Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 5

Today, we road from Flims to Lugano, 120 miles with 2 big climbs and 5 mile kicker at the 105 mile mark. First off, hats off to Vic for ordering up great weather for our trip. The temperature was very comfortable the entire way and no rain. Second, Vic is determined to stay in Switzerland. He keeps leaving his saddlebag open and his passport is the first thing to hit the pavement. We are not talking once or twice either.

The first climb was Oberalppass, 30 miles of gradual climbing followed by 10 miles of avg 8% with many switchbacks!! Of course, Vic and Squirrel ride away from Garbanzo, each of us finding a rhythm. In general, many Swiss seem to be in great shape, considering seeing this 70 year old couple descending on their 40lbs tandem bike with panniers everywhere! We regrouped at the top for the photo-op. We descended Oberalppass with a tour bus and cars in the way spoiling some of the fun. The second climb over the St. Gotthard Pass begins immediately once you reach the valley. This is the pass where the Romans came through on elephants a few thousand years ago. They were smart to use elephants rather than bicycles. The pitch on both climbs were anywhere from 8%-12% steady.

We had lunch on top of St. Gotthard, consisting of Bratwurst, Alpen Cheese with bread and a refreshing warm Coke! The descent was fast and furious without traffic, until we hit the old cobbled road (remember the Romans). Brick had some excitement on the way down. He is pedaling along and all of a sudden the pedal is not attached to the crank any longer, just to his shoe. We stop with Brick giving Garbanzo a hard time for telling him not to tighten his pedals real tight. Well, turns out the pedal barely spins on the spindle and it just works its way loose after a few strokes. Luckily we were able to convince an Italian speaking auto mechanic into really tightening the pedal to the crank and oiling the spindle. Wait until Brick tries to take that pedal off when packing up the bike.

The next 60 miles were pretty countryside and uneventful until we get into Bellinzona where Squirrel’s true colors came to shine, his fetish of having to chase down every freakin scooter!!! This boy has way too much energy after climbing. On his last attempt he gained about 100 meters on us, so he was unable to hear Brick whistle as he decided to enter the freeway (funny, that the Swiss have a rule against that)!!! After waiting for a few minutes for Squirrel to realize he was being honked at by every passing car, but due to his loud singing of “O sole mio”, Brick and Garbanzo were unable to reconnect with Squirrel! So we had no choice but to continue on the designated bike route on our own. Brick had some choice words, especially after having endured similar antics going down/up (don’t ask) to Flims on our first day on the bike. Fortunately, we were able to catch back up with Squirrel on the short, but very steep climb to Lugano. Him waiting half way up this climb saved Squirrel from hearing all of Brick’s choice words!!

Just as we reach the top of this climb Brick really starts to struggle so we pull into this gas station and buy some cokes and snickers bars. We sit our tired asses down on the few chairs and this short break really feels great. As we’re getting ready to get going again we notice the store owner pumping her fist at us for wetting her chairs with our wonderful sweat!! Luckily she didn’t sick her “Tiffosy” on us, so we simply just rode away while pleasantly smiling at her!

We arrived at the hotel and enjoyed dinner with Harry and Cindy, Vic’s parents. They are the greatest, schlepping our luggage all over Switzerland and being our tour guides off the bike.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you guys are having way too much fun! Just a note about passports: Here at HTA we have ways to ensure you don't retire to Switzerland early...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great time! You guys are putting in some serious mileage given the terrain. Has Squirrel snuck over to Italy for a panini yet?

- Slug

Kyle Jones said...

What happened with ol magellen you have on the trip. Or is he still riding towards germany.

Anonymous said...

Must be nice to not have to work. Surprised you have not been sidetracked by milk maids yet. Chris - climb a hill for Mike Clark this weekend. Beach house is hosting event in his honor.
:) The Beach Bum