Devilishly Good Rid­ing in the Alps

An­tics on tough, long passes

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Matthew Pioro

An­tics on tough, long passes in Switzer­land

We started play­ing games early into the climb up Passo del San Got­tardo. It started with Tim Mcder­mott, tech­ni­cal con­sul­tant to this mag­a­zine, and I ratch­et­ing up the pace and leav­ing two oth­ers be­hind. I tired to breathe through my nose as much as pos­si­ble to show that I re­ally wasn’t work­ing that hard. Mcder­mott of­ten rode be­side me, his front wheel just a lit­tle ahead of mine. I took to the smooth gut­ters when I could. The road, Tre­mola, is twisty with long sec­tions of cob­bles. Those stones were more jar­ring on the way down and made us use cau­tion on our de­scent ear­lier that morn­ing. On the way up, the cob­bles added to the Type II fun of a 12-km climb with grades in the low teens.

“Pic­ture time,” Mcder­mott said at roughly three-quar­ters of the way up. It was a mas­ter­ful move. Who wouldn’t want to snag a few shots of the Swiss Alps on a beau­ti­ful, sunny, late-sum­mer day? It would be a waste to rip down Ter­mola and then slog back up with­out stop­ping to look around and take it in. OK. Pic­ture time. Also, pic­ture time means tak­ing a break – whether you need it or not – with­out hav­ing to say, “Let’s take a break.”

“Did you guys talk?” asked Sam Co­hen, pub­lisher of Cana­di­an­cy­cling Mag­a­zine, when he, as­so­ciate ed­i­tor An­dre Cheuk and I were re­cap­ping the ride later that day. Co­hen’s ques­tion was ridicu­lous. I’m pretty sure I an­swered with two words; the sec­ond one was “no.” When­ever Mcder­mott and I ride to­gether, we can’t help but duke it out on climbs. The ride up Tre­mola was the last op­por­tu­nity on our trip to throw down. Also, I couldn’t stay with him on Susten Pass two days be­fore. I didn’t want that to hap­pen again.

We were in Switzer­land at the start of Septem­ber to ride bikes be­fore head­ing to the Euro­bike trade show in Ger­many, where we’d walk around for three days tak­ing about bikes, but barely ped­alling them. We landed in Zurich and then drove a lit­tle more than 100 km south to Hospen­tal. The town is smack in the mid­dle of the Alps. The lo­ca­tion was a per­fect spot to start the James Bond climb.

Of all the passes we had planned on rid­ing, I was most fa­mil­iar with Furka. It has fea­tured in the Tour de Suisse a num­ber of times and, prob­a­bly more fa­mously, in the 1964 Bond flick, Goldfin­ger. Sean Con­nery’s Bond zips around in an As­ton Martin DB5 while Ta­nia Mal­let, as the char­ac­ter Tilly Master­son, zooms along the windy climb in a Ford Mustang. There’s a lot of speed­ing, swerv­ing and even tire shred­ding.

We re­frained from any an­tics on our first climb on our first full day of rid­ing, although we did stop at the James Bond Strasse sign not far from the start of the as­cent in Realp. Mark Co­hen, a Cana­dian ex­pat liv­ing in Zug and reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to the mag­a­zine, joined us for the ride

Hospen­tal Zurich

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