Since I last wrote, we’ve been to Switzerland. From Strasbourg, we carried on down the Rhine to Basel and then gathered all the pioneering spirit we could muster and set out to tackle our first Alpine pass. It was hard … bloody hard … but we made it over the top. The electric motors certainly helped, and I can absolutely say that there was no way we would have conquered our pass without them, but they are only small and leg muscle (plus sweat and quite a bit of swearing) had to do the bulk of the work. So we’ve done it now … we’ve got the ‘I’ve ridden over an Alpine pass’ tee-shirts … and I strongly feel that one Alpine pass is enough for any cyclopolitan!
Translated this means “ there’s no bloody way I am doing THAT again!”
That night we stopped at one of the very few and far between campsites. In the alpine region, they are very small with no wifi and are often farmers who rent out a bit of rough ground. We arrived at our planned campsite and were told that they weren’t doing camping that day because of a traditional celebration event but that we could ‘sleep in the straw’, which apparently is ‘a thing’ in Switzerland. This turned out to be eye-watering in several ways … firstly, the price was ridiculously expensive for sleeping in a barn on some straw on the floor, and secondly, I am quite allergic to this type of thing so my sinuses had quite a party. Just to top it off, the owner was very grumpy and unfriendly and the ‘facilities’ smelt of cat pee. However, when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, I discovered a problem with my bike that meant I couldn’t use my electric. The mounting block for my front bag had come loose as a screw had sheared off. Therefore, I had to carry my front bag with the battery for my electric system on the backrack for the next couple of days. We still had quite a lot of ‘up’ to do, which meant I still had to carry the extra weight of my electric system but do all the hill work myself 😦
The evening didn’t get any better … a group with children joined us in the straw for the night, which was very ‘communal’ but I honestly thought I could sleep through anything after the exertion of the day … I was wrong. We were awoken at 3am by one of the children vomiting. On the plus side, my sinuses were so bad I couldn’t smell it!
We liked Switzerland … it had lovely scenery and the bicycle signage was excellent so cycling around was very easy (apart from on the really hilly bits). The trains were very clean and punctual and had lots of space for bikes. We were surprised how many people rode bikes in Switzerland. There were quite a few electric bikes in the mountainous parts (of course) but lots of normal bikes as well . they must have legs of steel!
Switzerland was very expensive and we simple couldn’t afford to dilly dally around with bikes and such so instead of crossing to Italy through Switzerland, we decided to approach Italy from a different angle … from France … and cross the Alps in a train instead … much more civilised. We went back into France and cycled south to Lyon. We then took a train across to Milan.
Our equipment is starting to show the strain of its high use.
- The tent is leaking a bit, we think, but it could also be the high moisture levels we have been experiencing … it has rained quite a bit lately and we have also been camping close to rivers, which creates a lot of condensation so the tent is wet inside and outside most mornings. We have bought a piece of plastic to go underneath to see if we can fix the problem.
- The pot set we have has started to shed its non-stick coating and a small piece of plastic on the lid handle has broken.
- Our trailer covers have faded badly and have several patched tears.
We thought about replacing a few things but have decided to wait until they fail completely … we hope they will ‘limp’ through to the end …
The Husbands wardrobe has had to be mostly replaced … partly because he has lost so much weight and partly due to plain old wear and tear. His shirts had a sort of ‘run over’ look and his shorts were riding lower and lower. Unfortunately, he couldn’t pull off the cool ‘rapper’ look generally associated with low riding shorts, and instead achieved a sort of baggy and homeless look exacerbated by the brown stain left by his Brooks saddle. But one can’t stroll around Milan in that state so we did a bit of shopping and he now looks a lot more dapper.
All my stuff is still working fine and I have now answered a question I posed many months ago. After three and a half thousand kilometres, I can categorically state that there isn’t a reason you can’t cycle tour in a skirt. I find a light cotton skirt and shirt perfect clothes for long distance cycle touring … good sun coverage, cool and breathable, and great on-bike/off-bike transition during the day. The only wardrobe amendment I have made is my underwear. I have found that a thin lacy bra dries a lot quicker than a formed tee-shirt type bra – they take at least a day to dry properly. So the perfect cycle touring outfit in my opinion consists of small lacy underwear, a light cotton/linen skirt and shirt and a sun hat … this of course may work better for women than men!
‘D’ = distance & ’T’ = time
27th July Strasbourg to Rhinau: D 36Km / T 2:34 mins
28th July Rhinau to Neuf Brisach: D 52Km / T 3:34 mins
29th July Neuf Brisach to Basil: D 63Km / T 4:30 mins
31st July Basil to Stusslingen: D 57Km / T 4:45 mins
1st August Stusslingen to Staad : D 74Km / T 5:16 mins
2nd August Staad to Besancon: D 31Km / T 2:50 mins
3rd August Besancon to Orchamps: D 56Km / T 3:28 mins
4th August Orchamps to Seurre: D 64Km / T 4:26 mins
5th August Seurre to Beaune: D 27Km / T 1:48 mins
6th August Beaune to Cormatin: D 84Km / T 5:49 mins
7th August Cormatin to Saint Didier sur Chalaronne: D 67Km / T 4:58 mins
8th August Saint Didier sur Chalaronne to Lyon: D 64Km / T 4:17 mins
Total ‘Trip’ distance so far: 3375km
Check out the map