Monday, May 30, 2016

Aarau - 47° 23' 32" N 08° 02' 36" E

Kilometre 0 - Leaving Bischoffsheim
After breakfast with the the Bouviers, we left their front door on our fully-laden bicycles, headed for the Bischoffsheim train station. The forecast had been for rain and the skies were delivering on their promise. Through the rain we went, refusing to let the drizzle dampen our spirits.   We were catching the 07:54 TGV to Basel, Switzerland to meet Gord and Jenny at the train station, jump on our bikes and begin the odyssey.  They met us as planned and, after a few bike adjustments, started towards Aarau and our beds for the night.

Gord and Jenny are all we could want in riding (and travelling) companions - positive, adventurous, talkative (helping the kilometres fly by), experienced and capable cycle tourists.  We are glad to have organized the trip with them.  This is going to be so much fun!

Town fountain in Aarau
Navigating the densely-populated European cities by bicycle would be a daunting challenge, were it not for an extensive network of bike paths that stretch from Amsterdam to the southern tips of Spain and Italy, as well as east and west across the continent. The trick is finding them from where you are in any given city. We did go 'round and 'round through Basel until we found and recognized the proper signage. Once we did, the going was great, cruising along the relatively flat riverside pathways. We left the city, cruising past schools, outlying suburbs and eventually farms.  Then we got the first of the hills.
Sixteen percent grades are not something that anyone should have to experience on a bike.  Super-powerful, multi-thousand horsepower locomotives AT THEIR BEST struggle greatly to climb ten percent grades.  We spent the middle part of the day grunting up roadways littered with the collapsed bodies of alpine-bred mountain goats that had ATTEMPTED the climbs we were currently endeavouring. We did, eventually, make it to the top of the 788 m high pass between Ormalingen and Rothenflue.  The road then took on a more gentle, roll.  We cycled along paths of fresh green hay, interspersed with wildflowers. As we wound our way along the rural road, we saw few cars despite going through many lovely villages.  The villages were beyond picturesque, with rough-hewn log beamed barns and houses built so close to the road (or maybe the road built so close to them) that you could run your hands along them as you went by. Cobbled, winding roads passed the village church as we made our way along the bike route (clearly and reassuringly signed at every corner and intersection of our 68 km ride).
Through the rolling hills

By 5 pm, we were in Aarau and were at our AirBnB for the night. Out for dinner and beer to reward ourselves, we ploughed through huge piles of pasta. We had a quick walk around the old part (inside the old town walls) of Aarau, and yes, it is quaint and scenic. A bit touristy, but fully functioning.

I'm looking forward to seeing how my legs do with a night's sleep and a fresh challenge tomorrow.




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