Day 6: Chur to Zernez (88km, 2372m)

The morning brought us a realy good breakfast, and then set up our bikes. Roberto put on his new chain, but it appeared to not completely solve his chain skipping problem. I examined his bike and discovered that the deraileur cage itself was bent, which would account for some skipping. I replaced the batteries on my bike, and then asked Roberto about the price he had paid for our rooms. There was a discrepancy, so I went back to the hotel counter and discovered that someone had been carousing last night and managed to charge their drinks to our room. The receptionist apologetically gave us our money back and we were on our way.

The road immediately starts climbing steeply up the hill towards the ski resort of Lenzerheide (1473m), granting me my first view of Chur which did not have an overhanging storm. In the morning light, the city looked much more welcoming than in my prior two visits.

The ride along the road switched back a number of times and then settled into a steady grade, with a chilly but low tailwind. Once we made it over the pass, we put on everything we had brought with us and descended easily into Lenz (1314m), where I stopped at the tourist office to verify that the minor road on my map that indicated Albula pass would work for us.

I needn't have bothered, for here in Switzerland, even minor roads were signed and we descended into Brienz (not to be confused with the town by the lake of the same name), and then the Alvaeru valley (1032m), where we turned up the road and proceeded towards Albula pass (2314m). My brother was on the phone, so I told him that we would eat lunch at Bergun. The climb up to Bergun followed the rushing river and was quite pretty, though interrupted by early summer construction guarded by metering lights. Mike and I arrived at Bergun and proceeded to find a restaurant for lunch.

We got a table with a view of our bicycles and shortly Roberto showed up, and we ordered, not knowing how long my brother would take to show. At some point, Mike asked if he should wait outside to get my brother to come in, I said, "No, it's not necessary, Robeto found us, didn't he?" Of course, not 3 minutes later along came my brother, and he proceeded to ignore all our bicycles outside the restaurant and kept hammering up the hill. None of us gave chase. Instead, we had a leisurely lunch, and then proceeded slowly up the pass.

While Albula was unremarkable prior to the pass summit, once there, the area was nothing short of gorgeous. The weather at this point had improved dramatically, granting us puffy white clouds against a blue sky. Jagged mountain tops soared up towards that sky, and the sound of cowbells on cows around us was loud, and the view of the Zernez valley below was beautiful. After Mike arrived at the summit, he informed me that my brother had called him and was waiting for us at La Punt (1687m). I laughed and then descended the pass, stopping every so often to take pictures.

After being stopped at a rail line for an indeterminate time, I met my brother at the valley intersection, near a fountain. He had found a supermarket and ate while waiting for us. He had apparently missed my instructions about lunch at Bergun.

Shortly after that, everyone joined us, and we headed towards Zernez (1473m), powered by an amazing tailwind and a gentle downhill. This was easily the fastest 30km I had ridden on a tour. In Zernez, we found the tourist information office, which informed us that there was a hotel in the National Park at Il Fuorn(1794m) on the way to Ofenpass (2149m) for 120 CHF a night. In town, there was a hotel offering room for around 80 CHF a night. Roberto and my brother wanted to stay in town, while Mike and I wanted to stay higher. Roberto and my brother prevailed, so it was the railway hotel for us, and in retrospect we should have pushed hard to stay at Il Fuorn (it would have been worth the premium).

Dinner was at a diner in town, after which Stefan called and we worked out that it would be tough for him to join us for the coming weekend of riding in Italy, despite his desires to do so. Once in the alps, it appears that train services just don't work very well for getting you around rapidly.

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