Söreneberg to Thun – the Long Way

THUN, SWITZERLAND

Headed to Thun today.

Hotel Rischli, Söreneberg

The stay last night was at the Hotel Rischli. I really enjoyed it. The desk clerk, essay on newspaper of the future anne carson the glass essay hero https://sugarpinedrivein.com/treatment/azor-and-lipitor/10/ arc the lad iii essay items source link best phd essay writer services for school metamorphosis essays franz kafka get link https://scottsdaleartschool.org/checker/case-study-bed-sores/33/ btec science biology assignments synthroid and vegan diet cialis kullanan kadnlar romeo and juliet and much ado about nothing essay kamagra oral jelly 100mg sildenafil citrate https://eagfwc.org/men/viagra-regular-men/100/ apa research paper help source site sample essay on opinion cheap phd argumentative essay advice go here generico viagra farmacia https://chanelmovingforward.com/stories/mba-essay-writing-service/51/ rich heritage of india essay https://www.elc.edu/school/cheating-with-cell-phones-in-school-essay/53/ follow site follow url pride and prejudice conclusion for an essay source bureaucracy ap gov essay rubric how to write a cover letter for an assistant manager position how to delete all messages on iphone 6 plus essay questions for the help Yvonne, was very nice. She had presented me with a complimentary transportation card that I could use for the aerial tram. But I did not use it yesterday.

Hotel Rischli, Söreneberg

But first – goats. Just outside the dining patio was an enclosure of the cutest goats. They also had an enclosure of rabbits too. It made the stay more enjoyable.

Hotel Rischli, Söreneberg

Yesterday I had gone by the gondola on my descent to the hotel. When Yvonne offered the transportation card I did not feel like pedaling the 4.5 km back up the mountain. But with a great night’s sleep, I looked at it differently, one from a fresh mind. And body.

Söreneberg

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. Slow down. Enjoy the day.

Söreneberg

I had no clue where I was in Switzerland in relationship to other landmarks but in looking at the advertisements of the region I saw they also advertised a cog railway. I realized that I took that train with [Friend] three years ago and it dawned on me that at the summit we saw a gondola come up the mountain.

A nice way to the top

I rode to the gondola, presented my comp pass, and saved 38 CHF (which was about $40). The staff at the gondola put my bike in the engine room while I rode up to the summit.

Barry in Switzerland. Overlooking Lake Brienz

It was cool being back there. This time I could look down and see the cog railway engine sputtering away bringing back pleasant memories of this trip three years earlier.

The cog railroad train on the mounatin, Lake Brienz in the background

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).

Söreneberg

It was a quick descent back to Söreneberg and a stop at the hotel. My luggage hadn’t been picked up so I decided I would carry an extra set of clothes just in case I got to Thun before my luggage. I couldn’t imagine I would with the trip being so short and now it was after 11:00 a.m. and I hadn’t left Söreneberg.

The Alpine Slide

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. The ones I have been on all used a ski lift to carry the passenger and sleds to the top of the mountain for the slide down. But this was a fully-enclosed course in which the rider rode up the mountain (towed by a cable) before sliding back down.

The River Aare in Thun is split by an island. The swimming channel was clearly slower than the other side. But one only needed to jump in and float and be carried away. Pretty fun!

Waldemme, Switzerland

Dinner tonight was at McDonalds – 8,90 instead of 35 or 40 CHF for a real meal. 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 that will be texted to you – if you have WiFi to receive the text. Sigh.

Marbach, Switzerland

The hotel was AM Schloss. It had no A/C and only a small window over a busy street. It was pretty miserable sleeping.


Covered Bridges and another Mountain

SÖRENBERG, SWITZERLAND

The day started with breakfast at the Seerausch Hotel in Beckenreid. It was the first hotel where they had a full buffet including eggs. So good but the view of Lake Luzerne was better.

Breakfast overlooking the beautiful lake

The Panoramic Alpine Route 4 would quickly take a lakefront road. There standing in the grass close to the lake was a topless woman talking to another woman. She was probably getting ready to catch some rays. I wanted to stop there for a photo of the lake but that would have been creepy in any language. So I went about 500 meters farther.

Lake Luzerne

The water of the lake is clear. The morning was perfect, about 68° (20° C).

Lake Luzerne

I would follow the Blue Route 4 signs where I could find them and rely on my Garmin as a backup. And I would need them.

Engelberger, Swizterland

A real surprise was coming to a covered bridge. I couldn’t tell when it was built…

Engelberger, Switzerland

…but it sure had sweet decking (floor).

Buochs Airport, Switzerland

The first direction decision came at a culvert. There was a sign and I thought I followed it correctly but it took me in this 100-meter loop under the road I was just on.

Buochs Airport, Switzerland

I didn’t mind it one bit because it gave me a unique view of the mountains.

Stansstad, Switzerland

I got off course a bit in the little town of Stansstad. I did a two-block loop, looked closer at the signs, compared to Garmin, corrected it then kept going.

This was 10 meters from the turn for Route 4 at Lake Luzerne but sure is pretty (Hergiswil, Switzerland)


I crossed a bridge then followed Rte 4 on a lake road to Alpnachstad.

Stansstad, Switzerland

I followed the road next to the lake. There was a “sidewalk” which was really a boardwalk.

The Pilatus-Bahn cog railway

I was expecting about a 30 km (19 mile) easy cruising ride this morning and that is what I got. Cobbles. But for a short ride.

Saren, Switzerland

The town of Saren is beautiful. In the center was freshwater, which I would need. And the fad of 2017, Fidget Spinners, is global.

Wilen (Sarnen), Switzerland

On my way out I entered a forested area then crossed what appeared to be a stream project. Had I looked to the right, and maybe I did, I would have seen what I was in store for.

Along the lake, I was back on a highway. Some roads have bike lanes which is really one meter to the right. The lines presumably make the drivers aware that we are there.

Giswil, Switzerland

At Giswil I came to a second covered bridge. It’s not quite Bedford Co., Pa., but I was a happy camper. Or rider. I love my covered bridges.

Giswil, Switzerland

Leaving Giswil, I uncharacteristically made a good biking decision. I stopped for a photo then jumped in behind two riders who looked like they were riding the Alpine route.

Giswil. Route 9 goes left and up; Route 4 continues straight. I made the wrong turn.

Ahead I could see a road climbing, steeply, to the left. I knew I had a left turn coming up. They turned and the one guy turned back. I passed him and started climbing. It was steep.

Giswil, Switzerland

I checked Garmin and it said I was “Off Course.” Well, sometimes one can be 10 meters off and it says I’m off so I was going to ignore it. I started climbing higher and could see I was going away from the route I mapped.

Giswil, Switzerland

The two men had stopped already and I asked (MAJOR LANGUAGE BARRIER – not sure they were German-speaking) if this was Route 4 (I held up four fingers). They said it was.

Giswil, Switzerland – Be careful reading the signs

I thought back to the turn. There was a sign but I didn’t look. The thought of going back down those steep 400 meters to check the sign then climb it again disturbed me but not more than taking the wrong route. I grabbed a quick photo and went back down.

Bike Route 4

I was glad I checked. I was right. Rte 4 continued straight for another 400 meters before turning onto Panorama Strasse.

Hey, that looks like my RAV4

This road was mostly a one-lane road. Two cars could not pass. But there were some sections every 400-500 meters or so where a car could pull over to let one pass in the opposite direction.

Giswil, Switzerland

I looked up and figured I would pass by every house on the mountain. I was right.

Giswil, Switzerland

There was room for a car and a bike but only inches between a bus (city) and this bike. Thank you bus.

Giswil, Switzerland

I was sweating profusely. On the lower slopes were simply farms and no trees. I was exposed to the blazing sun.

Giswil, Switzerland

The climb was 11.8 kilometers (7.3 miles). Much of the way the grind was 8-9%.

Looking back to the washed-out stream I had crossed – Giswil, Switzerland

In my mind, I had calculated the climb to be 11 kilometers but as I watched Garmin I had a math error. I was off by one kilometer. It’s tough when you think you’re at the summit but you’re not.

Giswil, Switzerland

Somewhere, and I have no idea where the open section gave way to woods. It was a welcome relief from the sun.

Giswil, Switzerland

In the wooded section, the Garmin showed higher gradients. It was registering 11-12% and even up to 18% (which I know it wasn’t – my body knows 18%). It wasn’t that steep. Long, yes. Steep, no.

Actually a 7-8% upgrade here – Giswil, Switzerland

Unlike Klausen Pass yesterday, where I was passed by 203 motorbikes, today I would be passed by 13 and only one “was in a hurry.”

Giswil, Switzerland

I went long stretches not hearing anything but birds of the forest and the occasional cowbell.

Giswil, Switzerland. So glad to find this water.

The higher I went the more cows I heard. I crossed a cattle guard and was in an open graze cattle area.

On this corner was an air sock and this guy sitting with his toy. He showed no interest in interacting with me even as I stopped and took an obvious photo. Giswil, Switzerland


I went through those two bottles and saw a water fountain. I stopped and filled up. Very cold water. They would last me another 2-3 kilometers.

Giswil, Switzerland

I came upon perhaps 40 school kids on a hike. For a while they seemed to be walking at the same pace I was climbing. But I soon passed them. A couple of kids tried to run alongside me but they didn’t last long although I thought they may beat me to the summit. They didn’t.

Giswil, Switzerland

What I thought was the summit was still 1200 meters from the top. A man sat there with his toy airplane. There was a windsock attached to a pole and he brought along his own windsock. I thought about asking him to take a photo of me climbing but he had no interest in even making eye contact.

Giswil, Switzerland

The views on the descent weren’t nearly as breathtaking as those on the ascent. Or maybe I simply had more time to take them in on the climb.

The gondola at Sörenberg

Right before Sörenberg I stopped at a cable tram. Interesting, but I didn’t know where it went. Although I would find out later.

Sörenberg, Switzerland

Going through Sörenberg I saw some young ladies in front of a school for Hospitality Management.

Sörenberg, Switzerland

I stopped and asked if they spoke English (the sign was in English). They all did. Four young women from Vietnam. I also asked if I should go to Vietnam for bike riding and they laughed and said “Oh no.” I had read that Vietnam is a great destination for cycling this I found their response interesting.

Directions to Hotel Rischli , Sörenberg, Switzerland

I checked into the Hotel Rischli and the desk clerk offered me a discount card for the tram. As she was showing me the brochure it also included a cog railway. Then I realized this approach was the backside of the mountain that I had traveled three years ago. Had I spent my money to see the views from “up there” I certainly would have been surprised. And maybe pissed to learn I could have ridden for free.

Dinner at Hotel Rischli, Sörenberg, Switzerland

Dinner was out on the patio. I wanted to order Rösti although at the time I did not know the name. I settled for a Pork Cordon Bleu dish which is what I had yesterday in Beckenreid. It was delicious but at 35 CHF a bit pricey for this traveler.

Cyclist refilling bottle in Sarnen

What a Gorgeous Lake – and Mountain Too

BECKENRIED, SWITZERLAND

I am blown away at the view of Lake Lucerne and it’s hard to remember what an awesome day in the saddle it was. Or out of the saddle.

The start of the climb in Linthal

I began my day in Linthal. It was just 55° (13° C) at 8:00 a.m. I put on arm warmers which would last all of about half a kilometer. I was prepared for how tough a climb last night by meeting the couple from Zürich. I saw them this morning at breakfast too. “Tough,” he said.

The cobbles would last about 150 meters through the first switchback. Linthal, Switzerland

I would be climbing the Klausen Pass. I studied the route map and knew what exactly to expect. Just not cobblestones.

Snow shed

I would normally ride without stopping but I figure this will be the only time I am ever here. So I said I would stop for photos. The first was the snow shed and I also turned on my lights.

Gorgeous snow sheds or tunnels – Linthal, Switzerland

A house with a view – Linthal, Switzerland

The snow sheds had windows to the outside world and breathtaking views. However, I did not capture enough. As I climbed higher I sometimes thought there would be better vistas only to find the road went straight into the forest and I was no longer able to see the valley below.

Cows. Lots of cows. – Urnerboden, Switzerland

The climb up to the pass was 23 km. At 10 km it was a plateau (mostly), sort of like Big Meadows in Skyline Drive in Virginia. To the right, I could hear the symphony of cowbells playing in the distance. I wondered if they needed a director.

The white building to the right, ahead, is the Wilhelm Tell Hotel – Urnerboden, Switzerland

In the plateau area, a false flat mostly for about five kilometers, are free-range cattle.

Just another gorgeous view – Urnerboden, Switzerland

I would go through a small village of Urnerboden. To the right was the Hotel Wilhelm Tell. I didn’t think much of it at the time but this was said to be the birthplace of Swiss Hero William Tell. (The area, not the actual hotel.)

Urnerboden, Switzerland
The plateau area – Urnerboden, Switzerland
Bees, lots of bees. – Urnerboden, Switzerland
Looking down the road I climbed and three more motorcycles ready to pass me – Urnerboden, Switzerland

After the second section, the road kicked up again to the summit, this time about eight kilometers.

Switchbacks in the final section – Urnerboden, Switzerland

The solitude of the climb was interrupted by motorcycles passing me, one within inches. In addition were lots of sports cars, Porsche, Jaguars, even saw four Deloreans. Unfortunately, many drivers treated this road as their racecourse.

Looking back at the switchback section – Urnerboden, Switzerland

On the climb I passed two cyclists, a man and a woman, and got passed by three, two men and a woman. And 203 motorcycles.

Barry at Klausen Pass

I would characterize the climb as hard but not the hardest. Four climbs: Mount Washington; Hurricane Mountain Road (NH); San Pellegrino (Italy); and maybe Henrietta Road (PA), all brought me to my knees making me think I should quit. This ride never did it. It was just a slog, a 2.5-hour slog to be sure, but I knew I would make it.

At the top – Unterschächen, Switzerland

With the hard part over and drenched in sweat, it was time for the easy part of the day. The descent.

On Klausen Pass – Unterschächen, Switzerland

I thought I might bomb the descent but instead took it easy. The words of Wayne Stetina resonated with me when he told me four years ago that he never bombs a descent he hadn’t seen before. I decided I would take it easy.

Descent off Klausen Pass – Unterschächen, Switzerland

I stopped frequently for the views. In addition, the road was too beat up and too windy to let the bike roll.

It’s pretty far down there – Unterschächen, Switzerland
I held the camera and said “Cheese,” a universal word. – Unterschächen, Switzerland
Altdorf, Switzerland

I descended into Altdorf, a beautiful town. And then I saw it. Lake Luzerne.

Lake Luzerne – Flüelen, Switzerland

Leaving town I found the bike path to avoid riding with the cars in the tunnels, of which there were five or six.

Lake Luzerne – Flüelen, Switzerland

The bike lanes in Altdorf were well marked. Once I was in a dedicated lane sometimes it was bike-only and sometimes it was for bikes and pedestrians.

Lake Luxerne – Flüelen, Switzerland

In the tunnels, often the bike lane would go in with the cars and the pedestrian path would be on the outside of the tunnel, high above the lake. Sometimes the bike lane would be outside as well. Simply gorgeous.

Lake Luzerne

The one thing to watch out for is bike paths could become sidewalks without notice. And there are penalties (fines) for riding on the sidewalks.

Klewenalp, Beckenreid, Switzerland

As the road got closer to Brunnen it was harder to determine where the bike lane was. But I managed to find my way, at times following two locals (I presume they were local).

Lake Luzerne – Sisikon, Switzerland
Lake Luzerne – Brunnen, Switzerland
Brunnen, Switzerland
The signs in Brunnen, Switzerland
FCB – Brunnen, Switzerland

I came to a small stadium for FCB (Footballclub Brunnen). Either it was too late in the match to collect admission or the game was free but it was free for me. I wanted to see the referees of which there was one. Two thoughts: I was surprised they were using just one referee and my refs in Woodbridge are better.

Ferry at Gersau, Switzerland

The rest of the ride was lakeside to the ferry at Gersau. What a beautiful road.

Ferry at Gersau, Switzerland

Onboard I saw a cyclist. Everything about her could have been American. She was on a Cervélo bike (which is Canadian and more likely in the U.S. than Europe), wore a Specialized kit (based in California), rode Speedplay cleats and had a Garmin 500 GPS. But she was a local who ride halfway around the lake (60 km) then took the ferry back.

Barry on Lake Luzerne

Disembarking at Beckenreid, I saw the hotel and rode right past it, looking for the Klewenalp. This where Ashley and I went with Ben Z. seven years ago.

Ferry from Gersau to Beckenreid – It was so enjoyable riding along the lake in Beckenreid.
Lake Luzerne

I found it, then bought some ice cream and watched the paddle steamer. We rode that boat in 2010.

View from my hotel room – Beckenreid, Switzerland

Only then did I check into the hotel. I was told when my luggage was dropped off the guy wondered if I beat him. He said I always do. I didn’t know it was a race. But actually I arrived an hour earlier and had spent the time riding around. Tomorrow he doesn’t stand a chance.

A room with a view! – Beckenreid, Switzerland

The hotel was Hotel Seerausch. Simply gorgeous.

Beckenreid, Switzerland

It was a warm (hot) day. The hotel had their own private beach access to the lake. I went down and dove in. It. Was. Cold! I forgot I was swimming in glacier water. I did not stay in the water more than 10 minutes.

Dinner at the hotel

In addition to first class accommodations, the staff here was the best I found in Switzerland. There’s not too many places I would say I must return to but I would love to return here.


Beautiful Bike Paths

LINTHAL, SWITZERLAND

Breakfast this morning was at Hotel Cafe Huber in Lichtensteig. As I finished the owner came went to the bakery and gave me some bread to take with me. That was very nice.

Breakfast at Cafe Hotel Huber. Orange juice and sparking water would be added.

There would be two issues to deal with today. I never get saddle sores but developed those yesterday. Although better, they would stay with me today. And second, those signs…

Lichtensteig

Or more accurately, lack of signs. On a cool morning, I rode downhill to Wattwil. That was my reward for riding uphill to Lichtensteig yesterday.

A view from Wattwil

When I came to the town I turned on the main street to follow Bike Route 4. I also had uploaded the route to Garmin. I had gone no farther than one kilometer when Garmin told me I was off course.

Bike Route 4 – to Zürich? (Wattwil, Switzerland)

I turned around and went back into town. I went another way when I saw the blue Route 4 sign. I lost that trail too. I turned around.

The start of the day’s climb. It’s steeper than it looks. Wattwil, Switzerland

I decided to follow my Garmin no matter what. Leaving town I turned on a road that was not marked with a sign. About one kilometer later, I had to turn and there was the sign. I was on the right route after all.

A cyclist farther up the hill. I would catch him. Wattwil, Switzerland

Two or three or 10 times during today’s ride I chose to follow Garmin where there was no sign. Eventually, I would be proven right. In contrast to yesterday, I did not ask anyone for directions today.

Hey look! Frisbee game ahead. Wattwil, Switzerland.

I had already decided that it would be next to impossible to follow this route solely by depending on the signs. They simply are not everywhere they need to be. I would not say the route is well marked but “pretty well” marked. Maybe best in the world but could be better.

Kaltbrunn, Switzerland

I had studied my route today and knew leaving town I would have a climb. Not too tough (compared to yesterday) and then a descent. The map showed flat or a slight climb the rest of the way. And that played out as expected.

Ricken, Switzerland

The descent offered gorgeous views of Lake Zürich (or perhaps that is Obersee, the “Upper Lake” portion of Lake Zürich) in the distance and the mountains ahead.

Flat farm roads ahead. With nice views. Benken, St. Gallen, Switzerland

At the bottom of the hill, I lost the signs and went with Garmin. I turned on a narrow road that was flat and straight. It was the right direction.

Schänis, Switzerland

I was just 25 km in (15.5 miles) and the rest of the day would be flat to trending upward. I would also be on these narrow roads with no traffic although occasionally riding back on a highway.

Where one of the Rte 4 signs leads. This river comes from Lake Walen. Bilten, Switzerland

I came to one turn for Route 4 and it went down to the river and followed a gravel road.  I stopped for a snack from my pocket then waited at the top to see if any road cyclists were on this path. One coming in my direction looked at it and exclaimed in German “they must be crazy if they think I’m riding on that crap.”* He then headed straight and I decided to follow him.

Näfels, Switzerland

Along open road were just cyclists and walkers. I didn’t see any runners. And horses.

Näfels, Switzerland

I saw a young man, Marcel, and stopped and asked if he would be my photographer. I wanted a picture of me on my bike with the mountains in the background. He agreed.

Mugging for the camera with a Swiss flag. Näfels, Switzerland. Those are the Alps, not the Rockies.

Marcel and I had a nice conversation of at least 10 minutes, maybe 15, standing alongside this wonderful path. Well down, my friend!

Marcel the Photographer
Marcel – Näfels, Switzerland

I really can’t offer much more. The route signs were pretty good but not perfect. But the weather was perfect.

Netsal, Switzerland

At Glarus Süd there was a festival in progress. The bike route was blocked with signage to take a different route to Linthal.

Ennenda, Switzerland

I figured if the route to Linthal was marked, why not take it, but another couple came by and went passed the closure. So I followed them.

Festival in Glarus Süd, Switzerland

I was glad because I don’t know if I would have known how to get back on Bike Route 4 and it was a great alternative.

Glarus Süd, Switzerland

As I made my way through the people, one woman said “Nice velo.” I liked that!

Leuggelbach, Switzerland

I found myself pedaling slower than normal, a little in part due to saddle sores but mostly because my eyes were constantly scanning the scenery. No need to race this route and fly by. And it was a short day.

Hotel Bahnoff, Linthal

My hotel in Linthal is Hotel Bahnoff. It has a much larger room than the Hotel Huber and the Wifi is pretty good. Time to catch up and study tomorrow’s route as well.

Linthal, Switzerland

POSTSCRIPT:  At dinner I sat out on the patio at the hotel. One table over came a Swiss couple who had just hiked whatever pass I am climbing tomorrow. They are from Zürich. We had nice conversation all evening during dinner.

Dinner at the Hotel, Linthal, Switzerland

___
*Ha! I have no idea what he said but that was certainly the gist of it. Seriously.

Ennenda, Switzerland

Lost Among All the Signs

LICHTENSTEIG, SWITZERLAND

Today was the start of my Panoramic Alpine adventure. My friend, with whom I was staying, got up earlier than normal and took the tram to the train station in Zürich with my suitcase while I biked there. I beat her.

Train to St. Margrethen

After I boarded the train I thought I saw no identifying marks on the train and wasn’t 100% sure if I was on the right one. I thought I had remembered boarding on Platform 8 and we went with that. I wonder how many people board the wrong trains and don’t discover it until they are underway?

The Austrian side of the River Rhine

I arrived St. Margrethen then found one guy working behind the counter. I explained that I needed to leave my luggage at the luggage counter. At first, he didn’t understand but then took the bag to his backroom. I wondered all day if it would be delivered to my hotel.

Well hello Austria!

Jumping on my bike I went exploring for a gateway to Austria. The one I had mapped out I didn’t find but found another. After asking two policemen if it was safe for bikes, they showed me a bike path on the bridge and I quickly crossed the River Rhine. The river was much smaller and narrower than I anticipated.

The first Bike 4 sign I found

I found a willing participant to take my photo with an Austrian flag, then gave her the flag for her son. I then crossed back into Switzerland to begin my journey. Time spent in Austria: 15 minutes.

Bike shop in St. Margrethen

There was but one problem. And I hoped that it would not be a huge problem. Actually it wasn’t huge other than causing me a lot of angst. A lot.

On the first climb

I mapped out the ride on Ride With GPS but forgot to upload it to my Garmin. Stupid me. I planned to rely on Garmin today for directions. The hardcopy maps that Eurotrek provided me were in my checked luggage. At the train station. I would have to follow the Bike Route 4 signs.

Panoramic Alpine Route 4 is a road bicycle route that is marked across Switzerland. My tour papers said it is well marked. I say that it is not.

Street sign in Oberegg. I did not get to descend this one.

I found the first sign for Rte 4, followed it, then quickly lost it. In St. Margrethen. I came to an intersection and there was no sign which way to turn. I turned right. I did a loop.

Stopped for water and thought I’d try this blue Fanta even though I don’t drink soda. I still don’t know what that was.

I saw a bike shop that were authorized dealers for Trek. I didn’t see any Treks inside. I asked them where to pick up the route (1). They sent me back on the loop I just did. They did not seem real interested that I stopped in.

Oberegg

I came back to the same spot. This time I went straight. Eventually I saw another sign. I was on the right road after all.

Water stop in Oberegg

Leaving St. Margrethen I turned onto a side street, if a mountain road with switchbacks is a side street. For the next seven miles I would be climbing while profusely dripping with sweat. Much of the climb seemed to be 10-12%. I won’t say I wasn’t prepared, I will just say I wasn’t expecting that. OK, I wasn’t prepared.

Cows playing bells

Climbing through heavy forest I welcomed the sound of cow bells. Lots of them. I didn’t welcome the smell of cow manure. Lots of it. But I guess that comes with cow bells.

I kept my eyes peeled throughout the ride for more signs. Mostly they were there but sometimes they were not or perhaps perfectly hidden. In one small town I completely “lost the scent” and asked a young man on a bike (2).

He knew nothing about Rte 4 but suggested I go back to the traffic circle and this time go straight. I came to a T and there were the signs. He also told me I may have to “Ask (my way) Across Switzerland.”

Trogen

Actually, absent any signs one would assume to go straight so that one wasn’t a problem. It’s where there were turns but no signs.

Maybe an ancestral home for me?

In Appenzell I last saw signs right before I reached the town but at the traffic circle there was nothing. So I went straight. I only went a few blocks and ran into two cyclists, apparently local, who knew nothing about this bike route (3).

Teufen

I went back to traffic circle and saw nothing. But I did see a police sign so I went to the police station and asked them (4). They knew nothing about the route but they knew Google maps. They printed out a map for me. But I still didn’t know how to get out of town.

Appenzell

I saw a bike shop and stopped (5). The owner vacations in Fort Lauderdale and was very gracious. He filled my water bottles and told me how to get to next town. I followed his directions – 1km and turn left – and those worked.

Bike shop in Appenzell

As we talked he told me I would turn left then go up this “little hill.” It was a mountain! Actually, looking at it now that I did it, it was only a mile. A little hill.

Appenzell

But going off course in Appenzell actually worked out. I saw some neat shit I wouldn’t have otherwise. The town center is pretty. Horses came by and one dropped a load. One of the staff grabbed a shovel and bucket and cleaned it up in less than one minute than ran and jumped back on the wagon.

I went seven miles to the next town, Urnäsch and came to a T. There was the Rte 4 sign and I had been on it the entire time. Not only didn’t I know it but I figured my bike friend just got me headed for Wattwill the best way he knew how.

Urnäsch. I was on the right road the entire time.

Maybe with so many miles in my legs made the last section seem the toughest. Near Hemberg I had been descending when I turned and started down another descent. I didn’t know this one would bottom out and throw another nasty ascent of a mountain at me. I had had enough.

I guess this was the high elevation for the day. It was the only marker I saw about altitude.

On my scale of 1-10 for difficulty, a 10 is can’t or won’t do it. A 9 is have to stop but will carry on. An 8 is lots of swearing at the mountain. Today was an 8. A solid 8.

I got to Wattwill where I had to ask two more people directions (6,7). They were in front of a post office soliciting people about swimming pools. That’s not happening in front of a USPS office.

My hotel in Lichtensteig, Switzerland

They were both early 20s so I figured, correctly, their English would be superb. And it was. They directed me the last four miles (although they teased me with 4km) but I checked into the Hotel Huber. No A/C (still waiting for mountain air to cool down – it will) and WiFi only worked if I left my bedroom door open. But the bed is comfortable and that is what I needed most. And my luggage did arrive.

L’Angolino Pizzeria, Lichtensteig, Swizterland

In the end, it was a pretty hard day. It was made even worse by not having directions or a map with me. I ended up asking seven people in my Ask Across Switzerland tour. Dinner was at the L’Angolino Pizzeria and then off to bed – with the door open for Wifi and air circulation.



Three Country Ride

SISSACH, SWITZERLAND

I had never been to Germany and a few months ago I told Ben Z. that we should ride (or that he should design) a ride that takes us from Switzerland to Germany. And he designed a good one.

I took the train from Zürich to Sissach, met Ben, and went over to Stonebite bike shop, right down the street from the train station. Met a very nice guy working there. I grabbed a Trek Madone with Di2 (electronic) shifting and he fit me to the bike. One problem though. When I tried to shift I discovered the battery was missing and he couldn’t find it. But a couple of phone calls and 45 minutes later we were off and riding – the train.

(Actually there was a second problem. The bike was too large for me and a seat I could not lower. I would be uncomfortable for a day. Oh well.)

Ben, giving a Turkish Couple directions

We took the train to Basel to begin our tour. Winding our way via bike paths, we found our way across and then beside the Rhine River. It was navigating by feel. Within six kilometers we were crossing into Germany.

And almost immediately once we were in Germany, we were leaving Germany. We crossed the Three Countries Bridge into France. I was in Germany for 600 meters. But it counts.

Three Countries Bridge

Once in France we were on pancake flat roads, parallel to the Rhine River and the Grand Canal of Alsace but never quite seeing it. The road was a chip and tar road and a bit difficult to pedal. After 12 kilometers we turned towards the river and followed a road back to a hydro-electric power plant on the river at Krembs.

Hyrdoelectric Plant at Krembs on the Rhine River

No cars but we could cross the damn on bikes. We stopped to watch a ship come through the lock.

Ship coming through the lock at Krembs

Once we crossed the dam we followed the canal south until crossing into Germany. We jumped on a bike bath which was paved but turned to dirt and gravel. Germany has many bike paths next to roads, most are paved but this one wasn’t. We rode it for a few kilometers before finding another path/road which was paved.

Bike path in Germany ran out of pavement

Ben had printed out directions but we seemed to be off cue as much as on and it sure was fun. We followed open roads to wherever they led – which was not to lunch.

Closed on Mondays

Hungry, my breakfast was a Snickers bar in the train station, we found a restaurant/tavern which was closed on Mondays. Then another. And another. Finally we found a place in Kandern in the Black Forest which may have been Pizzeria Sanlorenzo, but I can’t say for sure. After a cyclists’ lunch of pizza, we headed out and up – up a beautiful road through the Black Forest.

Black Forest

Occasionally at a town or intersection Ben would check GPS but just as often we would say – “let’s go that way” as long as it was headed south or west – back towards his home in Sissach.

Ben and a Bike Path in Germany

We were on country roads, for the most part not heavily traveled, but just as often we jumped on the paved bike paths which followed the roads.

Reaching Rheinfelden, Germany, Ben mostly knew the way except that a landmark old building was missing. A quick question to a tourist and we were headed across the bridge crossing the Rhine back into Switzerland, to Rheinfelden, Switzerland. Two questions really. Which way to Switzerland and is that water (in the fountain) potable? (It wasn’t)

Rheinfelden, Switzerland

Ben said from Rheinfelden it would be 15 km more – all uphill. Before leaving, we found a water fountain with potable water and filled our bottles.

Ben, filling his water bottle

Once we left Rheinfelden we were on a somewhat traveled road until going through Magden. And there the climb began. In earnest.

Bridge over River Rhine at Rheinfelden Germany and Switzerland

In the morning we had been riding on dead flat roads along the Rhine in Basel and in France. But in Germany we picked up some hills in the Black Forest and now we had a small mountain to get over. My Garmin was showing it was mostly 11-12%. This was a mini Mt. Washington – 12% but for only two kilometers and not 12 kilometers.

Ben at the summit before Sissach

And it was raining. Cloudy in the morning and sunny in Germany, the rain was coming down in Switzerland. But it felt good on the climb. Once over the top we had 3k back to town. I was able to drop the bike, change, and catch my train, all in a matter of a few minutes.

Meanwhile, back at the bike shop

Three countries on a bike. What a great ride!

Barry and Ben
Barry and Ben

A big SHOUT OUT to Ben and [Friend}, my hosts on this day. They were both exchange students in the 90s who I have kept in close contact with. And on this day they were both texting each other as to my whereabouts. I was staying with [Friend] and she seemed very worried I would miss my train connections to Ben. And when I left Ben texted her with my EPA. Love you both!

Bridge Jumper

BERN, SWITZERLAND

I came to Bern not to ride but to swim. But I got in a ride. (And a blog entry!)

Bern is a neat city. As a genealogist, I trace most of my family history to Germany and England but I trace my Wenger line to Bern. My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, John or Hans Wenger, was born here in 1705. Welcome home.

I count among my blessings in life the years I worked with YFU. Those amazing foreign exchange students in the 1990s are now amazing young adults in their 30s. Céline Oreiller met me in Bern and knew my bucket list item – jump off the bridge into the freezing River Aare.

Looking back to the city from the bear pits

We walked the downtown area over to the bear pits. We followed a steep hill up to the gardens and across a high bridge back into town.

 

WARNING: Octopi in the River Aare

After lunch we made our way to the Cathedral of Bern, a place Céline had never been. Although I had a Swiss Rail Pass which was good for local transportation, it was in my stored bags at the train station. I cursed my decision not to have it. With it, we could have taken the funicular to the top of Bern. And we could have avoided the river.

The Kindlifresserbrunnen
A literal translation of the name Kindlifresserbrunnen
would be “Fountain of the Eater of Little Children”

Céline seemed to think I really wanted to jump off a bridge, probably because I told her that. Many times. I was content to climb the high towers of the Cathedral. Or just ride local transportation if I had my rail pass handy. She made it her mission to get me into the river.

Cathedral of Bern
Too Large to be captured by my camera

Around 5:00 p.m. the sun finally came out. We looked way down at the river below and found a “city bikes” location which offered “free” rentals, an oxymoron, indeed. For the first time today I was in my element. On a bike.

Céline, Barry

We rode across a high bridge then found some streets to quickly take us down to the river. At first we didn’t see anyone swimming but as we approached the Schönausteg Bridge, I thought must be the jumping bridge. Someone in a bathing suit walked by. We followed him across the bridge and watched him slip into the water and swiftly was taken away (safely).

Schönausteg Bridge

We didn’t see anyone jumping but the bridge looked like one I remembered in the BBC segment on swimming in Bern. Thankfully it wasn’t the bridge over to the bear pits which I thought I remembered.

I wasn’t sure if it was legal. There were no signs prohibiting it. So I went out on the bridge, climbed over the railing, being watched by others, not knowing what they thought. I was in the middle of the river and was standing on the suspension rails of the bridge. I thought I stood there for an eternity although it was really only a few seconds.

Jumping into the river I was carried away by the swift and cold current of the River Aare. At first it seemed cool being caught up in the current. But I remembered the most important thing is to get out of the river – there is a dam downstream.

Céline on a City Bike
I rode the same cruiser model

I swam towards the shore and saw the first take out point about 100 meters downstream – stairs built down to the river with a railing in the water. I tried to grab the railing and missed. I was being carried downstream. Just briefly, I stopped. I found a rock that I could prop my feet against.

The Dam Awaits

I was only one meter (three feet) away from the railing but the current was too strong to go against the current. And I could not climb out onto the river bank. I let go and went to the next one. I almost missed this, actually thought I had, but I grabbed the railing at the last possible second. Mission complete. So I went back and jumped again.

After I changed, we had to find our way back to the bike rental place. We climbed up a hill and found ourselves next to the American Embassy. I stopped for a photo op although was warned not to photograph the Embassy itself. I didn’t but the Swiss guard was cool. He turned his back. I could have.

U.S. Embassy

We dropped the bikes off after our ride and headed back to the train station to pick up my stored luggage and for me to catch the 6:36 p.m. train to Zurich. Bucket list item achieved.

I Love France (and You Too Switzerland)

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

Once upon a time, I thought I’d use this day to circumvent Lake Geneva, a distance of about 110 miles. However, I realized the bike rental location I was going to use wanted a two-day rental at 40 CHF per day. Plus the weather forecast called for a 90% chance of thunderstorms. The ride was off.

Geneva Train Station

Well, the big ride was off. Staying one block from the train station, I found a bike rental location called Geneva Roule which was on the other side of the train station. For 25 CHF I rented a BMC road bike for the day. I thought that was a good deal. Actually, it was a great deal.

Geneva Roule

I did not know where I was going. I was negotiating 100% by “feel” and just a little knowledge. This can be dangerous. Or fun. I knew the train station was north and west of the Rhône river so I looked at the sun and headed south. And east.

Geneva

There are many bike lanes in Geneva. Some are marked along with bus and taxi lanes and many run the same direction as the trolley tracks. Be very careful my friends.

Geneva

I crossed a bridge and then started my ride following Lake Geneva. I reasoned if I stayed close to the lake I could not get lost. My original ride plan which would take me around the lake was simply using the roads that were hugging the lake.

Geneva – Rhône River

I was on city streets and saw there was a bike path next to the lake so I jumped on it. At Vesanaz the road peeled away from the lake. I went through a construction area and dropped most of the traffic as I continued on the back road.

Geneva – Bike Lane painted leaving traffic with 1 1/2 lanes instead of two lanes

On the road out of Geneva the bike lane is a bit higher than the regular lane and a bit lower than the walking lane. Each separated by an angled “curb.” Or sometimes the pedestrian lane was simply divided by paint.

Geneva – Bike and Pedestrian lanes using angled curbs

And then it happened. I was going through Hermance, Switzerland and was going up the road, a slight climb, with some gravel on the road and a park with a soccer field to the left. Maybe it was Chens le Pont or Sous le Cret. Or maybe even Lagraie. Those are small towns within two kilometers (one mile) of one another.

I think the Province/Region sign is behind this construction sign
Welcome to France

It just seemed French and no longer Swiss. And I noticed a road sign, D 20.

I AM IN FRANCE!

French Road Signs
I am in France!

I think I was expecting a welcome sign. A Bienvenue sign. I doubted there would be passport control. But I was riding and had this moment — I am riding in France. And it was great. I was smiling.

I liked Italy. I like Switzerland. But there is just something about France. I love riding here. From my first time with Trek Travel in 2010 and then again three years ago when I did a solo trip. I love it here.

Commune de Nernier, France
(Is this private property?)

I had angst yesterday traveling from Tirano, Italy to Geneva. It was a long, but beautiful, day on multiple (four) trains. I worried about being stuck in a smoking room in Geneva (I wasn’t). When I arrived I didn’t know where the hotel was. But getting on the bike and riding in France, that just made everything better.

Commune de Nernier, France

In Chens-Sur-Leman I passed a bakery and cursed myself for not bringing those couple of 2€ coins I still had left. They were in my pants I left in the bike shop and would be so better used stopping and enjoying a chocolate croissant.

Always use SPF 1000 on your feet

As I was riding on a beautiful country road I saw an old church and diverted to it. There I discovered a community called Commune de Nernier. What a neat old village right on Lake Geneva. It was gated and I don’t know if I was allowed to bike in it but I did.

Commune de Nernier, France

I was just so happy riding for part of a day in France. If I had any doubts about how much I love riding in France the smile on my face said it all today.

Commune de Nernier, France

I returned to Geneva and used some time to explore parts of the town. It is a great city and I don’t want to diminish how much I like it here too by raving about riding in France.

Geneva – Rhône River

Looking back, I had a week of climbing some classic cols. That brings a satisfaction, especially Stelvio, unlike anything else. But riding in France today — pure joy!

Geneva – Rhône River

Itinerary for the Trek Travel Tour de France Trip

I always wanted to see a stage of the Tour de France. And I always thought I would like to tackle an epic climb such as the Alpe d’Huez, the Col du Tourmalet, or the Mont Ventoux. I was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2009. As I sorted through the many treatment options available for me I was also presented with the opportunity to take a Trek Travel tour sponsored by my local bike shop, The Bike Lane, in Burke and Reston, Virginia. Life is too short to wish “I should have while I was still healthy enough…”

I signed up. Not sure of what lies ahead in life and I wanted to take this trip when I could. And since it involves a lot of riding and climbing, I also wanted to do it when I was young enough to ride the high mountains. Maybe more importantly, it became my recovery goal that I started looking forward to on November 9. Or it was Goal #1a along with the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb race on August 21.

So I am leaving Friday. Friday, July 16 — Leave Washington-Dulles at 9:00 p.m. and fly overnight to Madrid.

Iberia – Dulles to Madrid

Since I will arrive on Saturday and have to do an extra day somewhere, I decided to do it in Madrid and not France. Saturday will be a day spent sightseeing in the capital of Spain.

Madrid

Sunday July 18 — Fly from Madrid to Toulouse, France

Toulouse, France

Monday, July 19 — In the morning we are transported to St. Lary-Soulon and then are fit to our Trek Madone bikes. There are riding options each day and I will be choosing to ride the longest route each day. Our warm-up ride Monday will take us up the Pla d’ Adet. 35 kilometers and 1,000 meters of climbing. That’s a lot of climbing over a short distance.

Desert at our picnic lunch and bike fitting

Tuesday, July 20 — A 100 km ride, 1,500 meters of climbing, from St. Lary – Col d’ Aspin – Col du Tourmalet and return. We then have mountain climb viewing of the Tour at La Mongie which is a ski village on the Tourmalet about 4km from the summit. I’ll be the one with the cowbell.

Adrian Register and Barry Sherry on the Col d’Aspin

Wednesday, July 21 — The pros have a rest day and we will ride 100 km, 3,000 meters of climbing including the Col d’ Azet, Port de Beles and the Col de Perysourde.

Barry at Col de Azet

Thursday, July 22 — A short 50 km in the mountains including a ride to the summit of the Col du Tourmalet and then watching the Tour tackle it twice as fast as we dreamed. Maybe three times as fast. And we’ll be at the mountain top finish.*

In a thunderstorm climbing the lower slopes of the Tourmalet

Friday, July 23 — Easy spin in Bordeaux in wine country and watching at the finish line of the Tour. 50 km, flat as a pancake. Somehow I think we’ll appreciate this. Maybe we’ll see Tyler Farrar win his first stage at the Tour.

On the way to Bordeaux – it wasn’t completely flat

Saturday, July 24 — We get to ride the time trial course and then watch the time trial where the Tour will probably be decided. 50 km.

Levi Leipheimer flying by

Sunday, July 25 — A train ride to Paris. We will be at the Automobile Club of France on the Champs Élysées watching the Tour go by us — eight times. As for the riding portion, people ask me how many miles we will ride. Only 250 which doesn’t sound like a lot. A few weekends ago I did 207 in one weekend. While it’s not that much it that will include almost 30,000′ of climbing. On Sunday, Ashley will fly into Paris and join me.

Ashley and Barry at the Automobile Club of France

On Monday and Tuesday we will be sightseeing in Paris.

Our own Parisian Tour Guide – Gwennaëlle Guillas. with Ashley

On Wednesday we will leave for Switzerland where we will do a whirlwind tour of the country, seeing Interlaken before ending in Zurich. In Zurich we will meet up with Ben Z, a student we were area reps for a number of years ago when he was an exchange student to the U.S. We (Ben and I) will go bike riding in the mountains.

Ben and son – Lucerne, Switzerland

Sunday, August 1 — Leave Zurich for Madrid then fly Madrid to Washington-Dulles. Life is short. Enjoy the simple pleasures. Life is Good!_


*EDIT/EPILOGUE – Photos added after the fact. The viewing for the Tour was along the route about 10 km from the summit. Wishful thinking had me read that we would be at the finish line. On neither day were we able to get closer than 4km from the summit due to crowd restrictions of the Tour de France.

I did not get to ride with Ben in Switzerland, instead we had a great boat ride in Lucerne.