Switzerland – on rails!

We knew that Switzerland was a gem in winter but we never got the chance to fully explore one of the 26 cantons during the summertime. We always talked about this awesome trip, but once the snow had melted, other plans in Austria, Italy, UK or Canada have already sneaked their way to the top of our priority list. So I was more than stoked that we decided to take one of our last Velochicks Camps to Pontresina in the Swiss canton of Engadin.

female mountain biker with capricorn statue at piz nair
pic by Irmy Beck

Singletrails everywhere

We were travelling with a bigger group with riders of different levels and preferences. Thus, it was nice to find a broad range of trails in the area around Pontresina. From flowy singletrails over technical alpine terrain to fast bike park trails. We had the feeling that biking is an integral part of the culture. It was easy to travel back and forth, even on public transportation.

Bernina Express – shuttle time!

One of the highlights of the trip was a big day on the trails around Pontresina, La Rösa and Poschiavo. To get the most out of our trail time we decided to use the well known Bernina Express as a shuttle for our way back. To our surprise the train had TWO fully equipped bike compartments (with integrated hangers for the bikes). And even though there were already people with bikes on the train, it was easy to fit our whole group of TWELVE as well.

bike storage compartment within the bernina express

I have to emphasize this a bit as it’s often a hassle to use the train with your bike (e.g. in Austria & Germany). I am not saying that it’s not possible, but it is usually not a pleasant experience. And to be honest – unthinkable for a group of this size. Even with two other people it can be a problem to fit on the same train. Also in some compartments, the slightly bigger mountain bike wheels do not fit into the space or onto the hanger.

More than once, the bike spot I had reserved (and paid for) was filled with people or bags. It’s annoying to wiggle your way through the crowd or ask people to move over. And everything with a bike, a wide handlebar and luggage. Mostly, it is either not clear that the place is reserved or the space is too limited. Once, I had to shout through the whole carriage. Just to find the owners of the 15 bags sitting in a pile on and around the bike stand. I had to repeat the process in German, English and a lady translated to Italian, before anyone moved at all. Not cool.

After four years of travelling with my bike to races and events by train (Italy, Tyrol and Styria) it was satisfying to see the concept taken to a different level in Switzerland. So the building anxiety I felt when waiting on the train platform was unnecessary. We boarded the train, secured our bikes and were able to enjoy the fabulous views, while the little red carriages wound their way up to the Ospizio Bernina.

Like in a fairy tale

With the views and light on this afternoon the surroundings looked magical. The forrest, vegetation as well as the highlights and shadows on the mountains and lakes were impressive. We were standing on the windows like little children enjoying the breeze and last sunrays of the day.

We had a great time in Switzerland. A bit more expensive than in our usual bike destinations, but it was worth it. It’s nothing you do every other week and for us a nice experience to look back to.

We will be back – that’s for sure. Let’s see which destination will be the next…until then – Allegra!

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