The other day a strange looking bicycle was standing in the shop. With its fork and frame barely able to hold the bloated tires in place, it looked like a mountain bike on anabolic steroids. Cross country, downhill, enduro, trial, recumbent, touring, road and folding bikes I had already seen and used, but never a bike with such fat tires. It looked like a lot of fun. And a short test ride later I decided to buy one of these. It happened to be a Fatboy from Specialized. During the first few rides I learned that everybody had something to say as soon as they had a look at the bike: “Where is the engine? Can you ride it up the mountain? Isn’t it too heavy? Does it make fun to ride without snow or sand? Is this a downhill bike?”. To answer all this questions I decided to take it on some of my favorite test tracks.
Up and down on the Via degli Alpi in Val Bedretto
Some easy rolling on the singletracks of Bettmeralp
On the freshly build singletrack towards the Cabane de Galmihorn
The Fatboy in its natural habitat
some selected test profiles
And here the answers to the questions above: “Where is the engine?” – there’s a two stroke biochemical powered engine sitting on the sattle “Can you ride it up the mountain?” – Yes, as with any other bicycle “Isn’t it too heavy?” – No “Does it make fun to ride?” – Yes, a lot! “Is this a downhill bike?” – Yes: perfect on nice smooth trails, go easy on rocky technical sections!
Up to now I used the Fatboy for 6 MTB trips around the swiss alps. And I’m sure more will come.
Distance: 270 km
Difference in altitude: 6000 m uphill, 10000 m downhill
100 years ago the first world war started (July 28th 1914), and some remains of that war are still present. Such as the famous Cadorna Line, a defence line in the region of the Alto Varesotto, build from Italy against attacs from Germany and Austriche. The fortifications have been build into the landscape, and where hard to be seen from distance. Often they occured suddenly during the bicycle trip over the old military roads.
Uphill towards Cadegliane-Viconago
View down to Ponte Tresa and Monte Caslano
Fortifications along the climb to Monte Piambello
Artillery observation point on top of Monte Piambello (1129m)
Fortifications just above Laveno
“Don’t let the snow stop you.” With this though in mind I took off with my bicycle and a pair of snow shoes to ride the Finnu-MTB-Tour, with a short stretch on the Unesco trail Brischeru.
After passing through the little villages of Eggerberg and Eggen on well cleaned roads the snow started to appear.
At Finnu it was time to change to the snowshoes for the short climb up to Chastler.
View south into the valleys Saasertal and Mattertal. The mountains of the Mischabel are covered with clouds.
The villages of Brig-Glis and Naters from where I started today.
Distance: 39 km
Difference in altitude: 1100 m
Short water walk from Villeneuve to the medieval Chillon Castle and back to welcome the astronomical winter. On my way back to Villeneuve I paid a short visit to the Ile de Peilz. Its look changed a bit since my last visit.
getting into the water at Villeneuve
On the way Chillon Castle
Approaching Chillon Castle
Medieval water closets coming into view. Let’s hope nobody still uses them.
Approaching Ile de Peilz
Leaving Ile de Peilz
Temperatures: 6°C air, 7°C water
Wind: 4-5 km/h
Distance: 7 km
A nice walk over the water of Lago di Mergozzo.
Lago di Mergozzo: along the Via Filippo Turati in direction to Verbania
Lago di Mergozzo: just in front of the camping grounds at the border of the lake oposite to Mergozzo
Lago di Mergozzo: along the Monte Orfano towards Mergozzo
Lago di Mergozzo: the town of Mergozzo coming into view
Lago di Mergozzo: time to get out of the water again
temperatures: 7°C air, 8°C water
wind: not noticeable
distance: 6 km
Today I went for some stand up paddling to the Ile de Peilz. A small island in the lake geneva, just in front of Villeneuve.
Ile de Peilz
It‘s the same small island Lord Byron describes in his poem „The Prisoner of Chillon“.
And then there was a little isle,
Which in my very face did smile,
The only one in view;
A small green isle, it seem’d no more,
Scarce broader than my dungeon floor,
But in it there were three tall trees,
And o’er it blew the mountain breeze,
And by it there were waters flowing,
And on it there were young flowers growing,
Of gentle breath and hue.
Many things have changed since then. There are no flowers on the island, and of the three tall trees, only one, but a huge one, still exists today. The roots of this tree started to destroy the walls holding the island together, as the it grow bigger and bigger.
The whole island has been restaured in 2010, and now it looks like new.
This was my first visit of the island. And it was like I imagined – just beautiful.
Ile de Peilz
Ile de Peilz
temperatures: 15-18°C air, 15°C water
wind: not noticeable
distance: 10 km
The last stage of our Alta Rezia Tour let us back into Switzerland. After the challenging stage from yesterday this day promised to be an easy one, with just the Passo di Slingia as major obstacle. After yesterdays frost I was pleased to see just a rainbow over the forests of Val Mustair. I took this as a good sign, what it was. The weather was nice and dry, with occasional clouds obscurring the sun.
Rainbow over Val Mustair
Val Venosta Superiore
Valle di Slingia
Profil stage 3
Statistics: 41.5 km, uphill 1719 hm, downhill 1462 m, travel time 6 h 31 min
Statistics Alta Rezia Tour:
167.1 km, uphill 5828 m, downhill 5906 m, travel time 22 h (17 h in movement)