Wed 26th June.
I didn’t sleep well throughout the night due to the noise from the road nearby. After being awake for a few hours in the early morning, I decided I wasn’t getting back to sleep, so I packed and left.
The early start was good. I cycled through some Swiss villages and watched them spur to life in the early hours of the morning.
It was a strange feeling to come to a place I’d wanted to visit for so long. In my head I’d built up several myths about what was be like and when I got there the reality couldn’t help but disappoint.
Of course I was comparing it to a subconscious collection of images, stemming from its elite status in the design world. I was learning that–in someways–it was a country, fairly similar to its European neighbours.
Most of the morning was spent slowly going uphill, my body became accustomed to riding on flat, so it was a slow push up into the hills of Switzerland.
I kept moving, became often becoming tired and stopping to replenish myself with food. Given its expense, being here meant I had to rationalise, which was something I hadn’t done before. I normally shopped at Lidl so could stock up, not worrying about expense. Doing the same here wasn’t an option. I had to change my habits so I was eating when my body needed fuel and not when I felt like it.
I was burning around 4000-6000 calories every day when I was riding, from the sheer distance and weight of the bike (40kg-45kg). I didn’t have to worry about what I was eating (although healthy options were important), just that I was eating.
Eating had also become a major source of comfort and reward, creating a variation to break the monotonous routine of being alone and cycling.
I started to realise how important variety is in our lives, how sterile things become without it and how creating variety from day-to-day can improve our thoughts and happiness.
Switzerland was grinding me down. The lack of sleep, small amounts of food and hills were breaking my spirit. The thought of seeing my friend and having some time off was what kept me going.
I reached the top of the pass shortly after midday, the Col du Marchairuz was 1449m.
I descended into the town at the base of the lake and stopped to pick up something that had become an anchor in my routine, ice cream. Given that Maxibons were widely available in Switzerland, that’s what I was having.
When I came out of the shop and old man in a suit started talking to me in French. He asked if I came from the top, making hand gestures and sound effects suggesting the speed I’d come down and effort I’d put into getting up there. I kept nodding as he spoke and he looked back in disbelief when he studied the bike. He said he didn’t believe me and walked of speaking to himself in French. I felt proud that someone recognised the effort required in getting beyond a pass, unlike on the road through Andorra.
The Lac du Joux was another wonderful example of Switzerland’s ability to cultivate the most beautiful lakes I’d ever seen. I followed the road around the lake and at the end was another small town built on the lake. I took photos and took in the clear air. I called Luke and told him I’d be in Lausanne in a few hours.
I passed another Col on the way to Lausanne. Given that I was going downhill it was a nice surprise. After passing through woods that blocked my view, I suddenly came to a clearing where I could see for miles around, namely the downhill I had to look forward too. Between this point and Lausanne, there was roughly a 400m descent, so the rest of the ride was quick and easy.
I plotted the address Luke had given me and it didn’t take me long to find his place when I got there. Minutes after I arrived, Luke appeared on his bike helping me in with the bike and its luggage.
I began to relax, safe in the knowledge that I had a few days on a floor, without camping. A luxury of the highest order, I could let myself go and recuperate properly.