Monday, August 18, 2014

July 19th: Hotel Posthaus Urigen to Reuti

From Tour of the Alps 2014
Our bottle of hydration drink was down to so little that everything fit into a spare ziplock bag, so I discarded the plastic bottle. Today was the last day of hot sunshine expected anyway, and tomorrow would have no passes of note.

The morning presented us with a dilemna. The plan was to ride down to the Fluelen train station 12 miles away. The train left every hour on the 15th minute, and took 45 mintues to deliver us to Goschenen. Ideally, we'd want to start the Sustens climb not much later than 10:00am, but Hotel Posthaus Urigen doesn't serve breakfast till 8:00am. So we got ourselves all packed and ready to go at 7:55am, tapped our toes while breakfast was brought out, then scarf'd everything down and paid in 15 minutes.

Zipping down the remainder of Klausen pass was easy. The remaining descent had one retro grade you could take at full speed when you're fresh, and the descent kept you at terminal velocity until you got to Altdorf, famous for being the birthplace of William Tell. Being familiar with the road, we descended at speed and I led Arturo right to the train station, with an underground entrance across the street from the rail line. I'd previously ridden past that entrance several times without being able to locate it, but this time it was a cinch. We easily caught the 9:15am train despite having to run over to the ticket office because the automated machine rejected all our credit cards.

On the train ride to Goschenen (because the fast train does not service Wassen directly), we noticed that traffic was backed up all the way to Wassen on the main road and the freeway. We would only later discover this was the result of building the Gotthard Base Tunnel. This didn't matter very much to us because we'd be headed the other way, but at the exit to the train station at Goschenen I noted that the signs to Andermatt were crossed out, meaning that cyclists can no longer ride the main road up to Andermatt but must use either the train or the Grimsel and Furka route.

We descended to Wassen quickly. One of my big fears was that as a result of the back up, Sustens pass would see lots of traffic. That fear was realized, but fortunately, Sustens is actually built to handle that kind of traffic and it was a far less scary climb than I feared.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

By far the bigger problem was a lack of water on the climb and the increasing heat, which started at 85F at 10:00am, and went all the way up to 100F as we climbed the shadeless road. We started by begging from water at a house by the highway, and then about 2/3rds of the way through the climb, stopped at the Swiss automobile association shed which had a tap on the back to finish off the rest of the electrolyte in the ziplock bag and start dipping into the rest of Arturo's electrolyte pills.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

I was climbing strongly because I was extremely motivated by the desire to get to the Lammi restaurant before the kitchen closes. Arturo wasn't similarly motivated, and he doesn't do as well in the heat as I do, but we still made it to the summit tunnel before noon. I told Arturo that he could stop and take pictures on the descent, but not to take too long or I'd eat his sausage if I got too hungry.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

The descent of Sustens pass is a classic alpine descent with all the cliches tied together in one pretty package. You have glacier views, fast sweeping descents high above a valley, waterfalls coming out just above a tunnel, a series of short tunnels, hairpin turns, and even single lane areas, all packaged together into a descent that takes an hour to complete. It was fun to do in maximum flow without having to stop. I smiled to myself because the spectacular descent was guaranteed to have Arturo stopping at least 4-5 times. Once back into Innertkirchen, I climbed the 4 hairpin turns to the Lammi restuarant and arrived there at 1:45pm.
I asked if the kitchen was opened, and the proprietress looked at me and said, "For you, the kitchen is open all day!" She asked if I had a friend coming and I said yes, so I cooled my heels while waiting for Arturo to show up. When he showed up, she asked, "Isn't there a 3rd person?" "Yes, but she's in Paris." So the two of us had our sausages and then made a leisurely descent to Meiringen for the Sherlock Holmes museum.
The museum was very well done, and by the time we finished it was 5:00pm. We could ride the dirt road up to Reuti, or we could take the cable car. I remembered the dirt path being quite painful, which persuaded Arturo to suggest the cable car, which accepted half-tax cards and bicycles.
From Tour of the Alps 2014
The Hotel Reuti was indeed less than 50m from the cable car. It was ramshackle and run down, along with a scary sign saying they'd fumigated the place so it was bed-bug free earlier this year. We inspected for bed bugs and didn't find any, so settled in for the night. Arturo's friend, David was happy to put me up as well for one night in Zurich, so I was spared having to book a hotel. We were all done with tough passes, and could have a leisurely ride back to Zurich the next day, so the 8:00am breakfast time didn't bother us this time.

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