From Lucerne to Barcelona and back

At the end of May I am invited as a speaker to a conference in Barcelona. The third year in a row! But this year I don’t want to fly, I want to cover the way there as well as the way back with my bicycle. This will be quite a challenge, because I have a very tight schedule and have to be in Barcelona in time for the conference and back in Lucerne in time for the work. I planned the way there and back differently in order to be able to see as many different regions as possible during the trip. During this tour I will surely reach my limits. Several times. After all it is approx. 2’600 km (1’600 mi) with approx. 21’000 m (69’000 ft) elevation!

The outward journey

Of course it goes through Switzerland in the direction of the French border. The largest part of the route then leads through France and in Spain there is only a small rest to be mastered, as Barcelona is not far from the French-Spanish border. I have meticulously determined the route in advance so that I can keep to my schedule as well as possible - if I am spared unforeseen events.

Planned route

  • Day 1: Lucerne - Freiburg
    121 km (75 mi), +1’480 m (+4’856 ft) / -1’320 m (-4’331 ft)
  • Day 2: Freiburg - Geneva
    139 km (86 mi), +1’470 m (+4’822 ft) / -1’640 m (-5’381 ft)
  • Day 3: Geneva - Grenoble
    147 km (91 mi), +1’490 m (+4’889 ft) / -1’690 m (-5’545 ft)
  • Day 4: Grenoble - Montelimar
    159 km (99 mi), +700 m (+2’297 ft) / -840 m (-2’756 ft)
  • Day 5: Montelimar - Nimes
    140 km (87 mi), +420 m (+1’378 ft) / -460 m (-1’509 ft)
  • Day 6: Nimes - Beziers
    144 km (89 mi), +590 m (+1’936 ft) / -580 m (-1’903 ft)
  • Day 7: Beziers - Perpignan
    106 km (66 mi), +570 m (+1’870 ft) / -580 m (-1’903 ft)
  • Day 8: Perpignan - Girona
    98 km (61 mi), +840 m (+2’756 ft) / -790 m (-2’592 ft)
  • Day 9: Girona - Barcelona
    103 km (64 mi), +660 m (+2’165 ft) / -740 m (-2’428 ft)

In total this is 1’157 km (718 mi) with a difference in elevation of 8’220 m (26’969 ft) up and 8’640 m (28’348 ft) down. That will be hard! Especially the first three days will be tough.

The return journey

Driving back the same route would be relatively easy. The route is planned, the hotels are known and from the distance, this is pretty much the shortest possible route. But since when do I choose the easy route? So I plan a new route, which is not only much longer and contains a few more meters of elevation, it is also (hopefully) very nice.

First, it goes, logically, through Spain to the French border. Then I follow the Mediterranean coast through France, past Marseille, Nice, and Saint-Tropez to the Principality of Monaco. From there I continue along the coast through Italy, past San Remo, until shortly before Genoa. There I leave the Mediterranean Sea and turn north. It goes through Milan back to Switzerland, where I have to cross the Gotthard pass and circumnavigate Lake Lucerne until I’m back home again.

Planned route

  • Day 1: Barcelona - Figueres
    137 km (85 mi), +1’060 m (+3’478 ft) / -1’030 m (-3’379 ft)
  • Day 2: Figueres - Coursan
    145 km (90 mi), +860 m (+2’822 ft) / -890 m (-2’920 ft)
  • Day 3: Coursan - Saliers
    161 km (100 mi), +380 m (+1’247 ft) / -390 m (-1’280 ft)
  • Day 4: Saliers - Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer
    146 km (91 mi), +1’260 m (+4’134 ft) / -1’250 m (-4’101 ft)
  • Day 5: Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer - Saint-Tropez
    106 km (66 mi), +860 m (+2’822 ft) / -860 m (-2’822 ft)
  • Day 6: Saint-Tropez - San Remo
    157 km (98 mi), +1’650 m (+5’413 ft) / -1’650 m (-5’413 ft)
  • Day 7: San Remo - Campo Ligure
    142 km (88 mi), +1’410 m (+4’626 ft) / -1’040 m (-3’412 ft)
  • Day 8: Campo Ligure - Milan
    151 km (94 mi), +1’040 m (+3’412 ft) / -1’280 m (-4’199 ft)
  • Day 9: Milan - Bellinzona
    109 km (68 mi), +1’170 m (+3’839 ft) / -1’050 m (-3’445 ft)
  • Day 10: Bellinzona - Airolo
    65 km (40 mi), +1’040 m (+3’412 ft) / -140 m (-459 ft)
  • Day 11: Airolo - Lucerne
    113 km (70 mi), +1’700 m (+5’577 ft) / -2’410 m (-7’907 ft)

In total this is 1’432 km (890 mi) with an elevation difference of 12’430 m (40’782 ft) up and 11’990 m (39’337 ft) down. This will be harder than the outward trip! Especially the second half of this route will be extreme…

During the ride, I will have my live tracking activated again, where you can view my current position and the photos I took. If I’m not suffering too much, I’ll report about the different sections here in my blog and after the trip, I plan to publish a video again - if everything works out with the recordings.

Keep your fingers crossed for me! I really need it…

Yours
Marcus

Written on May 3, 2019