Le Grand Tour: Day 53 – Valendas To Buchs (83km)

CURRENT LOCATION: Camping Werdenberg, Buchs

Life is getting complicated, for good reasons. I’m now in the Swiss town of Buchs and trying to plan tomorrow which will hopefully see me meet two people at either ends of the day; Ken, who is cycling 12 countries in 12 days (see his Twitter feed @highfielder80 for updates and the details of his trip) and my friend Claus (remember him from ‘Crossing Europe…’?) who I haven’t seen for many years, in Breganz, Austria in the late afternoon. I need a social secretary! I’m also hatching an interesting plan for Friday but more of that in due course… 

Today? Fantastic. I’m going to keep this brief tonight as I also have to try sort out an issue with data storage on my iPhone (as it hasn’t been updated over WiFi for quite a few weeks and the photos and videos are taking up too much space which will make creating the daily videos impossible as from later this week…). First world problems,eh? 

As you can see from today’s video, there were some pretty spectacular vistas in the first few hours of the day as the Rhine Cycle Route contoured high above gorge in which the river was cutting its path. The road itself – as all good gorge roads should do – cut its own way somewhat perilously along the cliff edge with high bridges, tunnels and galleries in abundance. When the little red train appeared I was in raptures… 

Once back on the valley floor and after having paid a short visit to attractive Chur, I turned the corner to head north and was reminded of the industrial sprawl (albeit relatively pretty industrial sprawl) of the valley of the Rhône last week. After a few kilometres however, the cycle route took a sharp turn east in the countryside and away from the river. What’s going on here??? Well, my initial frustrations were misplaced as the route was simply diverting cyclists away from that industry towards the villages sitting above the valley floor. And what villages they are! Chocolate box stuff and we are not talking cheap rubbish from Lidl. These are chocolate boxes from the finest Belgian purveyors of the dark stuff. Or perhaps Swiss purveyors. That would be more appropriate. Throw in a few vineyards and the blue sky and… It’s why some of you donate to the cause! Gorgeous. (Thanks to everyone who has, by the way, supported the website and the podcast via – it is very much appreciated.) 

The long sting in the tail of the day was the ride along the riverbank in the 20km leading up to Buchs. Nothing wrong with the riverbanks but there was a fierce persistent wind blowing from the north. I escaped momentarily into Liechtenstein across the wooden bridge to do what most other visitors seemed to be doing and trying to spot the differences between being in Switzerland and being in the principality. There were a few but basically it’s Switzerland with more tax loopholes. 

Buchs soon followed and a good campsite where the cyclists are encircled by a ring of caravans and motor homes. They are probably planning their attack as I type… 

So a good day of cycling – often great – with the prospect of an interesting day in store tomorrow. Then my fledging plan for Friday. Stay tuned!


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