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Our Second Year and the 100 year flood

Our Second Year and the 100 year flood

Bike Switzerland was created to help North Americans discover the culture and bike routes of Switzerland. When we launched our rides in 2004, everything ran as perfectly as a Swiss watch. The flooding in August of 2005 however, made our second year considerably more adventurous.
Bike Switzerland 2005, August 18 to 28th

Bike Switzerland was created to help North Americans discover the culture and bike routes of Switzerland. When we launched our rides in 2004, everything ran as perfectly as a Swiss watch. The flooding in August of 2005 however, made our second year considerably more adventurous.
Day One:

We picked up our nine cyclists at the Geneva airport. All of our riders were American and between the ages of 32 and 72. We spent the first nigh on our hotel’s terrace, drinking local wine and sharing stories.
Day Two:

We spent the morning going over our itinerary with the excellent “Suisse à Vélo” map books. We also went over Swiss signposting, the train system and our cell phone system. Afterwards we explored Geneva’s old town, had lunch and walked on to “Bike Passion” (Rue Masbou) to fit everyone.

Around 3 O’clock we broke into teams and went to Carouge (my neighborhood) for a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt, followed by well deserved beers at “La Plage” (Rue St. Joseph). The evening was spent at the United Nations private beach where the cyclists met the other guides, our local friends, had a swim and ate big duck steaks.
Day Three:

We packed our carry-ons into the van and were on the road by 8 a.m. (1)

It was Saturday and it seemed as though there was a different celebration in each town we passed through: a folk festival in St-Prex, a country music celebration outside Morges and a world class triathlon in Lausannexgood reasons to stop and stretch.

We followed Route One until Grandvaux and then climbed 300 meters through the vineyards (2). Weather started to turn on us and our raingear came out. After about 30 minutes of drizzle and slow climbing, we made it to the town of Chexbres. Everyone appreciated the views of the lake, the Jacuzzi and sauna.
Day Four:

No rain that morning, but we knew it would come. From Chexbres we hooked up with Route 9 outside of Chatel-St-Denis. The hills between here and Gruyère offer great views and I was hoping that everyone would dawdle and take pictures of the church steeples and chalets, but the clouds were black and there was a west wind so no one cared to linger in the valley. I called Tim Anderson, our van driver and technical advisor to cancel our picnic in Gruyère and he reserved tables for lunch at the cheese museum. August can be a hot month, but on that day it was 60 degrees and with the light rain it felt even colder. We were glad to be sipping soup and eating hot plates of food.

Everyone was warmed up and ready to go by 1 O’clock. I was eager to show them the route between Gruyère and Montbovon: it’s stunning and there is a kind of prehistoric majesty in that valley. The clouds and rain, however, soon moved in. Most of the riders rode bravely ahead to Chateau d’Oex (3). The more rational put their bikes on the train at Montbovon. We arrived at our massive 18th century chalet at around 5 O’clock, took hot showers and sat at the bar trading war stories. Rarely do you find a day in August deserving a fondue and a log fire, but that evening was an exception and we enjoyed both (4) It rained all night.
Day Five:

It was still raining when we woke up and it would continue all day. I had a meeting with Tim and Frog (the other guides) and we decided that the group would not ride. We left the bikes at the chalet and proceeded to the train station and arranged for travel to Interlaken. We were told that there was flooding and there would be delays. Ten minutes later they announced that the flooding was severe and that there would be no trains to Interlaken from Chateau d’Oex. We would have to go to Montreux and then take the train to Berne to go to Interlaken. This meant four hours on the train, but it was the only solution if we intended to stay on course. Tim and Frog took the luggage to Interlaken and I took the group to Berne.

Strange, but Berne was warm and sunny. Still, it had rained all night and the low lying neighborhoods were flooded. We stood on a bridge high above watching water streaming out of second and third story windows in the houses below. We ate lunch and enjoyed the drier parts of Berne before getting back on the train to Interlaken. Tim and Frog picked us up at the train station: their nerves were a wreck. They told us how they had driven through flooded roads, past mudslides and over tree limbs. We had to get to our hotel in the small lakeside town of Bonigen very quickly because the roads were already covered by 10 inches of water. We made the best of things: unpacking bottles of wine and opening up our room for a party (5). Things turned more sober, however, as we turned on the television: there were numerous massive mudslides and flooding in the valleys of central Switzerland: homes were wiped away and lives lost. These were the same valleys that we were supposed to bike through in the days to come. There hadn’t been floods like this in central Switzerland for over 100 years.
Day Six:

We woke up to pounding on our door and megaphones in the street. Our guests were worried: our hotel was on the lake and water was starting to creep over the sidewalk into the front yard. We got up and took a short walk down the street: people were piling sandbags against their front doors and fishing their lawn ornaments from the lake, but otherwise everything was calm. Most of the other hotels in Bonigen were flooded and people began moving into ours (6) (7). We quickly resigned ourselves to spending another night in Bonigen.
Day Seven:

Central Switzerland was still flooded, but there was sun and the water was receding. Still, we didn’t have our bikes, they were in Chateau d’Oex. Even if we had had the bikes, Route 9 was full of water, mud and brambles for miles and miles. The reality was that we would lose another day of biking and everyone silently accepted this fact.

Leaving our hotel wasn’t easy. The Interlaken airport served as a temporary highway and we drove through water to get there. When we got to the Interlaken train station, we had to stand with a thousand other “tourist refugees”. Buses were loaded up and we were taken to a station where the tracks were NOT underwater. We spent the next four hours changing trains in various backwater towns before arriving in Rapperswil. At last, a beautiful unflooded city waiting to be explored (8). At 5 o’clock Tim and Frog arrived with the bikes and most of our guests quickly mounted their machines and took a short ride in the hills.
Day Eight:

It was sunny and we had our bikes: all seemed well. We spent the first 20 kilometers riding through fields on perfect paths. Somewhere near the Linnthkan River, our route disappeared: it was submerged under a foot or more of water at a culvert under the train tracks (9). We spent an hour exploring alternative routes, but they were all dead ends.

Anne, one of our more adventurous guests, had been on a bike trip through Costa Rica the year before and so gamely suggested going through the water. This seemed risky, not knowing what lie beneath, nor did we know what was beyond this flooded section. Still, there was no solution and we were very eager to continue biking, so we lifted our machines, muddied our shoes and continued on (10). Of course, that wasn’t the last of our problems: we did encounter more water, lots of mud, logs and flood debris (11).We finally make it to the picnic spot though (12), and the rest of the day went on without a problem. We ended our day at huge Swiss country-side auberge in Buchs and celebrated with an excellent 5-course meal.
Day Nine:

Our three-day break caused us to miss the most spectacular and difficult sections of the itinerary. The rest of the ride would be flat, giving us plenty of time for morning coffee breaks and afternoon beers (13), (14). Tim set up a beautiful picnic outside of Alstatten and we then continued on Route 9 along the Rhine and through a section of Austria. We eventually came out on Lake Constance and then headed west on Route 2 through Rorschach, finishing in Romanshorn where we stayed at a converted 14th century monastery overlooking the lake.
Day Ten:

We were not scheduled to bike on this day, but we finagled our schedule in order to fit in some more time on the saddle. We decided to shoot for Schaffhausen which was only a flat 50 kilometers down the road. Although an easy ride, this short path offers a lot: Lake Constance, the Rhein, forests, vineyards, medieval villages and brief moments in Germany (15).

We arrived in Schaffhausen at 3 O’clock to took the train back to Geneva for our last evening together. The bikes were muddy, but everyone happy.
Epilogue

Despite weather, everyone enjoyed the trip. In fact, three of our nine guests are coming back this summer. We can practically guarantee better weather and we’re getting some Swiss and French riders to join us. See www.bikeswitzerland.com to find out about the ride and see more pictures.
Bike Switzerland was created to help North Americans discover the culture and bike routes of Switzerland. When we launched our rides in 2004, everything ran as perfectly as a Swiss watch. The flooding in August of 2005 however, made our second year considerably more adventurous.
Bike Switzerland 2005, August 18 to 28th

Bike Switzerland was created to help North Americans discover the culture and bike routes of Switzerland. When we launched our rides in 2004, everything ran as perfectly as a Swiss watch. The flooding in August of 2005 however, made our second year considerably more adventurous.
Day One:

We picked up our nine cyclists at the Geneva airport. All of our riders were American and between the ages of 32 and 72. We spent the first nigh on our hotel’s terrace, drinking local wine and sharing stories.
Day Two:

We spent the morning going over our itinerary with the excellent “Suisse à Vélo” map books. We also went over Swiss signposting, the train system and our cell phone system. Afterwards we explored Geneva’s old town, had lunch and walked on to “Bike Passion” (Rue Masbou) to fit everyone.

Around 3 O’clock we broke into teams and went to Carouge (my neighborhood) for a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt, followed by well deserved beers at “La Plage” (Rue St. Joseph). The evening was spent at the United Nations private beach where the cyclists met the other guides, our local friends, had a swim and ate big duck steaks.
Day Three:

We packed our carry-ons into the van and were on the road by 8 a.m. (1)

It was Saturday and it seemed as though there was a different celebration in each town we passed through: a folk festival in St-Prex, a country music celebration outside Morges and a world class triathlon in Lausannexgood reasons to stop and stretch.

We followed Route One until Grandvaux and then climbed 300 meters through the vineyards (2). Weather started to turn on us and our raingear came out. After about 30 minutes of drizzle and slow climbing, we made it to the town of Chexbres. Everyone appreciated the views of the lake, the Jacuzzi and sauna.
Day Four:

No rain that morning, but we knew it would come. From Chexbres we hooked up with Route 9 outside of Chatel-St-Denis. The hills between here and Gruyère offer great views and I was hoping that everyone would dawdle and take pictures of the church steeples and chalets, but the clouds were black and there was a west wind so no one cared to linger in the valley. I called Tim Anderson, our van driver and technical advisor to cancel our picnic in Gruyère and he reserved tables for lunch at the cheese museum. August can be a hot month, but on that day it was 60 degrees and with the light rain it felt even colder. We were glad to be sipping soup and eating hot plates of food.

Everyone was warmed up and ready to go by 1 O’clock. I was eager to show them the route between Gruyère and Montbovon: it’s stunning and there is a kind of prehistoric majesty in that valley. The clouds and rain, however, soon moved in. Most of the riders rode bravely ahead to Chateau d’Oex (3). The more rational put their bikes on the train at Montbovon. We arrived at our massive 18th century chalet at around 5 O’clock, took hot showers and sat at the bar trading war stories. Rarely do you find a day in August deserving a fondue and a log fire, but that evening was an exception and we enjoyed both (4) It rained all night.
Day Five:

It was still raining when we woke up and it would continue all day. I had a meeting with Tim and Frog (the other guides) and we decided that the group would not ride. We left the bikes at the chalet and proceeded to the train station and arranged for travel to Interlaken. We were told that there was flooding and there would be delays. Ten minutes later they announced that the flooding was severe and that there would be no trains to Interlaken from Chateau d’Oex. We would have to go to Montreux and then take the train to Berne to go to Interlaken. This meant four hours on the train, but it was the only solution if we intended to stay on course. Tim and Frog took the luggage to Interlaken and I took the group to Berne.

Strange, but Berne was warm and sunny. Still, it had rained all night and the low lying neighborhoods were flooded. We stood on a bridge high above watching water streaming out of second and third story windows in the houses below. We ate lunch and enjoyed the drier parts of Berne before getting back on the train to Interlaken. Tim and Frog picked us up at the train station: their nerves were a wreck. They told us how they had driven through flooded roads, past mudslides and over tree limbs. We had to get to our hotel in the small lakeside town of Bonigen very quickly because the roads were already covered by 10 inches of water. We made the best of things: unpacking bottles of wine and opening up our room for a party (5). Things turned more sober, however, as we turned on the television: there were numerous massive mudslides and flooding in the valleys of central Switzerland: homes were wiped away and lives lost. These were the same valleys that we were supposed to bike through in the days to come. There hadn’t been floods like this in central Switzerland for over 100 years.
Day Six:

We woke up to pounding on our door and megaphones in the street. Our guests were worried: our hotel was on the lake and water was starting to creep over the sidewalk into the front yard. We got up and took a short walk down the street: people were piling sandbags against their front doors and fishing their lawn ornaments from the lake, but otherwise everything was calm. Most of the other hotels in Bonigen were flooded and people began moving into ours (6) (7). We quickly resigned ourselves to spending another night in Bonigen.
Day Seven:

Central Switzerland was still flooded, but there was sun and the water was receding. Still, we didn’t have our bikes, they were in Chateau d’Oex. Even if we had had the bikes, Route 9 was full of water, mud and brambles for miles and miles. The reality was that we would lose another day of biking and everyone silently accepted this fact.

Leaving our hotel wasn’t easy. The Interlaken airport served as a temporary highway and we drove through water to get there. When we got to the Interlaken train station, we had to stand with a thousand other “tourist refugees”. Buses were loaded up and we were taken to a station where the tracks were NOT underwater. We spent the next four hours changing trains in various backwater towns before arriving in Rapperswil. At last, a beautiful unflooded city waiting to be explored (8). At 5 o’clock Tim and Frog arrived with the bikes and most of our guests quickly mounted their machines and took a short ride in the hills.
Day Eight:

It was sunny and we had our bikes: all seemed well. We spent the first 20 kilometers riding through fields on perfect paths. Somewhere near the Linnthkan River, our route disappeared: it was submerged under a foot or more of water at a culvert under the train tracks (9). We spent an hour exploring alternative routes, but they were all dead ends.

Anne, one of our more adventurous guests, had been on a bike trip through Costa Rica the year before and so gamely suggested going through the water. This seemed risky, not knowing what lie beneath, nor did we know what was beyond this flooded section. Still, there was no solution and we were very eager to continue biking, so we lifted our machines, muddied our shoes and continued on (10). Of course, that wasn’t the last of our problems: we did encounter more water, lots of mud, logs and flood debris (11).We finally make it to the picnic spot though (12), and the rest of the day went on without a problem. We ended our day at huge Swiss country-side auberge in Buchs and celebrated with an excellent 5-course meal.
Day Nine:

Our three-day break caused us to miss the most spectacular and difficult sections of the itinerary. The rest of the ride would be flat, giving us plenty of time for morning coffee breaks and afternoon beers (13), (14). Tim set up a beautiful picnic outside of Alstatten and we then continued on Route 9 along the Rhine and through a section of Austria. We eventually came out on Lake Constance and then headed west on Route 2 through Rorschach, finishing in Romanshorn where we stayed at a converted 14th century monastery overlooking the lake.
Day Ten:

We were not scheduled to bike on this day, but we finagled our schedule in order to fit in some more time on the saddle. We decided to shoot for Schaffhausen which was only a flat 50 kilometers down the road. Although an easy ride, this short path offers a lot: Lake Constance, the Rhein, forests, vineyards, medieval villages and brief moments in Germany (15).

We arrived in Schaffhausen at 3 O’clock to took the train back to Geneva for our last evening together. The bikes were muddy, but everyone happy.
Epilogue

Despite weather, everyone enjoyed the trip. In fact, three of our nine guests are coming back this summer. We can practically guarantee better weather and we’re getting some Swiss and French riders to join us. See www.bikeswitzerland.com to find out about the ride and see more pictures.

Dieser Reisebericht liegt an:

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