Wrong Direction

By morning half of the weather forecasts moved the rain to tomorrow. Given that the past few times I’ve acted to duck rain it hasn’t actually rained, and all forecasts called for continuing rain Sunday, I planned today to jump forward one site at a time. I carry rain gear now, to mitigate any interim rain.

Originally i would follow EV6 to Basel, and from there route myself to Geneva.  Given I am no longer on EV6, time to revisit plan. I’ve followed the Donau a long way, high up into the Alps. I’m now camped in the valley formed by the Donau, so the only way forward is backwards, or over the ridge. After carefully examining my maps, I selected a path to lead me over the ridge, and the follow another river up further into the Alps. No idea how steep or consistent that path would be, but at 30 km to the next campground I should at least get that far today. As expected, climbing up and out of the valley was challenging, but not impossible.

Reaching the general apex, a 15% slope down followed the climb, for a long time. I resent steep roads, from either perspective. I work hard to climb 15%. I have no choice but to use brakes the entire way down. Climbing the Alps, I begrudge every meter down; I paid for that altitude, going down just means more up in my immediate future.

Except in this case, it didn’t. I’ve followed EV6 and the Donau for a long time, constantly climbing. When I finally dropped to the river, the river went the wrong way – a downstream path in front of me instead up upstream, and I had a cycle path along side. After following EV6 for so long, I had crossed the mountain range, and followed the river all the way down to the Rhine, on good cycle path.

After crossing the border into Switzerland, I placed priority on finding an ATM, as Switzerland still uses the franc. Then I began following the Aare back up into the mountains, again on good cycle path, following it upstream (and uphill). Cyclists started to pass me again, as again I’m following a river back pack up into the mountains, contrary to the usual selection. With the weather still holding, I pass my next waypoint (a hostel), and head to my last planned waypoint, a campground just off the highway.

I hadn’t noticed the campground was located on the side of a mountain, and to get there I had to follow the ridge line, which meant climbing to the ridge line first. Many small interwoven roads meant slow progress. Upon arrival at 4 pm the campground was closed.

At that point I considered wild camping, but I’m actively avoiding wild camping with pending thunderstorms. Searching the GPS, it’s ~40 km of cycling to the next campground, and no hostels. On the other hand, not making it to the campground just meant wild camping, the option I was considering anyway.

With roughly five hours of daylight left, and well-rested from a day of mostly descent, I took off, starting with the massive descent from the campground back from whence I came. A long run at the end of the day with pending thunderstorms, I decided to forego my regular position checks, and blindly followed the marked trail at top speed.

I didn’t see much today, except for spectacular scenery. Mountains rose majestically to both sides, and the Swiss regularly use the Aare as a beach resort. But I find a certain glorious wonder in flying forward wide-open. Good trails and a slight cross-tailwind didn’t hurt things either.

By the last 10 km, the sky starting to grey, the wind started to swirl around, a good sign of changing weather. Occasionally I’d lose the trail, but holding to the Aare, I’d find the trail again, as the trail switched back and forth across the river.

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The last few kilometers were the slowest. I was starting to tire, and crossing a street festival one town downstream lost my momentum. Nonetheless, I arrived at the campground  in Aarburg (City of Pirates) prior to rain. By my estimates I’m three days out of Geneva, with seven days of cycling available. Time to slow things down a bit and enjoy.

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I neglected to factor in that the Swiss power outlets are different, so currently no way to recharge. Tomorrow is Sunday (with most everything closed), and the local electronics shop closes on Monday as well. With power in short supply, I’m composing the blog entry on paper.

The bike odometer shows today at 132 km.

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