Friday, August 01, 2014

July 4th: Disentis to Filisur


From Tour of the Alps 2014
We woke up in the morning to discover that the forecast was indeed correct. By breakfast, while the valley Chur was situated in was dry and sunny, one look up towards Lukmanier pass and you could see that rain was already happening. This was a day to do long, flattish miles. We visited the monastery quickly after breakfast, and then took off down the main highway towards Ilanz, eschewing bike paths because those add needless climbs while the road is relatively traffic free and descents fast. Hina and I took turns pace-lining each other, which Arturo didn't take part in since he'd done no club riding prior to the tour and didn't have the confidence to stay close to another rider at speed. I made a note to rectify this later in the tour.
From Tour of the Alps 2014
We made a left turn to ride into Ilanz, where we followed the signs to Versam to get out of town after stopping at a grocery store to pick up some bananas and chocolate. The side road between Ilanz and Versams comes recommended by the OCD, and is actually part of the official bike path to Chur. It first takes you through small towns, but then becomes rural and takes you through a series of gorges. It's like getting to ride in a schlutz, except that the scale is big enough for roads and bicycles. What car traffic there is on the road is fairly trivial, and we had no problems riding side by side into tunnels, for instance.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

With that adventure out of the way, the road drops you along a terminal-velocity descent into Bonaduz, where we arrived just before the supermarket closed to have a supermarket lunch. From there, we could ride up to Thusis and then Tiefencastel, or we could head over to Chur to climb up to the ski resort of Lenzerheide. The map showed a distressing number of tunnels towards Thusis, though I should have remembered the bike path that Phil, Lisa and I used in 2010 from Thusis to Chur. Nonetheless, the Lenzerheide ride in 2007 was quite good, so I opted for the known good road.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

This was a mistake, because the Swiss, like many Europeans, have a much more balanced approach to work-life approach than Americans. This meant that despite it being 1:00pm by the time we started up the climb to Lenzerheide, there was already an active stream of cars traversing the road, weekend warriors escaping the city towards the Swiss National Parks. This added pressure to the ride which I didn't need, since Friday nights are already tough for finding lodging. By the time we made it up to Lenzerheide, our nerves were frazzled from too much traffic interaction, but strangely enough, the traffic died away quickly on the descent, indicating that most of the traffic was to the ski resort, and not to places beyond. At the intersection where we could turn away from Tiefencastel, we took the road towards the Albulapass, and dropped down to Alvaneu following the signs. It had clouded over during the climb, but rain was still restricted to small drops. There weren't any hotels in Alvaneu along the Albula highway, but a Tripadvisor search revealed some highly rated hotels in Filisur, which had a train station. That was attractive, since if the weather turned sour, the train station would make for a good bailout.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

Filisur turned out to be a pretty mountain town, but the best rated hotel turned out to be next to the train station which was unusually located at the highest elevation in town. The climb was fine, but we arrived just as rain drops started to pelt. Hina and Arturo noted that they were very close to 100km today, and chose to do a few loops around the train station parking lot to reach 100km. I declined to participate in gratituous riding, preferring to enjoy the little cottage the hotel gave us for the night as it was the only 3 person "room" they had available. The dinner was quite good, and we were pleased to have done so much riding and avoided the rain. The forecast the next day was mixed, but with the train station next to us, even pouring rain wouldn't be able to stop us from making progress.

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