I woke up early at 5.30am because my pitch was totally in the open so I felt I needed to leave before the locals got up. I left camp about 6.30am and after climbing into damp smelly clothes I set off.
As I left the heavens opened. After cycling 8km to Biasca I was wet, cold and miserable. I took a snap decision to get on a train. I'm not sure this was the right decision as doing so meant I'd missed out climbing a 2000m alpine pass. But this has lead me back to my question, am I here to enjoy myself; or to mentally and physically break myself? The answer is obviously the former, meaning I see no logical reason why getting the train is a bad decision. Yet there is always the nagging voice of hindsight that will make me question this decision.
The answer as to what to do seems so simple upon writing this, I should merely harden up and pitch my tent at the side of the road and sleep there, riding every last stretch. Yet dehydration, exhaustion and loneliness all completely altered my perception whilst in Switzerland.
It did also give me new found respect for those who spend long times away in foreign countries or the wilderness.
When I hopped off the train at Basel it was a much bigger town than I'd expected. I spent maybe 2 or 3 hours wandering around its streets and squares, admiring its baroque architecture.
After relaxing in the main square for a while I liked my bike outside a McDonalds (at least I thought I had - when I came back 20 minutes later I found the lock to be looped around nothing).
I'd used McDonalds in every country except Croatia because of its clean toilets, free water and free internet access. Whilst the little stops at small independent places along the way were all much more atmospheric, when I needed reliable internet, water and toilet stops at the side of big main roads, McDonald's extensive network provided a ubiquitous safety net. As a side note, McDonalds coffee in Italy was delicious, it wasn't bad in Switzerland, but in France it was truly awful.
I stopped off at a small shop to spend the last of my Swiss Francs in Basel before heading out of the town and across the French border to Mullheim.
The first 20-30km went by incredibly slowly and painfully. A gentle headwind and rubbing brake [as I later found out] made the going hard. I sat by the side of the road next to a fountain out of energy feeling helpless. After another 15 minutes of completely lacklustre riding, barely turning the ideals, a tractor slowly overtook me. The golden ticket. I sprinted after the tractor moving at 40kph (as a pose to my previous 20kph) and enjoy the wind break it offered me for the next 15 minutes allowing me to cover some serious distance.
After the tractor pulled off I dived into yet another McDonalds on an industrial estate and had a coffee to try and perk me up. I felt revived as the caffeine kicked in and pedalled effortlessly to Mullheim. The first place I went to in Mullheim was the SCNF train station to look for a ticket to Paris but it was far too expensive. Across the whole of Europe I only ever took trains if doing so was cheaper than the cost of riding the equivalent distance.
Instead I carried on to Cernay 10km up the road and checked into a campsite for €10 at the foot of the mountains near La Bresse.
Washing my clothes and a shower was a huge morale boost. A campsite tent pitch also removed any stress of being discovered or indeed finding a suitable place to wild camp. I spent the night eating, relaxing and sleeping making me very well rested. The old couple in the caravan next to me made brief conversation. However between my broken French and German and their none existent English our conversation ended up being a short medley of French, German and English with us completing sentences in whichever language we could muster.