The following two weeks posed a problem for me however. I had holidays until my new job started on 02/06/2009, and I had no idea what to do. I decided to go cycling, as one does. I used the next few days to gather the necessary items for my trip. I bought a bike rack, some bike pants (which look like normal shorts, but are still padded), a bike shirt, a tent and a bed roll. I borrowed Moni's saddle bags, and was more or less set. There are a bunch of national bike routes running through Switzerland, and I chose the Lakes Route, which takes you from Montreaux in Lake Geneva through to Interlaken, Meiringen, Luzern, Zug, breifly into Lichtenstein, and ends in Rorschach at the edge of Lake Constance. The map of the route can bee seen here.
On Friday afternoon I loaded my bike onto the train and took it to Lausanne. I remembered that Adrian, an american postgrad who plays DnD with us, lived there and asked him if I could crash at his place. He set me up on the futon and I was set. On Saturday morning I did some last minute shopping and cycled along the lake towards Vevey, arriving just in time for breakfast of crepes and birchermuesli.
|Breakfast in Vevey|
After breakfast, it was time to do the first real bit of cycling. There was one nagging problem, however. I couldn't find the bloody route marker which pointed in the direction of Bulle. Most of the time they are pretty obvious, but in Vevey I lost the trail and couldn't find it again. So I just followed the street signs in the direction of Bulle. After ascending for some time I asked a local who gave me detailed instructions in French. I continued on in the wrong direction for a bit and then spotted a map of the area. Oops... I was on the wrong side of the valley. But no problem, I'll just go a bit further up and scoot across that bridge over there. I'll be right as rain.
Ah huh. The plot thickens. Just in case your wondering, the big orange sign mean "Detour" is actually pointing back down the hill from whence I came. It's not so clear in the picture, however they'd actually stripped the seal off the road making it really impossible to cross. James Bond could have done it I think, but he would use a porsche or a harley; not a heavily laden mountain bike. There are limits. And it would just look stupid, besides. The additional grain of salt in the wound is that there was a route marker here helpfully instructing me to cross the bridge and I'd be on my way.
I did find another bridge spanning the valley a bit lower down. The second picture depicts the same bridge but from a, er, slightly different angle. You can get a feel for just how far off target I was. So being finally on the right road I endeavoured to start actually making some forward progress. The route followed the main road for a distance, going up up up. It was hard work, and when the route took a left turn and started following a charming country trail it got even harder. I am willing to admit I got off and pushed. Nevertheless I felt like I was making progress. I was doing a cycle tour!
As I neared the top of one particular rise, something particularly unexpected happened. This is best illustrated in the following picture.
|Oh, Bugger Me||Camping back in Vevey|
Yes, bugger me indeed. My pedal bent at first, and then snapped off completely. Yippedydoodaa. What's there to do except stop, eat some fruit, fiddle with it to realise you can't fix it, and then get back on the bike and continue. Going down hill was fine, and along the straight was maneageable. Pedalling with the left foot was impractical but I could at least push it down far enough to bring the right pedal back into position for another thrust. Up hill meant pushing.
In fact I wasn't that far from the next town, Chatel St. Denis, pronounced all Frenchy like "Schah-tell Soh Te-nee". (I've never grasped French pronounciation, but I can be sure that no matter how I try it'll be wrong.) From there I commandeered some help from a group of young local guys. One of them spoke some English, and tried to help me out by taking me to the hardware store to see if they could fix it. Alas, in vain. But I was able to load my bike onto a bus and take it back to Vevey, where the pedals were replaced for CHF25. Sweet. I swam in the lake, took a shower, and biked around town a bit.
|Breakfast, Chatel St. Denis||Back on the road again|
The next few photos should be watched with Steffenwolf's "Born to be Wild" playing in the background. Enjoy.
Sunday was a hullova long day. I biked from Chatel St. Denis to Bulle, to Gstaad, and eventually konked out in Zweisimmen. I did around 80km that day. If you consider that very little of that was flat, that I was carrying my snail shell around with me, and that I'm not really a cyclist, that's really a hullova long way. But the weather was perfect, and the scenery magnificent. The route is usually well marked, and whenever possible it leads you away from the main road into side streets and down country trails. Despite the fact that there is almost always an Autobahn within a kilometer of you, it still feels like riding along in the country.
|Camping ground, Zweisimmen||Laundry day|
|First glimpses of Lake Thun|