Peaceful plateau ride

Perfect conditions for a ride. Windless, cool, stunning and varied views between Lac de Neuchâtel and Geneva. An experience you don’t want to end, like a great meal, a concert, and many other experiences.

Like life itself.

I know. I’m one of the lucky ones.

Two summers ago I had a head on crash with a car and went airborne, bicycle and all, over the vehicle. Didn’t land like Simone Biles but managed a landing with only internal injuries and broke nothing except for parts of the car. Different bike BTW.

I’m sure every reader has had a close call.

Great that we are still here.

Together.

From Lake Constance I have been following Swiss national cycle route 5. Today from Yverdon les Bains I switched to cycle route 50 for the views from the foothills of the Jura mountain range. Made the ride much more challenging with elevation changes, 1400m of climbing according to my Garmin Edge 530, but it was well worth it to be up on a kind of plateau above Lake Geneva.

Enjoy the photos

While the horses are gone from town centers, I’m glad the water fountains stayed behind.

These leeks would go well with yesterday’s carrots. In a soup.

Surprising to me at the end of October.

Not sure why they came to see me.

Heading to the route that is about half way up the mountains in the distance.

Look what’s in the village vending machine. Cheese and bread. Mostly cheese.

Crêpe power. Enough for the final 50km to Geneva.

The Alps appear again. If you squint you can see Mont Blanc.

This amateur video attempts to give you a sense of the remoteness on the plateau above Lake Geneva.

Does this really say this?

October leaves in a full barn embrace.

The beauty.

And the incongruity.

From cold toes to toes that need cooling down. And a final refueling.

The highest point on the ride 881m in Longirod. I can see the Jet d’eau in Geneva.

As the sun sets behind the Jura mountains, I pedal on for another half an hour to home and a hot bath.

Maps and some further commentary tomorrow and beyond.

If I were to do it again, I would make it at least five days so no more than 100km needs to be covered in a day. Route 5 and 50 include lots of gravel paths so these are not routes for speedsters on narrow tires pumped up bone rattling hard.

A meditative ride, just what I was looking for. And more.

With about two hundred countries in the world, crossing just four of them leaves lots of adventures to come.

Lakes and carrots

Two themes today on a peaceful ride from Biel / Bienne to Yverdon les Bains.

Lakes.

Carrots.

But getting to the lakes and fields of carrots meant heading out into this:

Yesterday it was fields piled high with sugar beets, which a helpful reader pointed out provides the people who live in Switzerland with 2/3 of the sugar they consume. Who knew? In case you missed it in the previous blog, here is what one looks like:

I don’t think carrots need an introduction.

I was told by this crew that the carrots will go into cold storage to be released to the market all year long until the next harvest.

The lakes today include Lac de Bienne, Lac de Morat and Lac de Neuchâtel.

Lots of evidence humans have played extensively with all this water. You wouldn’t have carrots or electricity if they didn’t.

Finally the fog lifts to expose the Jura mountains. When I’m not cycling when good weekend weather appears, Leisa and I hike the Jura Crest trail, a slower way to cross the country. After two years, we’re about 1/3 of the way – about as far as the communications tower you can spot on the ridge.

Now back to the lakes.

Some I must drink (couldn’t figure out how to take the photo with one hand pushing the faucet and one hand holding the water bottle so I used my foot).

The SwissMobility App is a gem. Use it. Hi

Spotted this earlier in the day. Anyone know what this is? I have a friend who plays at championship level.

A touch of aesthetic beauty in a bridge built just for walkers and cyclists across a canal.

Now, on the path to my destination today, Yverdon les Bains…

To the west, I have the Jura.

And to the east we can now see the Alps.

Will this new addition last as long as it’s stone brother and sister?

I wish you could smell this. I think it was finished today.

For bird watching.

Or train spotting. Do you see it? It was not in the first photo.

Or admiring a hand built steel bicycle for someone 193cm tall.

A boardwalk to a bird sanctuary seems like a good place to end.

From fog to military manœuvres to sunshine

Cycle touring hits a sweet spot between walking and travel by car. With walking, sometimes you don’t cover enough territory in a day to invite unexpected adventure. By car – or train – you cover too much too fast and end up with an adventure deficit.

Today’s cycling did not disappoint in lived experiences. The day began with a frigid foggy ride. At four degrees, wearing most of my layers still left toes and fingers feeling numb.

Eventually it warmed up and the sun broke through.

Another peaceful ride following the Aare, the longest river entirely within Switzerland. And some occasional detours into Medieval towns, a few industrial zones and lots of farms.

The most curious adventure of the day was coming upon Swiss military manœuvres in the deep forest.

Here is the day in photographs.

Full gear checking out the mirror at check out.

Fog in the air and in my bones.

The coat I need.

The right age to instill a love of adventure.

Anyone know what these are? I’m told the Swiss grow them just in case sugar cane products ever became unavailable. Food security includes sugar for your coffee.

Water security too. Did you know public drinking water is kept entirely separate from what goes into and out of your home here.

One of my happy places.

We can do better for the next generation. In 1977 I did my undergraduate thesis on the biological implications of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. We still have no safe method for disposal that protects the future of humanity.

I love the trails, especially on 44mm wide tires.

But not loving this.

Covid-19 May keep these unsold.

I’m sure you agree, views of the Aare seldom disappoint. Except maybe this one. Total change in wardrobe from the morning cold.

My fuel. About 100km per bag.

Beauty in odd places: under a motorway.

I’m chasing the sunset again.

I will lose this race but only by ten minutes.

Now an uncommon site. A contrail. In the sky and on the water.

Goodnight.

Across Switzerland here we go

Somewhere in the middle of Lake Constance is the German – Swiss border

So here I go, from Romanshorn, following several rivers that eventually fill Lake Geneva. With that in mind plus heading south has me believing it’s all downhill to Geneva and the French border. But what about those ominous clouds above the lake?

The cows are quiet. Why don’t they have their bells on?

The signposting makes GPS and maps unnecessary.

This area is one of Switzerland’s fruit growing regions. Not just apples but kilometers of other fruits like strawberries.

Fresh drinking water can be found in just about every town. So I only carry one water bottle.

Covered bridges are everywhere.

And uncovered ones too

Is it 2020 or 1920?

Colour brings joy.

I wonder what will happen to these.

So quiet on a Sunday morning in the Swiss countryside. The only quieter place would be a College campus.

Pedaling 50km by just after noon feels like an accomplishment for me.

Take a close look. Something is wrong here. I’m not cycling across Canada for the third time.

A village school. I hope the children painted this themselves.

It’s remarkable how the Swiss make trains run on time. But how do they do this ? Is there a biologist out there who can explain?

Lots to admire here.

A wonderful, spiced hot chocolate in Winterthur after about 80km. This was needed to get up the surprising 17% grade to get to the top of Winterberg.

A helpful sign when approaching railroad tracks.

Made it to the covered bridge in Baden and stopped taking photos as the sunset was chasing me and me it. Arrived in Fisilisbach 18h41. Sunset at 18h31. I lost that race.

136 kilometers today. Main challenge: cold toes

Goodnight. As my mother would say, tomorrow’s another day.

A ride worthy of the name of this blog

After creating the CrossCountryCyclist blog to chronicle my trip across Canada, I crossed two other countries, Scotland and England. I have been yearning to cross a few more. Now that I live in Switzerland, that should be easy. The challenge is finding the time.

From a Wednesday night ride to Mont Salève

A block of time just appeared as the impact of Covid-19 has disrupted family plans made for our fall school break. Like so many families each of us is separated from the other geographically. I’m going to head out for a few days of fresh air and reflection.

With Covid-19 cases on the rise everywhere, I know not when this privilege of moving freely about Switzerland will end.

I am sensitive to those already in some form of isolation and quarantine. And I do not want to make things worse for anyone. With this in mind, I will keep my distance from my fellow human beings and avoid conversation. It won’t be a Vipassanā silent retreat but close.

I’m writing this blog as an end in itself. If it happens to be of interest to others that would be a bonus.

Maybe it could be an inspiration to others to enjoy the pace and pleasures of seeing the world one pedal stroke at a time. I feel so privileged to be able to live in Switzerland and want to share its beauty with others. Words and photos are all I have to offer when companionship is not an option.

While the blog is an end in itself, so too is cycling, whether it be for one kilometer or one hundred. But, in homage to the title of this blog, I will nevertheless attempt to cross Switzerland in four or five days from its northeast border with Germany and Austria to its southwest border with France.

Let’s go.

Packing as light but temperatures will be in single digits
Yeah it all fits into two small panniers
And the bike fits in the train

A new home a new place to cycle

0AC4EB17-1459-4274-8EA6-FE17E3CB3800While the move to Geneva took place in August 2017, it took until this weekend to assemble something other than a fixie for city cycling. So here are some photos of a quick Sunday ride along lake Geneva with my dear Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen.

Cycling around the lake is about a 200 km affair. Not something you can do when you finish assembling a bicycle in October at 2pm. The first stop is for some caffeine.

The route begins in busy Geneva but in just a few kilometers, the city is quickly left behind. The recommendation is to go clockwise, which I am doing.

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The sky and corresponding weather is full of surprises for the next three to four hours. I have to take out the rain jacket and put it on and off many times.

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The route is very well marked, maybe even too well. It is the Tour du Léman 46.

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Whoever chose the route made sure it was on roads with almost no traffic. I hardly saw a car for much of the route and did not see a single cyclist. Maybe it is getting too cold and wet for most.

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Like the bicycle routes in the Netherlands, cutting across fields is common. Here they have recently harvested a kind of turnip or Swede. I think to feed cows. I’ve heard this is a cross of some kind between a cabbage and a turnip, cultivated originally right here in Switzerland. You can see a pile of them on the right.

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You are never far away from clean drinking water in Switzerland.

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And lots of evidence of the season.

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After turning around in Nyon, and as the odometer notes that I’ve done a 60 km round trip ride, I find myself back home in Geneva with the jet d’eau being blown sideways in a strong wind. Great to be back on a touring bicycle.

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Perfect weather for the return trip

We head out from Edam in sunshine, something we are told has been uncommon this summer in the Netherlands.  

 We head first to the port town of Volendam, which used to be one of the most important fishing villages of Europe. And from here we ferry to Marken. Here is Volendam as seen from the ferry.  

 In Marken, as we have seen all along the route, there are signs that remind visitors and residents alike what happened 100 years ago.  

 And if you look closely to the right of the window on this house in Marken, you can see a mark showing how high the water rose in 1916. 

 In a place with lots of canals, we get to cross lots of bridges.  

    

  

Some still require a ferry.  

 It’s a hot day requiring lots of water. Leisa has learned to drink without getting off the saddle. 

But there is a nice breeze for the modern day windmills and the tailwind we have enjoyed for three days continues.  

 And finally we return to the Zandam train station where we started the trip three days and 180km earlier. This time the station and its surroundings are in full sunshine.  

  

  

And my new bicycle touring companion sits on the train back to The Hague dreaming of the next cycling vacation.  

   

Dikes: the future for the rest of us?

Much of North Holland would be underwater if it were not for all the many ways the sea is kept away. Not an easy feat of engineering given how much of the land itself is under sea level. On our bicycle ride today we got to see a combination of high and impenetrable dikes and a  careful system of canals with water pumps at the ready. 

As global sea levels rise, may this be what coastal cities will need to do?

That is a few years away but likely inevitable. But we were not thinking about imminent flooding as we enjoyed breakfast in the garden of our Bed and Breakfast, Opperbest,  in the tiny town of Opperdoes. The B&B owners set up a table in their large garden in celebration of the arrival of a nice summer day. The canals are peaceful places on this August weekend.    

 
As we cycle along the dikes, there are placards aplenty reminding us of devaststing storms that breached theses defences several times in the last century.    

 
Even in beautiful scenery and nice weather, there is something ominous about cycling along the top of the dike with the sea on one side of you and on your other side homes and farms well below the sea. Hard to capture in a photograph but if you look closely out to sea, you can see a boat sailing on the sea at about the same level of the roof of the houses behind the dike.    Here is another angle when the bike path goes along the side of the dike instead of on top of it. The bike path itself is well below the sea on the left, which you cannot see but imagine the sea on the other side above the level of Leisa’s head.   When you do have to venture onto roads that need to be shared with cars, it is such a delight to note that they are designed  first with the cyclist in mind requiring cars to make adjustments and not the other way around. This one is actually a two-way road but cars always need to yield to cyclists. 

Lots of historic towns along the way. Here we enjoy lunch in Enkhuisen next to the Drommedaris tower gate built in 1573.   

And the port town of Hoorn with a collection of sailing vessels going back a few centuries. 

  
Well, cyclists do have someone else to share the road with.   And staying at a Bed and Breakfast sure does beat setting up a tent and crawling into a sleeping bag.   And the 65km day comes to an end in Edam, yes, as in cheese, with a nice sunset along the many canals of this town.     

 And this brings Leisa and me lots of this:  

North Holland with novice to bicycle touring

How sweet is it when something you love to do is shared with someone you love?

Pretty sweet. After years of talking about touring together, last weekend another bicycle joined the extended bicycle family: A nearly new Gazelle Madeo Trekking Dames. Here it is ready for its first adventure. 

  

And here is its new owner (the one on the left). 

  

We head out to explore the curious historical landscape north of Amsterdam and only have three days to do so we get ourselves  closer by hoping on a train to Zaandam. 

  
The architecture of the Zaandam train station and environs are fun and funky. 

   
 
And soon we are along historical canals crowded with windmills and windmill gawkers. 

  
You have to hand crank your way across some of the canals on self-captained micro barge ferries connected shore to shore by a chain. 

 
 While other crossings have paid professional ferry operators. 
  
Bucolic scenery all day with little traffic of any kind. 

   
   

 After a full 70km day we arrive at the village of Opperdoes and the Opperbest Bed and Breakfast with one guest room and a wonderful four course meal prepared by the B&B owners. They welcomed us as family and we shared the meal and conversation with them. Sweet indeed. 

Zinn Titanium out for a few test rides

It has taken far too long to find time to gather all the parts and assemble this one but it is finally ready.

It is not as elegant looking as the Rivendell but the geometry is meant for my own gangly geometry.

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Here  it is before I muster the courage to cut the carbon steerer to its final length.

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Ready for the first test ride. Only one brake, no handlebar tape and some simple pedals but I can’t take the suspense any longer.

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On the dedicated cycling path.

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Now it’s ready for a second test ride. Got pedals now, handlebar tape and brakes front and rear. Smooth ride, very responsive and fits well. A bit of a wet 40km ride.

And now some images of a 50km ride to the Hook of Holland and back. A sweet Sunday outing that concludes with a sunset on the North Sea and moments later a fullmoon rises – a moon that will be eclipsed by the earth’s shadow several hours later.