From the Bodensee through Apenzellerland
Last fall, Molly and I gathered our courage and tried out our first multi-day mountainbike trip with the baby in tow. I’ve eyed this route in Ride magazine a long time ago – a nearly 100km ride between the Bodensee (Lake Constance) and the Zürisee (lake Zürich). You can find some details of the ride here, but to get the GPS track you have to pay a subscription. Our experience over the summer told us that we can do about 30-35km per day with up to around 1200m climbing – this includes generous stops to let the little guy run around and look for bugs and of course accounts for the slower pace resulting from extra ~27kg of load. So for the first multi-day trip we decided to make it a bit conservative and aimed for covering about half the distance. You can find our route with strava stats here, and on a proper map overlay here.
The first day we made an excellent discovery: the family train car also doubles as the bike car! This makes loading the singletrailer easy and as a bonus provides entertainment for the little people!
Before long we were working hard up some very steep asphalt climbs and quickly left the Bodensee behind.
The promised sunshine never quite materialized, but this didn’t make the pit stops any less enjoyable, just a bit frigid.
Diving into the heart of Appenzel is really fantastic with countless steep rolling hills in all directions. The haze added a bit to the mystique but didn’t make the gut-wrenching climbs any easier.
Here is Molly setting off on a fun little descent:
Frequent stop are necessary to keep the touring party in good spirits.
We made very good time and were heading down the long winding ridge from Buche toward Bühler in the early afternoon.
I’m pretty sure Lev liked the descents as much as we did:
Here’s some more proof that mountain bikers are not the worst thing to happen to trails… fighting past these cow hoof-holes with the added weight was challenging…
I don’t have photos of the last part of the first day because it turned into a near epic – in order to make it to our bed & breakfast in Stein, we had to cross a seriously steep ravine which included carrying bikes + singletrailer up and down many many stairs. Let’s just say the last 2km took nearly 2 hours. We were happy to arrive to a very comfortable B&B and a delicious dinner of Hörnli, sausages and apple sauce. Yumm.
The first day was quite long – 34km and over 1200m of climbing, definitely pushing our comfort zone a bit. We woke up the next day to a very dreary and cold morning and decided for a rather conservative plan. We would skirt around the Hundwiler Höhi (otherwise a very popular mountain bike tour with some technical descents) and drop down toward Urnäsch where we could hop a train back home.
Setting off in the morning toward Hunwiler Höhi with some classic Appenzel scenery:
A nice barn partway up the climb:
We were very very cold when we got to the top of the climb and decided to descent into Urnäsch as quickly as possible. After a nice lunch in a local village restaurant somewhere before Urnäsch, we found the train station and headed home.
This year we plan on finishing off the route by starting where we left off and ending up at the Zürisee – the second part should have a lot more singletrack and less asphalt so I’m looking forward to checking it out!
You can check out the full gallery here.