Thursday, May 16, 2013

Switzerland: Where Mountains and Cows Reign

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of riding the Tour of Romandie trip with Brevet Alpine Cycling Adventures. And it has taken me this long to recover from the overdose of awesome enough to write about it. My legs and mind alike were just simply rendered inoperable from the awe I got struck with on this fantastic voyage into the towering spine of Western Europe.

I thought your eyes might need a break after that last sentence. So, here you go.

Yeah, you can see we are Raphing it up pretty hard. Bam, verbalization. And I'm not even trying to sell you $330 "Deep Winter Tights," I'm just giving you this shit for free. But for real, the whole trip was like being in a photo shoot. And not just because our host-with-the-most, Tom Eeles, was taking more pictures of us than Bradley Wiggins at the Giro, but because it turns out Switzerland is just a damn beautiful country. That's probably why they have the Tour of Romandie (just the region where we were) and the Tour of Switzerland (the whole kit-and-kaboodle). Did I mention Brevet does trips for both tours?

Peaks on Peaks: Swiss Cycling.

There were a couple times when we could probably have used some of those elitist-level winter tights though, as the crazy weather Europe's been having this Spring gave no quarter to this early season stage race. As you probably read from the headlines, the Tour of Romandie's Queen Stage was only slightly less disrupted by mother nature than this year's Milan-San Remo (updated: and now the Giro too, what?). And having ridden the stage's principal climb earlier in the day before watching the pros summit (pretty standard format for our trip), I gained a new level of respect for the hardmen that make up the Pro Peloton. The worst part wasn't even going up the 1,500m climb, it was going down afterwards. My sweat very quickly turned to salty icicles.

Nice little photo collage of my Dad here. I managed to drop the photographer on our way up.

Beyond five of the best days on the bike I've ever experienced, the tour also offered great comforts for after the ride was over. For the most part we were settled into a boutique hotel in Les Diablerets called the Hotel du Pillon. We were there in the off season, so we had the place almost entirely to ourselves. That meant the owner, a Parisien Art Dealer named Francis, was our unofficial soigneur for the duration of our stay. Well, he didn't respond too well when my Dad and I showed him our shaved legs and asked to be rubbed down, but he did lay out an awesome breakfast and hardy dinner for us every day. Which was almost always perfect, except for the fondu. Which was tasty, yes, but not exactly the type of meal one wants to indulge in when riding a bike all day. Then again, no one's going to sandbag the guy who ate a quarter pound of gorgonzola the night before.

The Town of Les Diablerets. Not a bad place for a Stage Race finish.

There was an awesome zen about getting up each day and knowing that all I had to do was ride my bike up hills. It was all the fun of being a pro, only easier and less stressful. And the best part of the trip was getting to share it with my Dad, the man who first put me on two wheels in the first place. I had a lot of fun and most of the courses Tom put together were plenty challenging for me, which means I know they were a massive effort for him. But the old diesel pushed his ass up every one of those speed bumps like a champ. It's not about the bikes or the mountains or the even the act of riding. The farther I go and the faster I get, the more I realize that the greatest prizes have been here all along. And you can put that in a Rapha ad.

Did you even read my words or just look through all the pretty pictures?

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