Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hillseekers 2 Day Intensive Crash Course

From Life through a Lens

We just got back to Rueschlikon after 2 days of intensive training!
I've had an ice bath and am ready to hit the hay, but here's a brief recap
for you.
Early Tuesday morning, we drove down to the Berner Oberland Region (near Interlaken) to the town of Meiringen as our home base. We met up with Kate, an over the top trainer/athlete fresh off a mountain marathon, to do the Swiss version of the Triple Bypass ride.
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We started by going up the Grimsel Pass. Just a 5,000' climb.
Jeff and Becky are stellar athletes. Jeff really does have a carbon fiber Alphorn that he carries with him on the rides.
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He always reaches the summit first, puts together the Alphorn and plays it while we all crest the climb. I'm not joking.
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The descents were insane. This is a shot of a rather tame section that actually had guard rails. I didn't take many descent pics because it was so dangerous. Furka Pass scared the wits out of me, as there were no guard rails and the drop offs were sheer cliffs.
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They kept telling us that Furka Pass was the easiest of the three. I guess they considered easiest because it was the shorter distance of the three. (?)
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It's like riding with the Swiss National Team. Check out the size of Kate's calves (the one in front). Becky's are just as scary.
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That's the Grimsel descent in the background as we're nearing the top of the Furka Pass.
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Gotta play for the tourist. A couple did actually give Jeff a tip for playing this time. It was more a symbol of their respect and honor.
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The descents are loooooooooooooooooooooooong, some almost an hour to get down. And it gets cold up top, so we layered up for going down.
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Down through the valley to our last pass, Susten. I think it was about a 12 mile climb.
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By the time we started Susten it was 5:00pm. With a 2 hour climb ahead of us and at least an hour descent back to Meiringen, we were racing against the clock.
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The sun was quickly fading behind the mountains, but we were going to finish this epic adventure!
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At the top of Susten, you go through a tunnel and pop out on the other side.
The view was breathtaking. Jeff had sprinted ahead of me and was set up to play.
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He has a real passion for playing the Alphorn and puts his all into it. It's not a gimicky photo thing. He really loves doing it and it comes from the heart.
I must say it is a surreal experience to be on top of the world and to hear the Alphorn echoing through the mountains.
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It was quite cold at the top and we had at least a 45 minute descent ahead of us, so we put on everything we had and started down. I had no plans to stop for photos or try to take them on the fly. It was cold and we were racing against nightfall. Right at the first turn I almost fell off my bike when I saw this view. I actually said out loud to myself, "There's no way I am going to not take this picture. I'm stopping." I wish you could have all been there with me. It was a moment I will always remember in my mind. I'm now glad I have a small shot of a portion of the whole scene.
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Descending through the clouds on a tight twisty road, through tunnels, and thick fog was the most bizarre experience I've ever had. There are no words to explain it.
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An hour later, we made it back to Meiringen. Literally making it back just as darkness fell, the rain began to fall. 82 miles, 12,000' climbing, and 7 hours. Bursting with excitement over the magnitude of our epic day, we could not stop smiling the rest of the evening.

Day two we climbed from our hotel up the Grosse Scheidegg.
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Probably one of the most stunning climbs I've ever done.
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Just 11 miles with an average gradient of 9% (at one point it was 18%), the scenery is jaw dropping gorgeous at every turn.
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I don't know how we did it with all the climbing we did the day before. I think the beauty all around energized us.
But even with all the grandeur and inspiring scenery, I still find a way to be silly. This about sums up how I felt on the descents yesterday.
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At the top of Grosse Scheidegg, Jeff and Becky both played the Alphorn, and they let me and Raja give it a go. I actually played about 6 notes! It was pretty cool.
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This descent was just insanely beautiful. Again, there are not enough words.
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The Eiger. Did anyone see the movie, The Eiger Sanction? This is it.
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We descended for 45 minutes, going through Grindelwald and then to Interlaken. We dropped down to Brienz and around the lake.
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And back through the valley to Meiringen.
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50 miles, 5,000' climbing, and 4 1/2 hours. We earned our Hillseekers badge today in this intensive crash course!
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Raja the Sherpaman and I are having a fabulous trip! We miss you all and truly wish you were here. We've passed lots of mountain bike trails, so I think we need to do a mtn bike field trip soon!
Tomorrow we get a massage. A well deserved one I might add.
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Thanks for tagging along. Hope you're having as much fun as we are!
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3 comments:

jmilliron said...

Amazing!!!

Joe said...

I'm having way more fun riding around Big Creek.

I'm just going to keep telling myself that.

In other news, I think I have a new dream destination thanks to your wonderful photos and words. Thanks...

Brian said...

Ahhh, brings back memories to my trip there last year. I did Susten and Furka as well!!!! Thanks for sharing, I want to go back again!