This is four hours long. I have not watched it yet. Hope it’s worthwhile, or entertaining at least:
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.
Present location in Switzerland.
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.
If anyone has any trouble accessing my Google drive let me know.
Need a trike? Want it customized? Here is one potential solution:
Trike Hobo Steve Greene visits the Performer Cycles website to see what they have to offer for 2019 in the way of recumbent tadpole tricycles:
Went to visit some ancient Roman ruins which consisted of an amphitheatre in very good shape and a museum. Could not get a decent picture of the amphitheatre as they were setting up a sound stage for an event in a few days. Decided to go to the museum as it was only 8€. I forgot to bring my lock and the cashier would not allow me to leave the trike out front where she might keep an eye on it. Getting to the museum was a bit of a trouble as it was half a kilometre of a hill so steep I could barely get up it even without the trike being loaded. Could not see riding all the way back down to the campground and then back up that hill again so I just asked for a refund and went on my way. Really don’t understand why they had to be such sticklers about the bicycle parked in front especially when I walked up to pay for the ticket with my cane. They were polite but they would not bend.
After riding back down to the campground I started a play my bass C flute and a young lady and a man walked up and started asking questions. After a short conversation they invited me over to the snack bar and bought me a drink. It turns out the lady was a Swiss social worker. She has climbed more than a few peaks in Switzerland with her boyfriend.
Last camp ground was very structured and very full of children. By structured I mean they even had marked out the area you were supposed to put your tent in with a chalk outline and it was like bric-a-brac houses the tents were so close together. It also seems for whatever reason about 25% of all the children there were unhappy campers. Not the best late afternoon in a campground I had experienced so far.
So I’m riding down a gravel road and I see a man and a lady approaching me. They stopped as I approached so I assumed they wanted to talk, and it is usually about the trike. I Idon’t know what it was about the man, but I just assumed he spoke English so I started right off in English. The first thing the man says is, what was it about me that made you think I spoke English? I told him the truth, I was just damn tired and forgot to even ask if he spoke English. Well it turns out he was English and his wife is German. We had a long talk about the trike and the benefits of riding one. I let him sit in the trike and he tried to stretch out to the pedals, but his legs were not long enough. He openly admitted that it seemed a lot more comfortable than sitting on a regular bicycle. I don’t know why more people don’t ride either recumbent trikes or bicycles if for no other reason just the comfort factor. It was pointed out to me by a sage man once that trying to get someone to give up their regular bike and move over to a recumbent is something like trying to get a Scotsman to wear pants.
Today was a long series of hill climbs one so steep I almost had to get off the trike and push, but I just get it over the top before my legs gave out.
Around 5 p.m. I was thinking about starting to look for a place to wild camp as I could not find any camp spots using Google that were every remotely close.
Met two ladies walking down the path that I was on. This time even being damn tired I had enough sense to politely ask if they spoke English to which both of them started chatting with me and in very good English. They were somewhat surprised to know that I had just cracked out 1400 kilometres on this trip. I was rather surprised when I looked at the trip meter also. I guess all that wondering about north France the Netherlands and Belgium added up. We will not go into great detail about the approximately 100 kilometres of being lost or similar trying to find a bicycle shop which were not related directly to the route.
Coming into camp tonight is a bit strange. It is located behind a big hotel which is up for sale and when I came in I could find no reception or anyone even interested in collecting money. I need to see what the place was like so I drove on in to find a very beautiful grassy field full of apple trees and one other group of people camping. I asked about the reception and they said not here tonight will come in the morning. Now here is where it starts getting strange.This looks like an ordinary man, his wife and an eight year old girl child. As I am playing my flute they drive their very nice black van away from the camping area down to the parking area. They then walk back and start breaking down camp, folding chairs and foldable tables and other things to carry to their van. They even unlocked their 3 bicycles and rolled them down to the van to lock them up next to the van. It should be noted as I was told by the cashier across the street at the convenience store that most of the people camping here are migrant fruit pickers. The fruit pickers are in the little cabins up at the other corner quite a distance away, I am the only camper in the tent area.
Now back to the couple of the black van. I am assuming they camped in the spot I saw them in Saturday and Sunday and no one ever came around looking for money. They may have talked with the migrant pickers who told them the owner was not here during the weekend and they decided to move to the parking area so they would not be charged for camping. What I don’t get it and makes absolutely no sense to me is why didn’t they just pack up everything and put it in the van while in the camp spot and then move the vehicle. I don’t know how many trips they made carrying things back-and-forth a distance of about 200 yards each time.
Not sure what to do about omorrow. When I rode I didn’t even see an office. plan B get up at the usual 6:30 and be on the road by 7:20.if there was even a dropbox I would leave €10 or something, but I can’t find a thing.
Raining cats and dogs again. lightning storm going on so bad it looks like a malfunctioning flash.
Think I finally ran my squeak down. It would appear to be a bad right pedal, but unfortunately most bicycle shops are closed Sunday and Monday so I’m going to have to listen to it squeak until sometime Tuesday.
274 km to Andermatt all more or less hills.
A micro burst just hit. Trying to blow the tent down. Laying on the wind side too keep the tent in place. Feels like small hail. Starting to get cold. Time to pull the new sleeping bag out of the compression sack. Getting difficult to write with the tent in my face. Hope a pole doesn’t break as this is rated only a three season tent. Yep got to get in the bag,
Yep temperature really dropped.
By for now. Wind stopped, but still chilly. All poles seem intact. More dry than wet.
Spent most of the morning looking for a new right pedal in Koblenz. Went from one shop to another and no one had anything that would work. Even found a recumbent shop and they were closed. The pedals are not real oddballs, but it doesn’t look like I’m going to find them here in Europe. Might just have to live with the squeak until I get home, that is if the needle bearings hold up.
I have got to take that yellow duck off the front of the trike and put him in a bag. Seems just his mere presence means that it’s going to rain everyday and everynight. I think I have a strong sense of what it must be like to live in either Washington or Oregon. So far the Ortlieb bags are holding up and everything which is supposed to stay dry is dry. Even the cheap Chinese knock off top bag is keeping everything dry. Tent is constantly damp as I never have time to dry it out if I’m going to get on the trail at a reasonable hour.
Almost rolled the trike today. Some guy on a bicycle not paying attention pulled right in front of me at an intersection and I had to make a hard right in order not to hit him. The right front wheel came off the ground as I went around him and I was hiked out on the right side of the seat to keep it balanced. I think I scared the rider of the other bicycle more than I did myself as I’ve done this before, both intentionally and unintentionally. The front wheels will usually hold the turn, but the rider has to be smart and quick to get out on the outside of the seat to keep from rolling. I have only rolled the trike twice before and both times were at speeds less than 2 miles an hour. Once was coming down a hill at a diagonal trying to not pick up too much speed and I misjudged the angle and rolled the trike right at the bottom. The other time was pulling up into an angle driveway in Thailand where the left thread wheel slipped off the ramp I rolled over like a turtle. I keep forgetting that the trike’s centre of gravity is rather high if I’m not sitting in it with my lead butt when it is fully loaded for touring. A few times I have parked it on slopes at slight angles and started to stand-up to have it want to roll over as I got off of it. Here’s an interesting little piece of information. I understand it is the law that a driver must open their door with the right hand in Holland. This means that they have turned towards the door and have some vision towards the left side and are looking at the rear view mirror as they are opening the door. This helps prevent people opening doors right in front of bicyclist. I have seen hundreds of people walking dogs and almost every last dog whether it’s a little Chihuahua or the biggest hound is on a leash. Yesterday a dog who was probably more afraid than aggressive started to take a lunge at me. His owner jerked it back so quickly I thought it was going to break the poochs neck. Must be some really tough laws in Europe about letting your dog bite people or even threaten people.
Rained most of the day and I was soaking wet by 3pm. I was getting badly chilled in a wind and needed to get some dry clothing on.
Found a three-sided born with irrigation pipe in it and enough room for the trike and for me to put up my tent. Just finished putting on a dry t-shirt and a dry riding jersey when a young boy pulled on up his bicycle and started speaking Swiss to me. It turns out this young boy’s name is Sedric. I told him I only spoke English and immediately switched English. He asked all the usual questions about the trike and I answered them. He wanted to know why I was staying at such an odd place and I told him I was severely chilled and needed to get warm and out of the rain. He then volunteerrd to ride a half kilometre in the rain to his house, make me some hot tea and bring it back in a thermos. I asked him if his dad knew what he was doing and he said “my father died 3 years ago when I was 10 from a lung tumor”. He then told me about the day he was called in to the principal’s office to be told that his father had died while he was at school. He said all the children cried with him including the tough guys. I played my flutes for him, while we discussed other things and then he said he had to go to make some phone calls to set up some kind of training day. He says he wants to be a landscaper. since he doesn’t plan to go to college. He has to look into what he wants to do for his apprenticeship.
I settled in for the night and it rained all night long, but the roof of the barn was watertight and the floor was dry.
The next morning I was riding into town to get some breakfast and halfway there Sedric was coming down the hill on his way to school with two croissants. I thanked him very much for the croissants and he was off to school. Sedric seemed very lonely to me, but maybe I was just reading to much into the incident.
So I am sitting at the market having just finished two croissants and drinking a small bottle of apple juice when an old lady comes up and starts speaking Swiss with me until I tell her I only speak English. She then says “You have good ride ok!” I had just gotten up and thrown my plastic bottles in the recycle bin and sat back down on the trike when she came out with two bread rolls and a bottle of chocolate milk. Didn’t have the heart to try to explain I was full, so I drank the chocolate milk and put the bread rolls in a bag to be eaten later in the day. She smiled sweetly at me and walked away.
Later in to the day I was riding down a bicycle path when I saw a lady leaning against a building next to her bicycle and she waved at me so I pulled up and asked her if she had problems. She said she had no problems, but she had never seen a trike. Turns out that she is from Holland and was going to Italy for a 2-week class in sculpting. She said she had taken up sculpting about a year ago. We rode together for the remainder of the afternoon chatting about this and that until we got to the town where I’m presently located. We had a light lunch together and she then went to the train station to buy some tickets to Italy and booked a room for the night. I rode off 1.5 kilometres to this campground.
Here is where I am
Tennisplatzweg. 7000 Chur. Switzerland
Links to my G Drive both the folder with older pictures and the newer.
Found a cafe which was open this morning at 6:30 which is rather unusual. It seems most places don’t open till 9am or later. I wanted get a breakfast sandwich and had no idea what the lady was saying to me as she spoke no English other than she said curry. Turns out it was a curry tuna sandwich. At first blush that doesn’t sound all that appealing, but it was really good. Good thing I was wearing a yellow jersey as I managed to drop some of it on my shirt and at least it didn’t show.
After breakfast the morning started out pretty easy kind of rolling up and down nothing serious no hard grades. I was beginning to think maybe I had read the profile wrong, but soon I hit the foothills of the first climb and that quickly changed my thinking.
This was one tough day, long hard climbs I could barely get up with my lowest gear. I got 57 km done today and it was all I could do to get to this campground. Ride tomorrow is 51 kilometres and three quarters of that will be one long hard climb. I figure I’ll be sleeping high somewhere near a pass tomorrow night. I’m washing and drying all my clothes tonight so that I’ll have everything clean tomorrow, so if I need to put on two pair of pants and 3 shirts and then get in my sleeping bag I will have a chance of staying warm.
While I was packing up this morning a Swiss man walked up and said I see you have Thai writing on the back of your tricycle. Seems that his wife died 12 years ago from COPD and he was tired of the cold winters so he moved to Thailand and bought a house on an island called Samui. He only returns to Switzerland for the summers and the very moment it even starts to get chilly according to him he’s off back to Thailand.
I stopped for breakfast this morning at a little food shop and got to chatting with the gal that was running the register. Her English was very good, but there was something strange about the way she was speaking it until I realized it sounded like she might have to learned English in the states. It turns out I was right and she was raised the first 12 years of her life in San Diego and then return to Switzerland when her father’s work brought him home.
She told me that 1.5 km out of town the asphalt would turn to a double track rocky road again. Well I have done many kilometers on such roads but she didn’t mention how rocky it was and how steep it was. I was unable to maintain traction on the drive wheel so I had to get off and push the trike up about 450m and as it has been since the start of this trip suddenly this nasty road turns back into smooth asphalt.
About 10 km farther down the road suddenly I am faced with a large earthmover digging a hole in the middle of the road. It is plain he is not going to move the equipment so I have to jump over the side off into the grass. I am hiked out on the left side of the bike seat trying to keep it from rolling down the side of this grassy hill and get around this mess and then proceed back down the hill to the Rhine River. I am pumping my way up this steep asphalt road when the phone suddenly says that I’m to make a hard left turn which turns out to be again nothing but loose gravel and rock. Checked and double-checked the map by moving forward so the GPS will show me which direction I’m going. I try going down the hill and everything else, but no matter what I do it says you got to go up this hill. So once again I’m in my lowest gear, dear old grandma and up this hill I go spinning the rear tire here and there and finally I reached the top next to some old barn to look down the trail to see it narrowing down to something that is so narrow that even a person on a bicycle with bags would not be able to proceed. I noticed that at the end of the trail where it’s sort of just drops off for feet onto a new road is the same road I had seen down at the bottom, but had not taken because the routing did not show it as being the correct direction. I turn the track around on this narrow little path and headed back down this rocky road slipping and sliding all the way down and turn it back up the road which I had passed up before. There was a man coming down this road on his bicycle who stopped me and said 200 meters up the road is a big bulldozer sitting in the middle of the road with a guy on it saying you can’t go any farther because this section of the trail is being fixed. By this time I’ve wasted about an hour and a half and had not gone more than 800 meters. So I’m sitting in the shade looking at the route that is set up buy Komoot mapping and finally decided that the only way I’m going to get anywhere to take a larger road in parallel up on the hill which you guessed it means more climbing. It turns out it is not a bad road and just enough safety margin so that I can get into town without being run over by a cement truck.
Before proceeding out of town I decided it was time to get some cash. Took out my debit card put it in an ATM and the damn thing swallowed it. Well it seems that folks here in Switzerland and many parts of Europe take an hour-and-a-half for lunch and they had just left at 12:30 they would not be back until 2 p.m. I hung around, drink some water out of the fountain which is okay because that’s what it’s there for, play the flute, wait for them to open the bank . I also spent 60 minutes of frustration trying to call the international helpline for a MasterCard to see what was going on. I could never make a connection no matter what number format I used. Finally the bank opens so I go inside. There’s a nice young lady and she tries to help me out and tries to call the same number that’s listed on the internet and can’t get a connection. After trying for about 45 minutes we decide that it’s a lost cause and I will never know why the card was cancelled other than it was the first time I tried to use it in Switzerland and maybe when I called before my trip I forgot to mention Switzerland as one of the countries I was going to visit and the bank figured somebody else was trying to use it. My real problem is if that’s the case and I can’t get ahold of them then I can’t tell them I’m in Switzerland and if I try to use my credit card in an ATM it’s likely to be shut down also. I just can’t figure out why the emergency phone number posted by MasterCard for people overseas will not work nor can I dial their normal 800 number which from what I read on the internet maybe because they block international calls to keep their costs down. So the end result is I can’t use their 800 number, I can’t use their emergency number if you’re outside of the United States and so far there doesn’t seem to be any way to contact them via email that I can find. So by the time this is done I decide that I’m not going to be able to figure out what’s wrong with the card and I just exchanged 500 US dollars for some Swiss francs.
I decided to step into a pharmacy and get some medication I need only to find out they don’t have it, but are willing to have it for me by 8 a.m. the next morning. If I wasn’t being led down the garden path by the pharmacist then the next available pharmacy was nearly 80 km away. I therefore tell him to order the medication and I will come and get it in the morning.
By now it is almost 4 p.m. and I have must decide between a campground only 1.8 km away or 20 km away. Considering both campgrounds would cause me to double back to pick up my medication I choose the one 1.8 km away, which also happened to be down a very steep road and 450 vertical meters, which I am required to pedal my way back up in the morning to get my medication. So tomorrow I have to climb almost 1,480 ft up a road that’s around 10% grade. I figure it’ll take at least an hour with my load and legs. Only good part of the whole thing is I’ll be doing it at 7 a.m. in the morning so it should still be cool.
Oh and to put a little cherry on on top of my day it just started raining.
Now everyone that meets me says where you going, to which I say Andermatt, to which they say on that thing? I’m hoping they’re not right in their skepticism. Fortunately every one of them is quick to remind me all I have to do is jump on the red train. I came here to test my metal and I’m going to do my damnjest to get up to the top of Oberalppas which is only 6,700 feet. In Yellowstone Park I got over a pass at 9,200 feet with very little problems, but the park tends to build their roads with reasonable grades. I’ve had a few people tell me jokingly that the Swiss make the grade of the road much steeper than average just so they can save asphalt and test their turbo chargers. I don’t care how many switchbacks I have to do as long as the grade is 4% or less I can ride that all day long. A grade of 8% with the load I’m carrying is doable but it’s slow and anything greater than that is really putting some strain on my knees. Once I make Andermatt I will have reached my goal and I will take the red train over the pass which is 385m or 1260 higher and have them drop me off at the top where I will more or less coast down into lake Geneva. It should be noted that many people have asked me why I have not put an electric motor on my trike and I have to ask myself that many times every day as I’m struggling up these steep roads.
Well enough for today and here is a link to the newest pictures in the folder “newest”.
Believe it or not I got free coffee and croissants this morning. It was about 15 minutes before the coffee shop usually opened, but the waitress was putting out chairs and she’s served me early. After finishing coffee there was no one around so I pulled out the flute and started playing for about 15 minutes waiting for the pharmacy to open. When I asked for the check the waitress came over and said the music was very nice and your coffee and croissants are free. I don’t know if it was her decision or the manager who I caught now and then looking out the door and watching me as I played. Nice!
St arted the climb out of Disentis 8:30 am and reached the summit of Oberalppass at 2 pm. I was in my lowest gear 85% of the time. On the way up other riders passing me or coming down the hill would give me the thumbs up. Someone shouted at me in what I believe was German, 2.3 km Oberalppass. I figured that meant 2.3 km to the summit. It was the encouragement I needed to get to the summit and the fact that there was absolutely no where to wild camp if I could not make it in one day.
Coming down the other side I had to watch my speed as the grade was steep and the trike was getting squirrelly over 45 miles an hour with my load on the back.
I don’t think I have the legs to get over Furka pass. It is 200 meters higher and my routing software shows 6 places in the 20 km to to the top of the pass having grades of 15%. I’m thinking about taking the afternoon bus to the summit and riding down the 384 kilometres to Grenoble.
The elevation profile shows it’s mostly downhill from the top of Furka pass to Grenoble. I figure I can do that in 4 easy days or 5 slow ones.
Well I guess tonight I’m going to see if the temperatures will get down as low as everyone has been telling me in Andermatt.
When I arrived in Andermatt there was some sort of bicycle rally going on. Must have easily been a thousand people here of which 95 % have already gotten in there cars and gone home. The campground was wall the wall tents, but now it is kind of deserted.
Yes it turns out that the nights were quite cold in Andermatt.
Mulled around the idea of taking a bus or train partway or just riding over Fukra pass.
Around 11:30 a.m. about 3 hours later than I should be leaving I decided I was going to go ahead and just ride up the pass.
First 7 kilometres were easy and misleading. The grade just started gradually getting steeper. Still not much worse than the climb over Oberalppas.
I was in my lowest gear 98% of the time. A slow and steady 4 kilometres per hour or 2.5 mph which is just about average walking speed up mountains. I was averaging about 1000 vertical feet per hour, which meant at that rate I was going to take at least 6 hours to get over the pass. It turned out it took me 6.25 hours. I would like to call the road two lane road, but in most places it’s a lane and a half. The drivers of the tour buses are very professional. At times I was stopped catching my breath in places which was causing them issues getting the buses pass my trike. They would just give me a little toot of their horn in point me to where they wanted me to move so they could pass. After about the first four or five times this happened I figured out how much room they needed and where I should and should not stop for a rest. There were few periods were traffic was halted while people sorted out who was going by who and who was going to move over to the side to allow passage where I actually caught up and pasted cars. Everyone was civilized and everything proceeded up the mountain or down depending on your perspective in what I considered a safe manner. Some of the young bucks on their souped-up motorcycles may have not made it home, considering how they were charging downhill into every hair pin corner 7.
Fukra pass was the longest and hardest climb I have ever made on either a bicycle or my trike. Halfway up I wanted to stop and throw my panniers down into the valley.
2 km from the summit I stopped to watch parasails sailing on the up drafts along the side of the mountains. One guy must have noticed the trike parked and sailed right over the top of it about 50 feet above and waved at me as he passed.
Coming down Fukra was tricky as the grades seemed even steeper. Keeping control of the speed of the trike was very critical because I’m so top-heavy with my gear and sitting tall in the saddle. The road had a lot of dips, bumps and holes in the asphalt just perfect to catch a small tire the wrong way.
I started noticing first one then the other brake handles were pulling back farther and farther towards the bars and I had to stop and re-adjust the brakes. I don’t know if the clevis pin holding the brake cable against thedrum brake arm was slipping or it was just wear on the shoes of the Sturmey Archer brakes. I am thinking I probably wore off about 3 years of normal brake pad coming down that road. Today I need to pull both drums off and sand the brakes as they are squeaking which means they are glazed. I imagine the drums were rather toasty on the way down the hill.
Yesterday I was talking with a German man and his daughter when the subject came around to how expensive it is in Switzerland. He made the following statement “Switzerland is a rich country, everyone owns a cow”.
I understood the basic meeting. If you had a cow you had milk which you could sell or turn into cheese what you could sell. A few other people told me it has more to do with the government and the fact that everyone gets paid extremely well no matter what they do. that makes sense because the prices here are almost double what you pay for anything in the states. No one even blinks at paying $3.50 for a dinky little cup of coffee or $3 for 400 mL bottle of Coke. The next time I go to a local supermarket I’m going to look at the prices for the things I’ve been purchasing at the campgrounds and see how they compare.
Well here is the link to the newest file on my g drive, I tried to remove all the duplicates and doubles best I can with my cell phone.
here’s my present location I think I might even stay here two days as it’s very nice.
I think I might have saved a man’s sanity. The last campground I pulled into was so nice I decided to stay for 2 days. When I got there the owner of the campground was trying to start a quad which was refusing to start. He would charge the battery and then spent all afternoon and part of the early evening trying to start the quad. The next day he spent all morning into the afternoon doing the same thing. I played around with the auto shut off and got the thing to start, but it would only run intermittently and then die or run roughly and then die. After dying it had no spark, so it seemed to me either his spark plug or a CDI was breaking down as it warmed up and I suggested to him that was what he needed to look into. This is a Chinese quad so I found a service manual and found the test specs for the CDI, the timing and a few others parts of the electrical circuit and their proper ohms to prove them good or bad. He was so happy I finally got it to run and then at least gave him a starting point on what to check to keep it running that he gave me a free dinner and a beer.
After some simple research I found out the James Bond movie ” Goldfinger” had its car chase scene filmed on Fukra pass. Here’s a link to a YouTube video showing that very scene.
I met an Englishman who happened to be Jewish and was on holiday and we got to talking about different things and he said that he’s been living in Israel for the last 7 years because he no longer feels safe in England due to growing anti-semitism. I guess I have been out of that world news loop because I had not heard about any real problems with anti-Semitism in England. on the other hand I am well aware of the problems in Israel that occur almost daily.
I met a lady at an ice cream shop and I asked her if she spoke English and she did with a British accent.
Her mother was British and her father Swiss.
She spent about 12 years in Britain than everybody moved back to Switzerland. We discussed the idea of the grass always being greener, because her son is in California studying English and he thinks it’s just great. he just needs to stay there a little longer before he figures out that he’d left the greener side of the fence.
This was both an ice cream and crepe shop so I had a crepe made with local cheese, but the interesting part is the crepe was made with buckwheat something I have to try when I get home. Simple enough recipe a little salt, an egg, water and coarse ground buckwheat.
I arrived late at this campground after 6 pm and reception was closed. Talked with a couple of other tent people and they said just pick a spot and go pay them in the morning. I picked a spot with two power plugs so I’m charging up everything tonight.
It should be noted that most of what you read on the internet about the EV 15 route says the trail is well marked. When leaving a town or a large area that is generally true and there is usually a sign in an arrow pointing you in the correct direction. Common sense also helps in that if you come to the river and you’re supposed to be going downstream and you’re riding upstream then you’re going the wrong direction. The real problem is out in the country where you are on a paved cycle path and suddenly it goes straight and it also turns left, both lanes are paved and both look equally well used. What does one do in that situation when you don’t have the normal reference marks like a river. To make it even more confusing one minute you’re on an asphalt paved bicycle path, the very next moment coming around a curve you are on two track gravel track and the very next curve it’s packed crushed gravel single lane and then the very next curve your back on paved asphalt. Some of the turns on to cycle paths which you would be on for the next 20 km look no wider than walking alleys. Also somehow they have managed to have major construction going on at a lot of the critical points in town where one is going to be diverting off of city streets back to bicycle paths. Today I killed about 45 minutes trying to figure out how to get onto the correct path around major construction.
Without the touring package I picked up from a company called Komoot I would still be stuck in Holland trying to figure out how to get out of Rotterdam. this is not completely true as I guess I could use Google maps to have gotten out of Rotterdam, but if you find yourself in a place where there’s no cell service then Google maps is useless. Komoot is offline and I took the time to download all twenty four stages to the phone so that it would work perfectly even if I did not have cell service. It has been extremely handy telling me which side of the river I should be on. If one is heading for a campground which is on the left side of the river going down stream and you’re on the right side of the river, it’s nice to know where the campground is relative to the river because sometimes the nearest bridge is the one you passed 10km back. Today I got off route and I decided to parallel the intended route hoping that it would cross back onto the correct track. The road I was using was a nicely paved asphalt road which turned into gravel and then into two track and I was still on the wrong side of the river. At this point the map was showing no road at all along the river but it was showing my GPS indicator for my location. This was important to me because as I was going down this two track path and I wanted to know how far I might be drifting away from the river. The track didn’t look promising but I followed it for another half a kilometer and sure enough it pops out onto another paved road and a small bridge not on the map going over the river and suddenly I was on the right side of the river and on my way to the campground. I have noticed that I am not the only one using Google maps and some type of routing software almost everyone has a phone in their hand or mounted on their handlebars. We all face the same dilemma in that using GPS on your phone is power hungry. There has been two or three times I have had to take my power brick and plug it into my phone while riding. The power bank stays in my side bag and the cable comes out and runs across my handlebars and plugs into the phone hanging on my chest. Looking at your planned route for the next 20 or 30 km you can sometimes be sure that it is more or less just a straight shot with no major turns. This allows you to turn off the GPS to save power and in worst cases even turn off the phone until you need it again. So if I know that I should be able to ride 20 km without any major turns I do all of the above and then look at my cycle computer and watch it to see when I need to turn the phone on or the GPS back on check my navigation.
Well enough for now. Here’s the location of the campground I am presently in.
I am still in Switzerland but I am noticing more and more people speaking French.
I have moved the whole bunch of pictures and videos into the “newest” folder for those who want to look at them. Of course the pictures that were in that folder have been moved up into the one called ev15.
Here’s the link to my g drive that you need to look at the folder.
Latest update of my tour. Taking a day off just 10 miles more or less outside of Basel, Switzerland.
I finally made it to my German friend’s house in Lambsheim, Germany. It was good to see him and his wife again. We had not seen each other since my Asian tour. rid of the usual touring around town, looking at old castles and going out for lunch and drinking wine.
I am approximately 65% done with the tour. Most of the easy stuff is behind me, with a few more days of either flat or slightly down before the climbing starts in Switzerland. This 65% does not include the ride down from Andermatt to Grenoble.
I continue to meet great people. The bass C flute seems to be an attraction that brings people over to my tent to talk. It’s a big flute and everyone expects it to weigh a tonne, I believe it weighs less than a pound being hollow.
I don’t know why but I’ve only met two angry people this whole trip and both of them were speaking Arabic. Both of them seemed angry with me because I was holding them up on the road. Everyone else just waits until I can pull over somewhere on narrow roads and let them pass, but these two individuals had something to say to me even though I had no idea what it was through their open passenger window. Maybe it’s an Arabic cultural thing to blow off steam instead of just blowing up, no pun intended.
Campgrounds during this trip have been a bit of a mixed bag. Some of the very best have been the cheapest in some of the worst have been the most expensive.
My usual daily routine is as follows. I am awake at 6:30 a.m. to take my medication for my feet. I deflate my air mattress and I deflate the inflatable pillows By the time I get all the bits and pieces packed in the proper bags and hang the panniers on the rear rack in strap down the big bag over the top and then the flute it’s usually around 7:20. I am almost always on the road by 7:30 a.m. I am usually ride until around 9 a.m. when I start looking for some sort of bakery. Bakeries usually carry freshly made morning sandwiches. Think subway only about 10 times better. I have a large cup of coffee and sometimes a cheese Danish. I then usually ride until around 2 pm when I stop for lunch. Lately I have been on a kebab kick, and I really enjoy them especially with the sauces they use with the meat and fresh vegetables.
I find the German people are ever so much in love with their cars just like Americans. Many people in Germany ride bicycles yet nothing like the Netherlands or Belgium. In general I have found the bicycle pathways in the Netherlands and Belgium to be in better condition than the ones found in Germany. I have not done enough long distance riding in France yet to form an opinion of their bicycle paths. It is really amazing to be on a bicycle path totally protected from cars. Some of these paths are 20 to 30 km long. They are often heavily wooded which provides great shade while riding.
Today I developed a squeaky pedal and had to take the time to unload my big bag from the back where I keep my tools, pull the nut off the pedal and clean the bearings and lube it with chain lube before putting it back together so it would quit making noise.
I seem to be holding up very well except for my right knee which has started to develop a sore spot. Yesterday it was the left knee hurting which today gave me no problems at all. I have been a bit worried about leg cramps in the evenings while sleeping, but taking vitamin B12 everyday and drinking plenty of electrolytes seems to prevent the cramps I sometimes get when peddling this hard.
As I move away from the coast the weather is getting better with less rain everyday, but the evenings are colder.
A few days ago while going down the trail someone stopped me to say there was a detour around a nuclear power plant that was scheduled to have the cooling tower knocked down that afternoon. There were no explosives used in this demolition just hammers that were breaking out the base of the tower until it finally fell. Because the information I was given about co the time was bit sketchy I set for nearly 3 hours waiting on it when suddenly without warning it just fell. Therefore have no video of this incident but I am including a link to this YouTube so you can see it. It was incredible how fast it fell.
Well, I’m running down the road
Tryin’ to loosen my load and my back tire blows out on me.
Take It easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your blown tire drive you crazy.
So there I am on a very narrow road with hardly any safety margin with the trike laying on its side like some beached dead whale. After 10 minutes a black Ford pickup comes by and I wave at the driver and point to the trike, but he just keeps on going down the road. 5 minutes later I’m still standing on the side of road looking at oncoming traffic when I hear a beep beep and it’s the guy in the black Ford pickup who swung back to help me out. It turns out he’s German and does not literally speak one word of English. We hoist up the trike and throw in the back of the pickup. I fire up my routing map and find the nearest bicycle shop which is 12 km down the road, I show him the route planning and off he goes towards the bicycle shop. About 3 km from the shop we make a couple of turns and we end up at the beginning of a bicycle path in the end of the road. It is then I remember that I left Google maps on bicycle routing instead of auto. Switch Google maps to route as an automobile and soon we’re at the bicycle shop. I offer to give him some euros for gasoline and he just shook his head and said nein, nein and waved at me as he left. I don’t know how far out of his way he went to help me out but he sure did me a great service. Bicyclist call people who help bikers “road angels”. I know he understood a little English because as Google maps was giving left and right turns he was making them without looking at the phone.
When we got to the bicycle shop I could immediately tell it was a very large shop, well equipped with many bicycles for sale. E bikes are really hot right now and are selling like hotcakes in Europe. It is more than a little strange to be heading down the road at 20 kilometres per hour and have grandma pass you at nearly 35 km per hour until you realise she has an electric assist bicycle.
Well it turns out the owner spoke more than just a little English, in fact it was very good. Seems he had studied in the states 8 years ago where he learned his English. Because of the weight I’m carrying on the back of the trike he suggested I go with a Schwalbe Marathon tyre. He unmounted the old tyre, put in new rim tape, installed a new tube and inflated the tyre for two-thirds of the cost of the tyre in the United States. He even offered to put the tyre back in the rear dropouts but I know how to do that so I did it myself.
Tomorrow’s leg is 77 km and I should be able to crank it out as it is mostly down hill more or less.
Turned out to be 97 km with 30 in the wrong direction. Crank was squeaking and making so much noise for 2 days I had decided go ahead to a ICE dealer.
Just to be sure I had thought of everything I decided to call Patrick in England to discuss the issue and let him hear a recording. He heave me a few more things to check and think about. Not 5 minutes after speaking with him the damn thing became silent and hasn’t made an odd noise today. It had drove me bonkers for two days and one phone call to Patrick and it’s good. I wonder what planet he comes from to be able to fix a trike without putting his hands on it. I didn’t do a thing to the trike either, it just went silent, problem solved.
So the 30 km I rode out of my way before calling Patrick was wasted. To make things worse those 30 km where over my first hard climb and it was hot. I came up a valley full of grapes still on the vine, not yet sweet. It was so steep I nearly had to get off and push, and just when I was ready to give up and push I reached the summit. Ride down the other side was great.
Was playing my flute before setting up the tent when the guy next to me said I heard that at the last camp ground. He came over to ask all the usual questions about what type of flute it was as it is so mellow. Every one likes the bass C.
Might rain tomorrow, just hope it holds off until after I am packed and ready to ride. Really dislike packing a wet tent in the rain.
Might make Basel, Switzerland tomorrow. Leg 11 ends in Basel. Had an English man tell me it had been rather cold in the mountains which I was not expecting. I did not bring a sleeping bag. Need to hit a few of the used gear stores Basel and look for a thin used bag, a wool blanket and or a heavy duty space blanket.
Road up to what I thought was a bakery and turned out to be a butcher shop. decided to go ahead and buy some salami and cheese for the ride and found out that they would make me both cheese and ham sandwiches in the morning. Can’t tell you how good they taste on fresh crispy crusty buns.
I was on a back road two track gravel trying to cut over from one main road to another road when suddenly I came upon a young lady riding a horse towards me. I can see that the horse was skittish and she dismounted from the horse in held reins.I moved ahead slowly but the horse was still trying to bolt so I stopped. My windsock was spinning in the breeze and I figured that might be what was spooking the horse.the horse continue to dance around and finally pulled the reins out of her hands. It took off running down the path with her in high pursuit of the horse. I have never liked horses because they are all about instincts and very little about thinking. They see something which bothers them their first instinct is just a bolt and run. I proceeded down the path and around several corners and I never saw the horse or the lady again.
I was told by several people coming out of Switzerland at the evenings the temperatures were getting down two or three degrees Celsius. Since I was sleeping in nothing more than a sewed up sheet tube and I’ve already been chilly a few nights I figured I would break down and buy a lightweight sleeping bag in Basel. considering how slowly I’m traveling I might just have to sleep on a summit or very near someone on either side where it might just be cold. Just a bit more weight to push up the Swiss Alps, but I figure if I can’t sleep at night I won’t be able to ride.
Until next update, Steven, The Wayfaring Traveler
Time for another update:
Today I came upon a German man riding a recumbent trike, it was made by ICE in England. He talks in a whisper and can barely walk without aid. He had a motorcycle accident about 15 years ago it was in a coma for almost 4 months. After waking up he was in a wheelchair for 5 years. He stuck with his physical therapy and was finally able to get up and walk though even today he’s so shaky I felt bad if I didn’t give him an elbow to hang on to while we were walking together. The story gets a little stranger, he noticed my reflective warning sign on the back of the trike in Thai. He said he didn’t know what it meant, but he had in been to Thailand many times and recognise the writing and then told me he had a Thai wife. We went and had coffee and ice cream. After that I asked if you could show me where to find a campground. He was more than 40 km from home heading in the wrong direction for me to go visit. As badly as he walks he can really fly on his trike. I am heavily loaded but he was dusting me on every stretch and he is nearly 80. I liked a statement he met while getting in his trike. He said “I am handicapped, but when I’m on this trike I am not” I’m glad I don’t have to chase him often even without the baggage I am pushing up hills.
It was pointed out to me I should go see Dragon castle. So I took my trike off route and pointed it towards the city where it is located. I knew it was located on a hilltop but man what a hill. It is the steepest road I have ever rode up or pushed my trike up. It was about half and half for the 1.4 km from the start to the top of the mountain of pushing and riding. In granny gear I could ride about half of the route, when other places I had to get off hook up my steering harness and lean on to my walking cane inside of its scabbard and push for all I had in me. By the time I got to the top of the hill my Jersey was soaking wet and I had gathered a couple of congrats and even a few uberman compliments.
Steep hills and gravity can be a harsh mistress. I have a parking brake on the right front wheel only, and when I would get off to push the wheel was locked but the trike was sliding down the hill after my weight was out of the seat. I found the fair size angular rock at the first place I had the push and carried it with me so that whenever I stopped I would set the right parking brake and reached down and chock the left wheel. When I finally got to the top of the hill where the old Castle is located I took my steering harness and tied the boom off to a railing as the trike was sitting at such an angle I didn’t trust the parking brake.
Coming down the hill I had stay on the brakes and keep my speed under control. This road was so steep that if I let go the brakes I was easily up to 30 km in in under 25 metres. Sturmey Archer drum brakes are very robust, but even these brakes were fading if I stayed on them too long. There were so many people and children on the road the last thing I wanted to do was lose control and hit somebody.
After leaving Dragon Castle I had lunch at a kebab restaurant. The owner spoke no English and getting the order finish was a bit of pointing at pictures and saying yes and no in both English and German. As I turned around a man said to me what part of the states are you from? It turns out he is from Tennessee and happens to be a FedEx pilot on layover. He had come down to this small town to look around and was getting ready to fly back to Tennessee in a few hours. We chatted about airplanes and engineering especially the Boeing 737 Max and how they really messed up with their public relations on that one.
After a late lunch I started heading down the trail again and for whatever reason the rear of the trike started squeaking so bad it was driving me bonkers, or I should say more bonkers than normal.it sounded like the rear fender hitting the tired now and then especially on bumps. When I started look at the fender and I could find nothing wrong with plenty of clearance at all points. I did however find the elastomer which is part of my rear suspension was starting to get squashed on one side like someone had leaned on a hamburger. I unloaded all the bags and the top bag and took a closer look at it and still could find nothing wrong other than the Simi squashed elastomer. I decided to remove the retainer club in took the elastomer out and move the locating pin back a few holes so there would be less compressive power at every bump. The trike is not squeaked since I did that change. It has me a bit baffled as the sound was really more like the tire hitting the fender, which did not seem to be an issue with the clearance between the fender and the tire.
I just coming to camp and was sitting in the grass playing my flute when a lady walked up and asked what kind of instrument that was in German.I told her I did not speak German one of the few things I can say and asked if she spoke English. It turns out that she did in fairly well. she told me she had lived in this area as a small child and moved away when she married but was now coming back to live in the area again. She asked about my journey and what I had seen her where I had gone. she commented that I seem to be moving rather quickly. I told her I was scheduled to fly home September 18th and I had no idea how hard it was going to be to get over the Alps, especially after having push up up.the road to Dragon Castle. we spent nearly an hour talking and she gave me a list of places to be seen on the Rhine river as I follow it to Switzerland which she felt I should not miss. She felt so strongly about it she suggested that if I was running short of time that I just throw the trike on a train and have them drop me off on the downhill side after going over the last pass to lake Geneva. She kindly suggested that I should spend time looking at but many little lovely towns and the history and let the train do the heavy lifting when I got to the Alps.
this lady suggested they are so stop and see the bridge at Remagen. there’s many no this is the famous bridge which allowed the allies to cross the Rhine during the last part of the war and inner into the heartland of Germany period period so now I have a short list of it at least 6 cities I should slow down and right through even if they are a few kilometres of the Rhine just to see the historic buildings and methods of construction for villages of the time.
Well it’s 6:30 in the morning I can hear the boats motoring up and down the Rhine river where I’m camping less than 100 yards away, I had a good night’s sleep and it’s time to do the morning ritual of getting up deflating my air pillow and my air mattress. Someone is ringing church bells at the moment which would woken me if I was not already up.
Last thing I do every morning is brush my teeth and collapse the tent and throw it in the bag. I didn’t pull out the phone bring up the leg of the route I’m about to ride for the day and head out looking for coffee. Well as John Wayne would say “We are burning daylight Pilgrim”
Again all errors in this text are to be blamed on my voice to text software and not my sloppy proof reading. New pictures to come as soon as I can get them uploaded
The Wayfaring Stranger
He has done it before, and he is now at it again! Mr. Telck is a true and seasoned veteran when it comes to overland triking. Rather than try to explain his current trip to you, I will simply post his email updates that come directly to me, and from these, you can hopefully figure out all the details that you wish to know! So, here ya’ go, fellow trike enthusiasts of Planet Earth! Directly from the man himself, here is what he has to say in his first 2019 trek email:
Sorry for the long delay as I have been in Europe now since the 18th of July. Many small things have gone wrong at the beginning of the trip. Getting myself and the trike from Southern France up to Northern France was an ordeal. I was unable to get it on a train or bus up to North West France to cross the channel into England to go visit the factory which made the trike, but I did go by myself leaving the trike down South. I used the high-speed rail system. Travelling at 320 to 325 km per hour is amazing!
Had a good time meeting the people at ICE. I have been emailing for the last 10 years since I bought my trike. They took me out to dinner and then club crawl through few pubs. I had a good time. The people at ICE recumbents are extremely nice and I enjoyed seeing some of their new products and ideas, as it would seem my trike now is getting a bit dated compared to their new products. Yesterday day in the Netherlands a man pulled up on a recumbent trike built by ICE. He had bought the recumbent for the same reason I did, which was to address the aches and pains of riding standard bicycles for long distances.
I then travel back down to Southern France for my trike was being kept by a warm shower host. After a few days I found a private car going up to North eastern France to a town called Lille. I begin riding from Lille, France riding to Belgium and then the Netherlands where I am now.
Riding a bicycle in both Belgium and Netherlands is sort of like riding in a playground. They have thousands of bicycle paths away from the main roads people are very careful with their cars considering bicycles. It is my understanding that if a car or truck hits a bicycle it is the driver of the car or truck who is always responsible. One person told me in a campground that if you are unlucky enough to hit a bicyclist you might be paying for the rest of your life. I was crossing the road a few days ago when I look left to see a car coming so I slowed down . The driver must have thought I was going to run the light so he slammed on his brakes and skidded to a stop and then very politely wave me across the road.
Belgium and the Netherlands are lush. There is a fair amount of rain here which I can attest to because I have been rained and wet for 5 days while riding. There are miles and miles of fields planted in potatoes, wheat and corn as high as an elephant’s eye. I have seen more dairy cows that I can shake a stick at in almost every field I drive by daily.
Right now it’s Sunday and most country towns are shut down because of religious practice. My power bank and my phone have run down so navigating was becoming impossible so at this time I am sitting in a train station charging my phone and dictating this email.
I have many pictures of the countryside. 400 year old windmills which are still turning in Old Dutch towns which I’ve been set aside to show tourist how things worked 400 years ago. I have met so many interesting and helpful people. The level of English understanding and use in the Netherlands is very high, many people speak English in Belgium also. There is less English in France, but the younger generation speak it more than the older and I have never had anyone refused to help me even if they could not speak English. They would pull someone aside and ask them to help and sooner or later I get where I’m going. My very first warm shower host in southern France has been exceptional couple to meet, and I believe without their help I would still be stuck in southern France.
Because of power demands and the lack of charging at many campgrounds I am dictating this email on my phone. I will proofread it and try to remove all of the obvious errors, but I am sure something will sneak through.
This is my present position where the train station is located. I find as I moved farther East the weather is improving and I have not been rained on for the last day and a half.
I’m not sure if this location link will work inside of email. If it does not just copy the address and open up up your browser and pasted in the top and the map should open to show my location.
Hope everyone receiving this email as well as I am myself. Phone is totally charged now and I need to get some kilometres down the road. Because I have no idea how long it might take to get over the Alps once I hit Switzerland I am sort of like a shark and must keep moving daily. Possible you in a few days I will look for warm shower host and relax for a few days. Right now I’m carrying enough wet and dirty clothes in my panniers to keep a laundry busy for a few hours.
The Wayfaring Stranger
When I get my pictures uploaded via Wi-Fi to my Google drive I will send a link in my next email.
Steven Telck, veteran tricycle traveler
Fatrikes all the rage up north in Canada! Just ask Glen Aldridge, proprietor of Mid-Island Adventures …
From our long-time Trike Asylum reader Glen Aldridge comes this recent letter about fatrikes in British Columbia, Canada, where Glen runs a trike touring and sales business called Mid-Island Adventures. Photographs of some of his happy and satisfied fatrike customers follow his letter below. Here is what he has to say about how fatrikes seem to be on an upswing there:
Hi Steve, Hope you are keeping well and are still exploring our planet. This year the tours have been slow for me as well as Victoria (Our big city). It’s funny, almost like everything just stopped this year. What’s even stranger, last November I started getting inquiries about Fat Trikes as this couple was looking to ride in complete comfort. I had shown them several local trikes, including base models, suspended models, and my Gekko and a Catrike Expedition, so they had a good idea of the differences. Imagine my surprise when this 80-something year old lady told me she wanted a Fat Trike! With Power Assist too! After delivering her trike, I asked her: “What made you decide on a Fat Trike?” She replied: “I have a tendency to ride into things, over things, up curbs and into potholes. With this trike, it doesn’t matter.” haha. I followed up with her a few weeks later to see if she was still happy with her trike, and she loves it! Since that time, I have sold four Fat Trikes on the Island, with another one soon to be on it’s way. My last customer, another retired fellow, likes to take his poodles hunting with him, where he has them flush out the birds, and then he shoots them from the comfort of his Fat Trike. Funny how you never know where new customers come from. :)
A FEW PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE ADDICTED FATRIKE RIDERS:
Click HERE to visit Glen’s website!
THE LATEST EVOLUTION OF A COUPLE OF ICE ‘T’ TRIKES
(photographs appear below)
Over there in England, where ICE trikes are made, TA follower Alonzo Savage has been upgrading his trike, and that of his wife, over the last few years. What began as standard ICE model T’s with 20” wheels all round changed to 26” rear wheeled machines with bar-end shifters replacing the original gripshift set up. Then ICE came up with the 26” rear suspension, so Alonzo contacted the Trike Guru Kevin Dunseath of Dtekhpvs, his ‘local’ pervayer of all things recumbent both trike and bike.
Alonzo inquired about buying new ICE trikes with full suspension, and he was ready to shell out significant amounts of cash for the changes, like the better part of five thousand bucks, each but Kevin said: “NO, you are perfectly capable of fitting the parts onto your existing trikes yourself, plus the cruciforms on both your T’s have done next to no mileage.”
So the parts were obtained, with a relatively small amount of money payed out in comparison to getting two brand new trikes. Kevin is as honest as they come, and will help anyone to enjoy their triking! He is also the go-to man for those with disabilities who wish to ride a recumbent.
The fitting of all the suspension parts was comparatively straight forward after referring to several YouTube instructional films. So at the beginning of 2017, Alonzo and his wife’s trikes were outfitted with front and rear suspension, and they can now ride in more comfort on roads that are a lot less than smooth.
For anyone used to wielding a spanner (British for wrench) now and then, these modifications are fairly simple, and not too costly. However, the costs of ICE accessories are extortionate if buying from the company. Take for instance the mirror mounts at £33 each ($41 US); a significant saving can be made by sourcing MTB straight bar-end mirror mounts that will do the same job, and were found by Alonzo for considerably less money than ICE charges. Granted they are not quite as beautifully machined, but they do the job just as well. The same type of bar-end mount could be used to make wrist rests with a little work, producing the padded rest from some other light material.
So now Alonzo’s wife has a comfy trike to ride, and by swapping the Marathon Plus tires for knobbly MTB and BMX tires, Alonzo has a trike ready for some light off-road riding. In fact, he has a slimmed-down version of an ICE Full Fat trike, and his tires are probably better than those on the fat trike. (for more text and photos of Alonzo’s trikes, click HERE)
From Alonzo: “ICE produces a well engineered trike, but the add-on bits are too pricey, and just the same as BMW – but unlike BMW, with ICE, the air conditioning comes free.”
Trike Hobo Steve Greene explores the latest offerings from Inspired Cycle Engineering (aka ICE) for the 2019 model year. To visit the website yourself, or to purchase a brand new ICE trike, delivered to your door, click this link: https://www.icetrikes.co/
Trike Hobo visits yet another recumbent tadpole tricycle manufacturer’s website to see what’s new in 2019:
Click HERE to visit the TerraTrike website for yourself.
Trike Hobo Steve Greene visits yet another recumbent trike manufacturer website, this time the Australian built Greenspeed, started by Ian Sims in 1990.
From our long-time reader and foreign correspondent Glen Aldridge, comes this bit of tantalizing “might be” touring info. For those who live in northwestern United States, or southwestern Canada, this might be of interest:
Would you mind giving me your feedback on our upcoming tours for the next couple of months? Would this be something you would like to attend? – Thank you, Glen
Poker Run/Scavenger Hunt
June 12th-2019 /Ladysmith, BC / To Chemainus, BC
(Dates subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances)
Come enjoy a fun day of Scavenger Hunting for clues to get a prize for the best Poker Hand. Combine the fun part of this trip with the interesting sights around Ladysmith & Chemainus, ending up with a great meal & prize giveaway & this should make for a fun trip that anyone can enjoy.
Meet up at the REAR of the Ladysmith McDonald’s. Start time is approximately 10:30 am – Please be on time. Send an email to email@example.com if you will be attending. Cost of this trip is $10. per person plus your own food & drink costs.
Howl At The Moon Tour
July 15th – 2019 / Shawnigan Lake, BC
(Dates subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances)
If you have never had a night ride, you don’t know what you’re missing. Call out your Inner Coyote or Wolf, your Extra Terrestrial or your Inner Dracula. Dress up your trike with L.E.D. lights, dress yourself up if you wish & come have a blast as we wake the nearly dead while we cruise through & around the town of Shawnigan Lake. We end up on the beach for a campfire or BBQ if there are fire restrictions & finish the night with a good meal & drinks. $10. per person. Please note – Your Trike MUST be equipped with legal Front & Rear lights. Anything else is usually tolerated. Start time is 8:30 pm. till 11-12 pm. Please be on time. More details to follow & if you are interested in this tour please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more info on the Tryker tire, click HERE.
For more info on the Spicer tire, click HERE.
Here is an easy way to visualize how different Catrike models compare …