Cycling up Zugerberg mountain

I must have climbed the Zugerberg a hundred times or more but never written about it. At every time of year it shows a different side to it. I particularly like this ride because it can be done within an hour yet is a tremendous cardio work out. Depending precisely where you start, it is a 500m climb with an average slope of 10% over 7km. It is a circular route rather than an out-and-back, and the descent is steeper than the ascent.

At this time of year the leaves are just starting to turn. The sunset over the Zugersee is stunning if you can do this ride around 6pm. In fact, the lake of Zug (Zugersee in German) is one of only very few lakes in Switzerland where the sunset lasts longest. That’s because uniquely the mountains to the West are very low.

I will post this ride regularly to show you the different seasons. I once crashed spectacularly on the descent and was rushed to hospital, but that story can wait.

The ride starts above the town of Zug and the incline is gentle on the legs at 6%. As you ride up past the last few houses you see the beautiful church of St. Verena. If it weren’t for the climb ahead, I’d say stop here and gaze at the view. But we continue, now into the lush pine woods.

St Verena Church
St Verena Church

You’re doing this on a racing bike as the tarmac is smooth. At most a handful of cars will pass you on this climb. Now the incline ratchets up to 9%, but you are warmed in, and passing Blasenberg the vice tightens further to 12%. 20 minutes in and 4km under your belt, you take the turn towards the last section of the climb. It flattens a little here to a 5% for a few hundred metres and your legs are thankful for the respite. But then it’s back to 11% for the final two km and with a push the climb is over.

Now, spinning to remove the lactic acid from your legs, take the turn towards the Zuger Bergbahn, the cog railway. Here you will have a spectacular view over the Zugersee with views of the 1800m Rigi above Lucerne clearly visible.

View from the top of the Zugerberg

Put your wind proof jacket on. As an aside, take a look at several windproof jackets that I use. I variously use a Gore Jacket (Amazon DE); Gore Jacket (Amazon UK) they need to be light enough to fit in a jersey pocket, and preferably colourful so you can be seen. Most of these jackets are unisex.

Now follow the road down towards Zug. It’s steep too this side – even more so – and it is sensible to moderate your speed. I crashed down here once. Spectacularly. Lessons were learnt. Even under moderate speed, you’ll be back where you started in about 10 minutes.

12km, 50 minutes, 500m climbed. And a wedge of calories burnt. Now where was that slice of chocolate cake again…?

Do comment if you have a favourite ride!

Written by Oli

Oli enjoys climbing mountains throughout the year on his various bicycles, camping in Summer and definitely to be seen skiing in winter.