Day 52 07/09/23
Today we had planned a short day, basically riding over the border into Switzerland. It was only 37 miles but we made a few wrong turns which always becomes a mini adventure. We started off with croissants and coffee served at the campground. It was already starting to warm up into the 80's.
Just before we crossed the border a couple of Hollanders asked us if we needed directions. I happened to be checking my map when he rode by and offered to assist us. He has ridden across the US three times including both coasts as well as Australia and much of Europe. They turned out to be an excellent resource as we were heading into Switzerland.
We rode into Basel, Switzerland, and it looked just like you would expect. The River Rhine is the centerpiece with commerce and tourism lining both sides. People were all over the place enjoying the beautiful day.
As we got closer to the city of Prattein where we were planning to camp, a man who was out for a bike ride came up next to us and and rode beside us for a while. He was curious about what we were doing and also shared a bit about his life . As we prepared to part ways, he offered his place of business for us to stay for the night. As we already had a campsite booked, we declined. Still wanting to help, he took the time to lead us to a grocery store that would be open on a Saturday. He, Andres, was a road angel that we were very thankful for.
Arriving at our campground you would think we had just entered Coney Island. It was right on the Rhine and the place was more than packed. We set up our tent with a three foot perimeter on all sides from our neighbors. A totally a new experience. It was kind of like walking down mainstreet Disneyland and pitching a tent with hundreds of people. But all was not bad, since it was in the 90's, we took a swim down the river Rhine. It was so refreshing!
We were awakened at 2:00am to the sounds of someone wretching up a storm just outside of our tent. The poor guy must have turned his guts inside out. We thought that the Alps would offer a little more space and wild beauty but we are beginning to wonder.
Keep it rolling
Scott and Sarah
Rode 37 miles
Day 53 07/10/23
The sky was rumbling off in the distance at 5:00am. We did not want to start the day in the rain so we began to pack up. The lady camping next to us quietly came over to us. Showing us the radar map on her phone she said in broken english, "Go quickly!" That was a bit unnerving, so we took her advice.
We made it five miles out of the campground and the heavens broke open. At that moment we noticed a car wash that had a place where we could get under a pavilion to wait out the storm. Hail, wind, and rain blew with great intensity; yet we stayed dry. This also gave us a moment to talk about what we would do if we get caught in a storm on a pass going over then Alps. We hope we don't have to exercise that plan.
The rain gave way to broken skies and we got underway again. The drivers in Switzerland are more aggressive than in France which reminds us of riding in the states. We seem to be in traffic a bit more, too. Today we did a major climb which included pushing the bike up the road. When we got to the top we had a young rider stop us and carry on a long conversation. He lived in the area and was just out for a ride but it was "time for lunch" so he excused himself and left us to our amazing downhill ride into a stunning valley which could have been in a copy of Alpine Magazine.
We made it to Sursee where we had reservations to camp. Camping in Europe is not like camping in America. When we arrived we had the place to ourselves but by bedtime it felt like Woodstock. We keep thinking "Where are all these people coming from?" It turns out that many of them just live a mile or two away. In America we have a huge land mass and we camp in the wilderness. Here we are camping on the edge of a village or city so the people have immediate access. Not really complaining but it is taking some adjustment.
Keep it rolling
Scott and Sarah
Rode 49 miles
Day 54 07/11/23
Woke up to clear skies with heat in the forecast. Today was a record for earliest time to start pedalling because we wanted to beat the heat. We got started at 7:30am never imagining that we would ride into the evening. We finished our day at 7:00pm.
So what took us so long? Glad you asked.
But before I fill you in on our long day, let me update you on a private matter that I mentioned a while back. I changed my bicycle seat after having the distance of my sitz bones measured. Yes that is an actual thing. What it showed was that I had been riding on too wide of a seat. After three days of a narrower seat the pain was gone. I wish I had figured that out last year!
Back to our day. This is a long post so I apologize up front. We rode to the city of Lucerne and we were awestruck at the beauty of the old town center. We stopped at a bakery and picked up a few goodies and what looked like a quiche. Upon eating it, I am now uncertain as to what it was, but Sarah loved it. In the town, we got to see the Chapel bridge built in 1333 and a beautiful old church built in the1400's. The whole place was magical.
We rode another six miles to catch the ferry across Lake Lucerne. While waiting for a ferry we met a young man from the Netherlands who was on holiday with his wife and son. We talked while we waited for the ferry. He is a physician's assistant and explained a bit about the medical system in Holland. We boarded the ferry for the 30 minute crossing and enjoyed the great views. As we were about to disembark one of the crew members said that they are expecting a huge storm to roll in. He showed us pictures of the golf ball sized hail that had recently wrecked his car.
Sarah and I only had another six miles to our campsite to complete a 48 mile day. We began to wonder if we should push on another 30 miles; that way, we could get to Andermatt and hole up for a couple of days to wait out the storm. It was Tuesday and we already had a hotel reservation near Andermatt for the next evening. After some deliberation, we decided to strike out. It was only 1:30 with 30 miles to go, so we got a hotel reservation for the evening and we were off to beat the rain.
In a normal day we usually carry two full water bottles each totalling 1.5 litres per person. Because it was up over 90 degrees we decided to fill two extra bottles so we each had over two litres of water. Add to that both Sarah and I drank a soda on the ferry. By the time we reached the end of the lake we were already running out of water. With 20 miles to go, we purchased another 1/2 litre each.
On top of that we were having some difficulty with unclear directions which adds unwanted mileage and frustration. We had been gaining in elevation the whole day but the real challenge still lay ahead and it was now 3:30. We had 8 miles left with another 2000 feet of elevation gain ahead. The heat was taking a toll and our water was running low.
I always find it fascinating that things fall into place at the right time. We were pumping up a hill and there was a barn with a water spicket. At that point, I didn't give a hoot about trespassing. I jumped off the bike, grabbed the empty bottles and started filling. I downed a whole bottle right there when Sarah said, "Come hold the bike." I didn't realize how bad she was feeling at that moment. She needed to put her head under the water to cool herself down. Looking back we both think she was suffering from a little heat exhaustion. That water, at that moment, literally revived us and we were able to keep on.
It wasn't long before we had to stop and eat something and now we were both spent but we had to keep on. We made it another three miles
and our water was once again depleted. Remember we are in the Alps with flowing water all around us just not in our bottles. We did a lot of walking because riding up a steep grade is just not doable on a tandem. But once again, at the right time, a little gas station, which also looked like a small house, appeared up ahead. A woman was sitting out front and she was kind enough to fill our bottles. She didn't speak English but we believe she was asking us where we were going. We told her Andermatt and her expression left us feeling like, good luck with that one!
We pedalled away with only 4 miles left but it might as well have been 40. In another mile we
came upon a tiny market and we stumbled in to buy something, anything that would fill the tank. We purchased two yogurt drinks, an apple cider drink and a banana. I had finished my drink before we checked out and then went outside to eat the banana and polish off the cider. The last two miles were on auto pilot. It was 7:00 pm and we had been riding 11 1/2 hours but we made it to the hotel just as it started raining.
Sarah went to check us in but came back to announce that no one was there. She said she made a call to the number at the desk but got a recording. I told her that we will sleep in the lobby if we have to. Upon further investigation, we discovered that they had a check in process that was very unfamiliar to us. Finally, we were able to get into our room.
The day came to a close with showers but no dinner. It was raining so hard out neither one of us wanted to brace the elements so we went to bed. The truth is, when you sleep on something it always seems to get better.
Keep it rolling
Scott and Sarah
Rode 75 adventurous miles
Day 55 07/12/23
We decided to take a day of rest after yesterday's brutal climb. The hotel is in a little town called Goschennen and it is nestled in a steep canyon facing a glacier. Breakfast was served; we didn't have to cook! Cooking at home is one thing, cooking on a jet boil camp stove is another. I was glad for the time it afforded us to sleep in and not think about getting up, cooking, eating, packing up, checking tire pressure and dressing in a small space.
Thank God I have done yoga for a few years now because the balance component is greatly needed when the area you dress in is usually a 3' x 3' wet dressing/shower room. Balance is greatly needed when you have to stand on one foot, on a wet floor and thread your feet into your undergarments one leg at a time while trying not to touch the wet walls or let your drawers touch the wet floor!
We have another climb that is steeper and nine miles long that is still ahead of us but we have came to a place where we can accept real solutions. As we were riding yesterday I thought, I am 66, the climb is brutal, I know I can do it, more lightening and rain are in the forecast but I have the means to find a solution. Let me honk on Sarah for a moment. She was a champ! Yesterday, she made it up that mountain without a peep of descent. In other words, she has more hutspah than most men I know. Sorry guys, just the facts.
Our solution is to look for a shuttle company that can take us up the beast. Yippee! We booked a reservation for tomorrow and now we can sleep well tonight.
Keep on rolling
Scott and Sarah
Day 56 07/13/23
It rained all night but cleared somewhat by morning. We woke up to the sound of cowbells and birds. The cowbells resonate with clarity for miles throughout the steep canyon and give you that, "Hills are alive with Sound of Music feel." Our shuttle arrived right on time and we loaded up and headed to our next campsite 45 miles away. The driver, Michael, was from Slavakia and he chatted our ears off for well over an hour.
We arrived at Carrera and thanked Michael for such a gift. It cost us an arm and a leg but we were thrilled to pay it. Now back to the routine, set up camp, cooked dinner, played games and got ready for bed. Ready to resume our journey the next day. It is wonderful when it all comes together!
Keep on rolling
Scott and Sarah