Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Conclusion and Thoughts

If the Tour of the German Speaking Alps last year was an example of everything going wrong, this year nearly everything went right.
  • We started a week later, and thus only had a couple of days of poor weather at the start.
  • We booked a hotel nearly next to the airport avoiding the possibility of losing luggage right from the beginning.
  • We scheduled the hiking at the start of the self-supported touring part of the trip, enabling us to ship our hiking stuff back to our airport, which enabled us to travel lighter and faster once we started riding.
Other notes:
  • I'm getting older. We only had a couple of days exceeding 100km and 2000m of climb. As I get older and slower my days of doing those 100km/2000m days back to back seem to be gone. Part of it is that Sleep Apnea forces me to carry more weight up and down the hills, but the other part of is that my recovery isn't what it used to be. Last year I could pretend that it was the tandem's fault. Not this year.
  • We actually did more cycling once we lost use of the car. The car enabled us to skip to "the good parts." The reality is, though, that cycle touring is about all the parts, not just the good parts.
  • This is my first year where I could do both the French side and the Italian side back-to-back. The result: no contest, the Italian/Swiss/Austrian Alps are way prettier than the French alps. People who only ride in France because that's where the Tour de France is don't know what they're missing.
  • If you're going to have rain for a week on the trip, having it at the end is much better than at the beginning. At the beginning you just lose shape and motivation. At the end, you're ready for a rest!
  • When coordinating with a car, make sure that you pick good locations to meet up. In particular, meeting in the center of strange towns is going to make your driver very antsy, as towns are harder to navigate than country side. It's far easier to arrange to meet at an intersection or a very small town.
  • Having a car was very nice: Phil said, "The car was totally worth the money!" We definitely had to thank XiaoQin for driving. A lot of the days would have been unmanageable or we would have had to take a less than optimal route when cycling. That said, I loved the unsupported part of the trip every bit as much, so I wouldn't go out of the way to get a car in Europe if everyone was up for riding every day (as was the case in the past).
  • Remove the plastic dust caps from valve stems before mounting bikes on cars!
  • We did our hiking in the St. Moritz Area instead of the Bernese Oberland this time. Compared to the Bernese Oberland, St. Moritz is less pretty, and not as interesting. It was worth doing once, but I don't think I'll revisit. Having now stayed at Wengen, Grindelwald,Lauterbrunnen, Rosenlaui, and Murren, I would recommend Murren for first time visitors and Rosenlaui for people who would like to get away from the Rick Steves/Lonely Planet crowd. Wengen is nice, but not as nice as Murren, and definitely not as nice as Rosenlaui.

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