Day 59: Lucerne to Aarau, Switzerland - Grampies Ride Again! - CycleBlaze

September 18, 2015

Day 59: Lucerne to Aarau, Switzerland

Today was one of the most glorious cycling days, except for right at the end.

It started as we sprung ourselves from Jail and headed on a bridge over the Reuss, which is the river that starts around the Gotthard Pass and runs into Lake Lucerne, and finally out, through the middle of Lucerne town. The Reuss is not very wide at Lucerne, and it is spanned by a couple of historic wooden bridges. On the one we crossed there are old paintings depicting town history. Looking out from the bridge we got our last look at the beautiful Old Town.

One of the old wooden bridges at Lucerne
Heart 0 Comment 0
Last look at old Lucerne
Heart 0 Comment 0

Even though the outskirts of Lucerne are naturally not gorgeous like the centre, the place is still very pleasant and calm. We had the Swiss Route 3 perfect signage to guide us, and were not on road or ever feeling threatened by traffic. At first there was a moderate amount of bike traffic on the route, clearly commuters. One man passed us on an ebike, and later we found he had stopped to snap our photo as we approached. The turned out to be Werner, who was riding a bike equipped with a Bionx hub. Bionx is a Canadian company, which makes us proud. Werner had bought his rig several years ago, in Lucerne.

Dodie, Werner, and the Bionx
Heart 0 Comment 0
One more unique house near Lucerne
Heart 0 Comment 0

The bikeway we were following, with the great signage, is just part of the extensive Swiss system. Here is a photo of an intersection showing some of the choices. Cycle tourists in Europe usually take at least one photo like this in Netherlands, Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. Compared to what we have at home, this tourist sight is as impressive as a cathedral.

Swiss cycle routes!
Heart 0 Comment 0

The Alps were now behind us, but that did not mean an end to postcard quality Swiss scenes. It was a ride with sights like those I had been anticipating, when writing "Where's the cheese?" type comments two days ago. The trail took us past some beautiful farmhouses, lands, and animals. Of course, my favourites among these are the Swiss cows, and I managed to make friends with these three:

My three friends
Heart 0 Comment 0

The cows here are so sleek and well cared for it does our hearts good, and we regret the situation of the cows in Italy. The cows look really happy in their fields, but here are some quite contented pigs as well:

Hppy pigs
Heart 0 Comment 0
Nice farm houses outside Lucerne
Heart 0 Comment 0
The Gasthaus Baren (Bears) in Rothenburg
Heart 0 Comment 0
We saw a few of these - a great way to welcome a new addition, in this case Giulia!
Heart 0 Comment 0
At a scrap metal recycler, this sculpture.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Quite typical of our road today
Heart 0 Comment 0
This is the kind of cycling we look for!
Heart 0 Comment 0

We carried on, following the Swiss 3 signs, until we came to a sign that said Trutiger Chasi. I puzzled over this, but Dodie quickly realized it was a dairy, and they were open for on site cheese sales. We pulled in to the farmhouse/dairy, so glad to have stumbled on it. In Parma they had advertised dairy tours, but we would have had to find one on our route and make an appointment. We were sorry that did not work out, so were all the more glad about this one. We did not ask for a tour, but only peeked through the doors. Then we entered the little shop, to be greeted by the cheesemaker's wife (we assume). We were able to ask her if all the cheeses had been made on site, and then to learn which had and which had not. We bought some Emmentaler that had been made there. They also made yogurt, and we chose one chocolate and one hazelnut, in great little plastic resealable bottles.

Photos on the wall showed that this family had been operating here for decades, and a glance at the lands around revealed green pastures dotted with Brown Swiss cows. It could not have been better.

In a rose coloured haze from this great find, we headed off again. It was not until a couple of km later that the GPS pointed out we were headed at right angles to the proper track. Now how could that happen? We backtracked, interested to see where the missed turn could possibly have been. Aha. It was right at the dairy. Who can watch for little bike signs when the big one says cheese for sale!

At the dairy.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Some of the cheeses made here.
Heart 0 Comment 0
An old photo of the dairy building
Heart 0 Comment 0
A bit of the cheese we bought, together with its attractive wrapper
Heart 0 Comment 0
The dairy's pamphlet. They are very big on being Organic.
Heart 0 Comment 0
From the dairy, looking past one of our bikes at the surrounding land
Heart 0 Comment 0

While we were in Italy, I was grousing a bit because towns did not live up to my theoretical standard for a perfect town. A perfect town has a town gates, behind which lie beautiful buildings, housing at least one church, one bakery, one bank, and a shady bench. I had almost forgotten how great a town can be, until we rolled in today to Sempach. Sempach beats the standard, by having three bakeries inside the gates, and to boot its bank is the Kantonalbank, our favourite, since they fed us those bratwurst!

Entering Sempach
Heart 0 Comment 0
Sempach appears to be a perfect town, as assessed by Steve.
Heart 0 Comment 0

We stopped at the Sempach gate to buy some postcards. Pictured below is one we did not get, because it cost CHF 6.60! However, it had a 3D image of a Swiss Cow - great!

Expensive but great 3D cow postcard.
Heart 0 Comment 0
The Rathaus at Sempach
Heart 0 Comment 0

Sempach is at one end of the Sempachersee, a beautiful lake, though not nearly as big as Lake Lucerne. With the mountains gone, this lake has gentle hills around it, all covered in a patchwork of pasture, crops, and nice buildings. At the other end of the lake lies Sursee, another great village. It too has gates, banks, and bakeries. A small debate erupted (but just inside my own head) as to whether one full fledged bakery and two cafes selling baked goods should properly be counted as perhaps two "bakeries". Anyway, Sursee had them! There was also a guesthouse called Zum Schwanen. Guest houses named for swans, lambs, stags, wild men, the sun, and crowns, are our favourites. Here is the sign from Zum Schwanen:

Zum Schwanen sign
Heart 0 Comment 0
Looking at the hazy other shore of the Sempachersee
Heart 0 Comment 0
Sursee
Heart 0 Comment 0
The town gate at Sursee
Heart 0 Comment 0

We now entered an area I had worried about, since the track for it was depicted by a dotted line on the Swiss web site. However it turned out to be fine - a hard packed car free wide gravel trail through farm land. Here we met lots more cows (each time triggering a get acquainted stop), plus crops like cabbage, lettuce, and carrots. We stopped to "get aquainted" with the carrots as well. It really was a pleasant ride, though we had to put raingear on and off periodically.

This track earned a dotted line on the maps, but was fine
Heart 0 Comment 0
We entered a region where quite a few houses had this roof style
Heart 0 Comment 0
Here are also psychedelic shutters
Heart 0 Comment 0
Great cycling by interesting houses
Heart 0 Comment 0
A tongue twister from the Swiss pig people
Heart 0 Comment 0

The dotted line ended as the track passed into a long tangle of suburban style settlement. Here we travelled on quiet streets, usually with a bike lane, past well maintained and often interesting houses, with nice gardens and often fruit trees, including many Quince.

That phase of the ride ended as the suburbs morphed into what must have been downtown Aarau. It was never clear, since we never saw any tall buildings or a clear commercial section. There was just sort of more traffic and more buildings. We passed through that and were following the GPS to the guesthouse we had identified and booked, on the other side of "town". We were almost there and were back on low traffic roads.

Miscellaneous urban ??? at Aarau.
Heart 0 Comment 0

It's not exactly clear what happened, but Dodie must have glanced down for a second at the GPS. In that moment, the rightmost two feet of the road, which we had been following in the manner of a bike lane, disappeared. Look at the photo to see what I mean. Dodie hit that curb unawares, and went flying. Actually, she and the bike did not part company. Maybe that would have been better, because though she fell to the right, her left upper leg received an ugly gash. We are not sure which part of the bike actually did it, maybe the quick release lever for folding the rear wheel.

The road that did Dodie in. She was following the white line when it ended at the post.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Aside from the gash, Dodie hit her head heavily, and reports that the with the heavy thud, her helmet was key in preventing injury. Overall, she was just shaken (and gashed), and carried on to the Guesthoust OK. She was trembly, though, and is under a big fluffy quilt right now. Tomorrow I expect she will be stiff and very bruised.

I pointed out that in previous crashes, one inch curbs have been at fault, but now Dodie has raised her standard to 4 inches. I got away with this lame joke, which is a bit worrying. But no, she will be fine.

Tomorrow: Basel!

Today's ride: 65 km (40 miles)
Total: 2,698 km (1,675 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 0
Comment on this entry Comment 0