Thursday, June 21, 2012

Starting to get a hang of it

That is what it feels like. Get up in the morning. Pack up the tent. Get on the bike and ride. We have already gone through northern Italy, straight through Switzerland over Swiss Alps and are now making our way up Germany.
It is kind of funny how things have changed. The first few days it was a bit of an effort to get going. A 10 hr day on the bike seemed pretty ridiculously long and hard. Now it almost feels natural in some kind of weird and twisted way. I actually look forward to getting back on the bike in the morning, despite aching knees, swollen eyes from all the bugs that apparently have made bets on who can make me blind, not to mention the blisters from my new ”office chair” (my saddle…)
If I was to pick one day that has been my favorite so far it would without a doubt have been the day we went over the Swiss Alps and through Saint Gotthard’s pass - absolutely amazing and a crazy workout.
Here’s to give you an idea of what it is about.  The actual pass is at an elevation of 2106m above sea level. It connects the northern German speaking part of Switzerland with the Italian speaking side bordering Italy. To facilitate traveling between the two regions a 17km tunnel was built through the pass in 1980. We went through it by car on the way down to Italy and it seriously felt like it took forever to go through. Apparently the tunnel even has its own radio stations to make sure people have something to listen to and prevent them from falling asleep while driving!
The point of me telling you that is to give you an idea of what we had to go OVER, because we could obviously not go through the tunnel with our bikes. Even if we could, what’s the fun in that?! Instead we had to ride over it which meant starting early in the town of Airolo on the Italian speaking side, ride with our bike trailers on a steep uphill of winding roads, switchback after switchback, for about 4 hrs straight. And to make things more fun, add cobblestone roads.  But, the scenery is absolutely stunning. It is beautiful already when you start and it only gets better the whole way up. When you reach the top of the pass you are surrounded by snow-covered mountains all around. The second reward you get is when it is time to go down the other side. I think we had almost 45 km of continuous downhill and I’m not even going to say how fast we got up to. It’s better to keep our families at home a little less worried. We ended the day in Altdorf with a great view from below of the mountains that we had just made friends with.
This was just one of the many good days so far. Tomorrow we continue our ride through Germany, which so far has been completely flat. That’s kind of nice but we do miss the mountains.
For more pictures of the ride so far you can also check out our Facebook page.
More soon,

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