The Jungfrau Region in the Bernese Alps is not necessarily known as a road cycling destination. But the Grosse Scheidegg is quickly becoming a cult climb in Switzerland. For good reasons: it’s steep, it’s long, it offers spectacular views on surrounding peaks and the road is closed to motorized traffic on its top section.
The Grosse Scheidegg loop starts with a 15km cruise along the turquoise waters of the Brienzersee, followed by a flat section across fields and a military airport to Meiringen. The town is famous for two reasons: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional hero Sherlock Holmes died in the nearby Reichenbach Falls, and it is where the meringue was allegedly invented around 1600.
The start of the climb is mellow but after 2 km, a sharp right turn takes us on a narrow road, which we won’t leave until we get to Grindelwald on the other side. The gradient is immediately in the double digits as we climb in the woods. Then we reach a welcome flattish section before Rosenlaui. From then on, we climb surrounded by alpine walls and glaciers towering 1700 meters above; after Schwarzwaldalp, motorized traffic is not allowed.
The final switchbacks under the Wetterhorn (3,962m) are spectacular. Let’s stop for pictures, our legs and Instagram will thank us. At km 49, we reach the top (1,962m) and discover the most famous north face in the Alps: the Eiger.
We will make sure to refuel and rehydrate as the descent is tricky: it’s steep, there are many turns and the road surface does not always meet the Swiss perfection standards… not to mention the occasional cow pie. As we enter Grindelwald, the Hotel Wetterhorn (km 55) marks the end of the traffic free road. We’ll have a break, let our brakes cool down and think of the 2011 Tour de Suisse: on this descent, Peter Sagan came back from nowhere to catch Damiano Cunego and win stage 3 in Grindelwald. You’ll find hair rising footage on YouTube, just don’t watch it before our ride.