On the Road Again

Finally, the time has come: My beloved Gravelbike got his new shifting. It sounds so simple. Yet the list of replaced parts is really long (and correspondingly expensive):

  • New rear derailleur
  • New cassette
  • New chainring
  • New chain
  • New brake and shift levers
  • New front and rear brakes
  • New brake pipes
  • New handlebar tape

After the first (not last!) Oiling (the chain) with DryFluid I could not wait to make a first ride and familiarize myself with shifting and braking. Having ridden the previous shifting for exactly two years (and unfortunately had a few problems with it), it will probably take me a few days to get used to the new one. With the old Rotor, the shifting was completely integrated into the right brake lever (up and down), with the new SRAM you switch right up and left down. It will probably need a few switching operations until I have internalized that.

While my gravel bike was broken, there was wonderful sunshine outside all the time. Now my gravel bike is ready to ride again and of course the weather has changed exactly on time. Rain. Even snow showers. Wet. Slippery. But I’m hot to ride. The solution: Over the Alps to Ticino. That’s the advantage if you live in Lucerne: From here, the ride takes less than an hour and a half to get to the other side of the Alps, which often acts like a weather divide. Weather forecast: Up to 13 hours of sunshine and up to 17 degrees. Perfect!

Exactly this weekend, the first SlowUp of this year will take place in Ticino. Pretty much exactly 50 kilometers of closed roads. This is nothing to get any distance records. Rather the exact opposite. Take the whole family for a leisurely spin with plenty of culinary delights along the way. In addition, there will be technical support for the bike at several points along the entire route. That sounds like a plan! A few friends have joined and the bike spaces on the train through the Gotthard are reserved.

It starts very early on Sunday morning. At 06:30 am the alarm clock rings. I always need some start-up time when it’s so early. At 8 o’clock I have arranged with a friend at the station, the train leaves at 08:18. So there is still a little time to get a little breakfast for the train ride. The journey itself is going to be exciting: I’m passing through the almost 60 km long Gotthard Base Tunnel for the first time. Compared to the old route through the higher summit tunnel, this saves about 45 minutes of travel time.

After a little less than an hour and a half we arrive on time in Bellinzona and meet in front of the train station with three other friends. Two come with us on the 50 km SlowUp route, one would rather do sightseeing in Bellinzone and Locarno (but that was also planned). At 10 o’clock the track is officially opened (from then on it is guaranteed that it is completely closed off) and we set off on time at the train station. It’s less than five minutes to the track. Let’s go into the hustle and bustle!

At a “SlowUp” only “slow vehicles” such as bicycles and inline skates are allowed. Of course, you can also participate on foot. Just without a motor. The completely closed and therefore car-free route is always a circuit, so that you can start at different places. Mostly it is about 50 km long, if you want to drive it completely. Throughout the route there are always activities and, above all, many refreshment options. And if you need technical support, it is even provided. You are looked after all around, so to speak.

If the weather is also good, it should be clear to everyone that it will be very crowded. From Belinzona the way was already quite full. But it was very well planned, through beautiful areas out of the city. And if you ride very relaxed and just swim with the crowd, it is despite the high number of participants very pleasant. On the countryside, it has then distributed significantly more. We simply drove past the “attractions”. The route was mostly flat, with only a few and slight climbs. A great thing for a relaxed and leisurely ride. And to get to know my new shifting without stress.

In Locarno we looked for a restaurant at the “turning point” on the market square in the center and had lunch there. This took a bit of time, but we finally had enough of it and the weather was fantastic. The way back the first few kilometers were identical to the way in, but led separately. Out of Locarno and then away from the lake we took a different route back to Bellinzona. Partly with some headwind, but it was fortunately within limits.

Back in Bellinzona I then already felt my butt. The route was only 50 km short, but we were so leisurely on the road that it had taken quite a long time. For the whole round we had, including all breaks, a little over six hours needed, of which we were only a little more than three and a half hours in motion. So just under two and a half hours of breaks, of which the lunch break alone had already lasted a good two hours. Slow, leisurely, and enjoying. In short, we all had a great day together!

Now I’m back home and both the new shifting and the new brakes have worked wonderfully. After a few weeks of sofa time and then a few weeks of forced technical break, my fitness has suffered badly the last few months. I have not been as lazy as this winter for many years. So the relaxed SlowUp round as a small starter was just the right thing. I will replicate the fun and joy of today with many more rides in the coming days and weeks. I have to, because for May I have planned a city trip to Venice with friends. Thereby we go two by bike, the ladies take the train. I have to cross the Gotthard Pass. Right at the top, without tunnel or train. Until then it must look a little better with my fitness. So go, out and on the road, in the dirt, have fun and make the area unsafe in a good mood …

Overview of the route

More details about the route can be found as always at Komoot and at Strava.