Jerry’s Tour of the Alps 2008 – Sunday July 13th

Stans — Brünigpass — Interlaken — Männlichen — Grosse Scheidegg — Innertkirchen (142,4 km, 3788m, 5-21°C)


If the weather was horrendous the day before, today it would get far worse. This was going to be the hardest day in terms of weather. It started with light rain in Stans. The rain shifted in intensity until I reached Sarnen (471m), where I shortly took cover. Then I proceeded on the way up to the Brünigpass (1008m), but shortly I had a flat due to some stones on the road as there were road work here. The bicycle was very dirty now, so no fun changing the tube (I had bought a new one in Bad Ragaz). At least it was not raining now. Then I was lucky to find a Shell petrol station that had air for bicycles (Shell stations are among the best in this regard it seems like) higher up.

Brünigpass is not usually seen as a very nice pass among cyclists, mainly because the road is terribly busy with traffic, but I found it rather nice and the traffic was not so bad this day. There is a shop at the pass that is open every day during the year. I did not stop and descended rather quickly to the Brienzer See. The descent was almost dry and quite fast.

I stopped in Brienz for a coffee and cake. This place is busy with Japanese tourists. The personell had fun over the fact that the Japanese all ordered soup. The place was not so good.

One is only allowed to bicycle on the Brienz side of the big lake, which is probably a good idea anyway as it is somewhat nice there. The it was 20 km relatively flat without rain. I tried to go a bit fast so I would get somewhere this day. The weather was very cloudy. I got to Interlaken (570m) all fine and found my way over to the road toward Grindelwald. Before starting out on this road I cleaned the bicycle as it seemed (and I wished) that there might not be more rain now. The road up to Grindelwald is fine, but somewhat busy with fast sports cars, which spoils it a bit. There are also trains filled with tourists (half Japanese) going up and down.


I got as far as Grindelwald (grund) before the rain started again. The idea was to climb up to Männlichen, where an asphalt road goes nearly to the top of the mountain. This road is one of the hardest climbs in Switzerland (and I think you could make a few shortcuts to make it even harder, at least I know of one at the start). I took the main road up, but when the rain started I decided to stop, not at the first restaurant, but at the next small restaurant/coffee place, which was a nice place. I hoped the rain would go away, but it did not and as I had helped the area expert for Club des Cent Cols to find out that Männlichen/Moosenegg (2229m) really is a paved pass (on this side), this was one pass I had to climb as this was the second of the two +2000m pass climbs in the whole of the Alps I had still to do. So there was really nothing that could possible have stopped me from going up there. Männlichen is also one of the most beautiful spots in the whole of the Alps – ON A CLEAR DAY !!!!

This climb is really hard, but I found it somewhat pleasant at first despite the rain. It got harder near the top and it most of all got more cold! I could hardly keep myself warm even though going up on this ever-steep road. I finally reached the pass height. The asphalt road actually continues a bit up to the actual mountain top of Männlichen (but I was not in explorer mood now). I managed to take a photo of a sign up there just to have something to prove I was actually there, but I could hardly see more than a few metres in the compact clouds surrounding me. I thought I should try and take the gondola down to Grindelwald as I was freezing already before starting the descent and asked for the price. The price was ridiculously high and even at that I was not allowed to take my bicycle with me on the gondola. The last gondola for the day left and I was told to get outside.

So, no need to linger up there. The journey down was of course not pleasant. Down in Grindelwald (1034m) I was shaking like a leaf and thought I would never regain health again. It was still raining and it was now around 17:30 pm. Grindelwald is full of hotels and restaurants and I am sure that it is a fun place for all the family, but I was not happy about having to stay there and stop so early in the day. I did not want yet another day that compromised my effort to get to Chamonix on time (I had a day in mind when I should be at my sister there).

I decided that I could as well go right up the Grosse Scheidegg (1962m) and that I could possibly get a bit warm that way. I started out in a steady tempo, but I had to cycle carefully at first not to injure my knees as I felt like my legs was as cold, stiff and brittle as ice. The rain had gotten a bit lighter on the way down to Grindelwald, but it increased now again. I cycled really fast up and thought it would be the last for the day so I gave it all. It was a bit longer than I had thought (as usual) and it got pretty hard toward the end and I was still cold. I explored briefly the the tarmacced road going off at the pass height to see how far it was asphalted, but it was not very long and I returned and started on the dreaded descent toward Meiringen (a road I climbed up in 2006). There were lots of warnings to cyclists on the road surface of going too fast or being in the way of the bus (which I assume is needed as there are lots of reckless cyclists for sure). I like the cattle bars across the road that many cyclists do not know that they can cycle through without any trouble (supposing they have the correct speed through). It is light bars that throw open when they hit the brake levers (just make sure to not hold your hands there). I guess they should be electrical at the ends but I have never felt anything the few times they have touched me.

My hands got very cold but still I had to brake a lot down here – rain is worst for the hands! It just continued to rain ever more and more. It is a long way down to Meiringen … . There is a little hotel at a crossroad at the famous Rychenbach falls (where Sherlock Holmes got killed) on the way down and I just had to stop and ask for a room. However, the price here was so steep for a seemingly simple hotel that I walked out again – it could not get worse now anyway. I decided to continue to Innertkirchen (625m) which was where I had hoped to at least go this day, because I know there are no good places to stay at in Meiringen (I believe anyway). I asked at the very simple first hotel in Innertkirchen (Stella Alpina), which is somewhat charming in it’s rustic style. I was nearly suffocated in my small room though and actually had to keep my room door open during the night to be able to sleep. One more day like this and I might had considered “throwing in the towel”.