Today 103.82km
Trip total ??km

Around the lake to Villeneuve, then after stopping at the shops to stock up on vitals, Jo and I missed the turn off for the bike path. On and on through town we went, out the other side and then nearly ended up on a major road — the same major road that the route notes warned us not to get onto. Andy arrived just as we were trying to work out where to go next, and redirected us back into the centre of town, with directions on finding the bike path. Once on the bike path it was supposed to be simple: “just follow the signs to Aigle” said the notes.

The bike path headed off into the woods, then there was an endlessly infuriating hour of zigzagging back and forth, farmland to woods and back again. Single lane farm tracks criss-crossed the plain in a grid, some were marked as cycle paths, others were simply lanes between the fields. The fields themselves were full of 2m high corn, too tall to see over in many places. The cycle paths were labelled A, B, C, D and E, with not a sign to be seen with any town or village names! After just about giving up in exasperation, we finally found ourselves heading into Aigle, having travelled 47.5km for what was marked as 30km in our notes! Over a large and spicy lunch of kebabs the others all related various tales of woe, swearing that this was the last time that any of us would ever chance riding on a Swiss cycle path, and threatening Andy with various forms of dismemberment. The distances covered varied from 35km up to our maximum of 47, the group that made it in the shortest time had abandoned the notes and ridden straight along the highway.

Up the valley from Aigle, we came to the first climb of the trip, switchbacks up from the plains and into the start of the hills. Motorbikes wound their way up the hill, while a pair of touring cyclists with fully laden panniers went swooping past downhill. Then twenty kilometres or so of climbing through picture-postcard scenery.

After arriving in the campground at 5:15, I hurriedly changed and leapt in the van in an attempt to get up the hill to the old city, and to try to visit the H.R. Giger museum. It would be unforgivable if I came here and didn’t try to visit… Hurrying in from the car-park, across the cobble-stones, past the restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops and usual mix found inside medieval walls. Only foot traffic is allowed inside the old city walls, so no traffic to contend with. Then the juxtaposition of the Giger museum and accompanying Giger bar next to the old castle. I was out of luck, the museum doors were being locked at five to six and I wasn’t allowed inside for a quick peek around. Richard and a few of the others had managed to get inside an hour or so earlier, but were being unceremoniously herded out by the attendant who wanted to go home.

I made do with photos of the outside, and some refreshing beers in the bar, marvelling at the work that has gone into the detailing — disturbing detailing that it is in places. Still in need of a shower from the riding, I had a brisk walk back to the campground only to find that both the showers I tried took my money, but neither gave any hot water. A quick rinse in icy cold water and then try to find a power-point to recharge the camera, since I’d just about flattened the battery in the Giger bar. Not a chance, almost all the power-points had locked covers! I managed to sneak five or ten minutes with the camera plugged into a shaver socket while I wrestled with the showers, but not enough to fully recharge. It was the epitome of the Swiss camping ground — coins for the shower, coins for the washing machine, even coins to get a bucket of hot water for washing up!

Unwashed, cold, in a bad mood, and out of coins, I was only just in time to jump in the van to go back up the hill to the old city for the group dinner. Good food and great surroundings helped improve the situation! As we were leaving, the sun was just setting in a magnificent display of purple and orange, just a little too dark for my camera to capture. Everyone walked back from the hilltop to the campsite, our designated drivers having partaken freely in the wine and beer with the meal. The air temperature dropped rapidly, reminding us that although it was still summer, we were quite high in the hills.


Cully, Aigle, Gruyères