May 25 to June 2
After my second day riding the passes through the gorgeous Swiss Alps I settled down for bed at 9pm in the mountains. I carry a sealable plastic box for my food as much as I love the clothes smelling of onion and cheese. I foolishly set it down next to my head after dinner and was asleep in no time. No tent just a drop cloth with the starry night. Around three in the morning I hear a nasty noise and my body fills up with super adrenalin, 'I'm about to be attacked!" Two dark objects come charging towards me as I panic, zipped to the top I cant get my arms out of the mummy bag, one black object hits my food box head on at speed and rolls around while the other stops, stares and tears off in the direction it came. About five seconds after it was over I managed to get my arms out, apparently I messed up a marmot mating game and nearly my shorts, fun sleeping in the woods!
Lucky for the route I chose, covering three major passes through the Alps and the biggest was
On Simplon Pass, my luck with wind ran out. After getting pushed into a guardrail I ate a Snickers and a bananna, whined a little and kept plugging. Helps with a good view
only opened two days before, unlucky because all the motorcyclists must have been itching for a go because I spent the first two days getting blown by in and around the winding roads. It was still quite cold, sweat your tail off going up and melting brakes and freezing the sweat to your skin on the way down. Instant coffee as a warm up never tasted so good.
As steep as the Alps are the Swiss have commercially conquered them, revolving restaurants on distant peaks, cog trains climbing sheer cliff faces to Dr Evil fortresses, including Eiger mountain itself, beautiful but bit too much. I met a German cyclist I camped with and who was riding a bike so heavy I couldn't really pick it up. He must have figured that there are no apples in Switzerland cause he was carrying 14 along with three huge jars of marmalade and a cinder block or two. I took his advice, not that he would ride it, a bike path into famous Grindelwald well above Interlaken over a 2000 meter pass, 1600 meters climbing in only 18ks, sounded like a guarantee to get into the heart of Switzerland, gorgeous, pristine,
untouched but for that strip of perfect asphalt.
Odd thing around towns .. lots of people with trekking poles, sounds like a parade of tap dancers sneaking up on you. I'm all for trekking poles, they save knees on descents but I'm not convinced of the merits on concrete trails, lots of chipped cement and frightened wildlife.
Coming out of the Alps and into Interlaken leaves no doubt why the city is one of the most visited in Switzerland. Prime location. Besides the two large lakes the mountains start almost immediately. Bit pricey though, they win the Internet gouger award, US .25 minute, hmm, 15 dollars an hour and that was the sale price. Its also the place to put yourself in a hamster ball, out of a plane, through a canyon etc. Leaving the city towards the nations capital I hooked up with one of 9 national routes guiding you through the country by bike. Swiss perfection, I got to turn my navigating brain off and just enjoy the country side, through farmers fields, by river banks, through woods and intimate villages, every time there was a split in the road a friendly pink sign
The architecture is classic Swiss, I was a bit lucky too, the pass I chose to cross had only been open two days.
leads you on. I highly recommend anyone interested in riding through Switzerland by bicycle, idiot proof which is important for me.
Bern has a massively disappointing tourist trap, the town clock performs a little giddy up four minutes to the hour, I just missed it once and waited another hour for a rotating mess of metal. The locals must be amazed that so many gather for such a silly little thing, for all the watches they could have done better. A wide river, name forgotten, runs through the city, along its manicured banks are mysterious poles and steps leading into the water, like a baptism plank. Swimming in the river is a summer right and the town embarrassed it with safety pulls and a huge area to lock gear and shower after getting out of the river. Summer has got to be fun in Bern.
North of Bern lies Biel, one of the few Swiss cities where there are two official languages, lives Sandra, literally one of the first people I met on my travels back in Thailand.
She graciously took me in for two days, fed me wonderful meals as she is an
I had an image in my head of a pass in the Alps with ribbons of road snaking up, careful what I wish for.
excellent chef, washed my clothes (super double cycle) and gave me access to her CD collection so I could finally listen to music after a month of riding without tunes. Her kindness reaffirms how lucky I've been over the past year and a half to meet so many wonderful people. She even had peanut butter! Thank you Sandra for your welcome and kindness!
Clean, fattened up and with music I left for Luzern and foolishly left the national routes, not appearing on my large scale maps I tried to cut across a large valley and shorten up my distance where I took a wrong turn. Quite common, I mention it because only I could get lost and end up in Lego Land. Yes indeed, with out a clue riding down a road I hope is the right one I ride into a MASSIVE, futurist two story building with a vague resemblance to space ship Lego kits, I rounded the corner and found three traditional Lego blocks, VW van size sitting at the front gate of the complex. Corporate HQ for my favorite toys as a kid, cool.
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