Day 21: Goschenen to Rickterswil (118km, 1937m)

Friday morning brought us beautiful sunshine and a clear blue sky, free of any clouds. From the front steps of the hotel, the glaciers of nearby mountains were so bright they looked like they should blind you momentarily when you looked at them.

From Goschenen, the 5km descent into Wassen (916m), which I had done twice before was both familiar and easy, and there we stopped to put on sunscreen and begin the climb. I took the time to ask Mike about the bill he paid this morning and discovered that we were overcharged by 50CHF. It was too late to do anything about it now, but it was nevertheless a sour note.

Sustens pass road is the canonical example of swiss road engineering. With a sustained, consistent grade of 8%, and a sweeping climb to the summit tunnel, the views gradually open up along the valley, and the sounds of cowbells accompany your ascent into what seems like the clouds. There are those who complain that Sustens is boring and depressing because you can see the pass from far away (18km), but I am not one of them. On the first nice day in a while, we were passed by many many cyclists, until we rode through the summit tunnel (2224m) and took pictures of ourselves against a snow bank as a backdrop.

Then the descent began. I don't have pictures of the Sustens descent because it is too important to enjoy the experience to spoil it with stops and pictures. Even my inadequate brakes were unable to spoil this jewel of the descent, requiring me to slow down more than usual through the tunnels and a few hairpins. The exhilarating descent takes you past glaciers, through tunnels where water drips down on you, past waterfalls whose spray cool you, and of course down to the Haslital where Inertkirchen greeted us. There, we stripped down again, and climbed up over the 3 hairpins of Kirchet (709m), where we stopped for lunch at Lammi.

I had had their home-made sausage 2 years ago at the Lammi restaurant, and the memory of the sausage had caused me to order sausage every so often on this tour, always resulting in disappointment. This time I ordered sausage with noodles, and was not disappointed.

Descending Kirchet into Meiringen, we headed towards the cliffs. Following the road through town, we picked up Swiss bike route number 9, which warned us of a 5km ride to climb 450m, and then turned promptly into a gravel and dirt route. The dirt was not too bad, and I didn't tear a tire this time, since we were climbing, but once it became pavement, the climb in the sun up to Hohfluh (1150m) became quite wearing. From there, we joined the main road down to the Brunig pass (1002m) where we descended to first the Lughensee (752m), Giswil (485m), and then Sarnen (471m) where we got weary of the traffic and got back onto the train to Zurich, reversing the journey we made so many days ago.

We got to the office in time for the Friday evening socializing, and then rode to Rickterswil from Zurich drafting Stefan in the sunny and warm afternoon.

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