Riding the Rhine without a map | Day 4 – Schaffausen to Basel and the end of the Swiss section
Sunday, August 4, 2012
Since Chur I’ve been following Swiss National Cycle Route No. 2 – the ‘Rhein Route’. It’s not always the quickest route from point to point (as I discovered cycling from Chur to Rorschach) however it’s interesting, is always easy to follow the way markers, and follows the Rhine very closely.
First stop downriver today was just 4km into the route, at the Rhine Falls.
The 5 Swiss Francs is well worth paying for access to the view platforms, because you don’t get a clear view from anywhere on the bike trail.
It was very impressive but I had a long ride ahead of me so I didn’t hang around too long.
To reach the viewing areas the trail had gone up while the river went down, so the next few kilometres were spent on country roads with smooth tarmac and very few cars, sweeping up and down the rolling countryside making use of gravity as I returned to the waters edge.
The bike trail then delivered long sections of woodland trails, which gave a welcome break from the beating sun before a long uphill climb (though nothing on the scale of the alps) which eventually gave way to the best down hill section so far.
It wasn’t as fast as the descent from the Oberalp Pass, but the absence of switchback turns and far reaching views of the road ahead made it a lot more relaxing and comfortable.
On reaching the first set of distance marked signposts for the bike trail it soon became clear that today’s distance was going to be rather longer than the expected 103km. It was 128km to Basel.
I stopped for lunch after the first 60km and resolved on an additional tactical ice-cream stop in order to be able to make the extra distance.
The remainder of the ride continued in much the same vein as the morning, a huge variety of surfaces and scenery ranging from industrial estates to picturesque villages and views of the Rhine. There were plenty of gradients (of both types), but with every uphill delivering a corresponding downhill I didn’t mind that too much.
When I’ve needed water and there have been no shops to hand, I’ve occasionally been using the fountains that feed little water troughs in village centres. It was only today I noticed as sign informing me that the water troughs are only for dogs.
It made me think of the recumbent cyclist and of course I followed the chain of thought to its natural conclusion. From here onwards I resolved to only drink tap water and Evian.
128km makes for a long day, and I didn’t make it to Basel until 8pm looking forward to a couple of well earned cold drinks and my rest day tomorrow.
Elevation, quite a bit!
Time, 9hrs 40m total (8hrs 30m ride time)
Total distance covered, 427km (ave. 107km per day)
I enjoyed the riding on this day.
It was a bit longer than planned (again), but nothing went wrong and the cycling and scenery was interesting and varied. I got to Basel fairly late on and for the first time I decided to check into a Hostel rather than a hotel.
I thought it would be cheaper, but more than anything I was in desperate need of laundry and I anticipated being able to use the requisite facilities. Instead what I found was that it as almost as expensive for a single room, not terribly comfortable and the early check-out meant I never got the chance to use the facilities.
For about £25 more I checked into the rather plush D Hotel the following morning, which was better value by far. The concierge even tried helping me find a laundry, only to find that there was no chance at such short notice without an advance booking.
I suppose most people in Basel have a washing machine, so laundrettes might be thin on the ground – but I’ve never had to make an appointment to do laundry.
You live and learn.
I didn’t find an awful lot to do on my day off in Basel. I washed some clothes in the hotel sink, bought new suncream, aftersun etc. and then went for a pint in an Irish Bar.
It was the day of the Olympics that is now referred to as Super Saturday.
I sat down and started to watch the cycling in the velodrome, as team GB started winning gold after gold. I couldn’t stop myself crying, to the point where I had to leave the bar. It felt like a massive release of emotion that I’d been bottling up throughout the funeral and picnic in London.
I managed a couple more beers later that evening, but never dared watch the Olympics again.
It was all I saw of London 2012.