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Tour 1993,  16 - 21 August

stagedistance (km)climbing (m)
Oetwil a.d.L. - Luzern - Engelberg101970
Engelberg - Brünig - Grimsel - Brig1602350
Brig - Simplon - Centovalli - Lavertezzo1292310
Lavertezzo - San Bernardino - Andeer1171990
Andeer - Sargans - Oetwil a.d.L.180320
total6877940

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Stage 1 (16 August 1993): Oetwil a.d.L. - Luzern - Engelberg

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The first stage of the Tour 1993 had to be an easy one. I had been invited by Karl, a colleague of mine to stop at his family's house in Engelberg. I was very glad to accept since i had never been there before and was keen to see this alpine region. It was Sunday and the weather was good. I had first to ride to Lucerne. I reached the city around noon and crossed it without stopping. Then i was riding more or less along the Lake of Four Cantons (some call it, in English, Lake of Lucerne) when i crossed the pack of Grand Prix Wilhelm Tell. This race, named after the Swiss national hero William Tell, is an important event of the amateur's calendar. It runs over several stages.
After leaving the lake at Stansstad i passed Stans and headed for the valley leading to Engelberg. The road started to climb seriously after Grafenort. It was a nice climb, mostly in the forest. I was passed by a whole bunch of buses loaded with Japanese tourists. It is a very common thing to go to Engelberg and from there to the Titlis when you are visiting the region of Lucerne.
I reached Engelberg in the middle of the afternoon and met my colleague. After some drinks we made a short tour of the town, well known for its monastery and impressively surrounded by mountains between 2500 and more than 3000 m high.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Oetwil a.d.L.0420 
Dietikon4390 
Bergdietikon7500110
Widen1056060
Bremgarten15370 
Oberfeld (Rottenschwil)2044070
Aristau23400 
Unterrüti2541010
Meerenschwand27390 
Dietwil4043040
Schlossberg (Luzern)5445020
Luzern55430 
Allmend (Luzern)5845020
Stansstad66440 
Stans7045010
Grafenort81560110
Engelberg911000440
Herrenrütiboden96108080
Oberberg (Engelberg)1011020 
total101 970

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Stage 2 (18 August 1993): Engelberg - Brünig - Grimsel - Brig

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A "rest" day was inserted between the first and the second stage. Together with my colleague Karl we climbed (by foot, not by bike!) the nearby mountain Huetstock. It was a very nice day and we had a superb sight from the summit (2676 m). We got a bit thirsty, but a lot of water (excellent local spring), and then a big portion of pasta were refueled in prevision of the next day.
Two passes were on this stage. The first one, the Brünig, leads from Central Switzerland into the Bernese Oberland. It climbs just over 1000 meter and is not very steep.
The second pass was the Grimsel. This one was more a challenge since it climbs well over 2000 m into the Canton of Wallis/Valais. But the pasta of the previous evening were well transformed into potential energy by the efficient combination man+bike. I reached the summit in the beginning of the afternoon.
After the steep descent towards Oberwald, i rode down the valley of Goms, along the upper course of the Rhone river. I had some (dry!) head wind and it was not a very easy ride. I finally reached Brig where i found an hotel for the night. For the evening meal i ordered... a big portion of pasta, obviously. It is however not easy to have employees of restaurants to understand how much kilojoules a cyclist needs to ride. The "big" portion was in fact just a medium one. I had to order a good dessert to supplement it.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Oberberg (Engelberg)01020 
Engelberg21000 
Grafenort11560 
Stans23450 
Alpnach3446010
Kägiswil3649030
Sarnen40470 
Giswil4948010
Kaiserstuhl53690210
Lungern5771020
Brünigpass631010300
Meiringen71590 
Chräjenburg74710120
Innertkirchen77620 
Guttannen861060440
Räterichsboden971770710
Grimselpass1052170400
Gletsch1111760 
Oberwald1171370 
Ulrichen1221350 
Münster127139040
Matte (Münster)1281330 
Gräiche (Reckingen)129135020
Fürgangen1401190 
Wirbelti (Fiesch)1431020 
Deischbach (Lax)145106040
Brig160680 
total160 2350

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Stage 3 (19 August 1993): Brig - Simplon - Centovalli - Lavertezzo

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I spent the night at a hotel near the Saltina river. Nobody had any idea that, only one month later, this river would come out its bed and bring many thousands of cubic meters of debris into the town of Brig, destroying so much on its way...
The stage began right away with a big pass: the Simplon. For the first part of it, i rode on the old road: steeper but much quieter. Then it joined the main road, which is less steep. The traffic was not too bad. I had a short stop at the top, just to drink something and have a glance at the mountains around. The first part of the descent (in Switzerland) was good, but there were many places where the road needed to be repaired (or was being repaired) on the Italian part. Road works are often marked by forests of more or less useful signals, especially in Italy. But bikes are almost always forgotten by road construction engineers and, without willing it, i happened to ride directly into a long tunnel and then on a highway to Domodossola!
I was finally able to exit the highway and took to the left towards the Vigezzo valley. The small road first climbs towards Druogno. When i arrived there, it was about noon and there was very much traffic in this touristic town. I continued towards the Swiss border, where the valley changes its name to Centovalli, referring to the hundred lateral valleys of this very tormented landscape.
After Intragna and its high church tower, i was riding down to Locarno. Since i was much earlier than expected, i thought of calling my former boss (and director of my thesis) who owns a vacation house at Lavertezzo. Since he was there with his wife, i decided to visit them. It was really hot as i climbed into the Verzasca valley. At Lavertezzo, after a drink, we had a nice walk along the Verzasca river (and over it on the famous stone bridge). Then we went to a little grotto to have a supper and it was already time to ride to the local motel and to take a room there.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Brig0680 
Schallberg91320640
Simplonpass232010690
Simplon Dorf311490 
Gondo42860 
Iselle47670 
Ponte di Crèvola61300 
Pontetto6234040
Masera64300 
Druogno74830530
Camedo Dogana90550 
Diga di Palagnedra93520 
Gaggetto (Intragna)9454020
Intragna100360 
Ponte Brolla105250 
Locarno111200 
Minusio11324040
Renero115200 
Gordola11723030
Selvatica120470240
S. Bartolomeo12549020
Lavertezzo12955060
total129 2310

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Stage 4 (20 August 1993): Lavertezzo - San Bernardino - Andeer

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On this fourth day on the road, i first had to ride back down to the plain. After this first descent, i took towards the East, all on flat roads (or almost). Passing Bellinzona, i went towards the Valle Mesolcina. This valley, though Italian speaking and open towards the Ticino, belongs to the canton of Grisons. Since there is a highway all along the valley, there was not much traffic on the other road. It was hot and my bottles were soon empty, but i found no fountain on the way. Finally i stopped at a small farmhouse to beg for some water. The road began to climb seriously by Soazza. The landscape was also slowly changing from the dry valley towards the green alpine landscapes. Before reaching the town of San Bernardino there was a small pass, Forcola, then a nice, almost flat stretch to recover somewhat. Then, as the motorway went into the tunnel, the road to the pass climbed again. There were only few motor vehicles along these hairpin curves. The landscape was marvellous and made me feel so good that it was like no effort to climb to the San Bernardino Pass.
The descent from the pass was nice too. Only the valley of Rheinwald appeared a bit long, but then the road was steeper again, winding through the wild Rofla canyon. I stopped at Andeer and took the last hotel room that was available in this town.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Lavertezzo0550 
S. Bartolomeo4490 
Selvatica9470 
Gordola12230 
Gerra (Piano)16200 
Cugnasco1723030
Gudo20220 
Sementina2426040
Carasso27230 
Molinazzo2927040
Arbedo30240 
Roveredo3929050
Lostallo49420130
Mesocco60790370
Forcola721660870
S. Bernardino741610 
Passo del S. Bernardino822070460
Hinterrhein921620 
Splügen1031460 
Sufnersee1081400 
Andeer117980 
total117 1990

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Stage 5 (21 August 1993): Andeer - Sargans - Oetwil a.d.L.

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The last stage of this tour was long but all descending or flat. I knew already most of the way and was riding quite fast. I was eager to see how i should come along the Walensee. Some years before, i had to ride over the Kerenzerberg pass because the main road along the lake had been transformed to the westbound part of a new highway: no bikes allowed. Now, however, a bike path had been constructed. Even several tunnels had been made to allow bikers to ride through. In spite of some very steep passages and some gravel, this was a real progress.
As i was making a little pause at Niederurnen, a woman came out of her house to bring me a soft drink. I was first a bit surprised but appreciated very much this offer. The rest of the stage was flat and rather boring. Only the city of Zurich brought another surprise, but a bad one. I was riding along a bike path that i used to take two or three years before to ride to work. Now, however, the big drug market of Zurich had settled itself right on the path. I had to step down and was just able to come through the junkers and dealers. There were policemen around, but they were only looking at the scene. I was shocked to see this mess. The day before, i had felt like in heaven when riding over the San Bernardino. The drug scene of Zurich (now fortunately dissolved) was like hell. This huge contrast remained the most impressive memory of this tour 1993.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Andeer0980 
Thusis12720 
Rothenbrunnen16620 
Bonaduz2766040
Reichenau29590 
Tamins3063040
Felsberg36570 
Chur4060030
Masans43570 
Stelli (Chur)4459020
Untervaz Station49540 
Zizers5156020
Sargans68480 
Mühlehorn95420 
Mülital9646040
Rüti (Bilten)109420 
Oberbilten11045030
Allmeind (Bilten)112420 
Reichenburg11444020
Buttikon116420 
Siebnen12145030
Zürich165410 
Am Wasser (Zürich)170400 
Höngg (Zürich)17243030
Geroldswil179400 
Oetwil a.d.L.18042020
total180 320


PS / 7.12.1996