Cobbles: Hovis v St Gotthard

Seems such a pity to shunt the picture in the previous post off the top of the blog; I may well fiddle with the dates so that it stays there for a few more days yet. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not everything is always as it seems on the blogosphere…

Anyway, a couple of contacts this week; one about the Eurovelo 5, one about the 8. Mary-Anne Coupland commented somewhere below the following;

Hi Andrew,ย  My friend Sally and I have been planning our trip from Calais to Taranto for about a year and although you weren’t our original inspiration your web page/blog has been our ‘bible’ for many months and you along with Anne Mustoe (also in her 50’s when she cycled round the world) have become our inspiration ! What is the cobbled road bit leading UP to St Gotthardย  Pass really like? We are fairly fit, with good bikes and no luggageย  but a bit daunted by the busy tunnel we keep hearing about. We don’t want to catch the train if we can avoid it and would rather walk than do that. 7 weeks to go !!

Thanks for that Mary-Anne. The cobbled road up to the top of the Gotthard Pass is really not bad at all. I think in Britain we have an image of a cobbled road being something like the hill from the Hovis advert (I think the bread delivery boy was actually pushing his bike up, no? Update: Yes he was! Here is the picture of him doing so!!) with each individual cobble being a mountain poking up from a sea of little valleys that your wheel has to mount and then descend from many hundred of times a minute. Well it’s not like that at all. The first part of the ride from Andermatt is on the main road along with the cars, caravans, motorbikes etc… You will however, eventually reach a point where the old road is sign-posted and you see the cobbled path leading up the valley in front of you; I took this picture just a few metres into the cobbles themselves. You can see the new road on the left. You can also see how the incline compared to the new road is very different. And if you look very carefully, you will see how the cobbles are actually quite flat (the French word to describe a cobbled road is “pavรฉ” which is actually translated better as “paved” rather than “cobbled”). The relief of getting away from the cars on the road will far outweigh anyย discomfort riding along the cobbles. In fact, the biggest issue you will have with getting to the top of the St Gotthard Pass will be the bit immediately before arriving in Andermatt. I stayed in Andermatt overnight (there is a make-shift campsite just at the bottom of the ski lift on the far end of the town) and did the climb on the previous day to the cobbles; I would recommend doing the same as if there is going to be any point where your body will be aching it will be when you stop for a well-earned rest in Andermatt. The switch-back road is long, steep & tortuous… And finally, the other thing you may well have to contend with is, of course, the snow. I was travelling in August so there wasn’t really any (just a few clumps of very icy stuff nearer the top), but if you are travelling in May, it may well be a lot more abundant. Good luck and let me know how you get on. Will you be blogging as you cycle?

And the Eurovelo 8? Charles Hedden writes;

I saw from your site that you are planning to do the EV8 path in 2013. I am planning on doing a good part of this path this summer… My plan is to begin in Lisbon and pick up the path at Cadiz following it all the way to Split Croatia. I’d love to share thoughts with you, and if you know anyplace where I can get waypoints or a GPX file, I’d be heavily in your debt.

Sounds like you are at a far more advanced stage in your planning that me Charles! I can’t really help you out any more than point you in the direction of the ECF document that exists (and which I have still to read in any kind of detail!). You may also find something useful on the CTC (Cyclists Touring Club) website. Again, I have yet to look but there is an extensive section devoted to directions, GPX files etc… Let me know how you get on with your planning and good luck on the ride. Same question as above: will you be blogging as you cycle?

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2 replies »

  1. I had an 80 mile day starting in Sursee to Andermatt. It is pretty flat most of the way and going around the Lake of Lucern was astounding scenery. The climb up to Andermatt is pretty tough, over the last 14 miles you rise about 1,100 meters over a pretty constant angle of incline. I went over the Oberalppass from there but like Andrew spent a night in Andermatt. I wouldn’t have wanted to complete that climb in the same day, not on my tourer with that load anyway!

What do you think?