Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 1st: Rosenlaui

I'd originally planned to start the ride in Sarnen, ride up to Flueli-Ranft and Melchsee-Frutt and then hike over to Engstlenalp to get to Rosenlaui. This would have mirrored the 2007 Tour, which this tour was promised to do. Since that didn't turn out, but the day was supposed to be beautiful, I elected to do this ride backwards. This actually had several advantages:


  • We could do the ride unloaded.
  • The ride up the Gental was actually less steep and an easier climb than the climb to Melchsee-Frutt. It also promised less traffic.
  • The route-finding would be easier, since there aren't as many different trails from Englestalp as there are from Tannalp.
Balanced against this was that the descent from Tannalp would be much more challenging than the Gental descent, and that once in Sarnen, we would once again have to hop on a train or climb the Brunig pass to get back into the Meiringen valley.

I discovered after breakfast that I'd somehow lost one of my gloves yesterday, so I too, was going to be stuck buying gloves at exorbitant Swiss prices unless I recovered it. On the way down, I stopped by Hotel Zwirgi just in case I'd dropped it there the evening before, but no luck. We rode down to Lammi and turned right, heading to InnertKirchen, where we stopped at the intersection of the Grimsel and Sustens highways to use the restroom, fill up our water bottles, and then headed up the Sustens highway.

From Tour of the Alps 2014
The day was indeed gorgeous, and the climb up the Gental, while at 12%, was certainly much gentler than the climb up from Sarnen would be. Because it had been cold recently, the sun never warmed up the road very much, which meant that maximal effort riding still wouldn't over-heat you much, and water use was minimal. Nevertheless, by the end of the hanging valley, I was almost out of water, and it was time to put on sunscreen for the first time on the trip.

From Tour of the Alps 2014
We asked some descending cyclists if they saw water anywhere on the descent, and they said no, but that we weren't very far from the top. Nevertheless, they generously gave us some water, after which we climbed not more than 10m before we saw a water fountain, so we filled up our bottles and kept going. All through the trip Arturo would have trouble with post-buses, and once again, another one caught him just as he was climbing. We nevertheless all made it to the Hotel Engstlenalpl, where the bike path went on for about 50 meters before turning into a dirt trail. We rode on a little bit more, to the electrified cattle fence, undid the hook, and I immediately switched to running shoes for the hiking portion of the trip.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

To say that this route has haunted my memories since 2007 is an under-statement. The beauty of the surrounds, the excitement of doing a ridge crossing on foot while traversing terrain too difficult to ride, interrupted by gates, cattle fences, and steep climbs was overwhelming in 2007, and no less fun even when familiar, 7 years later. The joy of emerging into the Tannalp hostel fire road when done with the hiking portions is not to be under-stated.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

At the lake around Tannalp, we stopped for pictures. Arturo said, "Hey Piaw, I think I've been here before. I recognize that monstrosity!" There was a ginormous ski hotel that did look out of place. But after discussing it and pulling out a map, we realized that there was no way Arturo could have been here before. It's just that rich developers with bad taste all have similarly bad tastes, so one monstrous hotel looks very much like another.
From Tour of the Alps 2014
We stopped at the ski station, where there was a grocery store across the street and a water fountain. We ate at the same exact place 7 years ago, and had a passable supermarket lunch. The weather alternated between cool and cold, depending on whether the sun was behind clouds, and we ate quickly, put on everything we owned, and then started the descent down to Stockalp. The descent was steep enough that it made me glad that we didn't have to climb it this year. Past Stockalp, we found the bike path from 7 years ago, and then descended to Flueli-Ranft and then Sarnen just in time to see the train pull into the train station as I was trying to buy tickets.
From Tour of the Alps 2014
Doing the math, we realized that we would miss the last bus up to Rosenlaui by the time we got to Meiringen. That made getting rest more important than ever, so Hina and I ate ice cream while Arturo sat down and started posting photos onto Facebook. When I booked the lodging for Rosenlaui I did not anticipate that we would need to ride up the mountain 3 times on 3 days, but given that it would be unloaded I was unconcerned. Then I realized that Tuesday nights are the music nights at Rosenlaui, so we'd have to ride up to it in an hour to avoid missing the start. As a result, the ride up this last time would be a mad dash. Arturo said, "Do we have serious plans tomorrow?" "Well, the forecast is pretty awful, so I wouldn't be in a hurry." "That means I don't have to do any energy management, right?" "What? You've been holding back yourself?" "That means I'll see you folks at dinner after my shower," he smiled.
From Tour of the Alps 2014
We arrived in Meiringen and went back up the road towards Grosse Scheidegg. It was overcast and soon we could feel drops of rain on a day which otherwise had been perfectly dry. "You have got to be kidding me," yelled Arturo as he shifted into low gear and started up the road. Well, the ride back to Rosenlaui was a mad dash, but we all made it in time since the music event meant that dinner starts later than usual. We had an entertaining meal, and went to bed knowing that the next day wouldn't have any mad dashes in it.

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