Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Swiss Trip Day 4 (Monday): S-Chanf to Scuol

Bit of a hiatus in posting as away for the weekend...the last day of the trip was the longest at around 46k but actually the easiest with no monster climbs. Scuol is 465 metres below S-Chanf but there was still 900m of climbing between them though the longest climb was only 20 minutes (did I just write that!).

As we had to get back to Zurich to get flights that evening we needed to be back in Scuol and have the bikes packed up by 2pm at the very latest ready for the 2.5 - 3 hour drive. With this in mind it was an early start, we were riding just before 8.

It was a glorious sunny day, a little nip in the air at that time due to the height but the forecast was for about 27 degrees, a complete contrast to two days ago!

The plan was to take in some singletrack before picking up the track to Zernez that Jez and I rode in on the day before. The initial climb up to the singletrack was a bit cheeky. Although the long climbs had been long they were generally not really steep and this one was. Hard work straight after breakfast and I was a little nauseous at the top though there was no way I was walking it.

The singletrack was contoury with a drop to the left and very rooty, mostly dry roots but still a little slippy, particularly on the large ones or the "steps". I had a couple of rear wheel step outs right at the start. Of course the wheel stepped out towards the drop which I really didn't want to go down, lots of trees and broken/fallen branches all the way down.

I wasn't riding well and was worrying that I was still very tired but I was actually still suffering a bit from the initial climb. When my stomach settled and I stopped having to think about that my head snapped back into what I was supposed to be doing and I was riding roots, drops and tight switchbacks that even less than a minute before were making my bottom lip wibble. Mountain biking is such a head game!

A bit of portage to get back onto the main track at the end of the singletrack due to forestry operations causing destruction, we could hear the machinery crashing around near us somewhere. I was glad I got back into the riding as it was the only really bit of technical riding all day, most of the rest of it was undulating fireroad.

The track back to Zernez was so fast in the direction we were heading, no wonder everyone else was caning it the day before. There were a few slight undulations but in general it was down all the way.

After Zernez we dropped a little bit more height to Lavin at 1387m, the riding wasn't technical but it did mean it was easy to look at the views:

After riding through Lavin came the longest single climb of the day, we had to gain about 300m back which wasn't too bad really though that wasn't all the climbing done with. We had a bit of a descent before the final drag up to Ptan at 1700m, after that it was downhill all the way.

Not a bad spot to have some food:

My bike enjoying the sunshine before the last down of the trip:

All that was left was to drop the 500m to Scuol on quite possibly the scariest descent of the trip and it was all fireroad. Steep and very loose fireroad, scarily sketchy. Particularly rounding a corner and finding a workmens' van blocking the track. Quite a few times the bike was squirming everywhere, excellent fun in a terrifying sort of way. It seemed to take no time at all to get down and ride back to the hotel.

We arrived just after 12 so there was plenty of time to chill, eat, pack the bikes up etc. The only slight fly in the ointment was that our bags hadn't arrived yet (and our passports were in it!). We didn't really consider that one.

Bikes etc were soon packed up and plates of chips consumed. A bit of an anxious wait until the bags landed at 2:05pm, whew! All stuff squashed into the cars and then off back to the airport. We didn't take the road pass this time, instead we took the tunnel through the mountain instead. This involved being transported on a train, you don't actually drive. Our hire car went absolutely bananas going through the tunnel, kept flashing and beeping and telling us to stop the vehicle!

A fairly easy drive back to the airport then lots of faffing getting checked in and sorting bikes (and being robbed blind again), didn't have time to realise it was all over. We arrived home just after midnight knowing I had work the next day and just hoping my legs wouldn't be too dead for the Velodrome trip planned for after work (they weren't too bad though tired really quickly).

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