Travelling to Geneva for business or pleasure and thinking about getting out for some rides – read on!
The good news is that no matter what your reason for being in this beautiful, underrated and ferociously expensive city there is some really nice riding very close at hand.
Logistics: Geneva is a small city and although roads can be rather confusingly shared between cars, buses, bikes and trams there are actually a lot of bike lanes and paths and indeed many junctions allow bikes preferential access which makes navigating much easier. For any of the sample routes below you will fairly quickly be outside of the small but busy centre and you'll largely leave the traffic behind.
Geneva is not blessed with countless bike rental shops but we used Bcyclet which is based around 30 minutes by public transport from the centre. Naturally they can also deliver and collect the bike to you. The team were helpful and although rental prices are higher than in other locations this is in-line with pretty much everything in Geneva so a ride may still be cheaper than spending time in the city! Another alternative is “Bike Switzerland” who offer premium Trek bikes. Though they do not offer rental bikes Rochat Cycles is located right in the city centre if you find you need anything else.
Possible routes: The first two routes give you an opportunity to get out of the city and get some quality climbing in the legs without needing to be out for too long.
The first route of around 60km and 1,100m of climbing was kindly shared by a local ride guide and takes you over the imposing hills to the south of the city. Make your way through Lancy Bachet and the agricultural fields that follow on your way to the Swiss/French border at Collonges-sous-Saleve (the border seems to be in name only as a cyclist). After the border you will pass through La Combe and then you follow the Route de la Croisette to the Col of the same name. The climb which is mostly through forest is just over 6km long but with an average gradient of 10.9%, a good chunk of the altitude is gained in the final four kilometres with plenty of 12%+ stretches. Rather cruelly the Col is not actually the end of the climbing on this route as you turn right through the small town and have another stretch of much easier climbing until you reach the Col de Pitons at 1335m altitude (approximately +1000m above Geneva).
Image: Leaving the city behind in search of climbing!
It is the stretch after La Croisette where you can really enjoy the views of the Alps proper. One nice thing about this route is that after cresting the Col des Pitons it is almost entirely downhill on your way back to Geneva. If you have the climbing legs its advisable to do this route clockwise, as described, so that you can enjoy the long and steadier descent. To return you pass through Saint-Blaise, the very attractive village of Charly, then Vers, Soral and Onex before returning to Lancy and the city.
The second route heads north and west out of Geneva and is an out and back to the Col de la Faucille, again at around 1350m altitude and with around 60km of riding. Geneva is so encircled by France that again you will spend most of your ride in that country rather than Switzerland. The main climb on this route is much steadier at around 12 kilometres with an average gradient of 6% and nothing exceeding 8%. From Geneva centre ride along the west bank of the lake until Bellevue where you turn left and gently gain a little altitude passing through Bossy, the border with France and then in the direction of Gex which is around 250 metres above Geneva. From Gex you wind your way up the D1005 with mostly 5% and then 8% stretches and is relatively open with pleasant views of the surrounding mountains and occasionally the lake below. To save time you can then simply enjoy the descent back down the same route or to extend the ride from the peak it’s possible to head either north or south before descending down to the lake at some point and then returning along its west bank.
Image: The main climb follows a wide and gently curving road but there isn't excessive traffic
Image: Don't be fooled, you're just a few kilometres outside Geneva.
If you have more time to spare then you could consider a lap of Lake Geneva (otherwise known as Lac Leman). The 175km route is well marked, very flat and is used for an annual sportive.