Today started under grey skys with 100% chance of rain. Not the best start for a five pass ride day – promising amazing roads and stunning views on our way back to Thun. But it’s still better than being at work.
View from our balcony this morning
All up today we covered around 300km and had sunshine, rain, fog, and cold.The passes we crossed today were the Lukmanier pass, Oberalp pass, Gotthard pass, Nufenen pass, and the Grimsel pass. As shown on the graph below the five passes were all done in quick succession.
Coming out of Ascona we found something that we’ve not really experienced on this trip … a straight road. A road that you can cover distances fast.
The first couple of passes are more my style of riding and the type of road I prefer. Flowing roads where you can maintain a rhythm up and down and through the mountains.
The Gotthard pass is another iconic pass but what sets this one apart is that it is an old cobbled stone road. In the wet this would be quite hazardous with big bikes and a slippery stone surface.
This isn’t the only option to descend this mountain with newer, easier (safer) roads as an alternative, and as it had been a bit wet to this point we were opting for the safer route.
A shame given its iconic status and we we’re here.
Then a few riders appeared from over the pass and after a brief chat with them the road is dry. So we suit up and head for the iconic stone road before the weather changes.
This road is like the Stelvio in that it’s a road you can say you’ve done. But riding down this rough, uneven stone surface with tight turns and where at times it appears to go out into the sky you have to be amazed at the effort it would have taken to build this road.
Then towards the base of the pass we found a nice location for lunch over-looking the valley, and another opportunity to sample more local produce.
Nufenen Pass – by this stage it was raining and quite windy with snow still laying thick in many places. And it was cold. With only summer gear on we were taking this opportunity to test out the seat and grip warmers of the big K.
Popping over the top of the pass, Deb said don’t stop don’t stop don’t stop. I think Alain heard her as we proceeded down the otherside where the temperature once again climbed to a more comfortable level.
In the Obergoms valley before we got to the Grimsel pass we caught up with what looked like an old Citroen owners group with their weird handling little cars. These are nearly comical as they lean through the corners.At one point I found myself saying out loud as we were winding through a series off corners … don’t watch the funny little cars.
All I could think about was the tractors in the Disney Cars movie that would just fall over. It was hard to not watch just waiting for them to topple over.
The Grimsel pass – by now the conditions were just crap. Wet, windy and now foggy just to top it off.
This was before it got bad and Deb put away the camera.
There are a couple of lakes along this road used for hydro power generation. Apparently.! The GPS was indicating a lake next to the road, so I glanced left … nothing.
They tell me they are really beautiful this time of the year. I wouldn’t know. I guess I’m going to have to take their word for that. Maybe we just need to come back another time just to check…!
This last pass really took it out of me. Fighting the wind and the cold, stuggling to see where each bend went through the thick fog, concentrating on the wet surface to ensure that I miss anything that would make the bike slip, and cars materialising out of the fog at the last minute. The concentration levels were off the chart!
I hate fog.
By now we were only about an hour away and a relatively easy ride, but it took a couple of stops as we were all a bit shattered.
Pulling into Alain and Monika’s house it was all over. 1,900km of glorious riding in and around Switzerland.
The only thing left to do now is return the bike.
I’m going to miss that bike. I think I may have found our next bike.