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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend in Switzerland

Woah – a crazy busy weekend down in Switzerland roaming around.  But also a ton of fun.  Here’s what I’ve been up to!

1) Got a bunch of replacement gear

As some of you know, during my sailing trip to Croatia last month an entire suitcase of mine was lost by the airline on the way home.  Said suitcase had a fair bit of gear in it – somewhere in the $5,000-$6,000 range.  Mostly action cams and mounts, but also stuff like portable jambox speakers, running shoes, clothes, etc… Some 30 days later and the airline has no record of it anywhere on this planet after I checked it in.  Here’s roughly what was in it prior to departure:

CJ_p_EGWgAA-u-W

Some of that stuff ended up in my carry-on bags by pure luck (Garmin VIRB XE, Hero4 Session, Sony Action Cams, Epix, DSLR), and there were other things not in that pic (speaker, clothes, shoes, etc…).  Luckily my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card covers a fair chunk of it, and the airline the rest – so there’s no financial loss per se, but there’s plenty of clothes and other things I won’t get back.  In case you’re wondering why I didn’t carry it on, it’s because I already had two carry-on bags with the DJI Phantom 3 Drone as one, and another laptop bag (stuffed to the max with gadgets).  On the bright side, I had downloaded all of the photos/videos/etc before the flight. Phew!

In any case – the first lot of stuff came in Friday evening, about half of the lost goods:

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Oh, and there’s a few new oddities in there for review.  Was all shipped in the same shipment from my mail forwarding service.  As one reader noted via Twitter – I’ve been spending about half my weekend changing all the default settings. Lots of fun (not…).

2) Took a train down to Switzerland…

…and picked up an RV!

At the ass-crack of dawn I found myself riding my road bike the 2KM to Paris Gare du Lyon train station and dragging a massive suitcase behind me.  I got tons of funny looks, despite being 6:30AM.  I would have snapped a photo, but between the suitcase, my backpack, and the drone backpack (and riding the bike), I was sorta out of hands to take a photo.

From there I loaded up onto the train for the four-hour ride to Zurich.  It’s here that I’d be picking up my rental RV that I’ll keep for about 10 days.  The first portion I’ve been spending roaming around Switzerland just enjoying riding and the scenery.  Then I’ll arrive Monday afternoon to Eurobike in Germany, where I’ll stay till Friday.  After which The Girl (and Lucy!) joins me for a long weekend somewhere else in the Alps hiking and enjoying the outdoors.

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At Eurobike they have RV parking directly behind the convention center – so this is far more convenient than finding lodging an hour away each day (the usual) from the convention center.  Realistically you lose about 90 minutes with the bus transfers each direction, so that’s about 3 hours each day I’d lose.  Three hours I desperately needed back for posting!

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Plus, it’s at least break-even compared to a hotel, if not actually cheaper.  Oh, and it’s awesome.  More on the RV later this week!

3) Did loops around the airport and saw camels

I made it approximately 3 miles from the RV rental place before I got distracted and had to get off the highway.  It was the sight of gazillions of cyclists, runners, and everything else enjoying the totally awesome park and bike paths that surround Zurich International Airport.  So obviously, I decided it was time for a bike ride – stat!

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The place was uninterrupted cycling heaven – especially if you were doing anything in aero position from a training standpoint, as there’s almost no traffic to worry about, and the paths/roads are plenty wide.  Plus, it’s just gradual ups and downs.

DCIM\100_VIRB

Oh – and you get to watch airplanes take-off and land all day long!  For example, this Emirates Airbus A380 that took off just as I rounded a corner.  The airport is packed with folks that come out to watch planes and enjoy hanging out.

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Or, this Swiss Airbus that landed just behind me over my head:

ZurichAirport-00-00-07-678

And then there was a camel.  Yes, seriously, a camel:

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Actually, there were two camels…just on the bike path…because.

DCIM\124_VIRB

I also saw a sign warning you of tanks, but somehow my picture didn’t come out there.  I’d see it again while driving.  Perhaps they should instead invest in camel signs.

Anyway, did two loops worth (touch over an hour, including a few minor navigational mistakes) before jumping back in the RV and heading onwards.

4) Rode up a mountain till the road ended

Sunday morning I awoke in the middle of a pasture.  In theory mostly corn, but there was definitely a strong overtone of cows (I’d find them a short bit later a few hundred meters away behind some more corn).  I had lots of ideas for routes that I plucked from Strava segments, but as it would turn out many of them were mountain biking.  So I just kinda made it up as I went along, using my phone to help with impromptu navigation (Yes, I know, four map-capable Garmin head units + Garmin Epix – all of which don’t do jack-good when your laptop battery is kaput and only having a mobile phone and thus couldn’t create routes).  Oh, the laptop battery is/was kaput because I couldn’t call the RV rental company on a Saturday evening to find out why the circuit isn’t working.  Works now.

In any case – I wandered…around a lake first:

DCIM\100_VIRB

And then eventually up a mountain.  Almost the entire route was 10% grade or higher.  It was sorta steep, but nice in that less than 10 cars passed the entire time.  I passed a handful of hikers and mountain bikers too.

DCIM\124_VIRB

DCIM\100_VIRB

The mountain bikers probably should have been my clue that eventually the route would require such a two-wheeled tool.  After climbing about 3,000ft up, I finally hit this:

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The end of the road.  Well, actually, the road ended about half a mile earlier, but I kept on going.  Then it ended for realz.

Still, not too shabby a day with a three hour ride in the Swiss Alps.  I’ll take it!

5) Got in an openwater swim up in the mountains:

I left my cornfield behind and went off in search of something south.  Really anywhere would do.  In the end I settled on a little spot along a lake.  Seemed perfect!  This is actually the view out my front windshield.  I don’t even need to leave the RV!  Well, because my windshield is currently covered in splattered bugs, I give you this one taken on the other side of the windshield.

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Of course, I did leave.  While I had no plans to swim today, the allure of the lake sucked me in.  I followed a small bike path that eventually merged with some railroad tracks, walking about 3/4ths of a mile away from camp.

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Then I packed up all my goods into my swim buoy and headed off.

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And while it wasn’t exactly tropical, it wasn’t super-cold either.  No wetsuit required:

DCIM\100GOPRO\GOPR0016.

From here I simply swam the roughly 3/4ths of a mile back to the RV:

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I had a bit of a headwind depending on where in the route I was, which drove some waves head-on – thus I assume that’s why I was so slow (and if not, I’m sticking with that story).  Here I am at the end:

DCIM\100GOPRO\GOPR0057.

And with that – done for the evening!  Now to re-charge a few dozen devices and get ready for an absolutely jam-packed week at Eurobike.  I think almost every day I have at least two rides scheduled.  Yikes!

Thanks for reading!

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70 Comments

  1. Bruce Burkhalter

    For all the stuff you bought, did you use the Clever Training coupon code? :-)

  2. Kestas

    Nice climbing wheels :)

  3. José

    How hard was filing the claim with Chase Sapphire Preferred? I assume you purchased your airline ticket in full with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and used their trip insurance? How did you itemize/value everything?

    • Silly simple. Just ring them up and then they create a case. Then a few days later some 3rd party person e-mails you all the claim details with the forms. Officially I have to wait another 15 days until Croatia Airline declares the bag dead, but at this point I took the risk that after a month it’s a goner.

      I do have to itemize everything, but only provide re-purchase receipts. I started a list in Excel just after I got back, and then kept on adding to it as I remembered things. Amazing how much all sorts of one-off mounts add up (things like funky dual mounts, etc..).

  4. Fab

    nice post to start the week with.

    Too bad the Canon 7d is lost! Wondering which model will replace it.
    Btw, I’ll beg The Girl for another cake replica, if I were you…

    • Thankfully – the 7D was in my backpack/laptop bag – so good there! Though, it’s on the docket to replace eventually. It’s a trooper, I beat the crap out of it shooting just as many photos as a professional photographer would, but in much worse conditions. Plus have flooded it once too (Canon Professional Services fixed it up).

      Ultimately though, I’m hoping that eventually the legacy camera makers will start adding in phone connectivity options natively (the dongles are stupid).

  5. Torkil S

    Can you park the RV anywhere and spend the night in Switzerland, or do you have to rent space at a camping site?

    • So I asked the guys at the RV place, they said generally speaking as long as there are no signs not to park anywhere, and as long as you’re not blocking anything, or on private property (or some national parks), then you’re good.

      He said it’s mostly a thing of common sense, and he noted that in the rare case an officer comes by, simply move along if they ask and that they’re always pretty friendly.

    • ar ar

      and the additional cardinal rule is that if you are on farmland do it only if the grass is freshly cut (i.e. not too tall for the tires to destroy anything) and with consent of the farmer.

  6. Mad_triathlete

    Always great to read your posts.
    If you haven’t made up your mind for next weekend’s cycling routes: On Saturday the Stelvio pass is closed for motorized vehicles from all three sides all day long.

  7. Chris

    Welcome to Switzerland, yes you have fans here as well! When I read that you are coming to Switzerland I naturally assumed that you were participating here: link to inferno.ch

    Let me know if you need some tips for you second bit of your holidays. I live half way betwen where you did your bike ride and your swim.

    Looking forward to your news from Eurobike!

  8. Joyce

    Oh!!! You was plane spotting in the village where I live (picture 7). And the picture 8 show’s my favorite route around the airport….

  9. Dave

    Is that a VIRB on a selfie stick in #3?

    • In keeping with my position that I do not own a selfie stick, this is technically the GoPro 3-way thingy. Selfie term not included. ;)

      But yeah, using it on that. It’s my favorite GoPro accessory, but the new VIRB X/XE use the GoPro mounts, so it works out well.

  10. Josh

    What watch is above the 920 in the top picture?

  11. Gunnar

    Perfect timing. I fly into Zurich next week with my Ritchey Break Away, so good to know it looks cycling friendly.

    • Junior Santiago

      Hey

      Check this website for all official Roads in Switzerland

      link to veloland.ch

      Greetings from Zurich

    • Tobi

      Zurich is THE place for road cycling. I lived there for 6 years. Road conditions are fabulous, drivers are usually very friendly. There are two little mountain pass roads in Zurich, the “Albispass” and the “Bucheggpass”. Both cross the ridge on the right side of the city, and the view from Albispass is incredibly beautiful. Bigger alpine passes are in reach by public transport, from 45 mins (Ibergereck, Klausenpass) to around 2 hours (Sustenpass etc). Even the mighty Stelvio is doable in a day trip – go by train to Zernez, then via the Ofenpass towards the Stelvio. Trains are very bike-friendly with special bike compartments.

    • Gunnar

      thanks Tobi and Junior. Great link and food to know its cycling friendly!

    • Steve

      So youre taking a bike to Zurich but didnt know it was cycling friendly? Strange…i would have found that out before i took my bike all the way to Zurich. Like most people i suspect.
      Unless of course you already knew that and just wanted to tell everyone…

  12. sean

    I’m curious how Chase would respond to me if I lost a bag, and told them it had half a dozen GoPros and various other high-dollar items, lol.

    • They were pretty awesome (so far). I explained what was in there, for actual cameras that was:

      Hero4 Silver #1
      Hero4 Silver #2
      Hero4 Black
      Hero LCD+ (the camera, not just the screen)
      Hero Base
      Hero3 Black
      v.360 Action Cam

      For watches:

      Fenix3
      FR225
      Apple Watch

      Sad Panda.

  13. jason k

    I’m also a bit interested in who covered what in the lost bag, I had my 910 stolen from my checked bag and the airline said because it was electronic they would not cover the loss.

    • So the baggage was covered because the was purchased using my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. That carries a base coverage of $3,000USD for lost luggage, plus an additional $500 for electronics that are lost.

      Then there’s what Croatia Airlines covers. Per IATA policy they’ve got a minimum amount, technically based on weight – and most airlines just give you the full 70 pounds worth, which works out to be about $1,500USD (roughly).

      Chase is in addition to whatever the airlines gives you (runs totally separate). So I’ll likely be a little bit over the totals, but we’ll see if I can sucker Croatia Airlines into giving more (it’s on a per-claim basis). In their case, they don’t consider a bag dead till 45 days though (most airlines are between 21-30 days). It’s somewhat ironic because they have a much smaller route network than someone like British Airways or United, so there’s only so many ways that could have gone wrong from Split Airport (small).

    • Anonymouse

      Well, the number of ways presumably is multiplied by the number of employees who could have handled your bag, right? Because it seems like one heck of a coincidence that you travel constantly and don’t seem to lose bags, but when you check one that’s chock full of gadgets, it disappears. What’s the Croatian equivalent of Craigslist? I suspect you may be able to get a good deal on “replacements” if you shop there.

    • Yeah. Though it’s interesting – Split airport is the very first airport I’ve ever seen with baggage scanners directly at the ticket counter. The ticket agent presses a button and the bag moves about 1-meter, and then it stops and is scanned for a few seconds. Then it exits directly into a baggage conveyer belt with a clear tube over it (like a water slide) – so in theory it’s in some sort of security bubble.

      My thinking is that it got scanned, but couldn’t see through the gadgets. It was then flagged to review. The question then is once they opened it up did they take and run, or was there a simple mishandling error. We got to the airport only about 55 minutes before the flight, due to odd traffic issues. So I could see that small delay might have hosed things up. But since it was definitely tagged (I watch that every time), I find it hard to believe it just vanished.

    • Jean-Patrick

      Paris CDG has a track record for stolen baggage.
      The police arrested airport employees some years ago. They were taking baggages right off the conveyor belt in the arrival area, broke the locks, check the content and eventually grabbed the valuables, or possibly the whole bag. This occurred especially at terminal 1 because they are many dead angles there.

  14. Karol

    So I could’ve asked for advice in person near the airport last weekend. Geez and let me write it .. :)

  15. Ian S

    Hmm, bike doesn’t look like your Cervelo or the giant(?) you use? And the wheel combo….?

    Zurich is a great spot for outdoor life, nice place to be. Looking forward to the euro bike reports

    • It’s a bike I bought last year at Interbike, sorta a secondary road testing bike. It got some use mid-winter, but then has mostly been in hibernation. I had specific products I wanted to test this week, and that was the bike that best fit the mission.

      As for the wheels, somehow one of the spokes broke on the proper front wheel for that set, so I just swapped it out with one that’s fairly close till I get around to calling Enve to get it fixed (it’s actually the carbon rim spoke hole that’s slightly broke somehow).

  16. Junior Santiago

    Enjoy the visit in my country

  17. Scott E

    Okay, can someone clue me in as to what the “Pig Juice” in the bottle is?

    And dang, cruising along at 123 bpm while cranking out 395 watts – I should be so lucky…

  18. Love the random camels near the airbus. Looks like you had a great weekend.

    Aaron Davidson

  19. Robert

    They probably thought you were some kind of spy or terrorist with all that stuff in your suitcase!

  20. Joan Alcover

    Great reading, but I am amazed by your stats.

    74 rpm for 17 mph looks OK; riding 50×17?
    at 1426 feet, close to Zürich, looks OK also.
    But 395 watts!!!! At that speed!!! 4% grade?
    And only 123 bpm????

    How many watts will you pump out at 160 bpm????

    Well, anyhow, next time take the train to Lausanne and then continue to the Valais (Sion, Sierre, VIsp or Brig). We can then ride the mountain passes, up to 2,478 m (8,130 feet) at the Nüfenen.

    Again, great reading.

    • Richard R

      I would assume that he has either live or 3s power showing, not his average power! He probably just pushed a bit to get momentum before taking the photo, thus the high wattage and speed, and low HR.

      Either that or he is as good at riding as reviewing!

    • That was live power, but mostly because I had slowed a bit to wait for the plane to approach, and then I realized I would be too close to the path and sped up a bunch to get further out at the second. So the HR hadn’t quite caught up yet to wattage.

    • Jason

      I’m guessing this is going to be the next big scandal since the Froome Mount Ventoux file leak. It’s crazy that he was holding ~400 watts with a heart rate of 160 and Ray can hold 395 watts with a heart rate of 123bpm. Were you using osymetric rings?

  21. ar ar

    as a long time reader I figure I will give you some pointers as to the region:

    As mentioned above, there is a website which consolidates (and supports) the official Swiss cycling routes: link to veloland.ch but be careful: Anything that is dotted on the map is unpaved.
    If you just want to make sure that a Strava segment is not actually a mountain bike path crosscheck it with link to mountainbikeland.ch
    And following the same logic, you can find (some) nice hikes ranging from flat and scenic to profesionall-mountaineering and scenic on link to wanderland.ch

    If you just so happen to be in the alps on Saturday, there is a 2500 people strong event called the Alpenbrevet (link to alpenbrevet.ch) going on in the central alps featuring some of the best climbs in Switzerland. The website does say that all tickets are gone but they seem to have a waiting list if you ask nice enough.
    And if large group activities arent your thing but you would still like to find a couple of good climbs there is a german website which catalogues climbs all over Europe
    link to quaeldich.de

  22. Matthew

    What is the watch next to the pig juice bottle?

  23. Jamie Belcher

    I would seriously cry if I lost all that gear. Once had £2k worth of snap on tools stolen, no insurance and still think about them 20 years later! Before any one says it, I couldn’t get them insured as they were in a lock up garage..

    Glad you got replacements.

  24. Jamie Belcher

    DC out of interest when would you use a GoPro Hero considering you have more advanced models? Just curious as I noticed you have two of them?

    • I was mostly just testing an ultra long 3rd party battery for it. Thought it might be interesting for certain use cases where you didn’t want to spend a ton of cash. Sadly, battery also gone.

    • Brad Davis

      Do you have an ultra long battery recommendation for the GoPro? I have a Hero 4 Silver that I use for work quite often, but the battery life puts a damper on quite a few things I would use it for.

      I can’t just run a power cable because usually it is inside CNC grinders and machining centers that have an enormous amount of coolant and a door that opens and closes every cycle.

      I’m looking for something around the 8 hour mark…

  25. ukexpat

    Do you have the Varia radar with you in Switzerland? If so, did it pick up the camels after you rode past them?!

    BTW, I met my wife in Geneva, so I have a soft spot for Switzerland…

    • It did not pickup the camels. Though I did manage to have it pickup the first cyclist ever today. And I wasn’t even riding!

      I was off to the side of a pedestrian street when a dude with a whole pile of metal crap on his bike (like the kitchen sink) came up the street. Briefly triggered (didn’t track him the whole way, like it quickly realized that wasn’t legit). Kinda funny.

  26. Jose

    Swimming with 2 epix?,… one in each arm?!

  27. Gunnar

    Ray, I use a Tile tracking device in my Ritchey Break Away bag. It’s not the greatest tracker, but it’s cheap and about 90% of the time I can see on my phone if my bag has made it onboard. At least I know it’s last location!

  28. John

    I would bet my bottom dollar that either 1, some security employee or 2.random ramp employee, has now sold half of that stuff. Most airlines have problems with this at some level. They usually get the stuff and not the whole bag, though if they are in a hurry the whole bag is toast. It’s also possible that someone who specializes in stealing from baggage claim got it ahead of you.

  29. Neil Tungate

    Your experience with the missing bag is why it is advised to never check anything valuable at all. I know you were in an unusual situation, but a bag full of gadgets is a huge temptation to some manual handler on minimum wage. Although you are seemingly well covered by insurance, and will probably come out of this OK, money cannot compensate for the potential disruption this could have caused.

  30. Andrew

    Great to see you got beyond Zurich! Looks like the Zugersee, Rigi and Walensee to me. Zugersee is definitely one of the best for a round the lake ride along with the Sihlsee, but I prefer the Aegerisee for swimming. For a good ride you can combine going round a few of the lakes with one or more of Sattelegg, Ibergeregg, Ratenpass and Gottschaltenburg. The Pragelpass is also possible as a loop, but only if you want a very long and hard ride. Riding round lake Zurich and / or the Albispass is good if you want a 1-2h ride from Zurich, but there are much better rides if you’re starting outside Zurich as the lake road is not very scenic and has plenty of traffic and roadworks. For climbs check Emma Pooley’s Strava as she lives nearby and rides all of these.

    • Martin

      Excellent comment and tips from Andrew.
      You just missed as cycling enthusiast by some days in August the race around Switzerland http://www.tortour.com . Come back next year in August’16 and join this race. You will leave Switzerland with one fantastic experience more :-)

  31. sean

    Out of curiosity, how do you pack all your gear? Traveling in about a month, and will be dragging along the drone, the gopro (and a litany of crap for it), and a few other cameras. Packing them all in their respective pelican cases is a no-go.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Planning on hitting the 70.3 Worlds at Zell am See after Eurobike? Just a few hours down the road. A live DCR/TRS podcast from the races? :)

  33. I’m looking forward for a post about RV. Thinking to do something similar so any info re rental, conditions etc would be much appreciated. Enjoy!

  34. Hessel

    In the photo with you in the water, you seem to have the 920xt attached to your buoy. How do you make the 920xt not flipping over and with it, producing less accurate data?

    • It’s kinda complex to explain, but in short just ensure both the buoy handle is super-tight, and that the FR920XT is super-tight. Typically that part of the buoy actually stays juts barely above the water.

  35. Ivan De Paepe

    Hi Ray,

    Will you be looking at new innovations around bike lights?

  36. wim

    Hi,
    It really is a loss to see you lose you bagge like that, there is a bagage tracker already available .
    covers the world, has an app, track it every country you stop in
    link to trakdot.com

  37. JorisK

    Hi,
    I am travelling to Zürich for the next 2 days and considering extending my stay for the weekend. I packed my bike gear just in case…Does anyone know a place to hire decent road bikes? Not fixed to the Zurich area and considering to take a one hour or so train drive to the alps! Any suggestions for accommodation and routes?

    Regards, Joris