Day 10, 6 6 2014, La Chaux de Fonds to Vallorbe



This was another huge day, 2900m vertical, but easier than yesterday as it was not so steep.

Our Swiss guide for this route has indications for the gradient. “>” means less than around 4%, or pretty easy riding. “>>” means gradients up to around 8%, typically 6%.  This is solid work, but completely comfortable.  And then there is “>>>” which means anything steeper.  We have seen over 14%, and gradients at a sustained 13% on these sections.

Over the years I have tweaked my bike so that it has so far been able to do anything I have asked of it.  But I fail on the >>> gradients.  The problem is two-fold.  I do not have a low enough gear, and even if I did, I am unsure that I could balance at the low speed.  I think I simply have to restrict my riding to areas where it is not necessary to ride these gradients.  This is not a severe restriction.

I will include a few extra of Roz pictures, as the landscape is indescribably stunning.  Perhaps the piece-de-resistance was riding over the last large hill and seeing the snow-capped Alps arrayed across the horizon.

There are two main activities in this area,  high-tech watch making and cows.  The fields are defined by electric fences, and the main activities on the farms at present farming activity are mowing and raking meadow grass for winter hay and silage.  There appears to be no farming activity that does not involve brown cows.

It is striking that there does not appear in the landscape to be a large social differential.  There are no large manor houses as you see in other parts of Europe, and no hovels.  Most farms have large comfortable residences.  IN towns there are plenty of pretty ordinary apartment developments, but this is a later development.

Roz believes that the area is relatively undiscovered, as the support infrastructure, and such simple things as farm-stays are not advertised.  Even the town we are in tonight does not have a proper hotel.  We are staying in a perfectly comfortable auberge, but one that is designed to cater more for youth on mountain biking holidays.

On this trip we have had several days where we have said that we have never had harder days.  Tomorrow we should finish the Jura trail, and it is perhaps time for a change of pace.

95Km for the day.

Roz says: another awesome day of heavenly scenes and sounds and smells.  The trail is worth the effort.  The train is there for bailing out!!!  Man rider will be right tomorrow for sure.

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On to Day 11