Bike-packing the swiss alps (advice needed)

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Spaniel
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:03 pm
Real Name: Spaniel
Location: Stellenbosch

Bike-packing the swiss alps (advice needed)

Post by Spaniel »

Hi all,

I am looking for advice for a bike packing trip through the swiss alps. I will be doing it in the first two weeks of July.

Places: Any suggestions?
What I want to see so far:
Geneva
Chamonix
The Matterhorn
Mont blank
Lake Como (or something similar)

Accommodation:
My plan is just to wait until the sun goes down and sleep somewhere next to the road.
Any thoughts on the feasibility of this strategy?

Timeframe:
I will have about 10 days and I am planning on riding about 100km a day. I am quite a fit guy and I think that 100km spread out over a whole day should be ok. Please tell me if this is unreasonable.

Gear:
I plan on taking:
Sleeping bag (-10C comfort)
Survival bag
Down and waterproof jacket.
Two shirts, pants, and underwear
Two phones and a charging bank.
A second-hand bicycle that I will buy there. (I will also probably get a gell seat for it)
A backpack to put everything in.
800 euro cash

I know this seems a bit bare bones but I have experience in rough conditions. I am not to worried about comfort but if this seems unsafe then please let me know.
RyanStellies
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2019 12:35 pm
Real Name: Ryan Stellenbosch
Location:

Re: Bike-packing the swiss alps (advice needed)

Post by RyanStellies »

Cycling through Central Europe is totally recommendable! It's arguably the best continent for a cycling trip!
In the flatter regions, 100km/day is quite feasible. However, for mountainous terrain cycling 1000km over 10 days is rather optimistic.
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Roads meandering up steep mountains might be lacking shoulder lanes and probably won't have dedicated cycling paths. Consider wearing bright colours for when you have to share the road with cars or put a colourful rain cover over your backpack for improved visibility.

When buying your second-hand bicycle: Make sure the chain/gears don't jump under high loads (such as cycling uphill with lots of added weight). It will not be fun tackling long uphills and the chain keeps jumping between gears.

In terms of safety: Crime is no issue but camp in stealth mode to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to you from land owners and tourists.
Take note that in July the sun sets around 21:20 and it gets dark even later: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/@265972 ... &year=2023

Based on your post it appears you will be carrying all of your luggage on your back, nothing on your bike. This will tire out your back a bit more but at the same time you can generate more downward force on the pedals when you cycle uphill without sitting on the saddle. You can get the best of both worlds with a rear luggage rack which is packed to the height of the saddle:
• When cruising downhill and sitting on the saddle, the bottom of your backpack can rest on the rear luggage rack, taking most of the weight off your shoulders/back.
• Tackling the uphills and cycling while standing on the pedals, you have the extra weight of the backpack to help you generate extra force.


For longer cycling trips, it's advisable to have the weight distributed between the front and back, by attaching some to the front fork.
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When all the luggage is only on the back, the bike tends to fall over as soon as you get off it (at stops/rests or when pushing the bike uphill), due to the lack of friction under the front tires in the absence of front load. When holding the handle bars, the bike tends to pivot around the dashed line (see diagram below) like a face climber barndooring when not flagging properly.
Image

Enjoy the Swiss Alps and scenic views!
Chris F
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Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2006 1:45 pm
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

Re: Bike-packing the swiss alps (advice needed)

Post by Chris F »

Sounds like a great trip, just checking, your "Lake Como or similar" - what do you mean? All the other places are "reasonably" close together, except Lake Como. If you are wanting to hang out at a mountain lake, you have several options closer together; Lake Geneva, Lake Annecy, and dozens of smaller ones that are closer, Lac du Montriond near Morzine being one of my favourites. It would be nice maybe to have more time to chill out and see places rather than flogging yourself every day to get somewhere, only to have to turn around the next day due to a tight schedule, and the weather is horrible.
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