I was excited today to finally get back into the Alps. While even the site of them makes Bree a little nervous, the route we have chosen through Switzerland should have few to no hills. First, though, we had to ride along the coast of Lake Geneva.
The ride along the coast was fairly quiet, though we had surprisingly few views of Europe’s largest lake through the cornfields, wooded area, and towns on either side of the road. The day was already getting warm, and we knew it would be a hot one.
We rolled alongside one small town – Yvoire. It looked like any of the other towns we passed with one exception – a parking lot and several tour buses with people spilling out. After some deliberation, we decided to go and see what all of the fuss was about. We we found was a heavily touristed and quite well preserved medieval village. In spite of the tour groups, we actually really liked Yvoire.
The building have been restored and it is all touristed out, with flowers decorating the streets, walls, and houses. In fact, for a long time Yvoire won something like the “Best flowered village” in France. The various shops are all decked out with medieval-looking signs, and there is even a large garden in the center of town beneath the early 1300’s castle which is perched on a rock overlooking the lake.
With the day getting hotter and tour groups getting thicker, we continued our ride along the lake. Our next stop, since we had crossed the invisible and presumably unmarked border into France once again was a McDonald’s so that we could push some posts before we headed back into Switzerland where we haven’t yet figured out our internet situation. Switzerland McDonald’s, like Italy, require a local phone number. Lame.
Two orders of fries and some milkshakes later, we had one last stop – the grocery store. After my last grocery store experience in Switzerland, we wanted to grab our French favorites on more time and find some ice cream as well. We walked into the massive Carrefoure, only to be chased down by somebody working at a security or information desk. After some muddled gesturing and broken English, the man eventually conveyed that he needed to keep our helmets at the front desk while we shopped. Now I can understand if he wanted our backpacks or our camera case, but helmets? We never were able to figure out a good reason as to why he would want to hold our sweaty, salty helmets. Bree says it often, and I agree, that it will good to come home where we are actually able to communicate with others and find out why our helmets need to be held at the front desk.
As we continued our ride, we approached a set of train tracks after which we were supposed to turn left. As a looked down to verify the turn on the GPS, I found myself in the middle of an intersection with an opposing light which was green. That meant one thing, I was apparently running a red light. Somewhat confused by having not seen a stoplight light (which was apparently BEFORE the train tracks, 20 or 30 meters back), I was in a sticky situation. After a lot of honking, screeching tires, and some observant drivers slamming on their brakes, I made it through. Bree, having been some distance behind, saw the whole ordeal and was able to slam her brakes in time to stop before the intersection. She unfortunately was the recipient of a lot of yelling as cars resumed normal flow, including the French police. It was a good reminder to us, as well as cyclists everywhere, to not get too comfortable on the road. I’m just glad the drivers were paying attention well enough not to kill me!
After a REAL border crossing with real guards and a real line, we saw our last views of Lake Geneva fade into the distance as we entered the corridor between the sets of Swiss Alps. Thankfully the road was flat and the temperature not too high as we cruised the rest of the way into camp.
Our campground seems to be one of the few remaining that require payment for hot water, so after cold showers and an excellent dinner of basil-infused gnocchi and locally-grown strawberries, the rain began to pour. Once again, we were glad to be in our tent and out of the weather for the evening.