Outgoing flight: Wed 8 JUN London Heathrow (LHR) Geneva (GVA) 0950-1235 BA 728
Check into the sumptuous Grand Hotel des Bains, Yverdon. Assemble your bikes while having a light lunch, divide into your guided groups and set off on your chosen loop.
Leaving the hotel, the rides today head off south, in an anticlockwise direction away from the lake. In 3kms we have left the bustle of the flatlands and start to climb up into the hills and higher pasturelands. Now we get our first views of the hills in the distance. The old hamlets such as Oppens with creaking barn doors and high roofed buildings are exactly as you would wish Switzerland to be. This is all farmland with groomed meadows dotted with cows with their ubiquitous bells and sheep with the same.
As we turn back towards the north we get our first views of the huge expanse of Neuchatel Lake stretching below us. As we wind up and down our journeys are made that much easier and more pleasurable with Swiss quality tarmac. We turn west again to head home and encounter lush fields of flowers set against a dazzling blue sky.
On our return to the hotel the Thermal Centre awaits (at a discounted rate) with Jacuzzis, saunas, heated swimming pools and pre bookable massages.
Dinner in the hotel restaurant with a briefing on the next day’s riding.
We all head off out of the plains of Yverdon, this time to the west. We soon start climbing up to the small town of Orbe, home of Nestle R&D, Nespresso and Nestle cereals. From Orbe we peel off on small quiet wooded roads to Orney. Here the routes split.
Barking head due west to their first challenge of the day, the Col De Marchairuz (1447m) with stunning views back over Lake Geneva. The descent takes us down a stunning winding road to Les Brassus, home to the manufacture of Swiss watches such as Blancpain, and a stop for lunch by the side of Lac de Joux, the largest lake in the Jura massif.
Badgers and Singers head north from Orney to their morning stop in the little village of Bretonniere. The Badgers then turn west on their climb into the hills of the Jura and drop down to meet the Barking Badgers at Lac de Joux for lunch.
Singers continue north from Bretonniere, through Vallorbe to cross the border into France. From here quiet back roads climb steadily up into the French Jura, and on to their lunch stop at the Lac de Ste Pointe.
From the Lac de Joux, Badgers and Barking head off on an Alpine style winding climb to get over the border and into France through a remote border crossing at the Col de Landoz Neuve. The descent takes us into Mouthe and along the valley to join the Singers route at the picturesque Lac de St Pointe.. With all the groups now on the same route we head around the lake, looking back at the road we have travelled, across to the town of Malbuisson and at the challenge ahead.
The first challenge is to get to up to the ski resort of les Fourgs, and back into Switzerland at L’Auberson. Then we continue up through the high pasture lands and up the Col des Etroits (1165m) used in the Tour de France in 2009, From here we descend into the ridge top town of Sainte Croix and head up a few kilometres along the top of the ridge to our hotel in Les Rasses.
A stay at the Grand Hotel in Les Rasses is all about the stunning views.
The Singers have a beautiful ride along the ridge before they head down to the Lac de Neuchatel where they pick up a ferry to Estavayer-le-Lac. From here we pick up some named Velo Routes all the way to Gruyères to make the most of the lovely countryside and quiet roads they offer. These routes run all the way down the side of Lac de Gruyères, through Bulle and up to Gruyères itself. This pedestrianised medieval village sits 80 metres above the valley and gives its name to the well-known Gruyères cheese.
Barking and Badgers head out of Les Rasses with a descent down the through the gorge to Feyrier. They divide at the Vue des Alpes with Badgers going south to the lake across the valley floor to the German speaking town of Murten. From Murten the Badgers too join the Velo Routes for the 60k and 700m climb up to Gruyères, in the heart of the beautiful Parc Naturel Régional Gruyère Pays-d'Enhaut.
As the Badgers peel off at Vue des Alpes, Barking head towards Col de Chasseral. They start ironically with a very steep descent to get on to the valley floor and the access town of St Imier where the climb starts. The 999m climb over 11.5km is almost over when you get to the summit of the pass, but then another road leads to the Chasseral hotel (1,548 m) and summit of the Chasseral (1,607m) itself. Here we can stop for lunch and enjoy the stupendous views. We then drop all the way down to the valley floor, travel on to Murten and join the Badgers and Singers on selected Velo Routes to Gruyères.
Accommodation will be in the Hotel Gruyeres and Hostellerie Saint Georges. Everyone will eat together.
After the tranquil Jura and the lake views of the previous days, today is all about the high mountains. With its stunning Enhaut Natural Park and amazing mountains you are about to see for yourself why this area has been chosen by the Tour de France to host stage 16, in the 2016 Tour.
Gstaad is set to the eastern edge of a ring surrounding some of the highest mountains in the area linked via a number of incredible cols. It’s your choice how many of these cols you choose to do.
Leaving Gruyères, the Singers head towards Grandvillard and Lessoc along quiet roads through remote hamlets to Chateau d’Oex. Six weeks before the Pros, the Singers have the option to go up and down Col de Mosses (1446m) and then return towards Chateau d’Oex for the home straight to on a Velo Route to Gstaad and our finish.
From Gruyères the Badgers too head south and up the pre Alps along with the Singers. At Chateau d’Oex they head up and over Col de Mosses, and continue along to Col de Pillon to complete this amazing loop around this stunning mountain range with a 25km downhill into the centre of Gstaad.
Barking can choose whether they head up the faster main road to Chateau d’Oex or take the smaller road the Badgers and Singers will enjoy. From Chateau d’Oex they too head up and over Col de Mosses but before they head up Col de Pillon they take a sharp south turn at les Diablerets, and head up Col de la Croix, at 1776m this is the highest point of the trip. They then head up Col de Pillon (1546m) in the footsteps of the Badgers and carry on to Gstaad.
The hotel has a cheeky little hill to access it so the celebrations will be all the more sweet by the time we get there.
Day five - Return to UK
Transfer to Geneva for flights home – 2 hours
Sun 12 JUN Geneva (GVA) London Heathrow (LHR) 1150-1240 BA 727