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ON YER (OLD) BIKE! - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Wednesday August 9, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Cycling is bigger than ever in the mountains these days and an event with a difference is takes place in Gstaad this weekend.

It's the first International Vintage Bike Festival to be held in the upmarket Swiss resort.

It will see riders tackling alpine passes on bikes at least 30 years old, wearing clothes to match.

The Bergkönig - which means King of the Mountains - is not about competitive racing but a celebration of two-wheeled transport - with a vintage bike market and lots of food and drink thrown in.

Bergkönig Bergkönig - vintage bikes & clothes















The fun nature of the festival is illustrated by some of the trophies to be awarded:

  • Most 1970s team appearance
  • Rarest vintage jersey
  • Loveliest tandem couple
  • Funniest supporters crew
1970s cycling1970s style













There are several routes of varying distances and difficulty.

Some are just 20km in length to encourage the widest possible participation, but there is one to be avoided by all but the most hardcore cyclists.

It's 103km long with a 2,400 metre climb.

The organisers say it's for "real heroes" and takes in narrow mountain roads full of holes, gravel and cowpats.


Hard enough on light modern bikes with zillions of gears, but vintage bikes?

Vintage bikesVintage bikes
















PlanetSKI was in Gstaad earlier this summer when cycling blogger Richard Lofthouse became the first person to test out the route.

On an old steel bike, of course.

The Bergkönig does not permit bicycles built after 1986.

Richard LofthouseRichard Lofthouse on the route - photo Alex Beeler
















"I took 5 hours 45 minutes, but including stops and quite a lot of iPhone mapping checks, I was actually on the road for nearly 8 hours - a 9 to 5 'long day in the saddle'," he said afterwards.

He advises anyone taking part to take it slow and enjoy the views and the atmosphere.

"I think this was one of the finest rides I've experienced in recent years.

"It's not only ravishingly beautiful, to the point where if you're from the UK you'll bitterly regret it, but it's got grit and a sort of material distinction and charisma that is rare.

"Not seeing a single piece of litter from start to finish is also a first."

Richard LofthouseRichard Lofthouse before the big ride



You can read Richard's detailed account of his ride and the route on his blog.

The Bergkönig, organised by Swiss vintage bike collector Alex Beeler and his wife Francesca, takes place in Gstaad on 26th and 27th August.

For more details go to the event website.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

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