Day 8 (22/08/2014): Santa Maria – La-Punt-Chamues-ch (132km/3,700m ascent/3 passes/drank 5.5 litres)

passes climbed:
Pass dal Fuorn/Ofenpass (2,149m); Flüelapass (2,383m); Albulapass (2,315m)

towns passed:
Zernez; Davos

Even if I’m definitely not going to be able to remember the name of today’s destination, the Swiss have a new admirer: besides impressive prices for food and accommodation that can easily compete with Scandinavia, I am totally amazed by this little country I know so little about. The landscape is impressive – but then that is the case in the other countries I’ve cycled through so far too. But everything seems to work, all seems quite relaxed but still highly professional, everything works and is thought through, and above all, the people I’ve been in touch with are so extremely friendly. Even road-men greet when I cycle past them. All of a sudden I get thumbs-up on my way up pass roads not only by the Dutch who tend to be the most supportive but also by Swiss motor-cyclists. And I could continue that list. The French have to fight hard if they still want to win the friendliness-price; the Austrians, Germans and Italians have lost it already.
But in order to not create a wrong picture: in general I’ve been very much impressed how friendly all of the people everywhere were on my trip so far – the Swiss have just perfectionised it.
Oh! And they have actual supermarkets along my route that in addition are open at 14:00! 😉

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on top of Pass dal Fuorn/Ofenpass – my first pass of the day

The other thing that felt particularly special on another great day: I reached the Inn river; this close to the source still called ‘En’ in the Swiss Engadin. Knowing that this “green river” with all its different places and personal stories to tell now that I kind of know it from the source, along many kilometres in Austria I’ve cycled next to it, via my home-town Rosenheim, all the way to the mouth into the Danube in Passau (another place close to me due to many, many visits there), well, as I said, it was a special moment for me to cross it today, cycle along it a few kilometres, and stay in a town now with the ‘En’ running through it.

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the river “En” in Zernez – changing its name further down into “Inn”

The observant reader will probably have realised the latest by now if not a lot earlier that I often don’t take the most direct approach to move forward towards Nice. Stelvio and Umbrail yesterday would have been a lot quicker to reach from Bolzano via Merano. The place where I’m staying today (ch-ch-u-ch-mu-ch-ch or something along that line – basically just before St. Moritz) would have been reachable directly from Zernez without the “detour” via Davos. And that list could be continued. But as mentioned before, this is not just about getting from Vienna to Nice, it’s actually in particular also about including as many high mountain passes as possible. And this makes a potentially 1,300km-tour with 2 passes a 2,200km-tour with 40 passes – and might explain things for the ones looking at a map and asking themselves why I’m cycling around in circles.

on my way up to, on top of, and down from Flüelapass – the highest pass of the day:

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As I’ve got the feeling that I complained about the weather too often: apart from a bit too much rain on the first two days and two days in between (which was mainly a pity because of all the great scenery I’ve been missing out), it is actually perfect cycling weather! I prefer these comparatively low temperatures this summer way more than usual August weather with 30+ degrees and a high risk of daily thunderstorms. So if it stays like this (ideally as sunny as it was during the past two days) I couldn’t be happier.

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just climbed Albulapass in the evening sun

And as I wrote about my bike’s performance yesterday, I briefly mention my own performance today: I’m actually quite happy that I’m feeling so well. Possibly the 4,000km of cycling this year before the start of the tour helped – even if that wasn’t particularly “planned out”. I simply cycled whenever I found the time to, but also didn’t for quite a while if I didn’t find the time. A proper training scheme certainly looks very much different. In any way, here I am, halfway into the trip, and my body doesn’t seem to be hoping for an end to all the cycling anytime soon. My thighs which did hurt quite a lot on the first three days either got used to the daily routine – or simply gave up complaining because they realised they don’t have an alternative anyway. Heart rate is fine. The only thing I’m “listening to” closely at the moment is my right calf and my knees. They might want a rest day sometime. But for the moment, all good.

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Well, and here I am, on most 1,700 metres, after another impressive three pass roads today. One would think it might become boring after a while, all this up and down. But quite the opposite: every ascent “tactically” might be similar, but the scenery is always different. You’ll find out when I upload all the photos of my real camera after the tour. Albulapass, e.g., had its attractiveness because of a railway line with many bridges and tunnels running parallel a long way up along and across the road I was riding on. This is actually part of the route the famous “Glacier Express” takes. And as it was comparably late already when I arrived on top (almost half past six – somehow it gets later every day), the evening sun put the scenery into wonderful colours.

985km/18,850m ascent/14 passes to go!

accurate route details (incl. GPS track):
Vienna-Nice Transalp – day 8 (Santa Maria – La-Punt-Chamues-ch)
Start date/time: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 9:12, distance (km): 132.10, elevation (ascent in m): 3,387

all photos of the day:

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