The hills fill my heart with the sound of music. - Swiss roots but no Large Hadron Collider - CycleBlaze

August 16, 2019

The hills fill my heart with the sound of music.

Pedaling from Bregenz into the hills of St. Gallen

A typical view from behind my handlebars today
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Today's ride reminded me of the opening scene from the Sound of Music. Unfortunately, I did not wear my dirndl dress and have time to twirl on a hillside with the Alps and alpine valleys below. For another time and place...

Bregenz Festival Rigoletto stage
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Yesterday's rain was gone and the forecast was for a spectacular day for cycling... sun, and low 70s. I cycled west on the Lake Constance cycle path. Very shortly I arrived at the Bregenz Festival stage. This stage sits in the water along the lakeshore and is the location of an annual opera, one of the main attractions of the Bregenz Festival. This year the production is Rigoletto. The gates were open and my companions and I were fortunate to walk in and snap some photos of the over-the-top stage. This was on my bucket list of the tour. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to see it in person.

Passing near Widnau on bicycle route 9
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Back on my bike, I headed southwest along the lake past Hard and At m Margarethen where the route turned onto the Rhine River cycle path. The course turned onto bicycle route 9 near Widnau. This was a confusing section that was not well marked on the map and poorly documented by the tour operator. My companions and I relied on Goggle Maps, a Garmin, and locals to get us to Altstatten.

My view from lunch in Altstatten Switzerland
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Arriving in Altstatten, the directions were somewhat confusing. Our tour had us taking a cog railroad to Gais that saved us 1,500 feet of climbing over a short distance. I arrived at the cog station just as the train was pulling out. That meant that I had another hour to pass. It was lunchtime. The group opted for Migros, a Swiss grocer, that has a nice selection of ready-to-go sandwiches and salads at reasonable prices. The train arrived. Bikes loaded. We were off to Gais via rail. 

A view from the train as I climbed to Gais
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The train ride had very expansive views of the Alps and alpine valleys as it worked its way up the mountain. It was an enjoyable 20-minute ride. Gais is a very small Swiss alpine village. The tour directions said "Take the main road to Appenzell". The clerk at the train station pointed us in that direction and off we went.

Such unbelievable beauty!
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The ride to Appenzell was picture perfect. The route followed a cycle path/road that hugged the valley wall. Each turn was another calendar page worthy shot. I had a tumble coming into Appenzell when I hit a curb at too close a parallel angle. I suffered minor cuts and luckily no broken bones, just a bruised ego. The bike shop in Appenzell directed us in the right direction to Haslen, out next small town. The views continued to be top-notch.

If you walk, you can take a picture of things as beautiful as this
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The road from Haslen to Stein proved to have "mo-fo" hills as my friend Pam calls them. There were steep assents of about 5%+ that were sustained. I am a wimp and walked some. From Stein to St. Gallen proved to be another challenge with some steep hills and missteps in navigation. We wandered like Moses and the Jews until we found our way into St. Gallen via GPS. A detailed map when approaching a large city like St. Gallen would be much appreciated.

Switzerland wins the prize on views from behind my handlebar
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The Hotel Metropol is directly across from the train station near the old town section of St. Gallen. A large Migros grocer is next door. It is a pretty good location as a base to tour the city. The hotel bike parking is less than desirable. It is near a doorway in a back alley with no security and place to lock bikes. 

Around the corner and on the edge of Old Town near my hotel in St Gallen
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Tomorrow is a free day to sight see, hike, bike, or just wander the city. Resting and exploring the city is my plan.

Today's ride: 37 miles (60 km)
Total: 217 miles (349 km)

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