Day 16…

…was the day I crossed the Alps!
It wasn’t looking good when I woke at 6am because the sound was the same sound I went to sleep to: rain! I looked out of my door and saw stormy skies and resigned myself to a day in Andermatt and went back to sleep.
When I awoke again at 730am it was completely different: sunshine and blue skies. The odd angry cloud but I had no excuse. So I went into town for lunch and breakfast and on the way noticed a number of brightly decorated bears. It appears that a few years ago they had an art project, like they did in Bath with pigs, where many differently decorated bears appeared around town. Many are still there so I went on a quick bear hunt and then had breakfast.

I was packed up and off in no time, no longer nervous; I had managed Monday, just excited.

The climb started 2km in and didn’t stop. At times more relentless than others, but up, up and up. Every switch back produced even more spectacular views. Mountain streams, steep drops and looming peaks, all for me to see.
I must admit that getting to the ‘old road’ for the last 3km was a bit of a disappointment. A much better incline than the new, but the romance of cycling on cobbles was lost on me. And the scenery became rather drab, as was most of the very top. Impressive and grand, but rather like a quarry. Half way up I also entered the cloud that had been obscuring the top for some time. It got cold and wet, but thankfully the excitement at being near, and then at the top, was enough to outweigh that.

I spent about an hour at 2100m sheltering from the rain, having lunch and nipping out in the brief sun spots to take photos. Had this been any other village I don’t think I would have bothered as it was largely uninteresting, but because it is there it stands for a major physical achievement and is therefore widely photographed!
Then it was time to leave and I had to decide which road to take. The old ‘cobbled-spoke breaker’ one, or the new ‘down in 20mins’ one? I went along to the lookout to take my version of this photo, and remembered two things. 1)Swiss Stefan thought my bike would be fine. But 2)Andrew ( had to walk most of it because he damaged his wheel!
I figured that Andrew then fixed his wheel so risked the old road, with all its twists and turns, and thankfully got down fine, with no bike trouble!

Now, this is where my European geography is shown up again. I thought that crossing the Alps would put me in Italy, but that is wrong. They may speak Italian, and the weather immediately became Mediterranean, but it is still Swiss for another 200km. So spending all my CHF and leaving those things I needed till tomorrow because it will be cheaper in Italy, was a mistake!

I pretty much dropped out of the mountains, rolling all the way through some lovely villages and some industrial sites. I lost Swiss Route 3 briefly and found myself on a mountain bike route- logs to jump over and all! Eventually I found myself in Clara (150m high), nr Bellinzona which is much further than I was aiming! I feel sad not to spend another night in the Alps, but that seems a long way away now, and I have a wedding to get to.

The campsite is great, but expensive, although if you count the extra as use of the pool I might have paid it anyway! I also met two guys (we didn’t exchange names) who had done exactly the same journey as me, including where we stayed, since Malling, only 2 days ahead. It was good company for the evening.
I got another puncture. This time in my sleeping map! Hopefully a bike repair kit will work.


This entry was posted in Cephalonia 2010, On the road. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Day 16…

  1. Andrew says:

    A risky choice but glad you got down in one piece.

  2. Sounds incredible Chris, glad you chose that route, it’s an experience of a life time for you… And I assume you meant your puncture was in your sleeping bag, unless you’ve been sleeping in your map bag..!?! Make sure you mend it well… Mom x

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