Swiss Alps Ride Report, part 2
by Karin Kirk
Day 3 — Pragelpass
Here is part 2 of the ride report from our Swiss trip.
After a successful day on the Klausenpass, our next target was Pragelpass. This is a minor road in the valley next to the Klausenpass. George had to return to work, so Megan and I set out on our own. The day began easily enough with 16km of descending from Linthal to Glarus. In Glarus, we found our way to a small road that was the start of the climb.
On paper, Pragelpass looked easier than Klausenpass. It had less elevation gain and was at a lower elevation. Over 21 km the road climbed 1039 meters (3400 feet) in two sections of climbing with a nice flat section in between. (http://www.climbbybike.com/climb.asp?col=Pragel-Pass&qryMountainID=5536)
What became immediately clear was that while yesterday’s climb had thoughtful swtichbacks to moderate the pitch and offer you some rhythm, this road just pointed itself straight up the hill. Right from the gun the road was steep, and it maintained steep pitches for a long time. The landscape was different too, and the lower slopes were entirely forested.
Partway up there was a dam containing a beautiful turquoise blue lake and the road was flat as we cruised along the lake shore. But after a few kms of respite, the road resumed the ascent in earnest. Again, the road climbed in extended sections at a steep gradient. The lack of switchbacks and the forest cover made it so that we did not have a sense of what was coming next, and there were a few moments when we were grinding our way up a steep section and wondering what we’d find around the next curve. Would the road relent, or become steeper yet? We tended to ride a bit conservatively so that we wouldn’t get caught flat-footed and I also noticed that we were less chatty than we were yesterday.
On the map of Switzerland, the road over the top of Pragelpass is a faint line. At this point in our ride we realized that in fact, this is barely a road at all but was more of a paved path. It was sort of driveway-like, was only a single lane and had rough pavement that seemed to be loosely draped over the ground. This only added to the interesting experience of the climb.
Eventually we figured that we ought to be nearing the top, and unlike yesterday I was more than ready for it. After one last steep section, the road leveled off, the landscape opened up and we were greeted with — what else — a meadow full of happy cows. The bucolic scenery at the top of the pass belied the effort it took to get up there.
Our summit celebration was brief as we were late to meet my Mom back at the train station in Glarus. The descent was not as freezing as yesterday’s, but the narrow road made for some frightful moments when cars approached from the opposite direction. About 50 minutes later we arrived at the train station, and I think we both had a sort of shell-shocked feeling — that was a hard ride. But we were jubilant to have made it and we had a great time. We bought as much food as we could carry and hopped on the train for the trip back to the Bodensee.
After that we had a day to unwind, recover, do an easy ride and eat more cake. The riding around the Bodensee is warm and flat and pleasant and helped us to recharge (the cake helped too).Â It was sad to pack up the bike and have to head home so soon, but at the same time I was excited to see Dave and be back in Montana.
The travel bike was a major success and it was such a treat to have a properly-fitting, light and sporty bike to ride on these roads. I was really nervous that something might happen to the bike in transit but it was just fine. Now I can look forward to many happy returns, since there are quite a few Swiss passes left for me to climb!
Thanks for reading!
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