Perhaps it was in the water (there is plenty of it). When I wasn’t sure whether I had actually booked a place in the campsite at Altdorf. When I spoke to the South African chap at the site this morning and talked about how nice it was not to know where you will end up in the evening. When I missed Altdorf completely this morning and had to double back a good kilometre to find out where it was…. I was perhaps never destined to stay there.
The cycle around Lake Lucerne this morning was very picturesque; the mountains plunging directly and steeply into the cold water below them. As with most of the riding so far in Switzerland it was all fairly flat. This is a country of mountains but a country that squeezes itself into the bottom of the valleys; everything is there in a tight package of intertwined life, including of course the roads and cyclepaths. This morning was no exception and made for a beautiful ride. Crossing the lake via a short twenty minute ferry was a nice late morning break… and then the ride continued as it had done prior to the ferry.
At the end of the lake, as mentioned, I went straight past Altdorf. It appeared to be a quite industrial area (strange how we never associate this country with such things as dirty engineering but it is here in abundance!) although the centre of town was quote pretty and themed along the lines of William Tell; he was born there I think. Well, if you believe Robin Hood was ever born, the same goes for William Tell.
But it wasn’t a place that shouted ‘stay here’ so o didn’t! In addition, while enquiring about places to stay higher up in the valley with the girl at the tourist office, I asked about tomorrow’s weather. It finally looks as though tomorrow may be a nice day. The day after back to the norm of this week; wet and cloudy. Suddenly the thought of making it as far as Andermatt came to mind. That would leave a short and potentially spectacular ride to the St Gotthard pass itself tomorrow. 35 kms? A climd of 1,000 metres? Did I have it in me? It was 2:50pm. What the… (you fill in)? It made perfect sense to continue the days ride halfway up the Alps. So I set off.
Initially fairly flat but after 10 kms the first climb kicked in. Although by now the weather had turned for the worse the views were worth the effort. Any time not spent marvelling upon the work of nature was spent marvelling upon the engineering feats of building not just the road I was on but also the even more spectacular motorway and the railway. The three routes criss-crossed each other like three pieces of spaghetti. I climbed and climbed. After 500 metres of climb the motorway disappeared inside the mountain and left the road to itself. The switch backs were tortuous in the riding but worth every bead of sweat when pausing to look back at what I had achieved. Eventually, after three hours and nearly 1,000 metres I arrived in Andermatt. An amazing climb, an amazing achievement. ‘Only’ another 600 metres to go tomorrow. According to the guy next to me on the campsite, the worst bit is behind me.