Day 14, 10 6 2014, Chatel St Denis to Fribourg

We have always had in the back of our mind the idea of 100Km for a day’s riding, but it doesn’t work in this country.  We are either riding up a hill or riding down it, and the downhill ride does not recover the energy, both emotional and physical that is expended in the uphill ride.

Today was no exception.  There were only a few very steep and short uphill sections, but plenty of long slow uphill rides.

Roz had read that Gruyeres a place to go, so we went there. It is now a full-on tourist town, somewhat reminiscent of Italian hill towns such Multepulciano.  The main attraction is the castle.  It is a gem.  Unusually for us we paid to enter it and have a good look.  It feels more liveable than most castles, with rooms on a more usable scale, and better designed for human comfort.  It has an interesting history, but for the purposes of our journey its geopolitical location is of greatest importance.  It has quite astonishing views of the valleys both to the north and south, and its eastern side is defended by very high mountains.  It is situated at the border of the ancient German or Holy Roman empire to the east defined by the Rhine River, the Savoy empire to the south defined by the Rhone River and is at the south east extent of the Burgundian empire that stretched from the North Sea to the Pyrenees.  I find that interesting.

This part of Switzerland is deeply folded, with high craggy mountains and deep-cut valleys.

The riding was not particularly difficult, with our navigation helped along by a combination of TomTom and Switzerland national cycle routes 9 and 4.

I found route 4 deeply unsatisfying.  It seems to me that the route designer has gone to extraordinary efforts to avoid the obvious route and used some pretty tortuous and steep farm trails instead.  We gave up and used the secondary road that paralleled the freeway instead.  We have found over the years that this is not a bad strategy.  The fast traffic in on the freeway.

67Km for the day in very hot conditions.


Roz says: This area would be a challenge for people who are on first name terms with their cardiologist!!  Cups made of chocolate with real double cream in them for after dinner ie after the cheese fondue, and for breakfast two more chocolate cups of cream and the creamy ice cream and the chocolate everywhere and more cheese and of course the croissants and the local butter and do I need to go on!!!  The mountains are not steep enough to work off this load!!


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On to Day 15