“A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.
—RALPH WALDO EMERSON, “Circles”
A most amazing incredible 3 days. Andermatt, Oberallppass, Disentis, where Alfred met us, and has cycled with us the past two days guiding us, telling stories, listening to stories.
Alfred who lives in Germany about 30 kilometers from Lake Constance (Bodensee) was on the Andes trail beginning in Quito. He placed second in the race and is obviously a superb athlete, but to me, more important is a good person.
But back to the beginning in Andermatt. Awoke and again rear tire flat. Front tire was ok and I had changed it the evening before so was a bit worried. Had the same kind of rim tape as rear tire but not worn. I changed it preemptively. Difficulty putting the tire on, and twice punctured the tube while attempting to get tire on. Finally on and seemed good but the pump was getting tiring as small and basically only for emergency and it was not up to the task of fully inflating tire. Thus to the bike store for a new pump and more spare tubes.
At the bike shop the gal (Carmen) offered to look at rear tire just to double check my work. Two hours later a new tire, tubes, patch kits (2), and a pump. And tire installed with great difficulty, she punctured two tubes installing on tire which old one she found a hole although was not the cause of the flats. Took two of us to get the new tire on and neither of us understood why. Both old and new tires were 700c and sized 622 but old tire was 29″ and new one 28″. But 700c and 622 on both old and new, which should be the more accurate numbers of size and fitting.. What is what neither of us new. Finally done and bill paid, time to get on road. Carmen came out to bid us farewell and we both realized tire on backwards. Ok I will live with it.
Jeanne was very nervousness about the climb. I as usual do not really understand as what I see is Avery good cyclist although timid. As usual I think physical activity is mostly mental. Both Carmen and I reassured her just go slow and stop as necessary, but when one feels nervousness someone telling you that you are better than you feel does not always help. But we started up the numerous switchbacks basically 5 kilometers of 8% slope then 3-4% for 6 kilometers. A total of 600 meters elevation gain. And the Swiss countryside was awesome. Steep slopes seemingly mowed neatly, a cog railway with tourists aboard taking our pictures sweatin away. The road near the top had a tunnel built to protect it from avalanches. Again saw the couple from Budapest, Hungary and we all celebrated at the top with a little lunch. They are on 4th year of honeymoon, riding recumbents. They have have cycled all over the world now. Discussed how much and what to carry. She said you have to take what makes you comfortable and that varies between people.
Then the descent : the first 5 kilometer was a 12% grade with numerous switchbacks, then 20 k of just downhill. We were tired as did not leave until after noon. Picked the first place which was a wonderful hostel and I called Alfred who was riding up from Illanti after taking train from his home just north of Lake Constance. He arrived 10 minutes later and we three talked after a hearty hug on greeting. We sat and talked out front drinking beer, the out back for dinner and more beer. A delightful evening.
Up the next day making our own breakfast in the hostel. Then off riding. Took a while to find trail but when we did great. Had debated riding the road but then discovered Rhein bike path was on other side of valley. It was a great trail, but it went up and down.
In the end we climbed 674 meters, whereas yesterday only 607. But overall dropped 300 meters in elevation. Even some single track, although mostly gravel. End of day more pavement by the “Grand Canyon of the Rhein” gorgeous! Totally pooped out at end of day not making it to intended destination of Chur. This we gave up but the only guest house in town was up a steep hill. 60 kilometers and we were tired. Guess we are paying the price of not riding much this summer. And guest house was not overly impressive so got the bus for 10 k ride into Chur and music festival going on.
Today absolutely incredible. We started up high on oberalpass where the Rhein starts as a small spring, but today it became a small river. After Chur it is well contained inside dams and bike paths run down both sides.
We crossed over into Lichstenstein and road its 20 kilometer length. Lichstenstein is one of the smallest countries in the world. Then into Austria Stopping for a coffee but order these incredible pasta meals with radler beers. We then decideded enough for one day, but had to ride on 5o find a place to stay. First town with two places full, and roads on to Mäden and a delightful place. Showered and sat out on porch drinking beer and having desert and wiener schnitzel of some sort. Also excellently, then some great conversation reliving the Andes trail. 85 kilometers today and at midnight still up.
Also to note we got to Austria and prices back to somewhat normal. Meals in Switzerland were 30-35 each whereas in Austria we pay 8-12 for similar. Beer in Switzerland was 8-10 and Austria 3.5. Everyone has told us Switzerland is almost three times as expensive. (Those prices are for Swiss francs and euros, which are basically 1:1 in value.). No wonder people do not go to Switzerland.