Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Alps - 31 passes in 3 weeks

3rd highest pass in Europe....we came up 48 numbered hairpin corners on the East side

Highest pass in the Alps.

Stelvio Italy

On the train after the accident

Near St Moritz


Mt. Blanc

site of Maria's accident....going DH

Mr. round the world cyclist



Canada vs Swiss in Alp d'Huez France

Hi Everyone...hope you've had a fun summer and that all is well wherever you may be.
We just finished our bike trip in Europe and are back in Frieburg after spending 4 days on Volker's parent's farm near Kassel Germany. I hope to send photos sometime during the 1st week of Sept from Benghazi. We rode 1850 kms (88 per day avg-longest day 138 km) in 21 days straight....no rest day. 32 passes (alot of the ones used in the Tour de France) which added up to about 27,000 vertical metres, roughly Mt. Everest from sea level 3 times. My bike and luggage wieghed about 55kg and Maria's about 25-30kg. We free camped without any problems every night except for one paid campsite in Val d'Isere and spent the 2nd night being spoiled with great food at a friend's house in Romanshorn on Lake Constanz. (Thanks for the great hospitality, Roman and family!)
Starting from our good friend Volker's place in Frieburg (we've ridden in Central and South America together previously), we rode with him for 2 days to Romanshorn, where he rode back to Frieburg in one day (200kms) to work for 1 week. After which he rode to Martigny Swiss to meet up with us again and rode with us for the remainder of the tour. The following is a rough sketch of the route:From Frieburg we biked into Swiss...a few hours in Austria and Liechtenstien along the Rhine and back into Swiss....thru Davos....into Italy for 2 days....through Bormio....St. Moritz.....back up the Rhine to Andermatt. Down the Rhone to Martigny and up to Chamonix...Val d'Isere...and some of the big climbs of the tour de France (alp d'huez, Galibier, col d'isran etc).....looping back up into Swiss and lake Geneva at Thonon/Evian.
With 4-5 days left to go, we were cruising downhill from Gstaad when Maria hit a wet railroad xing at a bad angle and took a tumble at about 25-30 kph. She landed on her right shoulder hard and was in such pain that with the help of a farmer, we took her to a clinic 3 km away and had it x'rayed. Fortunately nothing broken, but she did overextend something in the shoulder and has to keep it immobilized for 10 days, followed by physio. She was quite lucky with no helmet! A personal choice which she has now reversed. We spent the night in a hotel and then 3 easy train connections back to Frieburg in about 5 hours....4 days earlier than planned.
No bumps on my noggin, but I did loose about 5 kg, although I think I put it all back on after Volker's mom's home cooking, sausage, cheeze and schnitzel! It has been a very wet summer here and we had snow on a couple of occasions, but the wet weather never lasted more than a day and was only moderate on a couple of occasions. Switzerland we liked best for its numerous bike paths and signs, plentiful water fountains, as well as the immaculate appearance of its towns. Italian drivers were the worst, rarely waiting behind to pass after a curve or for an oncoming vehicle, with Germans and Swiss the most courteous. $3.00 Can cups of tea most everywhere and aside from bakeries, we cooked all our food on the Trangia/alcohol stove.
We didn't meet alot of peple as on other tours as we don't stand out from people here....touring and racing cyclists are everywhere...we were rarely asked where we are from. The roads of the mtn passes are simply amazing and provided us with much challange (some 13-14% grades), alot of fun downhills and many wonderful vistas to oooh and ahhh over, at times climbing higher than some lower glaciers.
Almost no wildlife, although passing thru Swiss National Park, a warden informed us that they had seen their 1st bear in 100 years!!!!!!!! However, he went on to lament that this may be bad for tourism, as people may be afraid and stay away. All depends what you value....shut the park to humans I say and let the bears and other animals have it back.
Aside from Maria's accident, we had super tour and feel fortunate to have the good health, fitness and energy necessary to be able to enjoy such adventures, especially now that Maria is not such a young chick anymore :)......or is it that a couple of "over forties" were lucky to keep up to her? Photos to follow in a few weeks...back to Benghazi on the 29th to start school on the 4th and planning to bike Kenya/Tanzania/Uganda for 1 month over xmas. Looking forward to hear news of your summer adventures.... Steve and Maria (and Piglet too)http://www.bsb-edu.org/ A ship in harbour is safe--but that is not what ships are for. John A. Shedd

Noticed on the flight back from Zurich to Benghazi that it is 2,000kms as the crow flies.....We cycled nearly the same distance going up and down and around. The Japanese cyclist has been travelling for 7 years by bike...see the list he keeps on the frame of his bike. He will visit Libya the winter. Last photo is Maria's crash site....very bad angle for these tracks, with no more than the standard warning. France had a the great idea of showing a large picture painted on the road, showing a cyclist falling. Don't know why the meticulous Swiss haven't done the same for their dangerous crossings. The farmer who helped us said it was the third bike accident he has seen there recently. Maria is recovering well.http://www.bsb-edu.org/