My Last Day

MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND

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.

Train station in Gruyères

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.”

Grand Villard

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.

This road kicked up to 18% but only for a short stretch

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.

Montbovon

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.

One of three “bikes” in Aigle I found. The other two were pink and yellow.

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.

Those cars came down Bike Route 4

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.

The last Route 4 sign I would see. I still don’t know where the official terminus is.

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.

This round portion of UCI is a velodrome

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.)

Vineyards in Aigle

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.

Seven Days. Switzerland. Over.

 

 



Gruyères

GRUYÈRES, SWITZERLAND

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%.

At a house in the country but still near Thun

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.

Fribourg

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.

MyWay Bikes

The day was mostly full of rollers. And lots (five) of covered bridges.

MyWay Bikes – These guys got me back on track

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.

Lake of Gruyères

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.

Bakery/store in Gruyères

But last night’s meal at McDonalds (8,90 CHF) in Thun and skipping dinner tonight would be kind on the budget.

Hotel de Gruyères. Notice the jerk who hung cycling shorts in the bedroom window.

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.