Mittelland Route Day 1 from Romanshorn to Rümlang
Today I have to get up early! Pack up the last things and go to the station. From Lucerne, I take the train to Romanshorn, with a change in Zurich. Departure is at 07:10 a.m. on track 6. The good thing about Lucerne station is that it is a terminus station. So I can get to the train at ground level without having to use stairs, escalators or lifts. The bicycle compartment is almost full, I can just get one of the last free places. On the way to Zurich, which takes only three-quarters of an hour, I have time for a small breakfast.
It gets stressful in Zurich. I have exactly nine minutes to change trains and have to go from track 6 to track 33. The tracks in Zurich station are not only above ground, but also underground on several levels. I take the elevator to the first level, the next two levels on the escalator with my fully packed bike. I make good progress and make it on time. The train is already there, but in Zurich, they usually stand a few minutes longer than in other stations. Also in this train, the bicycle compartment is full to bursting and I grab the last bicycle place. Lucky again! Now it is still a little more than an hour to Romanshorn.
Now it comes to my mind why there are so many bicycles in both trains: Not only because of the beautiful weather and the Easter holidays but also because Romanshorn is located on Lake Constance and almost everyone here in the compartment would like to ride around Lake Constance over Easter! Sure, that’s a good idea, I did it myself last year over Easter. But that’s when I started in Constance, so I didn’t immediately have this association. There will probably be a lot going on there, like last year. I hope that the Mittelland route will be much less busy.
At shortly after 9 o’clock I arrive on track 3 in Romanshorn. Everyone tries to get off the train with their bicycles as the first. I know that this is the terminus and that the train will stay here for a while. I wait until the compartment has cleared and then get off relaxed with my bike and luggage. I am happy to notice that track 3 is the first through track and tracks 1 and 2 ends at the station. So I can roll out of the station without any stairs or elevator. A final check to make sure that the luggage is well fastened and then I finally start at half past nine!
The Mittelland route begins directly at Romanshorn railway station. I make the first photo stop already after few hundred meters. Behind the station, there is a museum with old trains and wagons. I just take a few photos and drive on. After all, I just started. After only a little more than one kilometer, I leave the city. Suddenly the traffic decreases and I find myself in a spring-like blooming landscape. Meadows covered with dandelion alternate with flowering fruit tree plantations. Soon one of the few climbs follows and I get rid of my long cycling clothes to continue the ride in short trousers and shirt for the first time this year. My mood takes off: warm sun on my skin and on my bike through blooming landscapes, there is nothing more beautiful!
It goes up and down, however not mountainous, but rather hilly and the gradients can be driven still quite pleasantly and without large efforts. Then follows a relatively long section along the river Töss. Since rivers are very reluctant to flow uphill, this part is naturally very flat. For the most part, I make very good progress on well-paved gravel roads. Kilometer after kilometer, without getting tired. I’m motivated and it runs like clockwork.
Unfortunately, it will be over some time, the Töss and the Veloroute 5 separate. I get to feel this clearly, the steepest ascent of the tour is now ahead of me! The next 2 km (1¼ mi) are 130 m (427 ft) high. That’s an average gradient of 17 %. The average is such a meaningless thing: The steepest part has a 23 % gradient! I fight my way up, meter by meter, accompanied by shortstops to get my breath back. At some point, after a felt eternity, I made it up with my bike and my luggage. As a reward, the rest of the day until my stage finish is only downhill. That’s almost 20 km (12 mi). Slightly downhill, but downhill.
But now a problem is on the rise. A technical one. I feel light shocks from the rear wheel, which become stronger with every kilometer. I make several visual checks, and can’ t detect anything. There is no eight in the rim, it runs around and has no unbalanced. What can that be? I continue to drive carefully. Then the strength of the shocks suddenly increases. I stop, take out my tools and examine centimeters by centimeters of my whole rear wheel. Nothing to discover. Only when I let the air out to examine the part of the rim covered by the tire and the part of the tire covered by the rim I find it. At the area of contact between the tire and the rim, the tire has a crack over a length of 20 cm (8 in)! With me on the bike, the pressure was so high that the coat was bulged at the point by the air pressure of the tube and that led to the shocks. When I drop down, there is less weight and pressure on it and nothing to see. That’s why I hadn’t discovered anything before. A completely silly spot!
The tire (Continental Top Contact Winter II Premium) was still quite new, only little used and because I only wanted to be on the road for four days, I didn’t have a spare tire. And no tools for the thru axle, because my spare tubes are from Gaadi and can be changed without removing the wheel. It is Good Friday, a holiday. What now? I don’t have so many kilometers to the hotel anymore, so I give it some air and decide to drive slowly and carefully to the hotel. The tire will hold out for the few kilometers and then I can calmly think about what to do next. So I sneak towards the hotel with only a little more than walking speed. In Kloten, I pass the airport of Zurich and really make it to my hotel in Rümlang.
It was about 92 km (57 mi) today and it took me (without breaks and stops) about 5½ hours. Considering my problem with the rear wheel a more than acceptable time and distance! I have an appointment for dinner in Zurich tonight, but I’m going there by commuter train anyway.
After a refreshing shower, I use the time until then to think about what to do next. It is the Easter weekend, three holidays. In between a “normal” Saturday, but many shops “make the bridge” and have closed for four days in a row. That would mean for me that I would have to abort tomorrow morning and take the train home. That would be a big disappointment. I browse the Internet looking for bicycle shops that are open. In a forum, I describe my situation and ask for advice. I find several bicycle shops, which closed exactly this Saturday. Slightly depressed I let it be for today and make myself on the way to my date…
Later in the evening, I get a hint about a bicycle shop in Zurich, which is supposed to be open tomorrow, via my request in the forum. I intend to try my luck there tomorrow morning.