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Blog #13 Buochs to Cresciano (Italy)

24th September 7hours 57mins riding 87 miles 6722ft elevation

Today climbed up and crossed the Gotthard Pass. I knew I'd have to cross the Alps eventually and in denial as to when, when, whoosh I was pedalling up one of Europe's most majestic mountain passes, spilling heritage and history.

A bit of info

The Gotthard Pass lies at the heart of the Gotthard, a major transport axis of Europe, and it is crossed by three traffic tunnels, each being the world's longest at the time of their construction: the Gotthard Rail Tunnel (1882), the Gotthard Road Tunnel (1980) and the Gotthard Base Tunnel (2016). With the Lötschberg to the west, the Gotthard is one of the two main north-south routes through the Swiss Alps.

I hadn't looked at the map in any detail but I knew by the cul de sac of mountains in front of me there would be one I'd have to cycle over. As an admission, I am inherently lazy yet I am here creating this blog having cycled 87 miles over a 6909ft (2106m). I'm good until midnight then up at 7am, no breakfast here, on my bike by eight. My bed tonight is a bed of straw.

Picture to follow

After leaving Hotel Sternen and my room which was marginally larger than the bed in it, I caught the ferry at Beckenried across Lake Lucerne to Gersau. All very Swiss and all very lovely. The countries nickname is understandably the 'Land of Milk and Honey' The politeness of the people, or more the unwillingness of people to breach anyone's personal space makes for a lonely ride. It was like that in Russia, "why should I smile at you, I don't know you." Such is the integrity of the people I passed, we hardly exchanged a glance. So concerned were they not to stray from well drummed in etiquette that as I cycled across this beautiful country I didn't speak to a single cyclist other than this mad one near the summit of the Pass carrying a basketful of pegs.

Ferries will become part of the transport logistics I'll need to negotiate whenever I have to cross rivers on this journey. Can't imagine they wouldn't be needed across the Mekon or maybe down the canals of Bangkok, with my bike as part of the journey. As something that allows you to travel across water ferries are cheaper than bridges and I'm on one right now.

After that I rode around the riviera or is it a corniche on pillers but the way the road carved it's way around cliffs that plummeted hundreds of feet to a rocky lake shore lapped by clear water with a twist of emerald as I tunnelled my way like the cars, separated by a wall I could still hear the roar. I watched a ship sail across the lake and all I could hear was the friction of rubber and impatient drivers honking horns.

The bike handled it with ease. It cost me two-thirds of a battery which made it significantly easier than riding an unpowered bike, but you still need strong legs. We whizzed and climbed, I stopped to drink from a stream and everywhere water was thundering down clefts in mountain sides from glaciers or rain that had fallen recently. In the lower valleys there are quite flat fields and on the edge of the growing area allotments as if it were a kitchen garden but up here it was me and the mountain, man on his bike. It's nearly midnight and time for my bed.

A Bed of Straw

Man on Indeterminate Mission in Development ...

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