Adventure

Le Grand Tour: Day 52 – Andermatt To Valendas (62km)

CURRENT LOCATION: Camping Carrera, Valendas

And so this pan-European odyssey enters its final phase: the Rhine Cycle Route or EuroVelo 15. But before I could crack on with that this morning, I had some sorting out of loose ends from the penultimate phase: the Rhône Cycle Route or EuroVelo 17. I completed that route yesterday upon arrival in Andermatt but this morning finished putting together the podcast about cycling the Rhône. This included inserting a chat that I had with my neighbours on the campsite at Andermatt; a couple – Rich and Becca – from West Yorkshire of all places (my neck of the woods) who had cycled some of the route as well. The podcast was published this morning from café at the train station in Andermatt but you don’t have to go that far to find it: all the links are at CyclingEurope.org/Podcast or you can listen directly by clicking on the link below: 

As for today’s cycling… it started with a reckless use of one of my three remaining train journeys. The distance was only 11km so I’ve squandered up to 89km worth of train journey (as the maximum I’m allowing myself is 100km). But after several days of seeing the distinctive red-liveried trains trundle past me on their rack and pinion tracks, I wanted to be inside looking out rather than on my bike looking in from afar. Ascending the 600m up to the Oberalppass had other benefits too, namely that I didn’t have to pedal up those 600m, but that was only secondary to the ‘experience’. Honest… 

Upon arrival at the Oberalppass I found the slightly disappointing lighthouse. It claims to be the highest of its kind in the world but it is rather small and appeared to be made from plastic (even if it isn’t). Fortunately I also found Claud Butler standing beside the lighthouse. 

I’ve been in touch with Claud for some time and when he realised I would be passing through Switzerland – where he lives – he suggested meeting up and today we did just that. After a lunch at the pass of something local that we found difficult to translate into English (but was delicious), we set off cycling together in the direction of, well, Rotterdam. I need to be there for the ferry on the evening of Saturday 3rd September. I’ll leave you to do the maths in terms of the number of cycling days. It’s going to be a close run thing.

Anyway, today, Claud was my guide and I was happy to follow. The route from the pass was unsurprisingly downhill for much of the time but it did occasionally send us in the opposite direction when it deviated away from the main road. That said, towards the end of the day as we headed into Ilanz, we did stick to the road and made rapid progress by doing so. To say we didn’t set off from the pass until after 1pm, I still managed to squeeze in 62km. Not bad.

After my bike was scrutinised by a man who must surely be one of Switzerland’s most elderly bike mechanics (I suspected my brake pads might be wearing thin after all the descents but he seemed to think they were fine for me to get to Rotterdam) we had a beer and shared a platter of meat and cheese in a nearby bar. You’ll hear Claud’s words of wisdom about cycling in Switzerland in the next episode of the podcast. With a name like Claud Butler how can he be anything but an expert? 

I left Claud to cycle the remaining 8km to tonight’s campsite, a rural idyll perfect for cycle tourers beside a deep gorge cut into the rock by the Rhine. No cars, no trains, no helicopters… But the night is yet young. 


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2 replies »

  1. The lighthouse is a copy of the one at Katwijk aan Zee where the old course of the Rhine meets the North Sea. I cycled from there to Oberalppass as part of my first Worcester-Istanbul ride. I’m rather jealous actually because the Rhine is a joy to cycle, particularly in Germany where it’s superbly surfaced off-road cycle routes the whole way. And no Grant Shapps reaching out to the gammons and Clarksonistas with anti-cycle rhetoric.

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