Cycling the Rhine

Day Two – Carrera to Bad Ragaz

Where to begin with this one! A day of two halves really. The morning was good, waking early on the campsite in the hills I knew I had a bit of a climb ahead, but nothing compared to the Oberalppass the previous day, so I stuck camp and headed out after a healthy breakfast of two huge bags of crisps. Climbing from Carerra towards Versam and on to the Ruinaulta Gorge the scenery was spectacular; The roads were somewhat precarious at times; I had to dispense even with the jawbone vibration headphones at this point as my ears were sorely needed for looking out for traffic. I’m sure that drivers must drop off these mountains all the time…. Eventually, the Alps began to give way into the broad open valley which I had been expecting; There were some interesting descents in between which tested my brakes, although I was a bit too focussed on staying on the bike to get snaps of them. So I rolled passed some vineyards – a common theme in my bike tours; Stopping for lunch at Chur I was feeling pretty good. I was on target to hit Buchs to camp in the evening. Lunch was a hugely expensive (everywhere in Switzerland is) chicken breast stuffed with cheese and ham, with a pile of chips. Perfectly pleasant, but surely not worth the £20 I paid for it! So after lunch I set out, full of confidence. This was, I guess, my undoing. Coming round a corner at pace on the way out of Chur, in front of a bus full of folk my front wheel slipped out from under me and left me  skidding sideways down the road fighting the front wheel. Somehow I managed to stay on the bike and got it back upright, to a thumbs up from the bus driver. 10 yards further down the road I found out the cost of performing such tricks. My tyre was as flat as a pancake. This was not so I much of a problem as I was carrying spare inner tubes, so I found a good spot and unloaded the bike, up-ending it to change the tube. All was well with the world as I began the climb from Chur, up towards Malans and Heidiland (where the book / film “Heidi” is set). This didn’t last too long. At the top of the long climb I stopped for a rest and bumped into a couple who were also following the same guide as I am down the Rhine. Bravely they are doing it on Bromptons! After a chat with them, I let them head on and speculatively said that I would see them at the campsite at Buchs. I next caught up with the couple somewhere past Jenins, by which time I had had to change my front tube again, twice. The rubber seal around the valve had given in and a slow puncture had eventually grown into a critical leak. I put this down to just a dodgy tube and fitted another spare. Within minutes this had gone exactly the same way and I was forced to change again. I am still not sure if I just had a bad batch, or whether Halford’s inner tubes have a history of this, but either way I have resolved not to buy them again. The deciding factor was that by the time I had caught up with my Brompton friends I could already feel a slow puncture. I changed my plans at this point and headed for a campsite near Bad Ragaz to pitch for the night and fit my last remaining tube. In the end, this didn’t turn out to be a bad decision. The rain was falling as I was just finishing off my tent and very quickly developed into some quite severe and enduring thunder storms. As much as I love being in a tent during a thunderstorm, I was starving so I headed on foot to a nearby restaurant to find dinner; Sliced, beautifully cooked lamb steaks (and lots of them) served on a bed of salad and veg with the most amazing dressing on them. That was from their “Healthy Eating” section. If all health food was like that I could seriously get into it. So I retired to my tent after this and slept like log until 5am the next day……

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