Day 22: Gex, France to Ligerz, Switzerland
Mountains across the lake from my hotel
I had a relatively easy day today: 90+ miles with half a mile of vertical only took a little more than seven hours of riding. The main reason was a good tailwind most of the day and the fact that much of my route was along the shores of three lakes; Lake Geneva, Lake Neuchâtel, and Lake Biel. I'm splurging tonight, by staying at a nice hotel on the shore of Lake Biel. After I stopped for the night, I went down to the lake and immersed myself. It was chilly, refreshing, and very beautiful.
Entering Switzerland this morning
Riding backroads on my way to Nyon
I left Gex, after a good breakfast, about 9:15 this morning. I went to bed at 10:30 and slept till 8 AM. It was good room for sleeping, although not a very well kept up room. My room tonight is great, large, well designed, well built and well maintained. I looks out over the lake and, unfortunately, the railroad tracks. Because of those tracks, this room comes with earplugs . I don't think it will be a problem for me sleeping tonight since I always sleep with earplugs. If my conversion from SwissFrancs to Euros is right, this room is costing me 86 E for the room and breakfast. That is equal to the cost of the room I had in Grenoble and this is a much nicer room. For my one night in Switzerland, an expensive country, it feels appropriate.
The Swiss Franc issue surprised me. I thought Switzerland was on the Euro and, seeing prices 40% higher than France, I was really upset at how expensive everything was! I'm glad I realized my mistake before I stopped at this hotel. I wouldn't be staying here at 120 Euro a night. Another point of information: The Swiss power plug is the same as the Italian plug, and different from the ones used in most of the rest of Europe. I have an Italian power cable for my stuff - computer, razor, and battery charger - that I had to buy last year in Italy, so I'm OK tonight.
I rode D 984 C from Gex to the Swiss Border this morning, then 'compass' navigated my way from there to Nyon which is on Lake Geneva. It was fun to ride the small Swiss backroads, and easy to make my way north and east till I crossed under the A1 Autoroute and saw a sign for Nyon. It is wheat harvesting time here, and I saw lots of great looking wheat fields today. One of my experiences this morning was to be following a tractor pulling two wagons full of wheat when one of the tires flatted on a wagon. That was a big off road tire and it made quite a big woosh as the air came out!
Lake Geneva at Nyon
Swiss 1 at Nyon
Once I got to Nyon, I worked my way down to the lake and headed up the lake on highway 1. I figure that, if 1 was good riding, I'd ride it up to Morges, a town about 10 miles from Lausanne, and head north through Cossonay. 1 was mostly very good riding, often with at bikelane, and only light to moderate traffic. With a good tail wind I was cruising in the high teens. Note that 1 is not flat and, although it mostly stays close to the lake, you usually cannot see the lake. It was enjoyable riding and there were a fair number of bicyclist riding it this morning.
The road to Cossonary in Morges - a good hill is coming
and this fellow rode up it ahead of me
Riding up the hill
At Morges, I left 1 and rode north towards Cossonay. This was a hilly ride and I was getting hungry. I'd stopped on 1 to snack - bread and water, not as bad as it sounds - and had now been riding for about three hours. Besides, my tummy adapts to France very quickly, and it was LUNCH time. I stopped in a small town. Gollion, at a restaurant and had what I thought was a 24 E meal. It was good, but not that good. It was really at 24 Franc meal or a 17 Euro meal. It should have been a 22 Franc meal, but they overcharged me more than two Francs for the wine. I had been climbing a lot in this, between the lakes, section and, not long after lunch, I was forced to detour from my planned route. That detour added several miles and a lot of climbing to my route! The, I thought, over priced meal, the overcharging for the wine, and that extra few miles with a hundred extra meters of vertical, left me feeling pretty negative about Switzerland. Silly, but that is the way my mind works. They closed that road just to make me do that extra work!
The first town on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel
Lake Neuchatel after Grandson and before the construction
Highway 5 coming down to the lake after a big climb in the first five miles north of Grandson
Autoroute construction was taking place just off the left edge of this image
I needed to find out if I could ride highway 5 to on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel, so I rode, after a good long, mostly downhill ride through Orbe, into Yverdon. My French map shows the autoroute running through some tunnels and 5 getting subsumed into it. Not a good thing for bicycling. My autoroute 2002 shows the autoroute as a problem near
Neuchâtel, but not existing where those tunnels were on the French map. I stopped in Yverdon and asked a fellow if 5 was OK for riding to Neuchâtel. Since he spoke no English, our conversation was a little limited, but said it was fine, so I headed out, through Grandson (strange name for a Swiss town) around the lake. There was a big climb and, during that climb I saw the tunnels, under construction. It looks like it will be a year or two before they are a problem. On the other hand, once past that construction, there is a lot of other autoroute construction which made riding a bit tricky. When that ends, riding is not good because the traffic, which was split between the new autoroute A5 and the old 5 is all on a single road with no shoulders. Then it gets worse.
Part of the bike path I had to ride to get to Neuchâtel
An earlier segment of the bike path I had to ride to get to Neuchâtel
Traffic in Neuchâtel after 5 gets it bike path back
At Areuse, 5 becomes an autoroute and I could no longer ride it. To be honest, it hadn't been pleasant or safe to ride for several miles before that. There was no sign about bike routes where I was kicked off, so I tried the most promising road. It ended at the lake. Then I rode back to a bike shop I had noticed - it had looked closed - and saw people there. I think it had just opened for the evening. None of the people could speak English, but, with the aid of my computer mapping software, we figured out what I needed and they told me "no problem." Just go that way - a right in front of the store and then right again onto a bike path paralleling the autoroute. Then follow the bike path signs. I did and, after a couple of km involving half a dozen path segments, some of them gravel and some of them dirt, I found myself on a nice bike path that went to and through Neuchâtel. The through was important because, even where 5 had a bike lane, traffic was terribly congested. The bike path ran mostly along the waterfront and was easy riding.
The lake from the bikepath in town
Back on 5 after Neuchâtel
The train track, highway 5, and A 5
After Neuchâtel, getting back on 5 required crossing two lanes of traffic heading for A5. It wasn't obvious that I was even getting back on 5, but the other two options had autoroute signs, so I knew I had to take the third, and leftmost, lane. Once on 5, and after the traffic for Bern split off, riding was good. I stopped to get a snack - fresh bread to eat with the coke I bought earlier. I had some Swiss money from when I bought the 1.5 l bottle of Coke and I used it at the supermarket. Then I rode on intending to ride to Biel.
Biel traffic went off through a tunnel, which was I hadn't noticed on my maps, and I was directed along the lake. Since I didn't know what was coming next, I decided I'd stop. There was this nice looking hotel on the lake, and here I am.
I ate the rest of the bread and some Swiss lemon drink for supper and now I'm ready for bed and a great breakfast in the morning.