A very nice start this Summer from Bilten (Elsenerhaus) bed & breakfast (much recommended) that I reached with train from Zürich airport to Ziegelbrücke and then a short travel with a local bus. Unfortunately my bike was not sent with the small Helvetica airlines plane when changing plane, so it arrived first around midday the next day and thus made my first day a bit shorter than I had hoped for.
Some numbers: for the 14 Alps days: 38197hm (2728hm/day, but at 3243hm/day for the best 10 days, discounting the short last day, the rain day, the long day with little climbing and the travel day to Aosta) and 1730.7 km (123.6 km/day). 3251 km for all the 27 days here and 64441hm. (Together with the Italy tour I cycled abroad in 2019: 4473 km and 95172hm.)
It was also rather hot already at the start, but it was a nice and easy stretch to nearby Weesen first.
In Weesen (422m) the classic climb to Vorder Höhi (1535m) starts. I have been to Vorder Höhi twice already now, so this was not the main destination this time, but rather a curious road to Alp Looch (1535m) (at the exact same height) which I was curious about as it looked mostly paved and had not heard anything about this climb before. Not even the hosts at the B&B knew about it (despite that they had cycled quite a lot in the area).
I got rather tired in the heat up to Amden and apparently the Spring cycling was still not enough for me, but it is also steep and it was warm. So I stopped for a coca-cola in Amden (a car driver had seen me and was still impressed, though I was not). Then I continued up to Arvenbüel (1272m), which is sort of a pass and the road goes down to the Beerenbach (1236m), where I stopped to take a photo up the road ahead. One sees here a very steep ramp, but I made it up. After that the road is also steep, but less so and eventually there are like 500m gravel, which you could make if you could make it up to here. Then it is very steep again up the last part to Alp Looch with some drainage gullies.
Once up at the very end I first took one photo back down then wanted to take a few steps back to get a better photo – this one, but in taking those steps I fell and managed to break a rib (probably only one fracture or possibly two). Could not get the feet loose because some stone blocking and fell hard as I had my backpack on and the camera in my hand I wanted to protect (I guess). Dangerous to go off the bike! Felt very much like a bad start and rather silly too, but weird unfortunate things happen and I was of course tired. Good views, but maybe not worth the broken rib.
Luckily the Alp Looch was sort of open (the man there said it was no longer regularly open as it had been sometimes before) and I got a Saft (some kind of sweet beer) and sat down to enjoy the view and trying to feel how bad things were. Good views from where I was sitting down too.
Well, I just had to be careful now and take things as they came. I could not cancel the tour right at the start and I also knew that it would not be that bad while cycling, but mostly only during the nights, so I went down carefully below Arvenbüel to the turn-off for Vorder Höhi at 1149m. I remembered well a very steep section half-way up here and was a bit afraid I would feel pain from the rib there, but it was not as bad as I remembered it and I was soon up at the pass.
The weather was fine and time to go down the ribbed concrete road again to Starkenbach (892m). One can glimpse the back of another cyclist up here and he caught up with me later when I stopped for a photo (or maybe earlier).
Down from the woods and here it is normal asphalt again on the narrow road.
Looking ahead up to Wildhaus and the mountains behind. I had originally planned to go up there to Fros, but it would be better to climb from down at Gams for a longer climb and since I got started late I had to start cutting things out of the plan at once and since I had the views up there from here also, it was no point this time to go there. I continued then down the road to Neu Sankt Johann (759m) to climb the Schwägalp (1399m) once again, but in good weather this time.
Here I am on the way up to Schwägalp. The road first climbs well up from Neu Sankt Johann, but is then rather flat for some time up the valley until it again starts to climb to the pass.
Here at the Passhöhe with the Säntis mountain in good view. I had just been reminded browsing a new Tour magazine at the airport while changing plans that there is another way up here and I was happy they mentioned it as I might have forgotten to take that road now otherwise (I had not planned it ahead).
The alternative Schwägalp road is a very minor road with not always such a good surface, but with lovely views. It is also going over a higher pass-variant that reaches 1363m.
Then it was easy down to Urnäsch (832m) and stopped there shortly for a coca-cola before starting out on what was going to be the last climb for the day via Gonten bahnhof up to Scheidegg (1353m). I had thought this was a paved pass (from this side) and so had the Club des Cent Cols also thought when it added it to the pass catalogue for Switzerland. However, upon my last check before going and already having planned it in, I noticed that it was likely not all paved at the end, which turned out to be true. Here at the pass itself.
It is a nice climb at first (well, I managed to take the wrong way at the train station, so had to walk a few metres over to the right road) and eventually it becomes a private road, but it is still paved. However, after it descends a few metres and climbs up to the final wooded section the road then turns to gravel, but I just kept going as the end was not far away. The road is not perfect, but doable for 400m. Then comes asphalt again, but that is only for a very steep ramp at ca. 20%, which I also managed to climb, and then there are again 400m of gravel until the end of the road at the Scheidegg pass.
Here the Scheidegg gasthaus is also located and went in even if a bit late now to have a holundersoda (elderberrysoda) to drink and could not resist to indulge myself with some ice cream as seen here.
I asked the nice guy serving me at the very good restaurant if he happened to know of a good and cheap place to stay at for the night in nearby Appenzell, which seemed like all I could hope for reaching on this day (all downhill from here apart from a few metres at Gonten). I asked about a place I saw on Google maps and he said it was likely the best choice down there. Soon he came back however, after talking with the others, and said I could actually stay for the night there too (he had not thought of it or maybe he simply had not worked many days here yet). It was no hotel room, but a so-called “massenlager” that were available (they had a family room, but it was already taken) in the next building. It was a big room with many mattresses on the floor in long lines (have slept a few times before at such places, mostly intended for walkers). Luckily I could borrow a towel and they had a shower that costed a1 CHF for 2 minutes (but it was fine). I also got the 40 beds (or so) and room for myself.
The price was fair at 40 CHF, so could afford to eat a proper dinner also at the restaurant and it was all a very good experience. Apart from the b&b in Bilten this was maybe the best place I stopped at on this tour. Above is the lovely view, from outside the house I was sleeping in, down over the Bodensee in the distance and the last photo is from the same place over the last gravel stretch of the ridge road up here. Apart from the late departure and broken rib, this was as good a day as it could be. It was slightly hard sleeping on the low mattress, but I was careful and knew it would be worse during the coming nights.