I headed closer to the mountains… I saw buildings and meadows that look like something out of the Sound of Music.
My first glimpse of a snow-capped mountain near Lac Lucerne left me squealing withe excitement… The first and last time I had been through the Alps was on a school coach trip to Italy.
Rocked up to a campsite, and it starts to rain. I was concerned about money. The campsite costs £20 per pitch, but luckily i’d stocked up with German food from Aldi (discount supermarket)- wine (most important) and packet pasta. The campsite attendant kicked off because my tent was not aligned correctly, and my wheel encroached onto the next pitch by 10cm. I listened to Radio 5 Live Football streamed via wifi on my iphone, as England were playing in the European Cup and the prospect of watching it in a Swiss bar is gave me a financial hernia. I had food and wine so hey… I was going through the process of getting used to ones solitary company. This adjustment took awhile.
It started to rain, and get dark, so off to bed. I was hoping for some sun come the morning for a swim in the crystal clear lake. Woke to rain. I hate packing up wet tents :-( Settled my bill with little Miss Hitler at the campsite. Rode off with no plan of where I wanted to go, so got lost and ended up going through the Gottard tunnel twice. This I didn’t mind as it was dry and warm. However on the other side, it was fine and dry. I went round several passes in Switzerland
I found out that my bike would jitter and shudder at 1700m above sea level. Anything below or above this was fine. I experienced the bike labouring and slowing for the first time. I thought I was suffering, I overtook some poor chap on a Ural, he was nearly going backwards! Where I come from in the UK, the fens, is actually below sea level in some places, and the highest hill is about 200m. So this was all new to me.
The villages were so twee. I am so naïve, I thought cows having bells round their necks, was something from the olden days or cartoons. I’d never seen a Marmot before, these fellas were so cute! I spent ages sat at the side of the road watching them. Real life David Attenborough…
I rode in circles, went back on myself a few times, and was slowly headed towards Italy. At the service station, I was tempted by the stacks of Swiss Chocolate, but I had visions of melted chocolate in my topbox. I chose some cherry menthol fisherman’s Friends.. I savoured these so much, they lasted til Pakistan. I came up a road close to the Stelvio Pass. This one was metalled (gravel). My first time on a main gravelled road (most non sealed tracks i’d been on were mud or grass). I tried to steer my overloaded whale of a bike, when I came across two chaps on a ZX12R Kawasaki and a Yamaha R1. 180 horsepower, slick road tyres on loose gravel, through the woods on a steep hill, I could see the fear in their eyes!
I found my way to the very top, a sign welcomed me to Italy, and below me was the Stelvio Pass.