A Cancer Survivor's Journey to Find Peace on a Bike
I love cycling. I hate cancer. I love to climb big mountains but I am more enthusiastic than talented (with apologies to Will). I've ridden in the Pyrenees, Alps, and Dolomites. I've climbed Mount Evans, Colo (twice) and raced in the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb (seven times).
My fundraising for the Keystone Country MS-150 in July bagged me an unexpected bonus: Entry in the Cook Forest River Ride.
Disaster struck as I went to get dressed. I grabbed the only clean bib shorts I had and discovered they were the ones with knee covers. It was chilly but not enough for those.I thought about wearing a dirty pair but that would be gross. Better to be too warm. I had gone out to the car to check to make sure those were the only clean ones remaining on this trip. They were. My fashion choice also slowed me down on leaving the hotel.
Last night I checked the time and distance to the start and determined it was a 30 minute ride from the hotel. This morning it was a 42 minute ride. Not sure what happened but I came into Cook Forest running a little late.
I went to registration, passing my cousin, Kay Walborn, briefly saying hello. Got my swag (t-shirt) and took it back to the car. Riders were queued up. I went to the back of the group but lost Kay. I just couldn’t find her.
I started dead last then started making my way through a couple hundred riders trying to catch Kay. I stopped for a couple photo ops but generally kept going.
The course follows the Clarions River for 17 miles and some riders would do a 35 mile out-and-back. We turned across the river then started climbing. I saw a rider up the road and didn’t think I was gaining on him but eventually passed him. On the top I was by myself.
At Mile 30 I pulled into a rest station. And Kay was getting ready to roll out. She waited for me to grab some water and 1/2 banana. She was shocked I was behind her. She thought the entire time I had taken off ahead of her and she was trying to catch me.
We had been hammering the route trying to catch the other. We were probably never more than 3-4 minutes apart on the road at any time. We rode well together. I had a big advantage in going down hills (weight) while Kay had an advantage going up the steepest hills. One topped out at 22% according to my Garmin. I could not hold her wheel on that climb.
We passed a rider struggling and I told him he had just been passed by a 69 year old woman. She was kicking his butt. Mine too.
Back at Cook Forest they has served up a nice luncheon for us. We ate and then headed back home. Not sure I would do this ride again but it was quite nice. And great weather today. Kay said that was a first.
It rained overnight and was very gray at rollout. But it wasn’t raining. I was hopeful we would stay dry. I lined up and they pulled the 100-rider rope right behind me. I was in the first group. But last.
As we started out I moved closer and closer to the front and eventually settled in with a group of 10 which might have been the first group on the road. We worked well together although the hairy legged monster I was following scared me by occasionally just coasting causing me to brake.
Ahead I saw a tractor which I spotted yesterday. I told myself that today I would stop so I put up my hand and excited the pace line. I’m sure they thought I couldn’t hang. I could hang.
Once I took the picture I got back on the road and bridged up to a group of three and the four of us worked together to the first rest. It was quick. No mechanic (I was looking for a wrench) but my bottle was nearly empty. Refill then hit the road.
It started to rain. I didn’t get out the rain jacket and we rode for the next 20 minutes in a light rain although we had wet roads for the next hour.
I rode this section solo although I hooked up with another rider. We rode side by side because even though he gave a nice draft he also gave a nice spray. I’m sure I did too.
There was an ice cream stop at Camp Kanesatake. Ice cream, at least mine, was served by Katherine Orczeck, the Blair Co. Dairy Princess (Alternate). When I told her mother I rode over Locke Mountain yesterday she said she cannot imagine. Her car barely gets over it.
At this rest I found the Spokes and Skis mechanic. I just wanted to borrow an Allen wrench to reposition my BarFly mount for the GPS. I had a multi-tool with me but it’s much easier to use a dedicated wrench. Fix completed.
Leaving Kanesatake, I was passed by two young men who were talking about how to work together. They thought they passed me for good but I blew by them just after Spruce Creek. One mentioned that we were leap frogging. No frogs here.
At Arch Springs I stopped for a photo. They passed and then I followed them to the lunch stop. I soloed to Tyrone after a quick water stop. I was on my own.
In Antis I was on a narrow street which has cars parked on both sides. There was not enough room in between for a car and a bike. There was room for a car or a bike (or two), but not both. I was in the lane when an SUV turned to come towards me.
I knew she didn’t have room but she insisted. She sheared off her passenger mirror. I chuckled. She saved two seconds which was the time it took me to pass the line of cars. But then she stopped to pick up mirror pieces.
After the Antis rest I saw a rider coming behind me. I slowed, thought he grabbed my wheel, then rode away from him. Geez.
I slowed again and waited for him and we rode together for about 6-7 miles until I rode away from him for good.
Arriving at the finish line in Hollidaysburg I checked the mileage and went for an out and back for another two miles. I caught the two young guys who were leap frogging me. I leaped them again.
At the finish there was a medal. A woman, confined to a wheelchair with MS, put the ribbon/medal over my head – a poignant reminder of why we Bike MS.
I arrived for check-in for the MS-150 ride. I did not see then had to ask for a bib to make “I RIDE FOR…” I was told they sent their supplies to another event which did not return any. I was disappointed.
This is how we connect with people. I wanted very much to ride for my daughter, Bethany,Kayla Bracken, and Kristi Wallace. Seriously, how can they be out of the bibs? Press “Order Here.” Without the bibs it is just another group ride. I took out a Sharpie and wrote their names on my bib.
I was delayed. Two groups, supposedly of 100 riders each already left and it looked like ours was the last group.
I had been thinking about going over Locke Mountain instead of going to Roaring Spring with the group. Has I been in the front group, or second group, I may have rethought this. But I figured starting last or next to last, I would have to chase to catch the earlier groups to ride in a pace line. And since the pace lines would have already formed, I would be trying to bridge up to the pace lines.
Still, I didn’t make the decision until I was on the road. I caught the tail end of the third group then, when it was safe, started to make my way through them. I had three decision points where I could make the move.
Coming off Frankstown Road was Locke Mountain Road. But there was construction and I wasn’t sure I could get there. Plus there were volunteers manning the intersection. I was past Tel Power Road before I even realized it. On Reservoir Road I continued to work through riders and may have caught some from the second group. As I signaled (bell) I was coming by I passed a guy and his wife. After I passed them I head him say “Wow!,” in apparent reference to my speed. I was doing 18 mph which isn’t exactly fast.
That probably cemented my decision. I really didn’t feel like hearing comments from riders as I passed them (although that may have been a compliment).
I came to Loop Road, didn’t see any volunteers, and had gapped any riders behind me. I put out my left arm then turned on Loop Road. I didn’t want any volunteers to see me for fear they may chase me to tell me I was going the wrong way.
The pavement on Loop Road was new asphalt. It was sweet riding. Apparently I was on a bike route – it appeared to have a clock tower although I haven’t figured out what it is or where it goes.
I came to Locke Mountain Road. It was all uphill from there. Most of the lower section, and indeed, most of the climb, showed 14-15% on my GPS. That may have been overstated though – it only felt like 12-13%. There were gnats around my eyes and I continually had to use a free hand to swat at them. Very annoying.
I worked hard. I was soaked in sweat. On the descent I really couldn’t see clearly. Still I had a top speed of 45 mph.
I followed some back roads to Williamsburg. I did not want to be the first rider at the second rest stop. I know there were some people hammering the course and I had cut 13 miles from it. Although I started much later than they did and had to get my fat butt over Locke Mountain I still felt it would be close.
As I came to the end of Shortcut Road I saw a group of six go by. And they were apparently the first. I rolled in and spent a lot of time at Rest 2, mainly because I popped a lens out of my glasses trying to clean them.
I saw some riders from the Blair Bicycle Club roll in and reintroduced myself to Leslie, a woman I rode 100 miles with in October last year at the Sea Gull Century. They rolled out and I wasn’t too far behind them.
In addition to Leslie, I rode next to Aurora, another rider I rode with last year, although I did not recall her name (until referring to the entry from last year). I integrated with their group of five until we came to the first of the uphills. I pulled through with the intention of pulling but instead rode them of my wheel.
On US 22 I soft pedaled some, waiting from them to come back but they never did. I caught Pat, another BBC rider, on the run in to Spruce Creek. He too, was part of our century group from last year, although I forgot. We talked for a little bit but as the road went down I took off (serious descending advantage – see “fat butt,” above).
In Spruce Creek I deviated onto a side road for photos then when I came back I caught the Leslie group. Once again I road with them until we came to a chip and tar road and they slowed down seriously.
Lunch was at the beautiful Camp Kanesatake. I sat down on the bench and left a giant wet mark. I checked where others were sitting and didn’t see any wet marks. I won the sweating contest.
The BBC group left and I found myself catching two Old Men On Bikes from Allentown. I really never integrated with them except I did without trying. We caught he BBC group and rode together. About four miles from the next rest I went to the front and pulled.
At the rest, two of the five riders went on and three stopped. They left about two minutes ahead of me, never offering for me to join them. Funny how these things work. I never really was part of their group.
I soloed onto State College, never catching or being caught by anyone. Instead of heading to the finish I went onto campus and stopped at the famous Berkey Creamery. I didn’t see a safe place to leave the bike (it is a college campus) so I decided to move one. After all, it’s just ice cream.
Throughout the day we watched the weather. The forecast was for thunderstorms and once it got dark. But I beat the rain by more than an hour. After I showered I looked out my window and saw riders finishing over the next 2-3 hours. In the rain. I had a good ride.
Sometime in the winter when I knew that Ride the Rockies would not work out for this year I decided to ride across Switzerland. Over the Alps.
I did not want to “bikepack,” which is to carry all my clothes with me on my bike. I found and had been following the tours at BikeSwitzerland.com. They looked (and look) great but was a little more time and money than I wanted to spend.
I asked my friend, Ben Zahler, if he knew how I could do this self-supported and he found Eurotrek, a company based in Zürich.
Both companies offered a self-guided tour over the Alps via Panoramic bicycle Route 4. The cost differences were significant. BikeSwitzerland offered a couple extra days and a little extra riding from Geneva to the start in Aigle. Plus a return to Geneva.
Cost was a factor but so were logistics. BikeSwitzerland started in Geneva whereas Eurotrek started near Zürich. My base of operations would be in Zürich at my friend, Corinne Kolb’s, apartment.
Both companies offered rental bikes. I never considered renting instead I flew with my own bike. I do not know what Eurotrek charged. But BikeSwitzerland offered my Trek Domane with Di2 shifting for 600 CHF.
I booked this trip with EuroTrek. They made all hotel arrangements and transported my luggage daily from one hotel to the next, otherwise it was self-supported.
I flew my bike to Zürich. From Washington, D.C., American Airlines charged me $200. Returning, the same airline charged me 84 CHF ($87.50). I have no idea why the price difference. I liked the price coming back.
Day 1 was from St. Margrethen to Wattwill (Lichtensteig). The course was lumpy, even mountainous. Actually it had the most climbing of the seven days although it lacked an iconic mountain pass. I did not pre-load my map to GPS and could not always follow the Rte 4 signs. I also developed saddle sores (which I never get) and feared the worse.
Day 2 was from Wattwill (Lichtensteig) to Linthal. This was the shortest day. It started with a climb (once I could find it) and ended with 30 km of flat farm roads or trails. It was the perfect remedy for saddle sores.
Day 3 was from Linthal to Beckenreid via a ferry at Gersau. It was the best ride of the trip. It featured a hard climb out of the box over Klausenpass. But the rest of the day was super easy. A great descent of Klausenpass followed by the nice trail along a lake I have been one.
Day 4 was also nice but had the opposite profile of Day 3. This one had the lake riding first and ended with a climb up the Glaubenielen Pass down into Sörenberg.
Day 5 was from Sörenberg to Thun. I began the day by riding back up the mountain to the Sörenberg tram to the mountain overlooking Interlaken. Then, given a choice of adding an extra 12 km to Thun, I took the long way. I beat my luggage in then went swimming in the River Aare.
Day 6 was Thun to Gruyères. It felt more like a slog. I got lost in Fribourg. It was hot. Beautiful scenery but nothing breathtaking like Day 3.
Day 7 was Gruyères to Montreux. Somewhere I must have missed a Route 4 turn and just took the main road to Aigle. That was fine.
And that was it. Post trip I found that Eurotrek had GPX files I could have downloaded but I did not know to ask.
Only after the trip did I realize that perhaps a solo trip across the Alps was a bit risky. I mitigated some of the risk by carrying a hand pump with gauge and an extra tube. But a broken spoke or chain or worse, an accident, would have done me in.
As I updated my trip on Facebook I started adding Cycling Tips for Switzerland. The “numbers” were random, of course but here they are:
Tip #38 for cycling in Switzerland … Leave that finger at home. Number of times I’ve been buzzed (0), yelled at (0), thrown at (0), blown smoke on (0), honked at (0), had tires squealed at (0), cutoff (0). You just don’t need it as part of your cycling kit in Switzerland.
(This would end in Zürich on my last day when a woman pulled an impromptu U-turn in front of me causing me to take evasive action. I did not use a finger.)
Tip #19 for cycling in Switzerland … If you see a house at the top of a mountain and think “isn’t that nice, I wonder how they get up there?” rest assured that after 60 minutes of sweating profusely you will pedal right by that house
Tip #1 for cycling in Switzerland … In small villages and big cities and in the countryside too, you will find the freshest water available for free. Don’t stay thirsty, my friends.
Tip #23 for cycling in Switzerland ... Be cool, wear a helmet. Most do. Gone is the time they knew you were American because you were the guy with a helmet.
Tip #29 for cycling in Switzerland … lose weight
There’s not much I would do differently. I was glad to have my own bike and starting two days after I arrived was perfect although I could have got my bike ready in one day. Well, there is one thing. I would not start on a Thursday or Friday because those days mean that Day 3, Klausenpass would be on a weekend day and I now know that is a popular “driving road” for sports cars and motorcycles.
It was a great trip which I highly recommend. And see Tip #29.
I had a great week in Switzerland with the weather. I could not ask for more. Well, yes I could. I could ask for two. But I would not get it.
As I prepared to go to Finland on Saturday, Corinne Kolb said to me that it looks like the weather is going to be bad all week. From then I kept an eye on the weather in Bormio, Italy.
My plan was to rent a car and drive to Bormio, stopping in Liechtenstein along the way. I would ride Stelvio Pass from both sides, perhaps one of the most ambitious days on my bike – ever. But the forecast continued to get worse. Daily highs for the town of Bormio were in the 50s with 100% chance of rain.
I’ve driven to New Hampshire where the Mount Washington Auto Road Hillclimb was canceled – twice – because of bad, i.e., dangerous weather. And I viewed going to Bormio with the same risk. The weather on top of the mountain could be 10-20 degrees colder with freezing rain or snow.
When I went with Trek Travel, I at least had a SAG vehicle and extra clothes at the top for crappy weather. This would simply be me all alone against the elements.
I planned to stay two nights plus had the expense of renting a car and gas. I really couldn’t justify the cost of going to Bormio to watch rain. It was a tough decision but I know it was the right one. I decided to return home instead.
My biological cycling clock is ticking. I don’t know if in five years I could get up Stelvio Pass. Or even one. I would like to one more time but not at the risk of death (and one pass over, Mortirolo, is the Mountain of Death). The only time I descended Stelvio I almost crashed head on into a car. It simply wasn’t worth the risk.
And if there was any question I made the right decision, Will Swetnam send me a photo from Stelvio Pass. I made a smart decision.
Stelvio – I am hoping I will see you again. In decent weather.
Three years ago Ben Zahler and I went for a three country ride. I asked him to come up with one again. He did.
We took a train to Laufer for the start. My train ticket was 13 CHF. My bike ticket was 20 CHF. For a country which is cycle-centric, or maybe it isn’t, I think their train bike passes cost at least twice what they should be.
Laufer is near the French border of the Alsace-Lorraine region. We rode about 15 km before coming to a French sign. Ben pointed out another sign which noted that Swiss soldiers were not allowed to be on this road in uniform.
The road turned up and Ben rode ahead. We quickly established that on this day I would be first down the mountains and he would be first up. We went through some French villages although we were in the outskirts of a much bigger town, St. Louis, when I suggested we stop at a bakery.
We both got a chocolate-strawberry croissant then rode to a shade location to eat. We ended up next to a school where students were practicing a dance routine. Never quite figured out what kind of school that was.
We found our way to the Three Country Bridge that connects France and Germany but looks at Switzerland. Close enough.
Ben led us through Basel, looking for a road back to the town and the climb we did three years ago. We made some sketchy moves in traffic, i.e., probably not riding where we should have.
But we got through Basel and back into Germany until crossing back over at a dam on the River Rhine.
It was hot, with temperatures in the low 90s. I carried two bottles and was going through those fast while Ben had just one.
We looked for water – easier in Switzerland than France or Germany. I didn’t feel I was getting enough and I know Ben couldn’t have.
We began the last climb which would take us over the “hill” to Sissach. It was quite a formidable climb. Ben took off and 2-3 times pulled over until I dragged my butt up to him. I was in a granny gear and wasn’t going to work any harder.
At the top Ben was lightheaded. His wife had biked up from Sissach (quite impressive actually) and he had planned lunch at a restaurant up the hill from the summit. A second summit.
But he said he was so light headed couldn’t control his bike. He rested and gathered himself and then we descended, with me being the fastest.
On the descent I hit 75 kph which is 47.5 mph. Had I known I would have pushed it to 50 mph. But it was my fastest speed of the time I was in Switzerland.
Switzerland. France. Germany. It was a most excellent trip. Thanks Ben!
This was a bittersweet day. It would be a day of accomplishment but a little sadness as I knew my trip across Switzerland through the Alps would be ending.
I had a nice breakfast at the Hotel Gruyères. It was a very pleasant morning but going to be hot again.
I sat out on the patio enjoying the cool morning weather. I had no complaints about the weather. No rain the entire trip. And really never needed arm warmers.
The first few kilometers would be downhill as I left the hotel but then try, for the last time, to find Route 4. It started OK as I was soon on farm roads.
In Grand Villard I missed a turn at a traffic circle but soon corrected it as I could see my Garmin showed I was “off course.”
The back road took me off the main road for a while. A mostly single lane very lightly traveled road, I even stopped to watch a fox.
Eventually the roads would converge and I would be on the main highway.
I was tired. Physically, I didn’t feel tired but perhaps skipping dinner last night or just seven days in the Alps was wearing on my mind.
I came to a construction area and did not see a turn. Garmin soon warned me I was off course. I went back and surveyed the area. Yes, I missed the turn to Route 9. There was no way through but I hoped the main road would be parallel where I should be.
It would not occur to me until the end of my ride that I wasn’t to follow Route 9. All week I have been on Route 4 and now I confused them. I still don’t know where I should have gone.
I was comfortable following Garmin but if there was a real Route 4 I wanted to be on it. But I stayed on the main road.
I came to what I knew would be my climb over my last mountain. Then I saw a sign for Route 9 to the left. Down in a valley. I followed it for 300 meters and just knew it didn’t feel right. At the point I said “screw following the sign” not even aware it was the wrong sign. The mind was tired.
I think I was on the right road but who knows. But I began the climb confident I would get to Montreux.
The views were great and I had no regrets. I was passed by perhaps 30 sports cars, many of those vintage cars.
At the top was a ski area. I didn’t spend much time here but instead would begin my descent to Aigle.
It was a great ride down. With hairpin turns, I never could really let the bike roll but I wasn’t here for speed.
I came to one snow shed and plenty of picturesque vantage points. I enjoyed the descent constantly scanning taking in the views.
Reaching the bottom I could see Aigle and the figurative end.
I also knew I was in France. Well, not really but very close. I had thought about riding an extra 10-15 km to “end” in France (and come back) but decided I needed to keep going to my real destination in Montreux.
Beautiful vineyards on the hillside dotted the landscape. Aigle is the home of the UCI, Union of International Cyclists or Union Cycliste Internationale in French.
As I reached the flat section of the town I saw a sign for Route 4. Then it dawned on me I had been looking for the wrong signs.
I saw the cars that had passed me coming off a mountain road. Route 4. The one I was supposed to be on. Oh well. I have no regrets about the route I took but wonder what I missed. And if I should go back someday.
I said goodbye to Route 4 and was going to head to Montreux. But I saw a sign for UCI and decided to see what it was all about. Well, it was about a building. A velodrome. I did not leave a pee sample. (But it would have been clean.)
Since there was no longer a bike route, I had mapped my route to Montreux but briefly lost my way. I started to get on Super Highway A9. Oops. I walked the bike back down the entrance ramp when I saw I could not jump the fence with my bike to an alternate road.
In Montreux I had planned to eat. Maybe to celebrate. Never really thought about dipping a wheel into Lake Geneva or lifting my bike but never had a chance. I followed a street into town, I knew I was getting near the train station and the street went under the tracks. When I emerged I was in a shopping area and saw an escalator up to the train station. I grabbed my bike, went up to ticketing, and just like that, it was over.
I knew it would be a long day and I hit the road before 8:00 a.m. for the ride out of Thun. It projected to be a lumpy ride and it certainly was. At 103 km, it was the longest day, and at 1,736 m, it would be the second most climbing.
As I got ready to go outside the hotel there was a group of Chinese tourists. One by one they told their friends to come over and lift my bike. Then gave me a thumbs up.
My plan was to follow the Rte 4 signs first and the GPS I had mapped out second. And that mostly worked.
The first 5-6 km in Thun were pancake flat. Then, boom!, the road turned up. First I was on a small highway then Route 4 turned to a paved farm road. And it kicked up. Short but up to 18%.
This was mostly an uneventful day. Halfway through I had a great descent out of one village – the kind you know the road it going to bottom out and kick up again.
It did. I went over a river just past an out of commission covered bridge, and entered the canton of Fribourg.
Fribourg city was an adventure. I followed the signs for a while but at the top of a bridge/retaining road was a traffic circle. The way back was marked with an arrow but the way forward was not. I had to choose. I chose wrongly.
Sometimes when I choose wrong, if my GPS file is showing I am parallel to where it thinks I should be going, I just keep going hoping they will come back together. It was clear I was blazing a new trail in the wrong direction.
I stopped at a bike shop for directions. They weren’t perfect but they got me onto the trail where eventually I picked up a sign again. In all I probably spent 30 additional minutes in Fribourg trying to pick up the scent. Maybe even longer.
The day was mostly full of rollers. And lots (five) of covered bridges.
It was pretty but did not come close to matching the scenery on Day 3 going up Klausenpass to Beckenreid. And there was this one kicker near Gruyères that went up over 20% but was no more than 75 meters.
In Gruyères I found a bakery. I got a roll and some salami and a big bottle of grapefruit soda. Then I climbed the hill to the castle. Or chalet. I didn’t know it but that would be my dinner.
Although the man who dropped my luggage in Thun asked if it could be ready at 8:30 a.m. (instead of 9:00), I still beat my luggage. I wasn’t going anywhere. In fact, I just took a hot shower then sat naked on my bed until my clothes arrived.
In the early evening I decided to walk down into town. Clothed. By down I mean down. Two mountain bikers were coming up that old cobbled walkway. Chapeau!
Although there was a restaurant in town and a few at the chateau by where I was staying, I didn’t feel like paying the high prices of dining out. The bakery closed just 15 minutes earlier. So I decided I was done eating for the day and would wait for breakfast.
Dining in Switzerland is generally expensive. On my third and fourth nights I had nice dinners but at a cost of 35-40 CHF ($36-$42) each. For one.
But last night’s meal at McDonalds (8,90 CHF) in Thun and skipping dinner tonight would be kind on the budget.
This was the only place I watched TV. Three soccer matches. Confederations Cup between Mexico and New Zealand. A friendly (I think) between Italy and Croatia and Denmark vs. Germany. Not sure those last two games were live. They may have been old but they were new to me.
A good night’s sleep and I will be ready to roll in the morning.
The stay last night was at the Hotel Rischli. I really enjoyed it. The desk clerk, Yvonne, was very nice. She had presented me with a complimentary card which I could use for the aerial tram. Although I did not use it yesterday.
But first – goats. Just outside the dining patio was an enclosure of the cutest goats. They also had an enclosure of rabbits too.
Yesterday when I went by the gondola I did not feel like pedaling the 4.5 km back up the mountain. Today I looked at it differently, one from a fresh mind.
The ride over to Thul was supposed to be a short one and why should I be in a hurry. I decided I would bike back up to the gondola.
I had no clue where I was but in looking at the advertisements I saw they also advertised a cog railway. My friend, Corinne Kolb, and I took that three years ago and it dawned on me that we saw a gondola come up the mountain.
I rode to the base, presented my comp pass, and saved 38 CHF (which was about $40).
It was cool being back there. This time I could look down and see the cog railway engine sputtering away.
On the ride back down on the gondola the “conductor” made sure to point out where there were mountain goats. He asked me if we have them in the U.S. and I told him Colorado (of course other states do too).
It was a quick descent back to Söreneberg and a stop at the hotel. Since my luggage hadn’t been picked up, I decided I would carry a set of clothes just in case I got to Thun quicker. I couldn’t imagine I would with the trip being so short and now it was after 11:00 a.m.
But first there was time for a ride on their Alpine slide. This one was cool because the ski lift dragged the rider and sled to the top on an enclosed course.
At the top the pool automatically disengaged and it was a quick ride down the mountain. Pretending I’m a kid.
About one km out of town, maybe farther, I came to a sign which showed to directions to Thun (actually Schangnau). Why I didn’t capture that picture, I don’t know. I just wasn’t thinking I might want to display it in a blog.
But it would be an additional 13 km to go the long way, which is, of course, what I opted for.
There was some pretty scenery Nothing iconic like I saw this morning or at Lake Luzerne though.
It was just a nice ride through the Swiss countryside.
Oh, there was one climb. Up to the Schallenberg.
That would have been the high point of today’s ride if I hadn’t gone back up the mountain and started at the tram in Söreneberg.
The ride down the pass was great and then I was treated to some back county farm roads. It was all downhill or flat.
When I saw the John Deere tractor I thought of my dad. He loved his Deeres.
Getting near Thun the bike route stayed high while the main road descended. That meant one thing: A fast run down to Thun when it came.
I went looking for the River Aare as a landmark. I found the river which had a swimming area built into it. This side of the river was fast moving but not nearly as fast as the other side or as it travels through Bern.
My hotel, Hotel am Schloss, was situated just below a castle. The room was small, the window did not open enough for air (no A/C) and it was hot. And my luggage did not arrive until 5:45 p.m.
Still, I managed to go swimming in the river, in the process burning the bottoms of my feet on the scorching asphalt.
I swam in the River Aare three years ago in Bern. I knew I had to do it again. There were some bridge jumpers although the bridge wasn’t nearly as high as in Bern. Instead I followed a couple as they found some steps to the river.
The river in Thun is split by an island and this swimming channel was clearly slower than the other side. But one only needed to jump in and float and be carried away. Pretty fun!
Dinner tonight was at McDonalds – 8,90 instead of 35 or 40 CHF. My only issue was I went for WiFi and a little A/C. But it seems WiFi is available only if you have a code which will be texted to you – if you have WiFi to receive the text. Sigh.
The hotel was AM Schloss. It had no A/C and only a small window over a busy street. It was pretty miserable sleeping.