Berlin to Valencia by bike | week 2.

This is part two of my bike journal from Berlin to Valencia. Click here to read part one.

Day nine was an off day in Straßburg, just lazing and chilling in my friends garden.

Good bye selfie in Straßburg. Hard boiled snack eggs and coconut chips left overs for second breakfast helped me to go against the headwinds on the way to Basel.

Day 10, my friends moved on west while I wanted to go south to Basel. We said good bye quickly to not get too emotional. T knew something was up and didn’t manage to smile on our good bye selfie. It was an early start for all of us and I left Straßburg at 7:30 am. Strong headwinds but a nice asphalt lane along the Grand Canal d’Alsace. 100 km before midday, the last 30 took forever. A slow decent plus the headwinds up to Basel. Originally, I planed to stay with my cousin in Basel, but she broke her foot and went to stay with her parents in Germany. I chose to not overdo it and put a nights sleep between me and the mountains, so I checked in to the campground in Huningue at the border triangle in the early afternoon. Re-supply time! I cycled over to Weil am Rhein on the German side and stocked up on power bars (900g for 5 days!) and medication. I had an early dinner and somehow managed to kill time until bedtime. This not cycling till the evening is really not my thing, I had such itchy feet when it was bed time. But it was a hot day and I was dehydrated, so taking it easy was mandatory. Also, I had 5 days to get from Basel to Genova (300 km), more than enough to take it easy. A good training for my inpatient self.

Country triangle, Germany and Switzerland taken from France. Country triangle.

Bridge to Germany for some re-supplying.

Kanu training at the triangle.

Day 11 was the first day on the Swiss cycling route 7, the Jura route. It started lightly through Basel and its suburbs, I was almost disappointed by non existent hill climbs. But I did get three hills that day, among them the Col de la Croix (789m). In total I climbed 1010m that day. The day felt like a never ending border triangle, jumping back and forth between France and Switzerland with German signs as well on the French side. Just when getting into Saint-Ursanne I came across a woman with a flat tire. She said it was her second that day and she didn’t have any spare tube anymore. She had an electric bike with number plate and big tires so I couldn’t help her out with my spare racing tube. We tried to fix it together, turned out the patches she had didn’t stick and neither of us had glue. She took the bus to the next village with a shop and, since a thunderstorm came up, I decided to stay on the local campground. I really was not keen on challenging my luck again after the thunderstorm in Thüringen.

Second mountain but first official col. The air started to get crispy as I climbed higher and I highly appreciated my arm warmers: reused nylon stockings. Train bridge Saint-Ursanne.

Morning view, Saint-Ursanne camping.


Climbing the mountain behind Saint-Ursanne. Reminded me of …

Day 12 was cloudy with on and off rain, and when I came into La Chaux de Fonds it would have been wise to just stay there for the night in case another thunderstorm came up. But it was too big and too tight for me there. I felt overwhelmed and the thought of pitching my tent at not even 4 pm stressed me out. So I decided to keep moving. The best decision I could have made! Freedom on my bike, a long but windy ride through a beautiful valley and I just knew I would find something much better to sleep than in La Chaux. I did worry about my tent a bit, which I had to pack wet that morning and no sun all day to get it out to dry. But hey, it always works out when I follow my guts and so it did this time as well. Whilst having a road side snack, two women with panniers and flowers on their bikes cycled passed me. I caught up and we talked a bit. They were on their way to Nantes on the Atlantic coast. I asked them where they would sleep this night and they told me about a small music festival 25km ahead. Located in the village Môtiers, the L’Hors Tribu Festival is an annual tradition and this year held the 23rd time. The camping was cute, tucked in front of the forest and mountain behind the village, and the festival ground consisted of two music tents, one large food tent, a bar, two souvenir tents and an absinthe tent. Môtiers is famous for distilling absinthe, the village picture perfect with colourful houses and fountains in every block. My two new bike friends stayed at a family member and I got comfy at the camping. While pitching my tent, a single raising mom, her three kids and a friend of them arrived to put up their tent next to me. They were from France, and halfway putting up the tent the first Champaign bottle of beer was popped open and shared with me. After joint dinner snacks we went over to the festival area. To my joy the entry and camping were free that night, therefore more money for food and drinks. I saw Afra Kane live, met with the others, had proper dinner with my new cycling friends and finished the evening with a Zaperlipopette set. The party went on all night but my ear plugs kept most noise away from me.

On the way to Môtiers. Festival merch. Even the artists were camping. I heard them snore the next morning. Camping at the festival. Absinthe flavours. Peebella time! Grand chapiteau, one of the two stages. Afra Kane and band. German tea with wise words the next morning. Camping neighbors.

Day 13 was a late start. It had rained in the night and I wanted to wait till everything was dry. I had a nice morning with nice chats, tea and sun and started at noon. On my bike I soon noticed the clicking I had had on my third day in my back wheel again. I checked the spokes, noticed they were all still pretty loose compared to the front wheel and tightened them. But the wheel kept making strange sounds and I cycled very carefully and slowly. Since Vallorbe is an official night stop of the Jura tour, I figured there will be a bike shop. When I finally arrived at the tourist information it turned out it’s the only stage stop without any bike support. Bummed out and in worry of my bike I went to Migros, the Swiss supermarket of my childhood memories, and bought Swiss whipped cookies of my childhood memories and rainbow coloured hard boiled eggs. The campground was super chilled out and I was soon accompanied by J&J, a female couple from Bern. They cheered me up and I had my first evening on the tour with rainbow people. We had dinner and wine together, I learned new Swiss words (e.g. “grillieren”, like “to barbecue-ise” instead of “to barbecue”) and had a very good good nights sleep.

Gravel road and Swiss landscape. Beautiful view even in the rear mirror. One of the Gruyere cheese dairies. Vallorbe afternoon sun.

The next morning I decided to cycle to Nyon, instead of taking the train as suggested from the very friendly staff at the tourist information the day before. It was the last leg of the route 7, the apparently hardest pass at 1500m, and I really did not want to miss that. The ride was beautiful, the back wheel pretty quiet and I made it to Nyon in the early afternoon. At the bike shop I was informed, that on Saturdays no mechanics are working. They wouldn’t even give me two screws for my pedals which I somehow lost. It was a shop that sold +1000 CHF bikes and I had the feeling they were plainly too arrogant to deal with my 30 year old old school bike. Also, Nyon itself didn’t seem to be my beat, and so I decided to continue another 25 km to Geneva and take a day off there the next day. One of the women who brought me to Môtiers lives in Geneva and hooked me up with her roommate so that I could sleep in her room. It was okay to arrive a day early and I happily rolled into a crowded parish fair in Geneva. The city overwhelmed me, but this time in a good way. I was super excited to spend time in Geneva. As I came across one of my favourite carousels from my hometown fairy – the Breakdancer – I could not not go for a ride! Arriving at the house of my friend made me even happier. She lives in the servants track of Voltairs old home, shared with 15 other people. Two of her roommates welcomed me warmly. I had an awesome time with them and in Geneva. I met up with an old friend who lives in Zurich and will join me with her bike for the next two weeks. The plan is, to arrive in Barcelona on August 24th together. Tomorrow, on day 16, we will first visit CERN and then enter France and leave Switzerland behind us. Turns out to be a new country every week. Salut France and French cheese!

Lac de Joux. Train crossing romance. Lac de Joux. Window to the forest. Farm door with cow awards. Mobile milking station. Mountains make me happy. Picnicing on a hill. Bunker poetry along the Swiss and French border. Bunker. Blocked road but no surpass anywhere. So I pushed the bike for three kilometres next to the gravel. Beautiful valley like plateau on 1500m. Swiss landscape. Swiss landscape. Leaving Nyon and heading to Geneva. Lac Lèman. Spotting the break dancer coming into Geneva. Going out in Geneva. Going out in Geneva.

About Biking in Switzerland:

The route was the best signposted route I have ever cycled so far. All the way to Nyon I did not get lost once, nor needed my map for navigation. But the landscape was of such rediculous beauty I could not put my cell phone away which also functions as a camera. Also, the car drivers treated me as a cyclist very respectfully. Well, apart from the cities where there always seems to be war on the streets. The cycling infrastructure seems very well planned and taken care of and I happily pay tourist tax for that service.

Fast Facts:

Day 9: off day in Straßburg, 0 km

Day 10: Straßburg – Huningue, 131.08 km

Day 11: Huningue – Saint-Ursanne, 73.50 km

Day 12: Saint-Ursanne – Môtiers, 98.73 km

Day 13: Môtiers – Vallorbe, 56.59 km

Day 14: Vallorbe – Geneva, 99 km

Day 15: off day in Geneva, 0 km

As this is the blog entry for week 2, click here to read about week 1week 3 or week 4.