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Bike – 160km around Napf, my first imperial century

    Bike Napf Loop

    Photo: taking a diversion to the little village of Trub

    I did the distance as a challenge to myself in a year of pushing my riding up steeper climbs and over alpine passes. I didn’t suffer (though my legs were a wee bit sore the day after), but I find shorter rides more enjoyable so probably won’t repeat the length again.

    Key Information

    Route: Solothurn – Aarwangen – Huttwil – Wolhusen – Escholzmatt – Trub – Langnau IE – Burgdorf – Solothurn.

    Length: 160km, +1300m, -1300m.

    Date: 2021-September-17.

    Practical Information

    Season: This would be doable year round, but it would be much much nicer outside of winter.

    Arrival/Departure: Solothurn station.

    Supplies: There is a constant series of villages and towns for shops and restaurants.

    Alternate routes/shortcuts: I could have taken an early turn for home at Huttwil, after that I was committed but the whole route is on the train network so in the worst case I could have just grabbed a lift.

    Exposure/Hazards: Road traffic was the only thing to worry about on this route, especially trucks around industrial sites.

    For ease of riding/planning I mostly followed the signed cycling routes. This kept the climbs gentle and small, and the surface smooth, but being on or next to the main road in the big valley is not the best way to enjoy the region.

    Notes along the route

    Easy going and very quiet streets along the Aare up to Langenthal.

    Langenthal is nicer than most people would expect (not a ‘must visit’, more a ‘not bad to pass through’), but for whatever reason none of their fountains gave out drinkable water.

    From Hutwil to Trubschachen you are stuck with the choice of being on/by the main road, or taking winding routes that climb up the valley sides.

    I diverted to the old town in Willisau for early lunch. It is tied with Burgdorf for the most beautiful old town on the route. Though like many Swiss old towns it allows traffic through the middle still which is a shame.

    There should have been some good mountain views in the Entlebuch region, but it was mostly cloudy so all I could see was the local valley.

    Typical view along the route. Taken on the quieter side road near Entlebuch.

    The only real climb was to clear the gorge between Wolhusen and the town of Entlebuch. I chose the main road which goes through Ebnet over the #24 cycling route which takes the other side of the valley to save a bit of height gain. It probably would have been worth the height penalty for a quieter street.

    Escholzmatt managed to be both the highest and exact halfway point. Other than a little climb up to Trub it was basically all downhill/flat for the ride home afterwards.

    I made a quick stop at the Kambly factory shop in Trubschachen to grab a few sacks of biscuits. 20 CHF for a kg of their product is a significant saving compared to normal shop prices. Sadly no endless free samples due to Covid (though that probably wasn’t the worst with 60km still to go).

    Kambly factory shop.
    Kambly factory shop.

    Took a diversion off the main road to visit the village of Trub. Partly because it is pretty and I hadn’t seen it other than briefly from a bus on the way down from hiking Napf and wanted to take a better look (especially as it was since voted the prettiest Swiss village in 2019), and partly because I needed an extra few km to hit 160. This was the best part of the ride and what riding in the Emmental should be: quiet side valleys filled with meadows, forested hills, and absurdly picturesque giant farmhouses. Trub itself is certainly a nice village to spend a few minutes admiring, though it is tiny. Trubshachen on the main road has some really beautiful old wooden houses too.


    From Trubschachen the bike path diverted away from the main road, and other than a brief section in the middle of Langnau IE it was gravel paths or very quiet side roads all the way home.

    Typical Emmental house. Plus I loved the name Blapbach.
    Satnav at the end of the day.

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