zaterdag 24 augustus 2013

GR2013 Day 3 & 4: Switzerland & Northern Italy


Day 3 set the record for speed, I think. After getting my gear packed up, it was that early that the gate of the camp site hadn't even opened when I piped up, eager to eat up the miles towards the country of cuckoo-clocks and bank accounts. I was up and about at...


And I suppose, when most of the Autobahn ahead of you is still the meaty, unlimited kind with extra gravy, then progress can be pretty quick. 


But don't let my manly talk of unlimited speed fool you, I hardly went above 120kph.


I guess I have soft side somewh... oh look, Switzerland!


That was quick.


Pretty quick indeed!


My stay for the night was a B&B somewhere in Rudolfstetten. I originally thought that was quite near Z├╝rich, but as it turned out (this is Switzerland, after all) there was a mountain inbetween.

This presented me with a problem. As everything in the Netherlands is flat, you're used to city plans working the same way: a left-right kind of thing. But in Switzerland, there's a third dimension too as they build everything on mountainsides. Heck, I must've gone past my street 5 times before I realised only pedestrians could enter it, and I had to approach it from the other side.

But after doing 5 million hill starts, a reverse on a 30% incline, ignoring two No Entry signs and a lie-down (turning too slowly on a hill), I'd made it! The Beast chose to enter Transformer-mode. I'll leave it to you whether it's the Citroen or Porsche.


The owners, frightened by the Beast's sorcery, gave it its own room with some wood to bite down on.


After all, they had a beautiful place...


 ...and they didn't want it get torn apart by the Beast due to the loud, unsedated surgery going on on its vulnerable left side. Yes, thanks to the lie-downs I thought it to be good to use my tooltube to remove the rack, and see whether I could get it to a garage to get it bent back.


But then I realised it was Sunday. Ack, time for bed then. It's funny how you lose track of what day it is on trips like this.


The next day, it was from Rudolfstetten to Chur, and then into Italy. It was this morning that not only did my extra sunguard on the visor (the sticker with the URL on it) prove its worth, but also the time the Endurance Demon reared its head.


Because the hardest part of an endurance tour is always the first couple of days. You have to get used to the rhythm, the strain, eating and sleeping enough, and the first days you tend to underestimate this.. so subsequently, the Demon will come to sink its teeth into your flesh, planting ideas in your brain that you've bitten off more than you can chew and you're never going to pull it off.


Last year in Britain, this happened at the end of the first day. Now, it had happened at the end of the third and start of the fourth. I felt exhausted, and morale sank. Outside Chur, I pulled over at a petrol station, and just let it go.


I gathered my thoughts, snatched a Switzerland sticker from the petrol station in question (score!) and pushed on - the only way I knew how to come out on top. And the views I got in return were nothing short of spectacular.


But boy, was I in for a terrorizing piece of road-design up next. Just take a look at what the sign below says.


8% downward incline, for 18 km. On a road with an 80km/h speedlimit and oncoming traffic and hairpins. And you know you can't use the brakes too much, because of the risk of overheating.

So it pretty much went like this for 18km:


"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.....


.........AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA....


.......AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA....


....AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA...


ooh nice gallery!


....AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.....


...AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA...

(I could smell the brakes by this point, even though I barely touched them and used low gearing instead)


...AAAH! Is it over?"


Yes, salvation at last!


Looking back to where I'd come from, there's this insane sense that I just descended 1000s of feet in a slightly too unsettling manner.


The Beast needed some rest, and so did I. I'll leave it up to you to guess what brand the stricken Austrian motorcycle in the background is.

I'll give a hint: it was a 2 year old machine, and the battery wouldn't hold a charge anymore. A disgrace in my opinion - you don't pay top dollar to be at the side of a foreign motorway.


Ack, modern humbug. 14 year old Bestiality ONELUV <3


See, it's already brought me to Italy! Me arriving in full gear and putting on the cooling vest got some strange looks, but by this time, I'd gotten used to it already.


Cruising by Lake Como...


Sorry I seem to have lost my train of thought.


Ah, there it is!


Lago d'Iseo, the next stop of the day!


Second sign of the day to pay careful attention to. Note how it says: "Campeggio Cantiere del Lago d'Iseo" with some nice international flags flying beside of it.

I guess it must be on the lakeside, like all of the others on this road, and it must be a real international camping!


But no. This was to become the hardest camping so far - insane heat, no wind, ground so tough there was no way you'd get the pegs in and, most depressing of all, if you walked toward the lake to cool down you'd be stopped by a fence. 

The only option for refreshment was a pool, which you could only enter if you were on a different part of the campsite.

Oh, and the staff only spoke Italian. Una notta, si. I would learn that campings like these only shelter two types of people: old locals who have been coming there for years, and ignorant fools like me. 

Also, the night had a surprise in store as well... but more about that tomorrow!