So yeah, I'm in my little hotel room in Andermatt, listening to some crap interview with Larry Ellison, who really is just so seriously irritating he needs to be hit by an asteroid. The woman interviewing him is just lapping him up. Apparently he would like to buy the Lakers. Cretin. Anyway, I think I managed to completely and totally exhaust myself today. I mean totally. I cycled from Bellinzona to Andermatt, up over Gotthard Pass (6920 or so feet). I thought, hey, 55 miles. Piece of cake. Mountain pass? I'll have 2 please! Ha! The real killer about Gotthard Pass is you spend miles and miles heading up this lovely glaciated valley. Sort of like Yosemite but with farms and towns. There are some long grades and you think, hey, this isn't so bad. 40 miles of this. And then you reach the head of the valley, and 7 miles of pure agony. At least 3000 feet of climbing, several dozen hairpins, and... and... the road splits. There is the nice, smooth car road, and there is the old road, the bike road. It's cobbled. 7 miles of cobbles and absolutely endless uphill. The road climbs way up above timberline and the wind seems to blow in all directions at once. It took me almost 2 hours to climb to the top, trying to get there before sundown. I actually didn't think I was going to make it. I decided to just keep going because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to start again if I stopped. It was the first time in a long time I felt totally alone, I suppose, in part, because generally I was. I was so happy to reach the top, where I stopped briefly, had a few cookies for sugar, and put on every layer I had for the screaming, terrifying downhill on the north side, rolling into Andermatt as the last of the light failed. Would I do Gotthard again? Yeah. Would I take the cobbled road? Hell no! Anyway, Andermatt is the first German speaking town, and even though it's the same company, it feels totally different. The Italian part, well, it felt a bit like Disney Italy, to be honest. There was a noticeable, immediate difference crossing the border. Pays being a tax haven, I guess. Yesterday. Well, yesterday didn't go entirely to plan, but what does? I had to take the train the last 20 miles to Bellinzona, as I got to Lugano too late. I pretty seriously underestimated the shittiness of Italian roads. Oh well, live and learn. My morning was spent going to the supermarket, where I made the mortal sin of trying to buy an individual banana. Lots of Italian. Some gesticulating. Whatever. Stuff your banana. Tried to go to a bike store. Closed on Monday. Of course. Well, closed anyway. Closed on Monday? Who knows? There were no signs. Just shutters. I managed to get out of Milan, which was a lite hair raising, but not quite the carmegedon I feared. Flat plains with random development. Corn. Dinky, bumpy roads with loads of cars. Honestly, where do all these people go? The land started to roll slightly. Loads of oak forests. Not that unlike the Sacramento Valley. And then, all of a sudden, mountains! Not sort of parenthetical mountains, the sort of feeling you get when you start to drive into the Sierra, but more the holy crap of the Front Range of the Rockies. Not so surprising, given that the Alps and the Rockies are similar in their formation, I guess. I made it as far as Lugano, which is just dripping with money, then had to take the train, as I was afraid of ending up on the road in the dark. Got to my slightly depressing hotel room in Bellinzona, only to discover that Switzerland has silly electrical plugs! I asked at the front desk, and got that sort of blase, eh, you're fucked response that one comes to love and expect from staff at cheap hotels. Fortunately, the nice lady at the expensive hotel let me charge my phone and GPS there while I had dinner. Had to buy an adaptor this morning, which made today a bit late as well. Last thought, this ride is proving a completely different beast than the last one. Yeah, no duh, its in a different place, but really, it's much more stressful. The last one I just sort of fell into a comfortable routine. Coffee and cake at 3. Not this one. It's too unpredictable. Plus, I suppose, it's easy to just blend into and float through Germanic culture for me. Not so Italian. Much more work. Anyway, it will be interesting to see if that changes now that I'm in the German speaking part of Switzerland. Right. My thumbs are tired, as am I. Off to bed!