Day 6 – Innertkirchen, CH

Just to start with a warning, I’ve had my first race alcohol tonight and I cannot guarantee this won’t influence today’s post. 😉

Today was a day of one major up and one major down, both literally and metaphorically. The major up being of course reaching CP2, where I had to self validate because the checkpoint was closed last night. But also the pass we had to climb. Anyone who has been watching my dot this afternoon, might have noticed it went a ‘little’ slow. Yes, I have had to walk more than halfway up. My god, that was steep! I started it off with #165 Henning, whom I met at the CP in Grindelwald, but the heat, the tired legs and the loaded bike had me resorted to my feet quite soon. But in all honesty, I’m not even sure I could ride this thing all the way up with fresh legs and a stripped down bike. Henning went on quite strong, so I thought I’d never see him again. But sure enough, a couple of hair pin corners later I saw him also pushing his bike and from there on we pushed together, without drafting of course. 😉 Like he said, speed wise it doesn’t really matter, so why waste the energy. Not that pushing your bike up 14% slopes costs no energy though. But despite it being tough as balls, it was so incredibly beautiful. You could feel the temperature dropping the higher we got (thank god!) and some dark clouds started looming over the mountains, giving it a very dramatic look.

After what seemed like forever – and turned out to be two hours – we finally made it to the top. We took a minute or so to soak up the view, put our jackets on and started on the major down. The descent was highly technical, slightly terrifying and unbelievably beautiful! We had now left the tourists of Grindelwald behind, and were completely surrounded with pine trees, smells of wood fires and creeks. I really wanted to stop more often to take a bunch of pictures, but it started to drizzle a little bit and at all costs wanted to avoid riding down a wet mountain. Luckily it didn’t get too bad and we stopped in Innertkirchen to have dinner and then tackle the Grosse Scheidegg. However, while having our schnitzel and really started to poor, so the major metaphorical down was that we were forced to stay in the valley.

We are now in a hotel called Alpina, and it’s all kinds of weird, I love it! My room looks a little bit like a nun’s cell, with a bed I hardly fit in. Also, I just noticed that track leaders still has me at the restaurant where we ate. I forgot to take off the spot tracker before it started raining, so I’m hoping it’s still working. Will keep an eye on it tomorrow.

Lovely schnitzels here, but that’s not where I am.

Hopefully everyone else also managed to find cover before the rain! We’ll try to aim for a 6am departure if the rain will let us.

In other news:

  • I had my first real life ‘Go Louise!’ from a woman on a balcony about 7km before Grindelwald, which was really cool.
  • I also had ‘guidance’ from a Swiss man named Beat (pronounce with German accent) all the way from Bern to Thun. It was a bit confusing, he suddenly rode next to me on his bike -clearly not one of us racers – asking me if I was 29. I was going to say yes, until it occurred to me that he probably didn’t talk about my age, and then pointed at the cap and said I was 149. He stayed with me and we chatted a little bit in French, which is important to know because I can do chitchat in French but I’m far from fluent, so I didn’t always understand him. So when he started to get all fatherly and giving me historical information of the surroundings, his company started to tire me out but he showed no intention whatsoever to part ways. He was the sweetest man, but I just wanted to enjoy the looks of Switzerland on my own account and in my own tempo (I actively had to create holes to not draft him, which he read as a request to slow down. I didn’t have the words to explain the rules). But the weirdest thing came when I finally found the heart to ask him to let me continue alone after Thun – which he took very politely – he said “well Louise, it was good talking to you, best of luck.” I never gave him my name! All this time I thought he got out on his bike to look for a racer he happened to know, but when he mentioned my name, it finally dawned on me that he has been closely following the race and actually came out to ride with me. Interesting!
  • Had my first mechanical today. My chain fell off when I shifted back on a particularly steep piece of road, which caused my rear derailleur to no longer align properly. Took a bike mechanic in Grindelwald about 5 minutes to fix.

Body update:

  • The knee seems to be healing! I still treat it gently whenever I can, and understandably he complained a bit when we were on the big pass. But it’s going well enough that he can make a serious contribution on the climbs.
  • The two fingers on my left hand are still gone, which makes handling a knife and fork very interesting. I don’t think this issue will go away before I’ll get off the bike, but I’d be happy enough if all the other fingers kept working.
  • My butt got off my back! Or well, it’s still attached to my back, but it’s not so painful anymore. Aside from a couple occasional requests to adjust my position, my butt seems to have come to terms with the situation. It’s still a war zone down there, but a war zone in control.
  • Legs in general are stiff and heavy, but once warmed up, still very much OK.
  • The tan lines look ridiculous, especially those in my face.
  • My boobs are fading before my eyes. I’d expected I’d lose a little bit of weight during the trip, you just can’t consume as many calories as you’re burning, but why the body starts eating from the area that should be left alone?? I don’t know…

That’s about all to report, I think! Switzerland is so goddamn post card pretty, I will try to take more pictures next days!

Auf wiederschnitzel!


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