Cycling from Milan to Brussels via the Nufenenpass and the Grimsell Pass

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A post-Covid, A-to-B ride, from Milan to Brussels. If felt strange to be on a big plane again. A 100% packed A380, with everyone wearing masks. Everyone was going to Europe, and nothing was going to stop them.

I’d cycled across northern Italy before but not as far north as the lakes. And I’d cycled through Switzerland a few times but had never crossed the alps that separate Mediterranean and Germanic Europe.

There are a few routes, but I chose the Nufenenpass and the Grimsell Pass. These days there is the Gotthard Road Tunnel, which is 17km long and starts near Airolo in the south. It keeps most of the traffic off the old road over the mountain pass which is good except that there are a great number of motorbikes. On the Grimsell pass, for every 100 “vehicles”, 65 are motorbikes, 30 are cars and 5 are bicycles. That’s a lot of bicycles when you see the size of the alps. In most countries, on big mountains you see no bicycles.

Once over the mountains, I spent a few days in Interlaken and then headed to Rheinfelden near Basel, before turning west into France, at first on the Moselle, and then over to the Meuse Valley. This was supposedly a EuroVelo route (EV19) but the start of it is still in the planning phase.

The Lorraine region is a great cycling destination, and it was busy on the bike routes. The Meuse eventually reaches Belgium. I departed from Brussels, heading back to the Tasmanian winter.

Broken bike box after a flight

Bad start. My carton had been damaged. Most likely because it was raining in Melbourne when the small plane from Tassie was being unloaded. Nothing had fallen out because I always attach things to the bike because this damage can happen.

Lake Verbano, Italy

The Italian Lakes. This is Lake Verbano. There are bikes everywhere, mainly roadies in training.

Huge bridge in Italy

Starting to climb

A stone roof in italy

Stone roof. It is always amazing to see this. Imagine the weight of it!

A road outside Airolo

Out of Airolo the climb gets underway. Weather is ok.

Noel McFarlane at the Nufenenpass

Atop the Nufenenpass. About 2,500m. It’s ridiculously cold. According to Fabian Cancellara, this is the hardest climb in Switzerland. And he doesn’t have panniers! That night I stayed in Ulrichen.

The Grimsell

Climbing the Grimsell. This pass is a bit lower (2,160). The descent on the north side to Meiringen is 1,650m in only 32km. So, you need good brakes.

The Swiss scenery is classic.

More classic scenery. The bicycle is the way to see it as you can stop whenever you want.

Farmhouses east of Bern. I always stay at Airbnb’s in this part of the world. I look for places in or near villages that have a supermarket.

The bike path goes left here, and this pair make sure that I stick to the route. I could not capture it on the shot, but they gave me a nasty greeting.

After passing the corner where France, Germany and Switzerland meet, I’m heading down the Moselle bike path.

After passing the corner where France, Germany and Switzerland meet, I’m heading down the Moselle bike path.

Back at Place Stenislas in Nancy. I rode through here years ago. This is a stunning baroque square that is impossible to capture in one photo. 

In the Lorraine region, motorists are urged to take care and respect travelling cyclists (randonneurs).

The Northeast of France is gorgeous. A real pleasure to cycle through.

A few days following La Meuse which is quite popular with randonneurs.

Into Belgium.

In Belgium, cyclists are everywhere. This is the bike parking outside a train station.

My tour ends in Brussels. I call into Velonaut, a great bike shop, very near to the Atomium, to see an old friend and he kindly supplies me with a bike carton.

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