Saturday, September 27, 2008

Epic 3 Passes by Bike

Next morning, sunshine greeted me. I could see the snow at the tops of the peaks. Breakfast was a bun, butter and jam. Good thing I stocked up with fruit, yogurt and chocolate from the grocery store.

My bike route for the day, the epic 3-pass climb… Furkapass, Nufenenpass and Gothardpass. Should be about 3000m of climbing.

I stopped to borrow a bike pump at the local sports store. Adrian who helped me just happened to race with Rocky Mtn few years back and used to go to San Diego area to train. It was great to chat with him. He thought the route I planned was a good one.

Leaving my B&B with more clothes than I wore on the rainy cold Day 1 at Tour-Trans-Austria, I was prepared for a leisure comfortable ride. Within 10-km, I reached the start of Furkapass. Ultra-scenic as I snapped a lot of photos. The 900m climb seemed to fly by with the open exposure and views. At the top, I put on extra clothes and slowly descended the steep switchbacks. The views were outstanding and jaw-dropping to see where the heck they built the road into the steep mtnside. Reaching the bottom, the next pass climbed immediately from the village. Fortunately, I bypassed this one and kept descending into the lowlands. The scenery began to look Canada-like with many evergreen trees. After abit of flats in the warm sun, the next pass began Nufenenpass. This one seemed to linger as the scenery was not as spectacular and the road just climbed relentlessly. Approaching the top, I passed two guys from Germany on a training ride. They stopped for lunch at the top. I put on warm clothing and flew down a super long descent at a gradual grade. It went on and on until I hit the village where Gotthard pass began. From afar I could see the pass roads way up and was surprised that I’d be up there soon enough.

Gotthard pass, built in the early 1800’s was mostly a road of carefully laid cobblestones. As I began climbing, I was tired and wondered if I wanted to bump bump bump the whole way up on the cobblestones for 900m. With a few breaks of fresh pavement, I decided I must take this old road. The other option was the paved highway. The sun was out and I removed a lot of my extra clothes. It felt great to climb with less restrictive clothing. This pass flew by as it was ultra scenic with the twisty cobblestone road. A strong headwind made one direction super difficult and I looked forward to turning a corner to get the tailwind for abit. On and on, bump bump bump, I reached the top. Threw some warm clothes back on for the final 13 km descent to Andermatt. Fast gentle descent. I stopped by the sports store to let Adrian know how the ride went. He said my 5 ½ hours for the 100-km, 3000m elevation climb was pretty good. That was probably the longest 100k ride I’ve ever been on, though also most scenic and fun.

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