Well I rolled into a campground last night after 6 p.m. so the reception was closed. Went and picked me out a spot, had a nice shower and charged all my electronics. Next morning I was up at 8am which is late for me and there still was no one at reception. I guess I could have skated out, but I didn’t want to mess with my karma, so waited 30 minutes until they opened up and gave paid. This is a campground chain I stayed at before so they already knew me when I gave them my last name and they said “Steven from Casper?”
As I was pulling out the campground and getting ready the turn onto the trail I heard someone behind me said “You are riding ICE.” Well the grammar wasn’t perfect, but I did understand exactly what the person was saying. Seems he also has an ICE recumbent and had bought it used from someone who had treated it like a first born child and saved quite a lot of money on it. We discussed all the usual reasons why people want to go to recumbents and he pretty much was more or less in line with my thinking and why I had given up upright bikes for recumbents. Funny thing he was riding in a standard bike. Like me he has found it difficult to transport them on public trains which he was using during his vacation. Remy as it turns out is his name commented on Swiss working hours and especially how easy the hours worked are for the Swiss Air Force. He said they only work from 8-12 and 2-6. If Switzerland is attacked outside those hours they must call the Italian army for help. I am sure this was a tongue in cheek comment about how no one works hard in Switzerland including national defense.
As I was pulling into this little town for lunch I got off my trike and lookef back and realised I no longer had a bath towel. I don’t know how it came out from underneath the bungee cords. I could have have sworn it was on extremely tight, but I won’t make that mistake again. I found a sporting goods store and picked up a really nice one about 3 times bigger than the one I had lost. Microfiber and thin enough it should dry overnight.
This is the second travel bath towel I have managed to lose, the first one was in Asia, and now this one here in Europe. I seem to be averaging about 1 travel towel lost for every 2000 km.
I stopped for lunch and the young waitress didn’t speak much English and we had a bit of communication problem. I was pointing at a list of drinks and she was doing her best to translate to English when I came to one where she said “cider”. I thought a cold cup of cider sounded good to me so I ordered some and strangely enough it came out in a large coffee cup. It was a hot day so I took a big drink and it kind of slapped me in the face as it turned out to be hard cider and very hard. Sort of tasted like beer made with apples. I ordered buckwheat cheese and ham crepe which was very good. As there was no one outside in the sitting area with me I decided to pull out the bass C flute and just started doing some improv. Another lady came in and sat down and ordered coffee and I looked over and I could see she was tapping her foot. After about 5 minutes when I took a break she came over and started speaking Swiss to me when I asked her if she could speak English and she switch to English but she was struggling. Turns out she’s about my age and this week she’s going up into the Alps to a retreat, it’s one of those places where you walk a steep hill for 3 hours and then you rest in what they call a rescue hut, but it looks more like a full-blown chalet to me from the picture she had on her phone. Turns out about 30 minutes later we still chatting when suddenly in walks a man who she jumps up and greets. It turns out to be her boyfriend. Seems that she had recorded some of my playing and sent him the file and he had come over to see the flute. She wanted to know if I was camping or staying at hostels to which I said camping every night. Seems that she and her boyfriend had been in Canada and were told by the camp ground manager there would be no problem with bears and not less than 10 minutes later two of them wandered into their camp. They had been told to picked up their hiking sticks and hold them up in the air make noises and of course because they were here to tell me the story the bears went away. After that we started telling silly jokes about how fast do you have to run to out run a bear? Of course everyone in Wyoming knows the answer, it is faster than your slowest friend which they found hilarious.
Today I rode down the Rhone valley for about 45 km with fantastic peaks on either side of me and the Rhone river running down valley. Think of riding along the Tetons only on both side of the road and running from Jackson to the South entrance of a Yellowstone. It must have been a massive glacier to have cut this valley with such sheer sides. There seems to be some sort of game of people trying to out do each other in seeing who can places a house higher up a cliff. I am still thinking about how some must have been built. Many of the homes seem to have no roads to them, yet one can see power lines to the houses so there must be some sort of roads. During the winter there must be no access to these houses other than helicopter, so I take it they are just rich folks summer homes.
Well it turned out I miscalculated my day and did not have enough time to get to the next campground. I did stop at one, but it was almost deserted. reception was closed and the restaurant was closed and they were not going to open up again today at least that’s what I thought I translated when I ran it through Google. There were a lot of open spaces, but I could not tell the if someone might be coming in later so after mulling around for about 25 to 30 minutes I decided to go down the road and realised there was no way I was going to make the next campground before dark. Well cracking down the bicycle path thinking about what to do I noticed a walking path down towards the river through some weeds. Rode down about 10 m made a right turn and found open space on the bank next to the Rhone river and that is where I wild camped for night. Laying down in the tent dictating this blog there was something outside rustling in the leaves near the tent which is most likely a mouse. Right now it is rather warm so I don’t know if I will need the sleeping bag or not tonight.
August 30 & 31
Definitely did not need a sleeping bag. If I had not been sleeping on a plastic air mattress I might have taken off my t-shirt. As it was getting dark I heard the bushes rustling and I looked to see this guy kind of walking down this little path that I am camp next to with his arms up in the air shaking them left and right, up and down. So of course I was thinking what kind of lunatic do I have coming my way, but he looked at me and just waved and turned off into the main trail and went away.
Even though I was right next to the River the next morning at 6:30 the tent had no dew on it. Nice to put away a dry tent
Found a coffee shop that said it was open at 6:30, so I rode 4 km off the route to go check it out. Had my usual morning tuna sandwich with vegetables and crossiant and a nice cup of coffee. Im getting cooked on espresso coffee, think I will have to invest in a machine when I get back to the States.
After breakfast I started a 12 km climb up into the grape vineyards in Lavaux. Not a different difficult climb but it was hot and it took awhile. Coming back down the GPS lead me astray. I was listening to it call-out turns left and right, but I noticed that the road was tappering down to a walking path. I came around a very sharp corner and because of that I had to do it very slowly and lucky for me the minute I could see I was looking at 10 steps going down at a 45-degree angle. So there I was on a path that was only 4 ft wide and had walls and both sides. Turning the trike around was a 10 minute ordeal. First I had to push it backwards about 5 ft to the turning point where I started the game of 100 point turn. Forward and backward, forward and backward I don’t know how many times and finally all I did was get jammed between the front boom in the back of the rack. At least it wasn’t going to roll down the hill. At this point I was so hot and sweaty I was almost tempted to turn the wheels down hill and let it go screaming down the vineyards and claim the insurance. I finally decided the only safe thing to do was get on the downhill side of the track grab the frame and drag the rear around the corner so I could move the boom forward. The reason I chose be on the downhill side is at least I could put my knee against the panniers and hold it from flipping and rolling backwards. If I was on the up outside it would probably get away from me. On grades greater than 5% where I am at an angle to the road the minute I get out the seat the trike wants to flip over on its side because it’s top heavy and this was the problem I was dealing with while I was trying to get it unjammed at the corner. So after grabbing a firm hold on the rear and dragging the rear tyre as I was pulling the truck sideways I finally got it turned around, but the path was too steep to ride up. So I got behind the trike and lean on my walking cane which is in the plastic tube and pushed. It turns out I don’t need my steering harness after all. All I have to do is lean against the top of the cane either left or right and the bike wheels torque steer in the direction I wanted to go. Push right it goes left in vice versa. I finally got down after a time. The roads were really steep and my brakes hot. I was a bit shaken so I do what I usually do when I’m like that,I stop and have something to eat. It turned out to be a cup of espresso and the best strawberry cream tart I’ve ever had.
Still trying to figure why people seem to think it’s not possible to put in a couple thousand km on a trike yet they don’t question the fact that someone on a regular bike does it. It must be the small 20 inch wheels and the fact that it sorry low to the ground. I had one guy look at me like he thought I might have been lying to him when I told him I went over Fukra pass on the trike. I don’t think Fukra pass is the hardest pass in the Alps, but it is definitely one of the big boys.
I was coming in to Lausanne when I decided to go see the big cathedral and yes you guessed it it’s on the highest point of the city. So I have Google maps giving me turn by turn instructions and down the road I’m going when suddenly I hit a barricade. A bunch of people standing around with a few policemen and I was thinking what is this a hostage situation? Didn’t take long to figure out what was going when 15 young men came screaming by on bicycles so close to each other they could share wheels. Don’t know what event is going on, but it’s going on for 3 days. So I am climbing this one long and steep street on the sidewalk because the road was closed for the races. Again I’m down in my lowest gear getting up the street at about 4 km per hour and here comes a bunch of these young bucks and the past me on the hill like I was in reverse.
Anyway I continue up this long grade of 2.5 km to the top of the hill only to arrive just in time to be told that they were closing for the day but I could come back tomorrow. I thought fast chance of me going down the hill coming back in the morning so I took some outside pictures and that’s when I ran into the Americans. They were from San Diego California and like many of the Europeans could not believe I was touring around on a recumbent with the tiny little wheels. One of the guys had left the States 25 years ago to live in Switzerland with his Swiss wife. He says he loves the quality of life here and every time he goes back to San Diego to see his dad it’s not more than a week before he wants to come back to Switzerland. We shoot the fecal matter for about 45 minutes and they were the ones to inform me about this campgroundp here because I mention with these races going on I thought I might have to ride 30 km out of town to find a camping site. It’s crowded here just like last night and the 6 young bucks next to me have been listening to rap music which they finally turned off and are chattering like Chipmunks even though it is past 9:30. There are quite a few older people here unlike the last night so I don’t think they’re going to be running about at 3 in the morning talking so loud it was difficult to sleep. I find it amazing that the people here will switch from French to English to German and back French and English several times in just a few minutes. I’m not sure why they do it, but they can with very little trouble.
Well it was a hard day with all the climbing but I don’t think I got more than 30 km in riding. 60% chance of rain tomorrow afternoon and a cold spell coming in. Not sure what the Swiss consider a cold spell for this time of year.
I apologize for not posting sooner but many things have happened that if kept me very busy and doing this on the cell phone is not the easiest thing to do, so I will just start up again like nothing has happened and we’ll go from here.
I’m riding out of town when I see a guy coming down the bike path on the same side of the road towards me. This is not unusual as many roads have bike paths on both sides of the road and they are bi-directional. I keep hearing the little Ding-a-Ling ding-a-ling warning everyone here including me uses as a polite warning to people who are not paying attention. I waved at him and he waves at me and I figure we have made acknowledgement yet I keep hearing the little bell. So I’m thinking this guy is just plain bell happy or maybe ding-a- ling in the head, until I look left and see a whole herd of sheep standing next to the bicycle path grazing and they’re the ones doing the ding a ling sounds as every last one of them is wearing a bell around its neck. I wonder if the guy approaching was thinking I was the ding-a-ling?
I am not more than 2 km inside of France yet no shop here will take a Swiss franc. This means a stop at a bank somewhere to exchange the 150 Swiss francs I have to euros as they are totally useless in France. If I can’t find a bank to accept the Swiss francs then I’ll withdraw money with my debit card.
Yesterday was a challenging day. Finding camping was a problem. I rode out to an area that was called camping on Google maps, but it turned out to be a public park of scrub trees and dirt. Clouds overhead were threatening a downpour and the last thing I wanted to do was wake up in the morning h to break camp Next camping was shown as being 23 km away so I as it was early in the afternoon I thought I would risk the rain and ride towards it. It should be noted that Google maps will send you on a path to hell if you’re not careful when using it. Well I was not careful and I did not notice that the last 5 km on the map had changed to this really thin line which usually means dirt or worse and of course it was worse. I have never ridden my trike down a rougher road and that includes all the kilometres in Vietnam. About 2 km from the campsite the road is in one or two conditions, loose gravel and large boulders or large chunks of old asphalt mixed in with loose gravel and large boulders. It is slightly uphill which means I’m down in my lowest gear fighting these rocks slipping the rear wheel here and there and sometimes just coming to a standstill until I can push backwards and find a different way to go. I finally hit asphalt again and by now my legs feel like spaghetti and I’m barely getting up the hill. When I get to the campground I’m sitting on the trike in front of reception trying to catch my breath and I look down and and noticed that my chain idler looks strange. Upon closer inspection I can see that it has broken the outer bearing and spilt all the balls out onto the ground most likely somewhere in the last 2 km. Well not much you can do on Sunday other than check-in, put up your tent and start thinking about what to do on Monday. I email ICE and wait for Monday morning to see what they have to say. In the meantime I take the idler of))lf the trike, clean up the maybe one good bearing and then with a strong flash light find out it is a standard 608RS bearing. This is the size of bearing used in larger wheel rollerblades.
Now a bit of diversion and a short discussion on on what it means to Google when you say “near me”. First and foremost the distance estimate they offer to you before you actually ask for directions is always always less than what it actually turns out to be calculated. I figured this is simple to understand in that Google must use a straight line estimate or as the bird flies from your present location to the shop. Also one has to be careful how you asked the question, campgrounds near me and camping near me often give different results. The issue which I can’t put my head around yet is what is the value used for “near me”? You can ask the question and find a shop 12 km away, start riding towards it, still be 10 km away and asked the same question in Google will show you a shop 2 km away which was still much nearer than when you asked the first question, but never showed up in the search. Now back to the issue of the idler with the bad bearing.
So I start some near me searches, bicycle shops, bicycle repair, rollerblade shops and everything comes up 10 to 12 km away. Now someone with my feet that’s a bit of a hike. So I’m sitting here in camp on a trike that I can’t ride two feet wondering what to do next.
I decided to begin a new search and this time I used sporting goods and damn if there isn’t one 1.5 km from the campgrounds. I give the shop a call top talk with someone who speaks English, but you could tell by the way they are responding to the questions they did not understand what I needed so it was time to pick up the old cane and take a little hike. I arrived at the shop at 9:15 in the morning and it doesn’t open until 9:30 so I sit down and have a coffee and begin contemplating what I might have to do if I can actually get my hands on a bearing. Finally the shop opens and I walk in and find a young man who speaks English showing my greasy bearing and he just shakes his head no. I asked if they sell rollerblades to which he responds yes and takes me over to the very limited display. So I’m standing in the isle contemplating if I should buy a pair of $80 rollerblade just so I can steal two bearings out of the six wheels with 3 dollars I’m just about ready to make this move when I look around this one pair of rollerblades hanging and I see one spare 100mm replacement wheel with two 608RS bearings mounted in it for €10. Yes those two bearings cost me 5 times more than if I just bought the bearings separately on the internet, but it was probably only 1 fifth the cost at having them overnight Expressed from England.
So back up the hill to the campground to remove the inner race from the damage bearing off the centre bolt which involved a small crescent, a large crescent, a spanner and a small amount of sacrificial blood, but it did come off. So now I’m sitting in the grass with the clean bolt, a large washer, a small washer and a rollerblade wheel with two bearings in it which I need to get out. I thought it was going to be a big hassle to do that, but they walked right out when I put a allen wrench in the centre and just wiggled them back and forth. I would have thought it much harder thinking them to be pressed in much tighter. So I slipped the new bearings into the old idler housing and attached the assembly to the trike. I sent a picture to Patrick telling him I think I got it sorted out to which you kindly replied not quite. Seems that the larger washer belongs inside the housing between the two bearings. This has me scratching my head as I’ve only taken the idler off once in the 10 years and I do not believe I ever remove the bearings and to the best of my knowledge this large washer has always been mounted on the outside. Patrick has never steered me wrong so I took it all apart put the big washer inside, put some loctite on the bolt and put it back on the trike and it did run smoother. Thank you Patrick.
So I’m laying in the tent patting myself on the back for having fixed the trike when suddenly I hear some meowing. Behind my head I can feel the mosquito netting moving. I turn over on the air mattress in I am face to face with Mr or Mrs Kitty. I get a few more polite meows and off it wanderded.
I am presently staying with the family that is a member of Trustroots. Think of it as a cross between warm showers and couch surfing. It is a group of people who want to get to know each other in a deeper way rather than just having somebody drop in for one day then leave. Quentin the man who accepted me for hosting said I could stay for one week or two as it didn’t matter is they had plenty of room in the loft. I opted for some nice expanse of greengrass, at my age I should sleep in the bathroom instead of the bedroom and getting up and down that loft didn’t seem all that practical to me. Quentin is a border in the house and practical member of the family.
As I understand it the house belongs to the mother and father of the married couple and their three children who live here. I don’t know if Quintin pays to live here or just helps with the constant ongoing renovation of the house. It has a loft over a garage with sleeping spaces in it that they keep open for people travelling and need a place to stay either short or long term such as me. Every morning I have breakfast with the family and dinner. The family seems to be about 95% vegetarian. They have a fair size garden which is more or less neglected since they are so busy with the house reconstruction yet it seems to produce a fair amount of squash, tomatoes and other common garden vegetables. They have a pear tree and apple tree and two fig trees.
I went on a picnic with them today and watched their son Arsene skateboarding in one of those concrete roller parks. He just flies on that board. I would have fallen off in the first half pipe and broke half the bones in my body.
When we got back to the house Quinton my host and I sat around and played music. He brought out his didgeridoo and his African drums and his panpipes and I noodled a long with my native American flute.
We had a nice vegetarian dinner composed of zucchini squash from the garden the biggest tomatoes I’ve ever seen in my life. These are known as heritage tomatoes. We also had rye bread and wheat bread and some othere bread made of spelt.
I have been camping out in the backyard of these folks for 2 days. All three of their children are homeschooled and they know three other families that do the same. I don’t have a clear understanding of how this functions but it would seem that the children have to be reviewed by the school board every 3 to 6 months and if they feel they are doing well enough they can continue in homeschooling but if they’re not then they must return to public school.
This couple makes their own rice milk. They said that they used to buy it but they were throwing away all kinds of cardboard cartons and they thought that was very wasteful so now they make their own every few days and bottle it in reusable glass bottles.
The family believes caffeine is not good for them so they brew chicory coffee every morning. It is the first time I have had pure chicory coffee and it’s tasty, but I still prefer coffee.
Quinton the man who invited me to stay here works odd jobs and deliberately only works half time so he can have more free time off to enjoy life. The family of five that stays in the house with him have a small truck in which they move from place to place within four different nearby towns selling pizzas. This morning they’re going to get up and do some prep work and mix dough for pizza crust. I’m going to learn how to make the dough that they make because they also it as a bread and I really enjoy the taste. Everything they use in their business is what they call bio and we would call organic.
Quentin sleeps in a tree during the warmer months. He built a tree house and everything is lashed together with rope and even has a rope ladder up to the platform because he did not want to drive nails into the tree.
I did the same thing one summer in California years ago where I lived in a hammock about 10 feet off the ground in a large old avocado tree, but I didn’t have the tree house, just the hammock.
The trip so far for the trike has been rather good. I have had only minor problems one which would have left me walking if I had not found the solution and that was the chain idler. There was one blown out back tyre where a German man who spoke no English pick me up in his Ford pickup and took me 10 km into the nearest bike shop. I also had to replace the cable and housing to the rear derailleur two days ago at a shop s it was getting very stiff to shift. They did a very good job of adjusting it for me after I put it in the trike.
The tent looks like it’s about 20 years old. It has never been so dirty and that includes many of my extended backpacking trips. It will require a lot of cleaning when I get home especially since many dirty birdies have been dive bombing my rain fly.
Well time to wrap up this one. as usual here are the links to the folder with other pictures and the folder with newer pictures and my present location in France.