Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Swiss

Today I caught the train from Florence to Beil, Switzerland. I had a hard time convincing the Italian travel agent that such a place existed when I was trying to book the tickets and as a result spent a very long trip going via Zurich and Milan.  On the upside I passed through the Alps and Swiss countryside which were such a contrast to the Italian summer.    It also made me worry a little.  I was nice and warm in the train carriage with my tshirt and thongs but the people outside were wearing heavy jumpers and boots.   Didn’t they realise that summer was on the way or was I wrong? 

oh yeah i was wrong!
Leah and Lionel, my sister and brother-in-law, have been showing me around their village, Tramelan.  So far I have been for a walk around the local nature reserve and lake and was once again an international traveller popping across the border into France. 

border control was on a break that day.
Strolling around 'the pond'
Lionel was able to loan a bike for me and took me on a mountain trail for a few hours.  Now the phrase 'mountain trial' combined with the fact that Tramelan is a good 1000m above sea level, surrounded by ski fields and is the township  is the lowest point in a very big valley should have been a bit of a give away as to the type of ride I was headed for.  
At this point the sensible thing to do would be to ask how big are the hills, what are the tracks like and possible weather conditions for the afternoon? Lionel speaks excellent English but I neglected to enquire about any of these (for the record he also failed to mention anything specific about the ride either). 

yeah, yeah, but where are the drop bars and can i ride it now?
it looked like trouble from the start.
I am very happy to say that I think I may have mastered those silly 'egg beater' gears and enjoyed the ascent once I calmed down and realised I wasn’t going to fall backwards off the road.
why don't you get the same feeling of vertical in a photo?

First off the ride was amazing; killer hills that went up for every, stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys and lots of cows with bells. After a few hours the weather turned very sour  as the temperature plummeted accompanied by thunder, lightening, rain and hail.  The downhill run could be best described as electrifying. 

see the sunny skies?  riding the plateau.
at the time i just thought it was a good pic of a bloody great fan and didn't pay any attention to the  background.

obviously worried that the cows will stalk the local bird life.

The ride was of course designed specifically like this so that I could fully enjoy all that Tramelan had to offer!

seeking refuge.

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