Day 18: Chur to Rickenbach (85km, 1320m)

My confidence was entirely misplaced, since I woke at 6:00am to the sound of heavy rain on the roof. My first inclination was to just sleep until the rain went away, but at 7:30 it was still raining, so there was nothing to do but to go to breakfast. Breakfast was very nice, with cereal, eggs, ham, yogurt all being options, something we did not usually get with hotels in Switzerland.

After breakfast, we visited the internet to check out the weather, and discovered to our horror that the St. Moritz area was cold --- 10 degrees centigrate for a high! I wasn't going there, I decided, and went about looking for some place warmer. Between the OCD guide, the weather forecast, and the Swiss train web-site, we quickly determined the Schwyz had the best chance of giving us good weather at a reasonable cost in both time and money. We rapidly packed, left the hotel, and rode to the train station where we arrived just 2 minutes before our train was scheduled to depart.

On the train, we met a woman who not only taught us how to interpret the train schedule, but also told us that it was actually snowing in the passes around St. Moritz, a fact that made us feel better about our decision. As the train rolled, we started seeing more and more blue sky. The temperature outside was still cold when we changed trains, however, but the hint of blue was reason to be hopeful. It turned out that the train station for Schwyz was really Seewyz. As we stood at the train station wondering if there was a tourist information center, we spotted a board which listed all the hotels, B&Bs, and guest houses in the area. Steve broke out his cell phone and began calling them one at a time, the closer ones first, but no luck. Finally we tried a 25 Swiss Franc per person per night B&B in Rickenbach, which was the furthest away, with significant climbing and the person on the other end said that it was available.

We ate a banana each and then proceeded up the hill, following directions to Schwyz, then Rickenbach. The climb was long, but the views got better as we got higher up the hill. That made me quite happy. When we got there and saw the room, we found that it was a suite with a kitchen/dining room, a bathroom, and a bedroom. The view from the window in the dining room looked down into the valley below look glorious and cinched the deal. We told her we would stay for 2 nights. The only problem was the lack of access to a store or restaurant of any sort, so we would have to buy food and cook.

We dropped our stuff in the room, repacked all our needs, and rode down into Schwyz (516m) to buy lunch. The only likely place sold a horrid ham sandwich that nevertheless for someone who needed calories was just palatable. After lunch, I decided we were going to ride Sattel pass and come back over Raten while visiting the Agepisee and the Zugersee lakes.

The weather cleared up just as we got onto the main road up to Sattel, which had lots of traffic and gentle grades but also a bike lane which helped make the main road tolerable. The long climb was OK, but even after the climb (932m), the descent was just as gentle and we didn't lose much elevation before we had to make a left turn onto Raten. From there, the climb was short (1080m) and when we hit the summit there wasn't even an altitude marker.

The descent was fast and cool, and we made good time until we hit the trafficked area at Oberageri, where we rode a long a littlel bit along the Agepisee. At a construction zone with traffic lights, we encountered a local cyclist. I told him of our intension to ride Pragel pass and then Klausen pass, and he advised doing Klausen pass first, since Pragel pass was a 20% grade from this side. The OCD, of course, had recommended going the other way. If I had to choose one source, I would definitely choose the OCD. From there, we descended to Zug (425m), where we rode along the Zugersee until we got to Arth, which had a gas station with a coop grocery store where we bought sausages, pasta, pasta sauce, bread and chocolate. We fit these into plastic bags, and the pasta sauce went into my third water bottle cage, and we proceeded to ride back up towards Sattel, turning off towards Steinen.

The entire ride took much longer than I thought, but I had food taken care of for the night, and so took it easy for the ride. We did forget to buy beer, and as we rode through Schwyz I told Steve to keep an eye open for a place to buy some. As a result, we looked more than a little lost, so a kindly local stopped us and asked if we could help. I wasn't inclined to go anywhere, so I asked Steve to follow him while I waited. After about 20 minutes Steve came back with beer, and we made it back up to Rickenbach with our stash.

While Steve took a shower, I started dinner. After Steve came out, we swapped places, and by the time I was done, he had it pretty much in hand. Dinner was delicious this time, since we had carefully chosen food that was hard to screw up on. We ate everything we made while admiring the view out our dining room window, drank a bottle of beer, and moved on to chocolate, a half bar each. We felt really stuffed at this point, but the view outside was so pretty that we felt compelled to take pictures outside.

When I tried to do laundry, I discovered that there wasn't any hot water left, so we heated some more water for laundry, and then cleaned up everything. We went to bed hopeful that tomorrow would bring more pleasant weather and with a full day without a load, we could definitely do some serious riding.

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