Bike riding down the Alps in the rain

Lugano Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 32 › view all entries
Saturda.y Quickly showered, inhaled a partial breakfast, and left in a rush to the station at Solothurn but got the 801 no problem to Olten, asked about my SwissRail friend Toby there, met him in Stockholm years ago, but no info, We climbed up into a full Panoramic car to Lucerne watching a father fuss over his cute 16 month-old adorable daughter. We are continuing up into the SwissAlps! Yesss! I can hardly believe they put a world-class full length dome car on a very ordinary local train! I found this in the timetable
I hear J softly express a "Thank-you...Dave". We have both been waiting for this. It is oh-so beautiful up here, following a river, and climbing up and thru spiral tunnels. We pass a church southbound, then after the spiral tunnel see it higher up but going northbound, then again south, finally thru the Gotthard tunnel to Airolo just out of the south end of it.
We are back to Italian being spoken here. We go right to the bike counter, and pay for our bikes. I ask Giovanni if it's okay if we are Americans jokingly, of course it's okay, and turns out he loves American cars and has had several, and gets us matched up to our helmets and bikes. Other thin guy is there, who is always there, is willing to transport our bags down to Lugano at 3pm for 15 SFR; high, but mighty convenient and safe too. He adds "Chur has 80,000 visitors celebrating their new train station. Wow we are going there!
24 gears to these great bikes. I put a few snacks in a bag under the clip on the back. All set to go, the guy says "see you at 3", and asks how many times I do this. I show him 4 fingers. OK, we are off, first uphill a bit, then in the spit rain down. We put on our lights for safety in the tunnels. J takes off ahead, I knew he would, but doesn't lose me for too long. Goddddd!!! This is so much fun! We are having a blast doing this! We are ignoring the light rain and going for it. We play tag with the main railway line to Italy, and the Gottard tunnel highway throat as well. Starts out mostly on roads but soon the clearly marked bikeway #3 is off on trails. Much nicer! We really run virtually nonstop for more than an hour of fast downhill. I see J ahead, hands high in the air as if celebrating victory after a long race. This is bliss out here. We pass cows, blooming honey locust trees, roses, dead towns. We cross the river which gets bigger as we descend of course. After one tunnel, we make sharp spiral curves to lose altitude with a really dramatic view of the underside of a massive concrete highway bridge very high overhead. We stop at a clear stream for a drink and quick snack, but don't delay too long so as not to get cold. Farther down the way we pass a huge closed factory, and ready to cross under the railway again, I let out several "Oh my Goddd!"s J thinking I had forgotten something really important, realizes the graffiti on the bridge side saying "Judge Dread is king of Ska"! Judge uses Judge Dredd as a knickname, (and his Travbuddy name too) and fortunately knew the Ska as a punk/reggae band. A picture was taken. We follow the signs in Biasca sending us all over town before finally arriving at the station. We have been riding 11:30 to 1:45. The guy arrives 2:50, we give him the bikes and helmets. We are the only customers today! He gives me a certificate for a free bike rental! Damn! That was nice! We go to the station and the moment we board this new train to Lugano, doors close and we leave! Perfect! We did change trains in Bellinzona with large castle looking over the town. We climb up over this valley, thru a tunnel and into Lugano.
I have second thots about the effort to go back to Italy only to come back up to Tirano and a long day of riding, and ask J to come with me to the station to see what it would cost to ride the uncovered portion of the Glacier Express line. The agent says on a local train it's all covered and a departure time of 9:12 puts us into Chur at 2 vs 7pm. Much better!
My pant legs are totally soaked from the rain. Nice to take a Nice hot shower and change into dry clothes! We meet 3 girls who whisper to each other obviously about us. They are Swiss. Later an Italian dude arrives, says he's from Positano, but strangely never heard of our hostel. We head down the funicular to downtown Lugano, food prices are in the stars $17 for the hamburger of the day, and end up at Burger King. Actually tasted really good, used nearly a useless 30 minutes free time on BK computer there. Walked thru the park to a river that was rushing into the lake, raising it's level higher than I've ever seen. We start running into Swiss soccer fans after the game here, CH won 2-0 and cars are honking and big Swiss flags are waving! J loves it! Then we are way back up to a small castle-like building high on a hill, and just drank in the scenery. It's low clouds and not as beautiful as when the moon and stars are out. We read back at the Hostel, J finishing his Bryson book and we both start new books we picked up at the hostel in Gryon. Later this Polish guy arrives with a violin. He is living in Manheim and is thinking of moving here. Nice guy, and quietly prepares for bed. The girls with the Italian come in just as we had lights out, and fortunately go to bed too. I use the bathroom I think around 2, and some girl is talking while taking a shower in an adjacent room and making quite a racket of it too.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
photo by: hellenica