Into Switzerland

Today we were heading for Switzerland! We rode around the rest of busy Lake Como, having to pull over occasionally to let traffic past. Then when we were waiting at a level crossing, we noticed a small side road full of cyclists… I checked the map and sure enough, it looked good!

We set off on the paved road and enjoyed 1.5km of peace, ahhh. Where we rejoined the main road, the cycle path carried on. But cycle paths are unpredictable (of surface, elevation and direction!), so we took the road. After about 100m we decided that we should try the bike path! It was quite busy and there was absolutely no shoulder, so the traffic was squeezing past pretty quickly. And a truck tooted us off the road at one point!

We ended up staying on the bike path almost all day in the end. It was lovely to be off the road and the scenery was great, but as predicted, it was quite unpredictable. We did a fair bit of extra distance and definitely lots of extra elevation gain.

We wound our way through little villages in the big wide valley, not gaining much height at first. After 20km, we stopped for first lunch by a big lake and after another 20km, second lunch in a cathedral. At the end of the first lunch stop, an argument was brewing… but resolved by the end of second lunch for a pleasant afternoon.

Lovely flat cycle path in the valley

Lovely flat cycle path in the valley

First lunch by the lake

First lunch by the lake

Second lunch spot

Second lunch in a cathedral

Then we turned off into a narrower valley and started the real climb. Straight away we were doing a crazy gradient on the cycle path. Huffing and puffing our way up, enjoying the views and the lovely weather. “At this rate, we’ll have climbed our 1000m for the day in no time!”, says Dave cheerily. But after a while, we went downhill for a bit, crossed the main road, and started going back up again! I can’t say I was particularly impressed. But it was still pretty and we had the whole path to ourselves, so there wasn’t too much to complain about.

Straight uphill

Straight uphill, but very scenic

On one particularly steep section, Dave said that the speed we were doing was as slow as he could go before falling off (5 km/h). Then we rounded a corner with me in front and I heard a thud behind me. The gradient had increased, I’d slowed down to 4 km/h and Dave had fallen into the fence! Oops!

Riding the switchbacks

Riding the switchbacks

After another grueling ascent, our lovely paved cycle path turned into a mountain biking trail and we went downhill trying to avoid the biggest rocks and dips. Losing another hard-earned 100m elevation was not what I wanted at that stage in the day and I was a bit grouchy. But then the path improved again and we were going along the roadside towards the Swiss border.

At a dam below the border

At a dam below the border

We crossed into Switzerland on the main road through the empty customs area, and the signs for the cycle path were no more. So up we headed along the road. It was crazily steep and we were inside a half-tunnel, freaking out that we were going to get killed. There wasn’t much traffic but whenever it appeared, it seemed to come from both directions at once!

We made it 3km to the next village and decided to call it a day. We found the shop, stocked up on strategic items (some stuff is outrageously expensive, so I guess it’s pasta pesto for dinner again) and went to the campsite.

The campsite is great, one of the best we’ve had so far. We’ve made use of all the facilities we’ve been missing, including picnic tables (with epic views) and washer and dryer for just £1. There’s a nice looking tavern over the road, we might treat ourselves to a pricey beer!

– Anna

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