Since my last post I’ve pootled on through France, camping on Wednesday night in a rather time-warped campsite run by kind but fundamentally mad old French lady near Rochefort, then heading on into Switzerland on Thursday.
Notwithstanding the initial confusion over the meaning of blue roads and green roads - the Swiss handily colour code their motorways and a-roads the opposite way around to the rest of Europe - the riding here has been truly astonishing. I came in across Vallorbe along towards Bulle, then by chance picked up the Jaunpass taking me through some incredible valleys and mountains. I say “by chance” as my map of europe is rather large scale so lacks the details of these passes. I am reluctant to be held hostage by my sat-nav, so I’ve just been holding it on compass setting and loosely following a path southeast, making sure to avoid any scary blue roads (or rather green roads in switzerland!). By the time I started the Jaunpass it was nearing the end of the day and I had been growing a little weary but very quickly woke right up again as I just couldn’t believe what I was riding through!
Though suzi isn’t really the dream bike to take on the alpine switchbacks, she still handled very, erm, consistently on the steep climbs and descents, which actually allowed me to really savour not only the scenery but also the gentle tinkle of cow bells and the incredibly lush sweet smell of freshly cut grass (think its silage production time!). I’ve read many times before that one of the most significant benefits of biking over driving is that when you’re behind the wheel it’s like you’re sitting at watching a film, whereas on a bike you really are right in the movie - this certainly felt very true for me enjoying all the sounds and scents of the journey.
That night I treated myself to a hotel room as I was craving a bath and bed, leaving me very refreshed for the beautiful Thunsee and the Sustenpass the next day. I really took my time on Friday, amazed by the clear, still turquoise waters of the Alpine lakes and the mountain views. One thing that surprised me was the number of times I had to pull over en route for maseratis, ferraris and all kinds of other top end sports cars. I must have seen at least 30 in one afternoon! (no Eurozone crisis here!)
That night I finally arrived into the pretty little town of Lenzerheide, not far from Chur, where my friend Marianne has a flat. I met marianne a few years ago on a shark-diving holiday where we “buddied” up and explored the larger underwater creatures of Cocos island. Quite different to meet again now at 1,400m above sea level but a real treat! Marianne and her boyfriend Rudy are fantastic hosts and have treated me with such precious delights as good company, great laughs, delicious food, a bed and….a washing machine!! I’ve only been on the road a week but already the latter seems like the work of magic.
Yesterday suzi was left to rest in the garage while the three of us took the lifts up to Rothorn at nearly 3000m and then hiked for the next 4 hours to the village of Tschiertschen. At the very top it was like a lunar landscape with high rocky peaks as far as the eye could see, some topped with the first snow of the season, with only the occasional paraglider marking the otherwise spotless blue sky. After 2 hours of hiking we stopped for a picnic at a rather other-worldly turquoise lake fed by a roaring waterfall, then proceeded down towards the village. All in all a really memorable day, not least because walking downstairs now prompts a few “oohs” and “ahs” given my slightly shocked stiff knees!
Later on today I’ll ride on a little further in the direction of St Moritz towards the Italian border - another country and more adventures to come!