Ride Report: Genevarundan!

As with a few of my ride reports, it seems, this one begins at an ungodly hour in a lab.

“Oh, now let’s really piss him off,” Daniel says as my professor is about to walk out the door, away from the Stick and towards a much deserved week-long family vacation in Greece. I’m terrified at what he’s going to say to “piss him off”. Something’s wrong with the Stick. We forgot to do something. We blew up the experiment.

“Joel?” He yells across the zone.

An exasperated “yes” is thrown back at us from just outside the door. Joel trudges back toward the apparatus.

“Can Arielle ride your bike this week?” Not what I expected, but I’m grinning nonetheless. I’ve got an inkling that he’s just amused at the idea of someone doing something horribly hilarious to the poor bicycle (this poor bicycle has a history of horrible hilarity) and personally escaping the blame. And, Joel hates to lend out his bike.

“Ugh. Sure. Fine,” he replies. Daniel is visibly surprised. I can’t help but let out the childish, hissing kind of “Yessssss!” At that moment I knew what I had to do. I had to ride around Lake Geneva.

Almost a whole week passed before I got the opportunity to take advantage of the road bike reluctantly loaned to me. On Friday, however, the day came when I wasn’t needed, and with my professor back on Saturday it was my last chance. Genevarundan skulle det bli!

My goal was to hold pace at an average 30 km/hr, plus or minus 10 km/hr for uphills and downhills. though I must admit, after several weeks flailing about on the craptastic tank of a mountain bike, riding a road bike felt just a little bit like cheating. Riding the craptastic tank of a mountain bike had also imbued me with a sense of urban recklessness; I’d grown used to jumping up and down curbs, hopping tram tracks, and taking little detours through dirt here and there. Riding a road bike, and a road bike that belongs to my professor nonetheless, requires just a bit more attention. I very quickly discovered the bike was also a bit too big for me, and the seat for some reason, wildly uncomfortable. Such things, however, matter little when your other option is far less than desirable for such ventures. Speaking of ventures, here’s how it went.

Le Grand Depart: the start of the ride in Geneva, near the Famous Jet D’Eau

Geneva to Laussane. Headwinds, Headwinds. Vineyards opposing the lake, a translucent pearly blue.

Laussane is officially the olympic city, for some reason still unclear to me. there was some sort of IntraEurporean gymnastics competition going on, so the streets were packed with gymnasts and their families, an interesting crowd. Also, this cool fountain with a diver:

Laussane: there are worse places to eat lunch, for sure. 

Sadly also, in Laussane, my camera crapped out. No idea why, but it was probably for the best since I would’ve never made it home before dark if I’d stopped to take a picture of every single interesting thing that I saw.

Laussane to Montreux

Vaud is a wine growing region, and the road to Montreux is flanked by terraced vinyards. In the small city of Vevy I rode by the Nestle Headquarters (where my neighbors friend’s son supposedly works).  At the foot of a mountain, Montreux is made of hilly streets, stylish fountains, and bright yellow canopies. Montreux, in the throes of its famous Jazz festival, was a very quaint and crowded headache to cycle through. I was however, cheered by the sight of 50 odd Swiss boy scouts headed towards the train station, hiking backpacks and sleeping pads in tow.

Montreux to St. Gingolph, (in which I unwittingly find Switzerland’s most visited landmark)

Make an abrupt exit off of a highway along a lakeside cliff just outside of Montreux, cross a wooden bridge and you’ll find yourself at Switzerland’s most visit landmark. Cateau de Chillon is hard to miss, being possibly the most badass castle I have yet to lay eyes on (Häckeberga Slott, sadly, just doesn’t compare). Since my camera was nonfunctional at this point, you’ll just have to believe me when I say I sat for a few minutes to marvel at this:

Picture is poached from elsewhere, but yes, that’s real.

I may just have to come back to actually tour the inside of this wicked awesome castle.

Once past the castle and turning the corner onto the East side of the lake for a few fleeting moments I’m riding directly toward the Alps. I stave off the urge to just keep riding towards them to vanish into their blue purple vastness, and holding the lake at my left shoulder soon find myself facing Geneva.

Confused directions, rerouting through onion and potato fields (talk about riktiga Skåne känslor!) and a bit of accidental offroading in a nature reserve afforded me the chance to see the Rhone where it comes into Lake Geneva (it comes out right near my apartment).

St. Gingolph to Evian:

St. Gingoplh marks the border to France, and maybe my favorite 20 or so kilometers of the trip. Rollingness, few stop signs, and general downhillishness made it fairly easy to hold the pace above 30, the road made even more pleasant since the lake is visible for most of it.

I filled my water bottle in one of the public fountains in Evian, remarking to myself disappointedly that authentic Evian water tastes well, a lot like normal water.* Evian Les Bains is as you may expect: Broad and open piscines gracing the shores of the lake are filled with women wearing clean cut bathing suits and tending to their laughing French children; German tourists (undoubtedly my favorite type of tourist stereotype) wander manicured green parks along the water; Stone colored Casinos with high windows help you remember/make believe you’re on some sort of Riviera.

Evian and south, however, is fairly densely populated, and sort of a pain in the neck to ride through.

Evian to thoron

French road construction logic is beyond my comprehension, although, this could be because French road construction logic is effectively no logic. At times it works wonderfully for cycle purposes: winding roads over are built without reason over mountains, their destinations being places few cars want to go. On the flip side: It seems more than a little unnecessary to build a bike path if it’s going to end in twenty meters. In thoron, moreover, there is a sign reading “toutes directiones” which even with my limited French I was able to decipher as “All directions.” the sign appears in multiple places and seems to point in, yes, all directions. I just don’t get it, and soon I find myself on the highway (sigh) though at least headed in the right direction.

Note to France: it would have been less confusing if there was simply no sign at all. You see, in Sweden, Germany, or any other place with Northern sensibility, dis n’ever vould’ve ‘appened.

thoron to Genéve

After a brief accidental detour through a lakeside town. Once I’m mercifully back in Switzerland, the road magically changes beneath me to one of superior quality. the geography, too, is slowly becoming more Genevan: the Saléve is again visible to the East, and the white tip of Mont Blanc peering from behind the distant peaks. I can even see the Jura on the opposite side of the lake, the bike lanes are again reasonable, and bus stops for Geneva public transit are beginning to pop up along the side of the road.

Geneve to CERN

I sort of gave up once I closed the circle around the lake, and rode a very slow, celebratory 10K back to CERN. Embarrassingly, I even had to stand up to make it over the slight bump in the road over the booster tunnel.

I rolled my professor’s bike back into his office, swapped off the pedals and raised the seat back up for him. Next I cleaned eight dead flies off of my face, changed into normal clothes and wandered down to the cafeteria to enjoy the only thing I’d ever wanted after such a ride: a classic Magnum ice cream bar, a european treat which to me tastes like sitting in Lundagård on a warm Sunday afternoon after a harrowing morning spent chasing the Lunedi cyclists all over Skåne. Or, now, tastes like sitting on the patio of the CERN cafeteria surrounded by physicists and breathing in the enormity of Mont Blanc on the horizon through the crystalline 6 PM sun. Meaning: tastes like heaven.


total distance (Geneva to Geneva): 170 km

total distance (road to CERN included): 190 km

total time: About 8 hours (for the whole 190), minus maybe hour’s worth of stopping, rough estimate (30 min in Laussane, 15 in Chateau Chillon, plus untimed quick stops in Evian, Rolle, Montreux, and other random places)

I think that counts as averaging  almost 30 (190/7 = 27). though it’s a little embarrassing, since I know guys who ride Vättern in less time 😉 But hey, I had no one to draft off of and I was wearing a backpack. So non aero, but so, so Euro.


*Everyone knows that bottled water is an utter scam, anyway.

One Response to “Ride Report: Genevarundan!”

  1. Ride Report: Genevarundan, Doing it Better « the daily saga Says:

    […] Genevarundan, as I call it on this blog and in my head, was this time around, infinitely easier. Possibly due to a) Well, I’ve actually been waking up early and riding intervals lately and b) Generally company makes such ventures better if not for the conversation, then for the draft. I felt strong, even if the pace was admittedly low and the road admittedly flat. All was well until the Fillet du Pêrche et pommes frites, a semi-forced lunch at restaurant outside of Montreaux, sank down like a greasy weight at the bottom of my stomach. But the cramps stopped after Evian and slowly but surely Geneva, the Saleve, the Jura, all the things familiar curled up around us. When it was over, we all ate ice cream in front of Jet D’Eau and later I successfully sneaked my professor’s carbon road bike past my landlady and into my room. […]

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