Saturday, September 27, 2008

Riding on La Salève

On Wed, Mary, Nigel and I took a road trip to the community farm they participate with. Putting in a few hours a couple times a year gets them a weekly assortment of fresh veggies. Our duty was chopping the last of the basil leaves from the plant. Nice smelling job anyways.We then went into France to where Mary’s partner lives in a renovated farmhouse. The outside looked like an old stone barnhouse.The inside was very modern. On their land, there were a lot of apple and fruit trees. We picked some yummy apples and coaxed a few walnuts off their tree. I’d never picked walnuts before. Leaving there, I was off by bike. Mary sent me on some small roads which would get me onto the road up to the mountain standing behind Geneva called La Salève.

After a short descent, it was 900m of elevation before I hit the descent that would take me back to Switzerland. The climb was amazing and a pleasant 5% grade. I had views of France on my right and Switzerland hidden in the mist on my left. Riding the road in the forest was refreshing. At the top, a mist was hanging at that level and it was very cold. Once I hit the village of La Croisette (a couple houses and a restaurant!), the descent was quick - twisty windy and steep 12-18% grades. It would have been a tough climb. My hands were freezing and I was more cold than I had been in the Tour-Trans-Austria. I stopped once to warm up then continued down the steep descent. Getting closer to the bottom, the road still twisted thru residential areas. I crossed a main highway and could see the border crossing up ahead. (Photo - view of La Salève from Swiss border) I zipped thru to Switzerland and was still descending. A sign said Geneve 6 km away. I followed the signs and found my way to Mary’s apt without looking at the map. I made it just before darkness.

On to Andermatte...

Next morning, Mary dropped me off at the train station. I was off to Andermatt via Brig. Out of the blue, I saw Sandra who was off to Bern to visit some people she met on the train the other night. I had met Sandra for Pain Au Chocolat and tea near the fountain the prior day.The train ride was super scenic from Brig with sunshine and huge mtns on both sides of the valley. I was optimistic I’d have a good ride from Andermatt,. Arriving to Andermatt, I just left the train when a “hello Marg” greets me from an approaching car. Surprise… it was Ruth and her sister, her sister’s two kids, mom and Alex’s parents. Ruth and Alex are my friends whose wedding I'm headed to this weekend. They all just happen to be on a drive. We chatted briefly. I tugged my luggage to my B&B 200 m away. My B&B is very basic though good enough. It is right next to where the Oberalp train goes up a huge climb. I can see the train outside my window. It looks like a ride from Disneyland with the train called “Glacier Express”. The trains are quiet and don’t toot their horns like in Canada.

A fog and misty rain blew in.

I ended up reading my intriguing book “Three Cups of Tea” and taking lots of naps. The book is about mountaineer Greg Mortenson and his pursuit to build schools for girls in the small mtn areas of Pakistan delving into Taliban country. I’m enjoying how the story unfolds and his connections with people developing. He lived a hobo lifestyle and managed to pursue the Pakistan project with what little he had and a great vision. The book documents his pursuit before and immediately post-9/11 while he was still in Pakistan. Very interesting commentary.

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