The Jura mountains I rode over yesterday are known locally as the "rain catchers". So called because for whatever climatic reason the weather systems dump their moisture there leaving Lausanne a drier city.
Swiss income earners have a % of their income automatically paid into the IRA . Yes , I blinked too. IRA? Individual Retirement Account. The average life expectancy of a Swiss woman is 86.5 years. Switzerland has a zero % population growth.
These facts came courtesy of Arianne who - along with her artistically talented, Brooklyn native, husband James - own and run the BnBLausanne. A great establishment if you're visiting Lausanne and fancy a more homely stay than the sterile surrounds of a hotel.
Portrait of Arianne by her husband James
Meet Paul ....
He was one of the other guests at the B&B. Paul is based out of Virginia where he is one of the principals at Stoney Forensics. Paul spent 20 minutes telling me he could lift dust off my t-shirt and tell me where I had dinner last night, what detergent I used to wash it with and which Bangladeshi factory the t-shirt was made in for Banana Republic along with the age and sex of the person who packaged it and what ship it was sent on to the UK. Not all quite true but he does specialise in forensic analysis focusing on the "story" that dust particles produce. The things you learn and people you meet over a breakfast table.
Armed with all this knowledge I headed out the door and down onto lake Geneva where I had read there was a cycle path "all the way to Martigny " (65km away). Again not quite true but there was certainly a lot of traffic free pathway which was a welcome sight.
I had barely gone a km when I felt compelled to battle with a bus load of Chinese tourists for a selfie outside the IOC museum.
Martigny lies at the eastern end of lake Geneva and en route I passed all manner of houses that had spectacular views out over the lake. Either one of these two will do when I grow up..
The houses seemingly only got bigger and more opulent the closer I got to Vevey and then I discovered why! The town is HQ to that great chocolate maker ....
Lunch beckoned and as my stomach rumbled I rolled past Plage de la Maladaire. A stunning location of a restaurant / cafe on a patch of grass overlooking the lake from the northern side with 180 degree views from east to west. Jean-Jacques and his Argentinian wife have been running this establishment for three years and he does a mean spaghetti carbonara.
Meet Jean-Jacques ....
The view from the dining table wasn't too shabby either ....
Jean-jacques' busiest 16-day period is the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival which takes place each year just a mere 2km away in .. yup you guessed it ... Montreux! During the festival he caters for over 500 people who either pitch a tent or park their caravans on his turf which measures about the size of a football pitch. I would imagine he'd be busier than a French snail farmer on market day
Could think of worse places to be a horse ....
A collision of colours on the road to Martigny ....
For most of the day I rode eastward along the northern side of the lake towards the valley at the far end that threatened to swallow me up like a wide mouth toad does a fly .
Eventually, it did, and the lake was left behind me as I headed up stream into the guts of the mountains where Martigny lies. My ride helped immeasurably by a 400 knot tailwind. Slight exaggeration for sure but only mildly.
You can't begin to imagine my surprise when I passed a road side eatery offering kangaroo. Kangaroo!!!!! In Switzerland !!??!!
At this point the valley narrows and you are surrounded on all sides by massive snow capped peaks which are awe inspiring when you see them from 35,000 feet up in a plane en route to somewhere, but truly stupendous from ground level and when you have just ridden 60 km.
Waterfalls to me are like weddings and dolphins. Whenever you see one they make you smile. Especially when the next thing you see is a sign saying "Martigny 7km "".
Ponderings of the day
Probability of Swiss person acknowledging you when you joyfully say "bonjour ! " as you ride past them:-
- Swiss female aged 60 or older -100%
- Swiss male aged 60 or older -95%
- Swiss male / female aged less than 10 - 100 %
- Swiss male / female aged 10-20 - 50%
- Swiss male / female aged 20-60 not riding a bicycle or exercising - 45%
- Swiss male/female riding state of the art bicycle looking like an Olympic triathlete wannabe ( I passed 37 of them over the course of the ride..... well let's rephrase that .. 37
of them passed me either going the other way or overtaking me ) - 2% .... taking life just a litttttttttle too seriously me thinks!
- Number of Rapeseed fields passed - 3!! I thought we had finished with these !!!
- Number of cows with bells - 0!!! Whaaaaaaaaat !
- Number of times I shook my head in astonishment at the views - basically once a minute for the entire four-hour ride