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Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 9: Airolo to Bellinzona

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Phil looked considerably worse this morning than he did yesterday, and everyone except Lisa had developed a slight cough. I ran off in the morning to find a shop with torx wrenches to take apart my CPAP machine. They had a torx wrench, and we took apart the box only to discover that the electric motor inside the unit was protected by even smaller torx screws which even the shop I went did not have. I shook everything but nothing worked, so there was nothing to do but to package up all the CPAP gear, put it in a box, and ship it back to myself in Munich. The cost was high (around $50), but the mask itself would be $100 new, so it was worth doing.

By the time I got back to the hotel, everyone was packed. The other groups of cyclists on tour were outside, and Cynthia told me that they were a 3 day supported tour. "But they have custom jerseys! That's what's wrong with your tour, Piaw. Where are the custom jerseys?"
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

With Phil feeling quite ill, I decided we should just try to make it to Bellinzona, which would make this a downhill only day. I recall Lisa and I doing that ride in 2003 and not only getting to Bellinzona, but making it all the way to the Italian lakes as well, so I figured this should be an easy goal.

Indeed, the first 20 miles or so were quite straight forward, following the road straight down. Once it got down to within a few hundred meters of Bellinzona's elevation, however, the bike path started going up and down. This was fine, but the weather was very warm (we were in Italian speaking Switzerland, right at the Italian border), and by the time we got to within 5 miles of Bellinzona a headwind had kicked up!
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

At that point, I abandoned the bike path and headed directly on the main roads to Bellinzona. Once we rolled into Bellinzona, I rode right past a bike shop without realizing it until Cynthia and Kekoa told me about it at an intersection. Fortunately, there was a park at the intersection, so everyone could wait in the shade while we went to the shop. I was looking for a replacement front tire for the bike and more inner tubes to replace the popped inner tubes.

The shop sold the correct sized tires, Wilderness Trail Bikes 28mm and 32mm tires. The employees proudly told me that these were great tires, because they had a kevlar belt to prevent punctures. The irony of it was that Switzerland, Germany, Austria and France have the cleanest roads I have ever ridden on outside of Japan. I did not know it then, but I had already had all the flats I would have on the trip yesterday, and none of them were attributable to European roads. I bought the tire and tubes, and gave one back to Kekoa who had loaned me a tube yesterday.

We then rode downtown to Bellinzona and found a hotel at a reasonable price near town center. We took showers, and then split up: Cynthia and Kekoa to have a couple night's out, and Phil, Lisa and I to dine together. We bought some pizza and then fruits and more pizza at a supermarket, and then Phil went back to the hotel to sleep his illness off while Lisa and I explored the big castle in the center of town.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

The place was huge, including walls, battlements, murder holes under the walls, and even exits that extended well beyond the castle entrance. By the time we were done, we'd found ourselves quite a way from where we started. We did not even consider trying to explore the other two medieval structures in the city, as it was hot and humid, and I too wanted a chance to sleep off my minor illness.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010


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