Part 4 - Knee Hell

Details at a glance

Checkpoint 2 -> Illanz
08:30 Belgium Time 2nd Aug – 23:00 2nd Aug 14h30min
Distance 160km (fucking big mountains though)
Speed including stops: 11km/h

After a good 6 hours of sleep I woke up, got breakfast and headed back to my room.  On the way back down the lift that I was in got stuck for 10 minutes or so.  Not a big time loss in the grand scheme of things but at the start of the day when you're ready to go it was quite frustrating.  I started pedaling through Grindelwald and my legs and knees were in agony.  Now this is where I should have been sensible and located a pharmacy.  Instead, I eager to start the day and began one would be one of the most painful days on the bike.  In the light I could also see what was to come and surrounding me were hundreds and steep spikey mountains.

The first climb I had was Grosse Scheidegg which was relatively short compared to the others I'd do that day but certainly the most painful. It was only 10km but much of it was above 10%.  Almost immediately I had to go into my lowest gear possible which was certainly not good for my knee.  I was going incredibly slow and I was being overtaken by other riders fairly regularly.  I'm sure under normal conditions it would be a 'nice' but today, for me, it was miserable.  Postal buses were the only motorized vehicle allowed on the road and they'd take up most of the road so when they came they punctuated my frequent rest stops.  After a while I reached the top at 1962 meters and enjoyed a slightly sketchy descent into Innertkirchen.

At Innertkirchen I stocked up on food and as I was leaving I passed a bike shop.  I went in to pump up my tires and ask for some oil and the shop owner gave me a quick micro service.  Next up was the longest climb of the day Grimselpass which consisted of 26.7km of a 6-8% topping out at 2165 meters.  I was still getting passed a lot but by far fewer people.  About halfway up stilling amongst the trees I spotted Camille and Jon who had set up camp by a peculiar section of alpine cobbles.

Love these cobbles . Something you would find in a city center, not a mountain pass! #TCRNO4 📷@camillejmcmillan

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I continued up the climb and I met Paul Buckley who'd ridden the previous years event.  Him and I were in a similar place and both were feeling it.  We kept leap frogging each other all the way to the top.

Paul and I arrived at the top at approximately the same time.  A dot watcher from Essex was there to greet us.  I decided to treat myself to a sit down meal at the top and tried some Swiss delicacies.  After lunch there would be a short descent to the bottom of the Furkapass Paul and I piled on the layers and set off.

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A quick descent of the Grimsellpass ensued followed by the immediate removal of all the layers I had just donned as I began the Furkapass.  My knees began aching again.  I was overtaken by Philipp Schedthelm who, unlike me, was loving the mountains.  He bounced pass me and quickly disappeared around one of the hairpins.  The top of the pass was in cloud and generally a miserable place to be.  I quickly readorned all my clothes and began the descent to Andermatt.

At Andermatt I met up with Paul and the PEdALED crew.  The video above perfectly represents the feelings I had of the day.  I was tempted to stop their for the night like Paul was doing.  I tried to go into the supermarket to stock up on food and find pain killers however they told me to get on my way.  It was a little to early for me to stop and I knew I would end up starting extremely early if I went to bed now and thats when my knees would be worse.  i decided to crack on over the next climb, the Olberpass.

I'm glad I made the decision to continue climbing as the Olberpass was easily the most pleasant of all the climbs that I did.  I was a little tentative at the bottom as I wasn't carrying much in terms of cold weather clothing and was fearful but I was wrong. 

Last pass for today. #tcrno4 #tcrno089

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After the pass it felt as though there was a change in environment.  The temperature, or it felt as though, was significantly higher.  Whilst it was certainly warmer it wasn't exactly tropical so as I descended off the mountain I began looking for a hotel.  At around 1am I saw the sign of a fairly big hotel just off the main road and decided to have a look. The receptionist welcomed me in and told me that another rider was already in. I got to my room and hit the hay