More than three million pedal-pushers are expected to ride their bikes again this year across Switzerland's national network of bicycle trails. Nine routes criss-cross the country, covering some 3,000 kilometres.
They are now open for a third season, and the foundation responsible for the trails, Veloland Schweiz, is confident their popularity will only grow.
Veloland is making every attempt to improve the routes, which are operated in close cooperation with Switzerland's 26 cantons, the tourism sector and a multitude of other organisations.
For the avid cyclist, no mountain is too high. But for holiday-makers just looking for an alternative way to get out into the countryside, no valley is too low. And it is this later group which led Veloland to work out an agreement with public transport operators.
Trains and buses are equipped with special carriages or racks to carry the cyclist and his bike up the mountain. The high-speed descent at the other end is the only downside.
In 1999, 3.3 million people clocked up about 140 million kilometres on the trails. The cyclists also proved to be a goldmine for the tourist industry. They forked out nearly SFr150 million for meals, lodging and other services.
by Dale Bechtel