Last week, I realised I did not write a post stage report on the second week of my Tour de Suisse 2019.
Well, here it is…
We moved our base camp from Silvaplana to Sedrun on Saturday – I had an intermediate stage planned, but decided to drop that and have a rest day instead.
Also during the second week, things didn’t go exactly as planned, plus the weather was really bad, most of the time.
I managed to cycle every pass I wanted, except the Nufenen, which was closed due to land slides.
I already knew beforehand that my road book was something I was most likely not going to stick to anyway, but I didn’t anticipate that a medical discomfort would be mostly responsible for that…
(For the details on the various passes, I refer to my earlier posts in which they are all described.)
Hoping the rest day would have helped me a bit and praying that the weather would not get any worse, I decided to tackle the Lukmanier first.
After all, as this climb starts in Disentis, it was close by, other than the Oberalp, at which our apartment was located.
I started in Disentis and not at home, saving 10 kilometers downhill.
The climb itself is not too difficult, which suited me just fine.
More annoying was the rain that started again about half way up, but it was not as bad as what I experienced during stage 4.
At the summit, there was an ‘ospizio’ and we had a break there, so I could warm up a little bit.
During the descend, just past the tunnel near the summit, Paula lost sight of me. I saw her (thinking she was) taking pictures, but she didn’t see me.
After a flying descend, I waited for her at the tunnel Mompé-Medel, but that took so long that I was about to call her, when she showed up, almost in tears.
Having missed me and not sighting me all the way down during a descend that was ‘fast’ enough, i.e. without hairpins, for a car to normally catch up with me, she feared the worst.
After she recovered, I went on to Disentis and took a left to have a shot at the Oberalp.
The part back to our apartment and in fact up to Dieni, was more or less a freebie.
After that, the more serious part of the Oberalp starts, with the best – hairpin – section starting just after Selva, the final 5 kilometers or so.
I made it to the summit without a lot of rain, but it was chilly there and during our break in the very crowded restaurant, it started to rain.
I therefor forfeited the descend, but the Edge was still running and recorded it.
So, I cut that part from the Strava upload, as I had picked up a KOM in the lower, flat bits 🙂
The PNI was steadily shrinking, so that was good – the back pain was mostly tolerable, but very discomforting.
I did not foresee any improvement over the next days and what was worse: the weather forecast looked like shit…
And sure enough, it was raining, thunder and lightning making it quite a spectacle. The sound of thunder is so much more impressive when it echoes between mountains…
As we were doing other stuff – I logged on to Netflix – I was keeping an eye on the forecast.
There seemed to be a window appearing after noon, in which it would not rain for an hour or so. We decided to do a recon of the Lai da Nalps, running past our front door.
This narrow and often degraded road, albeit not any worse than the Mortirolo, runs up to a dam at just over 1,900 meters.
The weather made it quite an experience, both going up and down, but if the weather would clear, I’d give it a shot.
It did and I did 🙂
Sadly, around 1.5 kilometers from the ‘summit’ – you can go on on a MTB or by foot, but the road just stops – Paula ran into road works and could not continue, as a truck was blocking the road.
We had seen this truck during our recon, when it was neatly parked off the road and wondered wtf an apparently abandoned truck was doing there, but now we knew…
Anyway, I cycled the remainder of the climb myself, looked around a bit and took some picture where the road ended and returned.
As it hadn’t started to rain again by the time we got back down, I cycled around a bit in the area around our apartment, until the rain started to pour down again…
This probably was the most quiet ride I had all during my Tour de Suisse and quite a scenic one too.
The ride was too short to cause any real problem(s), so I was curious what tomorrow would bring, if weather allowed…
Although it wasn’t raining but the view from the apartment looked grim, I looked at the forecast and was surprised to find it wasn’t going to be as bad as I feared.
So, we transferred to Wassen by car, to start with the Sustenpass – I would try and make a near round trip with that, the Grimsel from Innertkirchen and the Furka from Gletsch.
Obviously, by the time we arrived in Wassen, it started to pour down again and I cycled most of the Susten in the rain…
At the summit, I was soaked and chilled to the bone, on top of which there was no view at all.
Not a very good start, but after I changed gear and warmed up a bit in the restaurant, I was determined to go on.
The Susten is a formidable climb, so with that ‘in your legs’, the long end of the Grimsel is not very easy either.
It’s 10 kilometers longer, but thankfully, it features only some 50 D+ more, so the average is not as bad.
Down in the valley, the temperatures were okay, but once higher up, the Grimsel was probably even colder than the Susten and just as covered in clouds and mist.
Another change of cloths and a little reviving the numb limbs during a break later, I went down to Gletsch to tackle the Furka.
The views on both climbs were not as nice as during my Swiss Stage at the end of my Giro d’Italia 2015, but they were still impressive.
And probably because I was tired and the (back) pain was a spoiler, it seemed like the Furka was even colder than the Grimsel.
We arrived at the summit just in time – the restaurant was closing at 6 PM – to be allowed a coffee and a change of clothes, after which I descended to Realp, where I put the bike in the car.
This was probably the ‘Queen Stage’ of my Tour de Suisse and it was definitely epic. Mainly because of the weather, but also because of the course itself.
Even if it was just the Silver Tour of the Alpenbrevet…
Yes, to complete that, I would have needed to start and finish in Andermatt, but both from Andermatt to Wassen and from Realp to Andermatt, it’s downhill, so excuse me for skipping that.
I didn’t trust the forecast any further than I could see outside, but lo and behold, the weather was actually agreeable today. Dry even…
So, I decided to transfer to Wassen again, to tackle the Gotthard from there, including the renowned ‘Schöllenen Gorge‘ with the famous Teufelsbrücke (Devil’s Bridge).
That section of the climb is actually away from the main road, on a dedicated bicycle path, which was in a deplorable state in some parts.
After I rejoined Paula on the main road, I climbed the least interesting side of the Gotthard from Andermatt.
And boring it was, with a nasty head wind to make it even less attractive.
Regrettably, I decided to take the cobbled section, starting some 3 kilometers from the summit, which had seemed a lot shorter when I descended it back in 2015.
On the bright side, this time I (finally) found the official sign at the summit, which I had missed then, since I took the secondary road after passing the Guex memorial and passed it without ever seeing it.
(Note to self: you need to adapt the official Gotthard info page…)
Down in Airolo, I wanted to tackle the Nufenen, which was the last pass remaining on my list, except for tomorrow’s Klausenpas.
And… It was closed, due to land slides…
Well, I could always return the way I came and climb the Gotthard again, right?
Not so bad as a consolation prize, even if I had already done it, so I did…
It was as beautiful a climb as I remembered, even if it was harder to climb it.
And since I had not yet climbed the Oberalp from Andermatt, I decided to extend my trip with that.
But I was happy when I could finally put the bike in the car at the summit…
Having missed the Nufenen, I considered trying that today.
But, although there was info stating it would probably be open again, I couldn’t be sure and it would mean missing the Klausenpass.
Which was planned as an epilogue, as it was in the right direction towards our stopover for the night.
So, for once I stuck to the plan and tackled the Klausenpass from Altdorf.
I started just outside Schattdorf and under nice conditions, sunny even, I inched my way up.
As I had seen on the profile chart, I knew that the hard part was the second half, but I was still rapidly running out of power during those final 12 kilometers.
Once at the summit, I decided to do the sensible thing *** BOOM *** and call it a day.
I had planned to descend and climb back up the final 7 – 8 kilometers from the other end, but I was done.
And after the descend back to Unterschächen, my Tour de Suisse 2019 was done…