Travel.P #57 – Getting ready for the Alps

a woman riding a bike is a painting of emancipation

We woke up early and recovered from our front windy day along the Bodensee. We were ready for the Alps, or at least we thought so. The beautiful thing about cycling up that the Rhine is a very relaxed river, that you have to follow by cycling up a hill only on rare occasions. Good for us! Bad for us was that we had another day of wind blowing against us. The first ‘pillars’ of mountains that we passed to enter the Alps was a great feeling, slowly leaving them behind us and approaching more and more, bigger and bigger mountain ranges. I was still used to the mountains of New Zealand and its untouched beauty, that’s why I was very disappointment in how many cars, houses, even highways were build through these stunning mountains. I wonder if we as a human race, will ever find a way in harmony with nature, to not rob her and respect her more.

The first hill were too hard on the road train. A little engine cool down in the shade was necessary.

The Rhine was now reduced to a fast flowing white, grey blueish river that looked completely different to what I knew from home. Cycling along it was still beautiful, but it seemed more aggressive, less likely to go for a swim in it. We cycled into Lichtenstein and out further and further deeper into the Alps. We felt tiny in between the huge mountains and were enjoying change in scenery a lot. Our goal was Andermat, and we were surprised how fast we moved through the Alps. We were pushing each other along the banks of the Rhine. Sun on our caps, shirts wide open or just in cycle shorts. We made it to a small Besmerstein Grillplatz, with swings, a little hut, some balancing logs and a little spring bath, that we used to clean us from the salt covering our body. The result of strong heat, wind against us and going slowly uphill, with stronger ascends in between. The water was freeing cold, refreshing and recovering. We hung our tarp over the swing, had dinner and went to bed, exhausted after an exiting day where we entered the alps. I crashed straight away and fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning we got woken up by a few people passing by, again, no one telling us to fuck off or showing any signs of discomfort with us being there. The Rhine was running just next to us, a grey strong river that didn’t look inviting to swim in. Running again we ended up on the Verasamerstrasse a long ascend into the a pine tree forest. Again it was a hot day and we were boiling.

Fit and ready to continue the journey
Shore Koerbchen

We definitely started to feel the weight of our luggage and on steeper bits the trailer started pulling on me like someone trying to pull you back, down the hill. After a while we had a great view over the valley, with the Vorderhein slinging it’s way through it. We were fairly elevated and had our first views of white mountain tops in the far distance. It was a stunning view and the cycle was amazing, all along the mountain, sometimes even through it, with the river to our right. once on top, we enjoyed our first longer descent, with the ‘tank’ and the ‘road train’ reaching top speeds of 40-45 kmh with our shirts waving in the wind. but once we reached to bottom, over the Versamer Tobelbrücke up a steep windy road to Versam. This is when we discovered that my gears are actually quite a bit smaller to Maxes and he was shooting up the hill, out of sight, sweating blood and water and made, after a short break, completely naked to the top. At the top we found to our surprise another spring bath, that we used to cover us in cold water soak our clothes and fill our water-containers. With another little ascend and a long descent afterwards, we ended up having lunch in a town called Valendas, with the biggest wooden spring bath in Europe.

2 professional bodybuilders on the road
Sometimes we had to squeeze ourselves through tunnels

Then to Ilanz, where we stocked our ice-cream, and Max left with probably to most stylish sunglasses I have ever seen in my life. We continued along the banks of the Rhine, along the edges of forests, over fields and back to the Rhine, with the Rhine shrink en more and more. Us now cycling along the Via Principala to make more distance, we were able to make it until Disentis, where we got a bit lost and continued following the Vorderrhein southern leading arm, instead of the west leading one to Andermat. We cycled down a long bit of the Via Lucamagn, which turned out to be wrong, very wrong and we had to cycle all the way back up, after not finding a proper sleeping spot. We continued looking for one and finally found one, after a tunnel, close to a bee hut on the old road layout. We mad a little fire and had BBQ for dinner, but before the fire properly set in I poured water over it, because I was scared the fire-engine is coming towards us, because it seemed very dry. The thought was based on a car, stopping and suddenly firering a signal pistol, around 50 to 100 meters next to us. After waiting and listening to any fire siren sounds for the next 15 minutes and not hearing anything, we decided to move a bit further away from the street, installed our tarp with the help of stems and had a lovely little BBQ. It was a great spot, just next to the road with a great view over the valley. After our BBQ and our paranoia calmed down, we snuggled in our sleeping bags and passed out.

Big day today, bigger, maybe even biggest day tomorrow, not really knowing what is gonna wait for us, but more about that next time. How we tried to fight the mountain, shouting and failing, swopping bikes and somehow trying to climb up, closer and closer to the spring of the Rhine, a little river that turns bigger and bigger so that boats are able to travel on them up and down and dividing the country used in many wars as a tactical border. You will read about our great final, a mental race, reaching up to 60kmh, standing in snow and eventually happy cyclist on retro bikes reaching a hight over 2000 Meters.

Your challenge for today is to keep a good eye for your posture. Try to imagine yourself being pulled up by a string connected to the tip of your head.

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