The Gruyère Cycling Tour (The Big Cheese)


Today, Barry, Martin, Fabian Cancellera and I rode the Gruyère Cycling Tour.

A stunning 123 kilometres over 3 climbs (Mittelberg, Col du pillon, Col des Mosses) through the Swiss Alps near the medieval perched village of Gruyère. It’s a fantastic course.

As usual we started near the back. It’s a fun start as some old guy sings a slow, atmospheric old Gruyere folk song while everyone crosses the start line (seriously).

Gruyere Cycling Tour

With 2000 riders the beginning is a challenge as we went through about 8 roundabouts (downhill) to start – with police with whistles and waving flags à la Tour de France. Almost immediately the work starts as the Route heads towards the Jaun Pass – and climbs much of it before turning up a perfectly surfaced tiny forest road towards Mittelberg.

This climb is steep and with the huge crowd it was often complicated to pass people.

The descent down to Gstaad is hair-raising with several crazy hairpins through the woods. Half way down, several officials warned us to slow and around the corner, on a very steep stretch was a section of gravel. There were quite a few crashes throughout the day – Martin witnessed one.

The Big Cheese (Gruyere) Gruyere Cycling Tour Start Line Gruyere Cycling Tour Felicitations Cancellera 3 Clowns - Gruyere Cycling Tour

And a rider in front of Barry fell and took Barry with him. Serious road rash – more on this later. And guess who helped him up? Mr Cancellera himself.

The Swiss World Champion and Olympic Medalist was participating (not racing) in the event – pretty cool.

Me? Far behind Barry and Fabian, I actually skidded a little on that section – I am usually braking when I descend – but I survived.

Feeling pretty good, I worked hard today and really enjoyed the route. I knocked 27 minutes off my last year time – so I was pretty pleased.

Fabian Cancellera @ Tour de Gruyere

At the finish – I met Barry and translated for the First Aid guys. They informed us that he needed to go to the hospital to remove embedded gravel. Ouch. Before leaving, I, of course, snuck into the VIP section to get a photo of Cancellera.

Barry Crashes

KUDOs to Barry for finishing the course after his crash with a time a little over four hours. Unfortunately, this was almost the exact time we spent waiting at the hospital for him to be treated.

Still, a very fun day.


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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. What a wonderful ride, except for the crashing bit. Knowing Barry, this should not slow him down a great deal but I am certain that the enthusiastic removal of gravel at the hospital hurt more than those three pretty brutal-looking climbs. On the positive, Fabian aka Tony Montana helped pick him up!

  2. Congratulations guys!

    Will – good thinking to send Cancellara ahead as Barry’s domestique. Eric is happy this time he was not the brake mechanic on duty, unless you want to make him responsible for Barry’s excessive speed after he increased his crank bearing. 🙂

    We’re just happy you all survived and yes, you guys need to wear your helmets at all times. 😀

  3. Many thanks to Will and Martin for giving up their apres-race pasta and beer plus trophy ceremony (Fabian will come to your houses and give it to you), to sit with me in an airless and hot hospital waiting room for toooooooooooooooo long.

    Mr ZeeZoo, Luckily I was wearing team bibs, so can be replaced 🙂 It was my first thought!
    Reason I wiped-out? Forgot the medallion 🙁

    Eric, I blame you for everything 🙂

  4. Wow… glad to hear Barry is OK… embedded gravel just hurts hearing it. But … Cancellara’s help had to take his mind off the pain. Congrats on his finish and yours… the ride looked like a great one.

  5. Slogfester, Will et all…..
    When I climbed the 14 thousand foot peaks of Colorado I would bring back a small rock as a momento of the acomplishment.
    I don’t think that it is required, advisable (or wise) to bring back gravel from your cycling adventures, especially imbedded in your body…
    Glad that nothing is broken, and now you can always boast that you had a world champion come to your rescue. What a way to get his attention!!!
    Heal well and quickly!

  6. Will
    Considering making a trip down to CH with the family for a few days and riding this. I was thinking of going and doing the fausto coppi in Cuneo, Italy but it is a longer drive. Also, your blog gives me lots of routes in Switzerland to try out.
    Suggestions for family type places to stay in the area welcome, but I need to check if there are places.
    If you are going to do it again, would be nice to meet you as I have been reading this blog for ages now.

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