The morning greeted us with low clouds and overcast skies but dry roads. After a good breakfast, in which Andreas (the owner of the hotel) and I discussed Jobst ("He comes here every year!" He says), we rode up to Schwarzwaldalp where the road becomes a postal bus road but permissable to local residents and cyclists. I warned everyone about the postal bus having right of way, and we proceeded up the beautiful pass road. It being cold and early in the morning, the usual sounds of icefall from Grosse Scheidegg were missing as we proceeded up the narrow winding road, only stopping to let the postal bus by.
As we neared the summit (1962m), I started to feel rain drops on my face and arms, but upon arrival discovered that while the area was cloudy there were many places in the clouds where the sun broke through, leading to one of the most beautiful views of Grindelwald (1034m) as well as the Eiger (3970m) I had ever seen. It is indeed true that bad weather for cycling makes for great photography.
When all had gathered and put on jackets, we started the fast and winding descent into Grindelwald. Once into town, we headed for a bike shop I had seen on prior visits, and Mike proceeded to outfit himself with a new saddle pack (a strange cantilevered contraption hooked to the seatpost), bike shorts, jerseys, and replacement tools. We ate another grocery store lunch as the rain came and went, and Japanese tourists (of which there were many) walked past us without comment.
I had missed the Lauterbrunnen valley the last few visits to the area, and wanted to visit it this time, so after we descended (during a respite from the rain) to the intersection on the road towards Wilderswil, we turned left uphill and climbed another 150m into Lauterbrunnen (795m). Lauterbrunnen valley has a reputation for being one of the prettiest valleys in the world, and it lived up to it once we were past the parking area and the train station, where I found a path banned to car traffic. From the entrance to the valley I spied a lovely waterfall, and when the road offered me an opportunity to stop and get off and walk up to it, I parked my bike, taking my only handlebar bag with me.
I expected the hiking trail to take me to a good view point of the fall, so when the top of the trail led to a tunnel I was more than a little puzzled. Another 5 minutes of walking led me behind the fall, however, leading to a view of the valley through the veil of falling water. I was delighted and captivated, but also under-dressed for the cold splash, so after a few minutes grinning and taking pictures walked back down. From there, we rode to the end of the valley, mostly on a bike-only path where there was a hiking/biking trail up to Murren. The valley looked gorgeous and I resolved to return with Lisa for a week or two of hiking.
The descend from Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken was fine until we reached the outskirts of town, where we encountered rush hour traffic, kids returning from school. We rode to the central meadow where the classic view of the Jungfrau (4158m) could be had in good weather, but not today, where the mountains were shrouded from view.
We stopped for ice cream across the street from the Interlaken Ost train station, where I asked my companions if they wanted to do the bike path or the main road to Brienz (a route I had never tried). Everyone voted for the bike path, so we headed along the lake towards Iseltwald. The traffic was extremely light and the lake surprisingly calm. The climbing started just before Iseltwald, and then becomes dirt when the motorway above us turned into the Chuebalm tunnel. At Giessbach, we came across, just after the "walk your bike for the next 150m" sign, a waterfall feeding into the Brienzersee. I had visited this same waterfall two times before, but this time finally saw that the hiking path leading from the bridge also went behind the waterfall, so we paid a walking visit before proceeding along the bike path into Unterbach and the Meiringen valley. As we rode along the Meiringen valley bike path, I got it into my head that we could stay at the Lammi restaurant, so my brother sped up. Mike and I drafted him through the valley, easing up only to take pictures. We started to feel raindrops, so the stakes for arriving at shelter seemed higher than usual.
There was construction along the road towards Lammi, but we were let through only with a short delay. Arrival at Lammi, however, found the hotel completely full. The proprietor pointed us at a B&B in the house on the hill behind the restuarant, but they only had room for 3. Disappointed, we descended to Innertkirchen, where we chose the Hotel Alpina, not a minute too soon, since while we were putting the bikes away in the shed across the street from the Hotel, the rain started coming down so hard it hurt to cross the street.
Dinner at the hotel was good, though unfortunately we were seated behind a bunch of loud Americans who smoked and talked loudly.