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  • Jamie Shannon

Maastricht to Munich - Across the Alps and onto Munich

Cycling over Furka Pass - Swiss Alps

Eventually, I came to the last village before the mountain pass. The walls of the valley looked foreboding now and I was feeling a little apprehensive to say the least.

Switzerland had been a hard slug in parts but it was to get a whole lot tougher today.

The rain never ceased, and what with the humongous climbs, I was drenched both inside and out. Let battle commence!

I spent the next couple of hours slowly making my way up the pass. The gradients were steep as hell at times, and with the constant screams of sports cars flying pass, It was incredibly hard work.

Eventually I came to the village of Gletsch. The sun had come out and the heat was beaming down thus I thought it prudent to take off my rain clothes.

I stood there for a while and looked into the distance. High up above the river that snaked its way through the valley, I saw a road that crept its way up the mountains. I'm not a religious man but I did pray that that was not the road I needed to take.

I set off again, and no sooner had I realised that I did indeed need to take that high alpine road that seemingly went on forever, I decided to sit down and rest. My fuel was spent and I really could go no further.

After forty minutes or so, I set off once again on the long slog uphill.

I was cycling at a snails pace now and I actually began to worry that I might not have this done by the days end.

Back in Gletsch, I checked my phone and found out that I was only at 1760 metres. I couldn't believe it. I had already been climbing all afternoon and yet I still had another 800 meters to go. This was insane I thought!

I continued on. The higher I cycled, the more difficult it became and I began to dream that the next bend would somehow reveal the plateau.

As I passed 2200 metres, my body hit rock bottom. I literally could only manage twenty metres at a time before having to stop.

I realised that I had to get momentum. If I could go on for twenty metres and then somehow manage to continue, it all became somewhat easier.

I tried this for a time but eventually the lactic acid grew too much and my legs gave way. I began to push.

By 17:30, the road ahead generally snaked up in more or less a straight line and that was an encouraging sight. I knew from experience that this meant the road was beginning to flatten out.

I got back on the bike and began to steadily haul my ass further to the top.

At around 18:00 I finally caught sight of a few cars parked up next to a vantage point and the feeling of satisfaction was truly immense.

How to stealth camp anywhere

The surrounding mountains in every direction were shrouded in mist. From time to time, as the wind shifted, the mist would be blown to the side to reveal the snowy mountain peaks in the distance. It really was majestic.

It felt all the more incredible because of the way I had reached the top. I was overwhelmed by satisfaction.

It turned out that the other side of the pass was completely shrouded in a thick mist. So much so that visibility was down to twenty metres or so.

I really did want to enjoy going down the other side thus I elected to sleep at the top hoping the mist would disappear by the morning.

I woke up the next morning and it was bitterly cold. The mist still hung in the air and I began to make my way down ever so carefully at first.

After an hour or so, and having already descended quite a bit, the mist lifted and I sped down the other side with the enthusiasm of a child. Those chicanes were a lot of fun.

I spent the rest of the morning descending through the vivid green valley. At Andermatt, I felt so sufficiently pleased with myself that I stopped at a cafe and treated myself to a EUR 5.50 cappuccino. A rarity for me.

It really is unbelievable, the scale of the infrastructure that is present in Switzerland. Tunnels carve their way through whole mountains, train lines cling precariously to cliff edges and entire villages seem to exist in a strange kind of paradox. Often common sense tells you they shouldn't exist where they are and yet they seem to fit into the landscape perfectly. The country is a joy to cycle through.

From the pass, I headed north towards Lucerne and Zug.

I followed a cycle path most of the way around Lake Zug. It was a truly perfect day with gorgeous weather and, to my utter relief, flat terrain.

The crystal clear water of the lake glistened in the midday sun and mountains rose up majestically in the distance towering over the lake edge and the communities far below.

The following day, I cycled east along Lake Zurich. The scenery here wasn't quite as impressive but this changed as I hit Lake Walensee. Here the road once again carved its way through bare rock which meant an easier ride for me.

I had decided to visit Liechtenstein on the way to Germany. I had always been fascinated by this small country tucked in between Switzerland and Austria and was excited to cross over the Rhine into Vaduz, its sleepy capital.

I had visions of quaint medieval streets where church spires jutted out from behind the buildings but it was anything but this. It was all so sterile and bland.

As evening fast approached, I headed out of town and followed the Rhine north in order to find somewhere to camp.

This was easier said than done however. I had not seen drivers like this since my days in Romania or Georgia. They really were pricks.

Having exited Liechtenstein the evening before, I spent the next day transiting Austria and spent some time in the city of Bregenz.

The remainder of the day was spent hammering through the countryside of Bavaria. Once again, GoogleMaps thought it nice to guide me through farmland where every ascent seemed to have an incline of more than 12%. It was tiring work.

I did however pass through some wonderful Bavarian towns along the way where I stopped off for an ice cold drink.

What with Switzerland being notoriously expensive, I had spent the previous nine nights camping thus I woke up the next day with dreams of Munich and a comfortable bed.

Coincidently, due to my camping each evening, Switzerland had turned out to be one of the cheapest places I had ever visited.

As I was cycling along, the wind absolutely battered me from behind. With the hilly hinterlands behind me, the terrain mostly flattened out and I was truly flying along now. Suddenly, thoughts of reaching Munich today entered my mind. Could I really cycle 140km's in a day?


Towns were flying past me now; Memmingen, Erkheim, Mindelheim and Buchloe. By the time I reached Landsberg, I realised that I really could make it to Munich by the days end.

Even though I wasn't tired, I decided to rest up in Landsberg for an hour or so and enjoyed my time at a cafe in the main square. It was a pretty town.

I left at 15:00, and with the wind still pushing me from behind, I cycled further on. My speedometer hardly ever read less than 25 kmp/h. I was absolutely gushing with anticipation.

60 km's, 40 km's, 30km's, 20km's, the city limits! I had actually made it! I arrived at my hotel at 20:00 with a huge grin across my sweaty face. I had conquered Switzerland and now I had three days to relax in Munich. What a ride that was!

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