Jerry’s Tour des Alpes 2002 – Day Twelve

Stalden — Brig — Ulrichen — Airolo — Andermatt — Disentis/Mustér (153 km, 3575 m up, 8-32° C)

Nufenen Pass

As I said, they had a good breakfast at Hotel Killerhof in Stalden. I tried to talk with some older people sitting at the table next to me, but it turned out they were from Spain (and my spanish is non-existent).

I wondered if I could see the Matterhorn up the valley while going down, but apparently one has to go higher up in the valley to be able to see it (from this side) and I was not interested enough.

The day begun with a 1800 m climb from Brig (681 m) to Nufenen Pass/Passo della Novena (2478 m). However, the real climb begins at Ulrichen (1347 m). Once one get past Brig in the Valais valley (and the Simplon pass road) the valley begins to be like any side valley – much more narrow and with a more narrow road and nice scenery (here and there). It also climbs out of the hotness up to a small village called Lax (1016 m), from where it is rather flat up until Ulrichen.

At Ulrichen one could choose to continue straight ahead until the very end of the valley and choose to go either over the Grimselpass (2165 m) or the Furkapass (2431 m), but one could also take right here and go up a rather steep road to Nufenen Pass (2478 m) which I did. I stopped in Ulrichen to have some pastries and a coke and talked a little with a slovenian cyclist. He went ahead of me up the pass, and even if he had a very ordinary mountainbike or touring cycle, it took some time before I caught up with him and passed by him.

Bedretto valley

The first photo here is from the top of the Nufenen Pass, looking down towards the italian border mountains on the other side. It is a very quiet and serene pass (some cars but not many), and is not very nice on the Ulrichen side (a bit like the north side of Col de l’Iseran).

The road down the Valle Bedretto has quite fine views though. Here I became aware that Swiss pass roads could have concrete surfacing, which was a bit annoying with the repeating small bumps at the edges – but the road is quite fine and the concrete is almost never ever damaged (one just have to keep an eye on how the edges meet). This is a very fast road and it is not with concrete surfacing all the time. I reached 79 km/h down here and I could probably have gone faster if had cared and dared. I believe that was the highest speed I had come up to during the 14 days.

The second photo was taken when I came down to the more wooded landscape.

Gotthard road

I stopped in Airolo and went into a shopping center there and had to use the elevator to get to the grocery shop. I had to ask to make sure I took the right way out of town, but I actually figured out the right way myself (you simply go through the town and up if you wish to take the old road).

The old road up to the St. Gotthardpass is to 90% cobblestone-surfaced with some occasional asphalt patches. The road is a little steep at first when passing a military training camp, but the road is not very steep and it is therefore not a real problem with the surface and you probably do not go in very high speed either. I found it better than most modern cobblestone paved stretches of roads in town where I live (Gothenburg, Sweden). To put cobblestones on good modern roads (and so called cycle paths) should be criminal (only politicians would consider such a thing, and unfortunately they have a say on such matters), but it could be nice with an old road like this one.

Gotthard serpentines

The serpentines here are among the most impressive I have seen! I was truly happy I took this old road to the pass. In the first photo taken up the serpentines, you can spot the tunnels of the new road. It was never very hard to get up here, but then I also stopped to take the two photos.

St. Gotthardpass

As I reached the top the weather shifted drastically and it begun to rain, but as I hurried on down to Andermatt it stopped again, even if it was hanging in the air.

Andermatt looked just as perfect as I had imagined it. I went straight into town on the narrow road and stopped again to have a banana or something and asked about the weather. The lady said it was supposed to be raining for the next few days. Okay, so much more reason to get out of there as fast as possible, I thought. The town also looked rather expensive.


Everything looked very perfect here around and the road up to the Oberalppass made me come up with a name for the calm and very green landscape – the ’Märklinlandschaft’ as it looked very much as some of the more well-built railway model landscapes, complete with railways and all.

Curiously they warned about the steepness of the road up to the Oberalppass, which was somewhat amusing to me as it was one of the easiest pass roads I have ever cycled on, with gradients almost never exceeding 6% and only a 600 meter climb from Andermatt (1447 m).

Tiarms pass

I managed to catch a train with my camera just before it was too far off (it stopped later at a station by the pass). Here I also noticed a small road going up to what I first thought was the Oberalppass, which is going right into the little opening in the clouds straight ahead in the photo.

That was a gravel road up to Tiarms Pass (2148 m) that I had heard about, but had somehow thought it was surfaced on one side, which it was not. I was able to cycle nearly all the way to the pass, but had to put down my feet three times and could not get it back in place as it was too steep (and bad) at around 16%. I got up to the gravel road on a small path from the Oberalppass, but the road is also possible, but it was worse than the path actually at the beginning. I also had to go under an electric fence (for the cattle). It was a very short road though and I got another pass on my list!


The Oberalppass (2044 m) is not really interesting otherwise. I met some young youths out on a cycling adventure on the pass, who had taken the train to the top to cycle down (clever kids! ;-)), but they really had a lot of luggage.

Now, I was mostly interested in finding a place for the night. I cycled down into the lovely Val Tavetsch on very good road. After trying a place at Sedrun (too expensive), I went down to Disentis/Mustér (1130 m). I realized I had to look for a room here (zimmer) and many were announced along the road. Anyway, I wish to recommend the very lovely house I stayed at just at the beginning of Disentis (just when you reach the higher laying part of the village). There is one to the right that you will see at once (but that was full), but to the left across the road there is another (Fam. L. Manetsch-Thomann, Feriewohnung und Zimmer, tel. 081-947 55 53). Very good price and nice older people (be nice). There is a good pizzeria in the pink house at the crossing down in the village.

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