View from our hotel bedroom across a misty valley

For Mike’s Birthday treat this year I thought it would be good to do a cycle tour. We decided to kit ourselves out with paniers that would go on the seat post of our MTBs, and although they limit the carrying weight to 9kg, including the set up, that seems no bad thing. We checked out our kit from a volume and weight perspective and found that we were well within the limits. So it all looked good and we thought that we would do a combined cycle and sightseeing tour round Burgundy, an advantage of that area is that it is not too hilly especially along the canals. However, we decided to cancel the planned tour to Burgundy due to Covid 19 and the UK Govt advising against travel to France, thus invalidating our travel insurance. Will keep it for another year.

So instead we have researched a trip through the Swiss side of the Jura mountains. However, that seemed a bit of a big ask to chew off without any real touring practice on our >15 year old mountain bikes. So we found a ‘flatish’ 2 day section of the Route 8 long distance trail. Our route took us from Innertkirchen (just above Meiringen) to Spiez and then on to Bern basically following the course of the Arun River.

Our first day was really all about getting to our starting point, the Hotel Alpina at Innertkirchen:

  • We set off at about 9:45 from Nendaz, giving ourselves plenty of time to catch our train from Bern to Meiringen (which we had prebooked) with the idea of then cycling the short distance up (being the operative word!) the valley to our hotel.
  • The drive was good, a bit of a panic finding the parking at Hotel Sternen Muri as the roads were being dug up – but we got there. The hotel is in a great location to drop down to the river and our ride into Bern. Also as a newer hotel had aircon, essential given the forecast overnight temperatures by the end of the week.
  • We were able to leave our car in the hotel underground carpark. Nice to have space to sort out our kit and assemble the bikes before a quick ride downhill to the river
  • Our route into Bern took us along the banks of the Arun River:
    • past a lovely outdoor swimming pool /picnic complex – very inviting.
    • Tranquil wooded paths with glimpses of the river.
    • We had our picnic lunch at a BBQ spot by the river looking over to the wooden bridge we had to cross.
    • Enjoyed watching several rafters drift (quickly) by.
  • We got to the railway station in good time only to have our train delayed (in Switzerland – can you believe it!) Oh well, just hoped we would miss the afternoon showers that were forecast! Mike was great at picking out where the bike carriages would be and loading/unloading our kit.
  • It was quite a stressful experience all in all and makes me realise how Covid 19 has undermined my sense of confidence, and ease at being around large groups of people.
  • We had to change at Interlaken for a small train up to Meiringen. Beautiful views of the lakes we will cycle past over the next couple of days. I had not thought about it but on reflection it was really helpful to see by train what our route will be like and where we might stop to explore.

From Meiringen it was back on the bikes for a cycle up hill and then down to our hotel. Tomorrow will do it in reverse! Mike did ask if I knew that first thing tomorrow we would need to cycle up a steep limestone hill which the Arun River carves an impressive gorge through – to which I said yes but thought it best not to mention it …. When we return at some point we will take the footpath through the Aareschlucht, which is illuminated in the summer evenings from Thursday to Saturday.

We are staying at quite a basic place but the owner is friendly, speaks good English, has a locked bike store, the beer is tasty and the food from the kitchen smells good. It also tasted good and breakfast was plentiful and hit the spot. Only disadvantage was that the shared bathroom (1 shower and 2 toilets) was across all the rooms also no toiletries were provided. Very happy to be staying in a rural village rather than Meiringen which seemed more touristy. Plus the rain held off!

Final thought on the end of our first day, the travelling was quite stressful in these strange times, however I was very happy with my bike and the set up. Glad that we had a couple of short cycles to get into the spirit of our cycle tour and that we have chosen such a beautiful area to travel through

Our hotel in morning light. Would stay there again