2016-06-20 (Day 04) Basel – Sutz

Today’s photo shows a huge statue of Predator alongside the road at a bronze foundry near Undervelier in the centre of Switzerland. It was a bit spooky to see it right beside the road especially with a forest in the background. I got an awful fright last year in the Somme when I came around a corner to see a huge crucifix towering above me. Crucifixes are a common sight in the Somme but as it was getting dark, I didn’t spot it until I was right underneath it. Luckily today there was bright sunshine as I went past the Predator statue ‘cos it would have given me just as big a fright as the Somme crucifix did last year if it was getting dark.

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Camping Waldhort in Reinach. It rained overnight but in the morning, there was no cloud just bright sunshine. There was only one other tent at the campsite when I arrived and they had gone by the time I got up. The campsite had a wooden platform which probably was the base for a mobile home one time but it was now ideal for drying my tent.

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Swiss cycle paths are among the best in the world. I left the campsite around 10 and made good progress to start with mostly along cycle paths through the Swiss countryside.

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Total cycled today – 95 km. Total cycled so far – 175 km. Tough day at the office as I got lost 3 times and ended up climbing about 1,800 m in total.

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Bunker built into hillside at a road junction near Zwingen. There are numerous bunkers and forts dotted throughout Switzerland. Although, they look a lot older, many of these were built during the 20th Century and were designed to guard against an invasion. They are often built into mountains overlooking an important road junction.

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Planned route for today. I expected a few hills today but ended up going up a few mountains due to a fault with the Maps.me navigation software I use on my smartphone. The program comes with its own routing software but as it is designed for cars often routes you onto motorways. So instead I normally use Strava to work out the best route to cycle somewhere. I then download the gpx file, convert it into a kml file using TCX Convertor and then load it into Maps.me.

Screenshots showing track on Maps.me. When loaded onto Maps.me, the route shows up as a light blue line. The problem is rivers also show up on Maps.me as blue lines and when you zoom in on the map it is almost impossible to tell a track and a river apart. There doesn’t seem to be an option to change the color of the track to prevent this happening. As you can see from the screenshot above, when I got to Zwingen, instead of turning south, I carried on along the River Birs thinking that was the track. Last year, I normally stuck to quiet main roads in France so never noticed this fault in the map as I simply followed the road number and didn’t bother with tracks. But in Switzerland, I wanted to try out their cycle paths so ended zooming into the map to see where to join a cycle path. However, on 3 occasions instead of following my track, I ended up following a nearby river. Had it only happened once, it would have been fine but it happened 3 times before I copped on what was happening. 

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Sign for Gorges du Pichoux. By following rivers rather than the blue line indicating my track, I ended up about 20 km off my planned route and faced either going all the way back or climbing the Gorges du Pichoux to get back on track. I chose the latter and soon regretted it. The climb up alongside the Gorge was not just steep, it was super steep and I had to push my bike on about 5 or 6 occasions.

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Full size Predator statue alongside the road to Undervelier. As if often the case when you are totally lost, you end up going past some strange sight. It was definitely the case today as I was greeted by a metal statue of Predator alongside the road. Luckily, the sun was shining brightly ‘cos had it been late in the evening and getting dark at the time, it would have been really spooky.

Salzmann Bronze sculptures. The statue was made by a metalwork factory and they sell all sort of animal and other statues, which  on display beside their factory.The company is called Salzmann Bronze and they have hundreds of statues and figures available on their website here  http://www.bronzeartsa.ch/fr/.

Gorges du Pichoux. Soon after passing the Salzmann Bronze foundry and the town of Underweiler, the road really started to ramp up as I approached the Gorges du Pichoux. Pichoux translates as “many springs” and apparently there are over a thousand springs in the surrounding rocks  out of which the water flows down into the River Sorne. This river flows down the gorge right alongside the road and at times the noise was deafening plus the more I climbed the steeper the road got. In places, the gradient was close to 15% and I had to climb off my bike and push Travoy up the hill near the top..

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Le Chemin du Pasteur Frene. I eventually had to take a narrow country lane known as Chemin du Pasteur Frene or the Way of Father Frene to get back on track. I ended up climbing to almost 1200m, as high as any point in Ireland. I had only expected to go up to 800m today so it was quite a shock to the system. What looked a short distance on the map ended up taking me hours due to all the climbing. After 6 hours cycling, I had only traveled 50 km and wasn’t even half way to my planned destination of Avenches. It was now after 4, so I decided instead to try and make it to Sutz instead about 30 km north east of Avenches.

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Col de Pierre Pertuis. On the way to Sutz, I tackled the climb of Pierre Pertuis. At 827m, it was much smaller than some of the climbs I had already been up earlier that afternoon but it was the only one with a sign at the top. So I stopped for a photo and tweeted that Pierre Pertuis was only a baby climb eventhough it was higher than any road climb in Ireland.

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Photo: Camping Sutz website

Camping Sutz in the Swiss town of Sutz-Lattrigen. It was near 8 before I made it to my campsite for the night in the small town of Sutz-Lattrigen alongside the Bielersee Lake.

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