Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 6 (Switzerland/Italy): Samedan - Laas (apples in stereo)

today’s distance: 97 km
total distance: 608 km
riding time: +/- 5h

climbing: about 1000m

Off to a late start due to the time change that night, I was not leaving until noon, heading further east. Waking up was a treat as Katja’s room offers stunning views of the Engadin. The weather was - as it had been the day before - glorious. Blue skies, combined with a ferocious wind from the west made for an insane average speed of almost 28km/h for the first hour.

Just as I was leaving the town of Zernez to start the climb to the Ofenpass, I met Peter who needed a screwdriver to fix his derailleur. After riding together for a few minutes he pulled ahead and I didn’t see him again. Only one pack for a two-day tour sure must feel great. After the first steep section, the ride flattens out, going downhill (grrrr - all that work for nothing) before climbing again for a while. It was here when the wind started coming down the mountains and hit me head on. Still, the surroundings sure made up for it and having been over the Julier the day before I was in no partiular hurry today.

Just before the last flattish section, I looked at my altimeter and saw 1989 and for the next few meters played around with historical events

1989 - Berlin Wall comes down

1990 - Noriega surrenders to US forces

1991 - drew a blank

1992 - Boutros Boutros-Ghali SG of the UN

1993 - UN SC resolution on ICTY

1994 - graduation from US high school

1995 - WTO comes into being

1996 - graduate from high school

1997 - another blank

1998 - heading to Canada

1999 - bike down the coast from Vancouver to Mexico

2000 - Y2K

2001 - 9/11

2002 - graduate law school

2003 - Bush claims “mission accomplished” - kind of preposterous (and not only in hindsight)

2004 - Bush wins second term

2005 - head to Stanford

2006 - J’lem

2007 - Brussels

2008 - climbing up a steep, steep hill

2009 - I’m no Nostradamus …

After arriving at the top, a couple on their way to Greece for an extended holiday stopped and took some pictures for me. Hearing where I was heading they were flabbergasted and are now happy subscribers to the blog (for all those not subscribed yet, you can enter your email address on the right hand side at the top).

The downhill was cold with headwinds throwing me around and slowing me down quite a bit, but it was still exhilerating and some nice top speeds in some sections. The border was easy enough to cross, the Italian border guard seemed a bit irritated that I would ask him for a stamp. But it’s in the passport now, too.

Overall, the downhill was about 1200 m (roughly 3600 ft). After following the river Etsch for a while, I decided to set up camp at a campsite which I passed in the town of Laas. What had been planned as a short day was 97 km in the end. But the best was yet to come. Food …

I looked around town for something to eat as I had not done much shopping. It being Sunday, there was only one place open - and what a great place it was. My question as to whether the owner would still have something available for a hungry biker, she served some of the best soup that I have ever had. It was nothing short of greatness. Now maybe it was even better because I was hungry, but it was great. It was some Minestrone-type soup with local ingredients. This was folllowed by spinach dumplings. This greatness was smothered in sage butter. All of this was topped off with parmesan and a salad. Then Maridel brought out the cake and some tea (on the house - nut cake, topped with warm apricot jam and cream). We had started talking during dinner and she is now a reader of the blog as well. The great thing was the conversation with Maridel, the owner. She likes to travel, meet new people and is a fantastic cook. We talked about the changes that the village has been undergoing over the last 20 years or so and how the predominance of apples in the area has changed things considerably. Farming has become industrialized with the attendent changes for the community.


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