Monday, 26 August 2013

Our Euro Bike Tour Day 6 - 7

Thursday 22nd Aug.

41 miles Novaro - Bellinzona

Much better breakfast today. Loads of cheese, meat, bread, fruit, even scrambled egg and bacon (cold). Pasta was available too and the Bardiani guys were making good use of that. Cold un-sauced pasta for breakfast though, hmmmm, not sure about that.
We reluctantly set off after breakfast, both of us feeling like we could have gone back to bed but the road was beckoning. Again though it was outrageously hot and our first job was to deal with a series of uphil switchbacks. During the climb my GPS decided it might be good to try some off roading and we found ourselves attempting to ride a precipitous rough farm track. Some rapid deselecting of certain route choice options had us back on a sensible route with little harm done. After this initial steep climb over about three miles, the route settled in to a reasonably easy gentle climb. The main issue again was the heat. Our speed had dropped because of the gradient and as we had a slight tail wind we were cooking for most of the time. Italy spat us out in style though with a fantastic descent on very fast, long switchbacks. We reached our highest speed of the tour so far on that descent as we hit 48mph and dropped down to Lake Lugano and the border town of Ponte Tressa.
The rest of the ride Was relatively straight forward with a gentle climb but nothing too formidable and we were in the hotel at a nice reasonable three o-clock. Mind you the hotel was pretty rubbish and damned expensive too at 120 Swiss francs but that seemed to be the way in Switzerland, expensive.
 Anyway, it was a quaint little town with lots of old picturesque stuff to look at on our browse through the town. A nice looking restaurant caught our eye and we decided we'd eat there. Bad move, the food was awful, at least mine was. A yucky starter of aubergine, courgete, peppers and cheese on the most bitter lettuce I've ever eaten. That was followed by a bland pizza full of tasteless rubbery seafood and we were plagued by flies. All for the equivalent price of £31 each! Grief they know how to charge in Swizerland.

Friday  23 Aug  2013

37 mile miles Bellinzona - Airolo

My, the price of stuff in Swizerland continues to be outrageous. You can't really get a room for much under £100 and often that gets you a really rubbish one. The one we spent last night was pretty poor. Decor a la Bates Motel, even the breakfast was stingy. 
Still, the ride made up for it with lovely quiet roads and a constant but gentle uphill gradient, still damned hot though. In fact, the further we road the more I started to feel the Alps were toying with us, lulling us into a false sense of security and making us think we were going to just breeze through barely noticing them, hmmmmm. We got to around 20 miles in pretty good time and bought some lunch from a supermarket and sat and ate it on the path by the car park. After lunch though the character of the route changed dramatically as we started doing some proper ascent. Tandems really do not like climbing and we laboured slowly but steadily for the next 15 mile climbing some 3000' amid breathtaking scenery up to the village of Airolo, a pretty little outdoor activity village with tremendous mountain views.
It was curious as we were riding along the valley road. Looking up the mountains and seeing houses built up there. I mean, why would you build a house several thousand feet up a mountain accessible only by a tortuous mountain track that meant a major expedition just to by a baguette? Don't get it!
Airolo was to be our launching point for the crux of the entire journey, a long steep series of switchbacks taking us up to the tour high point of just under 7000' but that could wait for tomorrow.
For once the hotel was actually really nice albeit very expensive as usual but we had a private balcony with spectacular mountain views. We took a strol round the village looking for eating options before settling on some booty from the coop to supplement our meal in the hotel restaurant.
The meal turned out to be excellent, three course for the bargain price of about £18. Even the hitherto surly waitress managed to crack the odd smile or two, eventually.

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