Thursday, August 14, 2014

July 16th: Pontresina to Ramonsch

The sport hotel turned out to be the only hotel we found on the trip offering lactose free milk for breakfast! In a continent full of lactose-processing people, this was unusual and worthy of praise. I guess I know where to say from now on when I'm in the area with family!
From Tour of the Alps 2014
After breakfast, we picked up our bikes from a bike storage area that had gone from empty to full overnight. It was quite clear that the hotel filled up with cyclists, mostly mountain bikes for the area. From Pontresina, we descended down to the main road intersection, followed the signs to St. Moritz, and then climbed up the main road, eschewing the bike path because we knew the ride would be short. St. Moritz in the morning light looked pretty, but we had business elsewhere, so after a short ride around the lake we headed off to Silvaplana.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

Silvaplana was unexpectedly pretty, and I seemed to recall hiking in the area with Phil in 2011 from Corvatsch. From Silvaplana, the road climbs steeply and sharply and we soon found ourselves up high with nary a tree in sight.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

Despite it being mid-week, however, there was a surprising amount of traffic. The climb was over very quickly, Silvaplana being at around 1800m and Julierpass being around 2300m. However, the descent was painful: it was long, so had lots of flat sections, and was not very steep, so you weren't moving at the speed of traffic. Along with the traffic, that made for a dreadful combination. There was a scenic lake down the middle, but the rest of the ride was very forgettable. I wouldn't want to ride Julier pass again.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

At the bottom, we headed for the Tiefencastel train station to buy train tickets for Davos. The timetable we looked at indicated that the next train was at 11:47, but it wouldn't take bikes, so I went in expecting to be told to take the bus. The woman behind the counter, however, said that the information was wrong, and the train did have a bike wagon. We bought train tickets to Davos Platz, and while waiting for the train picked up lunch to eat on the train as well. We later surmised that the train only became the glacier express after going through the tunnels above Bergun, where we had been so many days before. Before that, it was a regular train and hence took bikes.

Once in Davos, we rode across the street to the huge Coop and there I bought a huge bottle of electrolytes. The directions said to use 3 scoops per bottle, but in reality 1.5 scoops were sufficient. It was a lot more bulky than the Nuun tablets we'd been carrying, but I'd run out and Arturo was close to running out. Nevertheless, with the forecasted hot weather, I didn't anticipate that we'd have problems using up all the electrolytes that we could carry.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

The climb up to Fluela pass was warm. We filled up all the water at the mountain bike just outside of Davos, and anticipated being able to get some en route, but did not actually spot any water until we reached the summit. I couldn't complain about the scenery, though. Fluela pass was pretty! At the summit there was a lake next to a hotel restaurant serving ice cream, so we did a quick ice cream stop and then a pass photo.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

The Fluela pass descent is highly technical, with lots of hairpins interrupted by long steep stretches that allowed you to reach terminal velocity. It was so pretty, however, that I had to stop to take pictures, not having ridden this pass and not knowing when I'd ever get a chance to return.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

At the bottom of the pass in Susch, we stopped for water, and then proceeded to head towards the Austrian border. The OCD guide had written that from the top of Bernina pass, there's a descent all the way to Landeck over 90-odd miles. Well, in the afternoon that's not quite right. There are several places with climbs, but the biggest factor was the headwind. It blew the fun out of our journey, and by 5:30pm, we gave up any hope of reaching the Austrian border when we found ourselves at a downhill and having to pedal. The next town we encountered was Ramosch, which had its entrance had a ton of hotel and B&B signs all pointing up hill.

It was a sheer sign of our desperation that we'd rather climb than to face riding into the headwind for another town. After riding into town with no tourist information other than a notice board, we visited a hotel that Arturo spotted which offered us a half-pension for 80CHF, which was as good a deal as you were ever going to get in Switzerland. We shared the hotel with a bunch of hikers (the owner said she rarely saw cyclists in this area, probably because of the climb from the main road). The fare was simple and not nearly filling enough, but a rainstorm blew by over dinner and granted us a beautiful double rainbow as we ate.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

Since we were close to the end of the tour and the weather was good, it made sense to plan the weekend and make reservations in advance so that we could ride longer. For Friday, we made reservations at the Hotel Posthaus in Urigen. A Jobst hotel I've unsuccessfully tried to stay at in the past, I figured I might as well rectify that on this trip. What to do after Sustens pass wasn't so easy. We eventually found a place at Reuti on booking.com, on the opposite side of the valley from Rosenlaui. I'd ridden through the area in 2007, but had never stayed there, so I was intrigued. The price was right so we booked it.

We went to bed knowing the next morning would bring some easy miles if this wind blew itself out.

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