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Fotogalerie

Cheese
Here, outside of Geneva, the wine country was absolutely lush.
Cheese_2
On our first day of riding, the morning was sunny and the terrain flat, but with lots to see.
Cheese_3
The picturesque town of Rolle was our first lunch stop on our tour.
Cheese_4
Gruyeres is home to the cheese of that name but also a castle several hundred years old.
Cheese_5
Scenery, scenery everywhere. All incredible. Never tiring.
Cheese_6
Gstaad would remind many travelers of Vail, Colorado. It is a prime, high end tourist destination.
Cheese_7
Giessbach Falls near Lake Bonigen in the Interlaken area was one of the more spectacular falls we saw during our riding.
Cheese_8
Warning, Will Robinson! We took the great signage on our journey to heart. Thankfully, there were not many places where we had to be as vigilant as we were in this area around Geissbach.
Cheese_9
The reward for climbing hills and dealing with a little rain was always beautiful vistas.
Cheese_10
Owl be watching you. We were surprised to find some large critters watching us as we journeyed through a magical fores
Cheese_11
Our ride proved the adage that a new adventure awaited you around every bend in the road. We did not feed the bears.
Cheese_12
In Rapperswil, we were treated to a summer festival and even art dedicated to cycling.
Cheese_13
We ended our journey along the Rhine River near Liechtenstein. It was peaceful and quiet but we found reminders of a troubling time from the past.

Dieser Reisebericht liegt an:

Seen-Route route-09
Seen-Route
Montreux–Rorschach
Zur Route
The Tour de Switzerland:
Cheese, Chocolate and the Alps

The Tour de Switzerland: Cheese, Chocolate and the Alps

The City of Peace was the starting point for an intrepid group of international cyclists this past August who planned to make a cross country trek across the Swiss countryside in six days of riding. A surprisingly large number of these riders hailed from the Piedmont area of North Carolina in the US. Chicago, IL, Pittsburgh, PA and Oslo, Norway.
By Mark Alan Hudson, mhudson2@earthlink.net

(GENEVA) The City of Peace was the starting point for an intrepid group of international cyclists this past August who planned to make a cross country trek across the Swiss countryside in six days of riding. A surprisingly large number of these riders hailed from the Piedmont area of North Carolina in the US. Chicago, IL, Pittsburgh, PA and Oslo, Norway rounded out the home bases of the 18 riders.

Our tour leader was John Klemme, an American who has lived in Switzerland for ten years and who is an avid cycling tourist. The participating riders had trained for months in anticipation of the challenging event. In addition to riding distances approaching 100 kilometers a day (63 miles) through pristine countryside, the riders would have to deal with luxurious meals and incredible accommodations. At times, they would also be subjected to festivals, firework displays and even museums.

No, these riders would not be followed by video equipped helicopters. There would not be thousands lining the roadsides to see them grind out long winding climbs in the shadows of the Alps. No stage wins nor kisses from the girls on the podium.
This contest was a personal one.

Okay, so perhaps the trip we were making was not the stuff of athletic legend. But an adventure is a funny thing and in lighter moments, even those past the prime of the thundering herd can still dream about what it might feel like to be a champion.

Like so many adventures, this one started with a simple moment.

It was late fall of 2005 and I had a dilemma on my hands. During the summer of 2006, my wife Sandy would arrive at one of those milestones in life, highlighted by a big fat zero attached to another number. I owed her; when I had crossed that line three years earlier, it had been a big celebration. To this day, people tell me they had a great time at the event. They even promise me that I did. But I digress.

I figured my best bet was to ask her directly what she might like for her celebration so one evening after dinner, I looked over and said, “So, you want a party or a trip for your birthday?”

About a nanosecond later, the word “trip” reached my brain.

“Great,” I thought. “Now I have to think of a really fantastic trip.”

Two days later, salvation arrived in the form of an email from Chafin Rhyne, owner of the Ride-A-Bike shop in Lincolnton. I’ve known Chafin for more than 20 years and was happy to see his name. I was happier still when I read the message. It was short and to the point, “Do you know anyone that might be interested in a week long bike trip in Switzerland? Jenny (his wife) and I did it last year and we are going back and would love to take along some people we know.”

I don’t consider myself a genius but this question was an easy one to answer. Two people I know, one an expert with bikes (and their repair) doing a repeat of a trip they’d already been on. I’m sure my response back to Chafin of “Sandy and I might be interested; please send more info,” skillful” hid my hand waving and screaming “Yes!” at home.

When I posed the idea to Sandy, it was clear I had the bases loaded and had a chance to knock one out of the park. I rocked back into my stance and took a swing for the fence. “Yes! We’re going to Switzerland!”
Lots of Time but Lots to do

A trip abroad is not quite the same as heading to Orlando, New York or Los Angeles. We live in a different world from what we knew just five years ago. Planning is more important. Rules are important.

But we had heard that Switzerland is a civilized country and their political neutrality to world events was something that made a trip there more attractive to us as Americans. But, not being speakers of French, Switzerland’s one official language, and having only rudimentary skills in German, the other predominant language there, we needed to make sure we’d be able to “survive” a trip of almost two weeks.

As it turned out, the company we were booking our trip with, Bike Switzerland, is run by John Klemme, an American who has lived in Switzerland for almost ten years. He knew what we needed to do and pay attention to and through the tour’s website and continuous email communications, kept us on track with our plans for the bike part of the trip.

Chafin and Jenny also helped in that regard by having a pre-trip social and dinner with the local riders who were making the trip. Along with the Rhynes and Sandy and me, Dr. Clay Richardson and wife Joanie from Morganton were going. Susan Sain, Dee Nachamie, Stephanie Osbourn, Wilton Scrounce, Colin Smith, all from the Lincolnton area, were making the trip, along with Mark Keener, Alan Hincher and Alan Hutcherson. Our group would be rounded out with Christian Burger from the Chicago area, Bill and Diane Helsel from the Pittsburgh area and May Brit Dorun-Persen, a Norwegian. These last three all had connections to the Richardson’s.
Time Flies

It seemed hard to believe that almost 10 months had passed since that first question and the serendipitous email when we touched down in Geneva. Six of our group was on the same flight and we were met by John in the airport and he got us to our hotel and checked in. “Enjoy yourselves today,” he told us “and we’ll see you for dinner tonight. We’ll all meet in the lobby at 5:40.”

We were then left to deal with jetlag, clean up, taking a tour of the city and enjoy walking for a while. For the next week, most of our waking time would be in a saddle. And unlike professional riders, there would be no masseuse waiting for us at days end.

But, as we quickly learned, there would be other delights.
Getting on with it

Our walking tour included getting fitted with our bikes, which turned out to be brand new, right out of the box babies. “David,” whose role would be to help us with luggage, assure our daily picnic lunch, and to cheer us up with happy thoughts when the going got tough, helped us with last minute adjustments to the bikes.

Our dinner was to be a treat; we headed out into Geneva’s nearby wine country. Most people don’t know that Switzerland has a very vibrant wine production and it compares to other European standards in both quality and price. Around Geneva, there are more than 1500 hectares of vineyards. Translating into US measurements, that means “a lot of land to grow grapes.”

The next day, tour director John met with us early to talk about our trip, scheduled to be a mere 500 kilometers or so across Switzerland. When we did the metric conversion and came up with just over 300 miles, we felt a little better. “Hey, that’s just 60 miles a day,” I thought to myself.

During the meeting, he handed out cell phones to everyone, each programmed with the numbers of all the tour members as well as his number. “Nice touch,” I thought, “but we won’t likely need them.” After all, I’d been on a number of bike tours. How lost could I get in a country not much larger than our great state of North Carolina?

We would certainly learn a little about that possibility during the next week. I had temporarily forgotten that our “team support” would consist of but one vehicle to cover a wide territory each day.

Our first day on the road started out under clouds but soon cleared and blue sky abounded once we left the city. We were treated to gently rolling terrain through farmland, an easy and relaxing ride. In many ways, the weather and the road were toying with us.

A short 30 miles later, we were in Rolle, a picturesque town next to Lake Geneva. After a great picnic lunch, we were ready to move along as our route sheets indicated we would have a couple of hills on the way to our hotel in Chexbres, in the middle of wine country. The route directions noted the terrain was “easy” but this little voice inside my head started buzzing. We began a slight incline away from the lake.

An hour later, finally able to stop without falling over, I looked down on Lake Geneva. The little voice inside my head was now taunting mex..”Gently rolling, gentry rolling, E A S Y terrain.”

The cell phones proved to be handy today. A couple of folks had wrong turns, a couple of folks checked in to make sure they were on the right route but everyone made it in before the course would be shut down (darkness does that).

After a short lasting storm, we all relaxed on the hotel’s veranda, tasted some of the locally bottled agricultural products and watched a regatta on Lake Geneva, now miles away and a thousand feet below us. Later, after another exquisite meal, we settled down to another night of sound sleep. Some of us had bad dreams about having positive tests for wine.
Of Cheese and Hills

When we got up for our second day of riding, it was very breezy and cool, with ominous clouds darting around. But an hour later, the sky had cleared and the breeze quieted. We were ready to go.

No surprise, we were climbing almost immediately and did so for about three miles before the first flattened spot came into view. But the scenery was spectacular and the entire group’s spirits were high. Especially so for Colin and Wilton, two experienced cyclists who have never met a hill they didn’t like. I made a note to myself to keep an eye on these two; they could be trouble.

We rolled along and eventually caught views of what looked to be a castle in the clouds. As we neared, it was clear that it was sitting on top of a high hill. “Boy, I’d hate to have to climb that thing,” I chirped. Sandy, my dear sweet wife, gently reminded me the castle was our destination for the morning. I think it was at this moment I started having grave misgivings about the geography of the country.

But by now we had established a “routine” of our ride schedule and more importantly, camaraderie with our fellow riders. It was a good group. Sandy and I had been on several group trips over the years and this one was as enjoyable as any.

Over the next five days, we would see some amazing sights. At one point, we wondered if so much fantastic scenery would become routine to us. It did not. Perhaps, just perhaps if was our backdoor view every day, we would begin to take it for granted, but I don’t believe it.

Our riding would take us into even higher countryside and everywhere we went, the people were gracious, our accommodations superb and the food better than we could have hoped for.

On our third riding day, starting from Chateau-d’Oex, we rolled through the Gstaad, very similar to Vail here in the US in terms of being a high-end tourist destination. We would have some descent from here down to the Interlaken/Boningen area where we would take a day off and travel by cog railway to the Jungfrau, one of the country’s highest peaks and home to Europe’s highest train station. At almost 12,000 feet, it was, to say the least, in the clouds.
Halfway there

We started our fourth day, from the Grand Hotel Geissbach on Lake Brienz, with a little steep climbing, followed by more steep climbing. The day would be a tough one physically due to the climbing and not made any easier by fits of rain along the way. The day would have the steepest single climb of the entire trip and due to threatening weather, some of the group opted to take a shortcut around it. I will tell you this though; it WAS a bear of a climb, at least that’s the sense of it that I had looking out the train window as we crested the mountain.

The shortcut was a good decision as it allowed us to get to our next destination of Lucerne, also a lakefront city, early. The earlier than expected arrival allowed more exploration time. From Lucerne, day five of riding would take us to Raperswill on Lake Zurich. We arrived to a town in celebration with one of the numerous festivals held in Switzerland each summer. One of its highlights was a 45 minute fireworks display that evening.

Our last full day of riding took us out of the hills and along the Rhine River. A group of us decided to invade Liechtenstein by crossing an old covered bridge across the river. When we arrived on the other side, there was no one to greet us, not even a border guard. Our invasion fizzled, we headed on to our last destination, the small town of Sax.
Last dance

Our last full day in Switzerland would begin with a short 6 mile ride to a train station, where we would leave our bikes for transport back to Geneva and we would board a train for an excursion into the country’s capitol, Bern. We arrived in Bern with the sunshine and had a relaxing day of sightseeing and shopping. By the time we boarded the train for our last jaunt back into Geneva, many of our group had clearly run out of steam. Naps were the order of the day for the last couple of hours of the train ride.

At dinner, everyone had favorite stories to share and promises to make about keeping in touch. And, I think many in the group will manage to do that. Partly because there is a geographical connection for many to western NC, but mainly because everyone seemed to get along so well. Such are the gifts of a trip such as this.

In ten days, with six of them on a bike, we’d traveled virtually the entire length of an amazingly beautiful country. Its people were kind and hospitable to a group that, for the most part, could not speak its language. We’d learned that we could challenge ourselves physically and still have some energy (some more than others) to enjoy the places we traveled through. As it turns out, we’d climbed more than 11,000 feet in the first five days of riding, almost the height of the snow covered mountain we’d visited on our “rest” day.

We all learned much during our travels. About ourselves. About our hosts. About our travel companions. Perhaps most important, we learned that first hand experience will always beat passive viewing when it comes to athletic endeavor. And that athletes need not be young, rich or glorified by the masses to earn respect.

And as for the birthday girl, she is already dreaming of something for the next big celebration.
The City of Peace was the starting point for an intrepid group of international cyclists this past August who planned to make a cross country trek across the Swiss countryside in six days of riding. A surprisingly large number of these riders hailed from the Piedmont area of North Carolina in the US. Chicago, IL, Pittsburgh, PA and Oslo, Norway.
By Mark Alan Hudson, mhudson2@earthlink.net

(GENEVA) The City of Peace was the starting point for an intrepid group of international cyclists this past August who planned to make a cross country trek across the Swiss countryside in six days of riding. A surprisingly large number of these riders hailed from the Piedmont area of North Carolina in the US. Chicago, IL, Pittsburgh, PA and Oslo, Norway rounded out the home bases of the 18 riders.

Our tour leader was John Klemme, an American who has lived in Switzerland for ten years and who is an avid cycling tourist. The participating riders had trained for months in anticipation of the challenging event. In addition to riding distances approaching 100 kilometers a day (63 miles) through pristine countryside, the riders would have to deal with luxurious meals and incredible accommodations. At times, they would also be subjected to festivals, firework displays and even museums.

No, these riders would not be followed by video equipped helicopters. There would not be thousands lining the roadsides to see them grind out long winding climbs in the shadows of the Alps. No stage wins nor kisses from the girls on the podium.
This contest was a personal one.

Okay, so perhaps the trip we were making was not the stuff of athletic legend. But an adventure is a funny thing and in lighter moments, even those past the prime of the thundering herd can still dream about what it might feel like to be a champion.

Like so many adventures, this one started with a simple moment.

It was late fall of 2005 and I had a dilemma on my hands. During the summer of 2006, my wife Sandy would arrive at one of those milestones in life, highlighted by a big fat zero attached to another number. I owed her; when I had crossed that line three years earlier, it had been a big celebration. To this day, people tell me they had a great time at the event. They even promise me that I did. But I digress.

I figured my best bet was to ask her directly what she might like for her celebration so one evening after dinner, I looked over and said, “So, you want a party or a trip for your birthday?”

About a nanosecond later, the word “trip” reached my brain.

“Great,” I thought. “Now I have to think of a really fantastic trip.”

Two days later, salvation arrived in the form of an email from Chafin Rhyne, owner of the Ride-A-Bike shop in Lincolnton. I’ve known Chafin for more than 20 years and was happy to see his name. I was happier still when I read the message. It was short and to the point, “Do you know anyone that might be interested in a week long bike trip in Switzerland? Jenny (his wife) and I did it last year and we are going back and would love to take along some people we know.”

I don’t consider myself a genius but this question was an easy one to answer. Two people I know, one an expert with bikes (and their repair) doing a repeat of a trip they’d already been on. I’m sure my response back to Chafin of “Sandy and I might be interested; please send more info,” skillful” hid my hand waving and screaming “Yes!” at home.

When I posed the idea to Sandy, it was clear I had the bases loaded and had a chance to knock one out of the park. I rocked back into my stance and took a swing for the fence. “Yes! We’re going to Switzerland!”
Lots of Time but Lots to do

A trip abroad is not quite the same as heading to Orlando, New York or Los Angeles. We live in a different world from what we knew just five years ago. Planning is more important. Rules are important.

But we had heard that Switzerland is a civilized country and their political neutrality to world events was something that made a trip there more attractive to us as Americans. But, not being speakers of French, Switzerland’s one official language, and having only rudimentary skills in German, the other predominant language there, we needed to make sure we’d be able to “survive” a trip of almost two weeks.

As it turned out, the company we were booking our trip with, Bike Switzerland, is run by John Klemme, an American who has lived in Switzerland for almost ten years. He knew what we needed to do and pay attention to and through the tour’s website and continuous email communications, kept us on track with our plans for the bike part of the trip.

Chafin and Jenny also helped in that regard by having a pre-trip social and dinner with the local riders who were making the trip. Along with the Rhynes and Sandy and me, Dr. Clay Richardson and wife Joanie from Morganton were going. Susan Sain, Dee Nachamie, Stephanie Osbourn, Wilton Scrounce, Colin Smith, all from the Lincolnton area, were making the trip, along with Mark Keener, Alan Hincher and Alan Hutcherson. Our group would be rounded out with Christian Burger from the Chicago area, Bill and Diane Helsel from the Pittsburgh area and May Brit Dorun-Persen, a Norwegian. These last three all had connections to the Richardson’s.
Time Flies

It seemed hard to believe that almost 10 months had passed since that first question and the serendipitous email when we touched down in Geneva. Six of our group was on the same flight and we were met by John in the airport and he got us to our hotel and checked in. “Enjoy yourselves today,” he told us “and we’ll see you for dinner tonight. We’ll all meet in the lobby at 5:40.”

We were then left to deal with jetlag, clean up, taking a tour of the city and enjoy walking for a while. For the next week, most of our waking time would be in a saddle. And unlike professional riders, there would be no masseuse waiting for us at days end.

But, as we quickly learned, there would be other delights.
Getting on with it

Our walking tour included getting fitted with our bikes, which turned out to be brand new, right out of the box babies. “David,” whose role would be to help us with luggage, assure our daily picnic lunch, and to cheer us up with happy thoughts when the going got tough, helped us with last minute adjustments to the bikes.

Our dinner was to be a treat; we headed out into Geneva’s nearby wine country. Most people don’t know that Switzerland has a very vibrant wine production and it compares to other European standards in both quality and price. Around Geneva, there are more than 1500 hectares of vineyards. Translating into US measurements, that means “a lot of land to grow grapes.”

The next day, tour director John met with us early to talk about our trip, scheduled to be a mere 500 kilometers or so across Switzerland. When we did the metric conversion and came up with just over 300 miles, we felt a little better. “Hey, that’s just 60 miles a day,” I thought to myself.

During the meeting, he handed out cell phones to everyone, each programmed with the numbers of all the tour members as well as his number. “Nice touch,” I thought, “but we won’t likely need them.” After all, I’d been on a number of bike tours. How lost could I get in a country not much larger than our great state of North Carolina?

We would certainly learn a little about that possibility during the next week. I had temporarily forgotten that our “team support” would consist of but one vehicle to cover a wide territory each day.

Our first day on the road started out under clouds but soon cleared and blue sky abounded once we left the city. We were treated to gently rolling terrain through farmland, an easy and relaxing ride. In many ways, the weather and the road were toying with us.

A short 30 miles later, we were in Rolle, a picturesque town next to Lake Geneva. After a great picnic lunch, we were ready to move along as our route sheets indicated we would have a couple of hills on the way to our hotel in Chexbres, in the middle of wine country. The route directions noted the terrain was “easy” but this little voice inside my head started buzzing. We began a slight incline away from the lake.

An hour later, finally able to stop without falling over, I looked down on Lake Geneva. The little voice inside my head was now taunting mex..”Gently rolling, gentry rolling, E A S Y terrain.”

The cell phones proved to be handy today. A couple of folks had wrong turns, a couple of folks checked in to make sure they were on the right route but everyone made it in before the course would be shut down (darkness does that).

After a short lasting storm, we all relaxed on the hotel’s veranda, tasted some of the locally bottled agricultural products and watched a regatta on Lake Geneva, now miles away and a thousand feet below us. Later, after another exquisite meal, we settled down to another night of sound sleep. Some of us had bad dreams about having positive tests for wine.
Of Cheese and Hills

When we got up for our second day of riding, it was very breezy and cool, with ominous clouds darting around. But an hour later, the sky had cleared and the breeze quieted. We were ready to go.

No surprise, we were climbing almost immediately and did so for about three miles before the first flattened spot came into view. But the scenery was spectacular and the entire group’s spirits were high. Especially so for Colin and Wilton, two experienced cyclists who have never met a hill they didn’t like. I made a note to myself to keep an eye on these two; they could be trouble.

We rolled along and eventually caught views of what looked to be a castle in the clouds. As we neared, it was clear that it was sitting on top of a high hill. “Boy, I’d hate to have to climb that thing,” I chirped. Sandy, my dear sweet wife, gently reminded me the castle was our destination for the morning. I think it was at this moment I started having grave misgivings about the geography of the country.

But by now we had established a “routine” of our ride schedule and more importantly, camaraderie with our fellow riders. It was a good group. Sandy and I had been on several group trips over the years and this one was as enjoyable as any.

Over the next five days, we would see some amazing sights. At one point, we wondered if so much fantastic scenery would become routine to us. It did not. Perhaps, just perhaps if was our backdoor view every day, we would begin to take it for granted, but I don’t believe it.

Our riding would take us into even higher countryside and everywhere we went, the people were gracious, our accommodations superb and the food better than we could have hoped for.

On our third riding day, starting from Chateau-d’Oex, we rolled through the Gstaad, very similar to Vail here in the US in terms of being a high-end tourist destination. We would have some descent from here down to the Interlaken/Boningen area where we would take a day off and travel by cog railway to the Jungfrau, one of the country’s highest peaks and home to Europe’s highest train station. At almost 12,000 feet, it was, to say the least, in the clouds.
Halfway there

We started our fourth day, from the Grand Hotel Geissbach on Lake Brienz, with a little steep climbing, followed by more steep climbing. The day would be a tough one physically due to the climbing and not made any easier by fits of rain along the way. The day would have the steepest single climb of the entire trip and due to threatening weather, some of the group opted to take a shortcut around it. I will tell you this though; it WAS a bear of a climb, at least that’s the sense of it that I had looking out the train window as we crested the mountain.

The shortcut was a good decision as it allowed us to get to our next destination of Lucerne, also a lakefront city, early. The earlier than expected arrival allowed more exploration time. From Lucerne, day five of riding would take us to Raperswill on Lake Zurich. We arrived to a town in celebration with one of the numerous festivals held in Switzerland each summer. One of its highlights was a 45 minute fireworks display that evening.

Our last full day of riding took us out of the hills and along the Rhine River. A group of us decided to invade Liechtenstein by crossing an old covered bridge across the river. When we arrived on the other side, there was no one to greet us, not even a border guard. Our invasion fizzled, we headed on to our last destination, the small town of Sax.
Last dance

Our last full day in Switzerland would begin with a short 6 mile ride to a train station, where we would leave our bikes for transport back to Geneva and we would board a train for an excursion into the country’s capitol, Bern. We arrived in Bern with the sunshine and had a relaxing day of sightseeing and shopping. By the time we boarded the train for our last jaunt back into Geneva, many of our group had clearly run out of steam. Naps were the order of the day for the last couple of hours of the train ride.

At dinner, everyone had favorite stories to share and promises to make about keeping in touch. And, I think many in the group will manage to do that. Partly because there is a geographical connection for many to western NC, but mainly because everyone seemed to get along so well. Such are the gifts of a trip such as this.

In ten days, with six of them on a bike, we’d traveled virtually the entire length of an amazingly beautiful country. Its people were kind and hospitable to a group that, for the most part, could not speak its language. We’d learned that we could challenge ourselves physically and still have some energy (some more than others) to enjoy the places we traveled through. As it turns out, we’d climbed more than 11,000 feet in the first five days of riding, almost the height of the snow covered mountain we’d visited on our “rest” day.

We all learned much during our travels. About ourselves. About our hosts. About our travel companions. Perhaps most important, we learned that first hand experience will always beat passive viewing when it comes to athletic endeavor. And that athletes need not be young, rich or glorified by the masses to earn respect.

And as for the birthday girl, she is already dreaming of something for the next big celebration.

Dieser Reisebericht liegt an:

Seen-Route route-09
Seen-Route
Montreux–Rorschach
Zur Route