxation. It travels relatively leisurely across the flat, waveless Lake Lucerne and I use the almost exactly 20 minutes of the crossing for a nice break. With a cold Coke from the self-service kiosk on board, I let the wind blow around my nose and enjoy the little break very much. After all, I already did a good 80 kilometers. By the way, the ferry is the only ferry of the Grand Tour of Switzerland and on the upper deck there is a special photo spot for it. But I’ve been on this ferry so many times that it doesn’t excite me today. So I remain in my connoisseur pose on a bench on the lower deck.
From the pier in Beckenried on the other side of Lake Lucerne, it is now only a stone’s throw to home. I’ve driven this route so many times, I know it in my sleep, so to speak. In Buochs we pass the airfield, which is being rebuilt and will soon offer scheduled flights. Even if there should be something true to it, I doubt the success. But right next to the airfield are the Pilatus aircraft factories, and they are definitely successful. A road runs across the airfield, with barriers at the runway similar to a railroad crossing. But today I’m taking the road around the outside.
In Stans I get something to drink at a kiosk, then I ride through Stansstad (with a view of the Lake Alpnach), Hergiswil and Horw back to Lucerne. All in all, a challenging but also beautiful tour for me through four cantons (Lucerne, Zug, Schwyz, Nidwalden), past five lakes (Lake Zug, Lake Aegeri, Lake Lauerz, Lake Lucerne, Lake Alpnach) and along two rivers (Reuss, Lorze). I sat in the saddle for not quite six hours, covering over 100 kilometers. In my current non-training state and for the first hundred this year, I’m very happy with that! The new gears and brakes worked flawlessly, as did everything else on my bike. I could hardly be happier!