Sunday, July 06, 2014


We didn´t even have to go through Grenoble, but a friend of Sylvain's is a bike mechanic and he can help out with some questions, so we finally decided to spend the night here. But what was to be just one night turns into a week. I´ve been having problems with my knees for kilometers and with the climb to the Vercors, they eventually give up.The pain is intense and I can hardly walk.. We rest a couple of days with the hope that things will magically improve but the miracle does not happen this time. So  we have to resort to that which is paid in the hope of not having to use it: we took out medical insurance before leaving. After a bit of running around, it eventually works fast and the next day. first thing in the morning we have an appointment with the doctor. After a brief exploration I am diagnosed with what he tells me half of the skiers who go to his surgery in winter: condromalacy or  rotulian syndrome. In medical terms it means an inflammation of the cartilage beneath the kneecap. In layman's terms, it's a knee pain of unknown origin and of uncertain cure. The x-rays that are taken the same afternoon confirm that it is nothing serious, but the doctor recommends that I begin physical therapy immediately. The problem is to decide who pays for it. It's Friday and until Monday Mapfre doctors will not issue the verdict. Meanwhile, a lot of Voltaren (which, of course, does nothing). In the house where we are staying they say and repeat that we can stay there as long as needed, but the doctor has said that I´ll need at least 20 sessions of physical therapy so things don´t look good. Days pass and the pain Increases. When we are told how the insurance works, Gabriel's (our host) girlfriend, recommends that we leave aside conventional medicine and  visit a friend of hers, an osteopath, who lives in her village. With nothing to lose, we take the bus and within an hour the miracle man is relocating both joints. After a comprehensive inspection of body posture, he realizes that the problem Is that I have deviated the meniscus, so he twists both knees until relocated. Sounds painful. It is. But as the pain ceases after the aggressive treatment, the left knee is completely healed and the right will take a few days to be in perfect condition. Also, being friends Salome does not charge me for the appointment. One more angel to add to the list of wonderful people we meet along the way.

We let my knees rest one more day and on Sunday, we start off in a good storm. I feel so strong that we decide to cross into Switzerland through the Alps, through Chamonix.. We want to dedicate the route to our companions from “Slow Ciclando” who had to change their route to protect Alessandra´s knees.. In addition, choosing this direction we can go to visit Maki, Sylvain´s wife,  who is spending a few days in Mègeve to help open a new Japanese restaurant.

When we were in Grenoble we spent a long time checking out routes, maps and information to plan the best option, trying to pamper my knees and at the same time enjoy the climb. But these days, two French words are burned into our memories: Route Barrée, which means road closed. Oh, friends! It's summer and that means reasphalting. Finally, we do nothing more than 5% of what we had planned, climbing impossible mountain passes, disastrous roads, excessive slopes. What I still do not understand is how we like to suffer so much.

On the way, we stop at mountain shops (around here there are a few) seeking a liquid for waterproofing the tent, that lately even though it doesn´t leak, puddles form  on the ground. Poor us, we didn´t know what was awaiting us. After Chamonix, we find a fantastic place for camping in a forest with a green path a view of Mont Blanc, showing all its beauty shamelessly on a completely clear day. We take advantage of the good afternoon to waterproof everything we can from the store. The label on the product says it's organic, but that does not mean it's not toxic. At night, the first symptoms begin. Gabi has a tummy ache and slight nausea. But I get straight to the point and start to vomit, which will continue throughout  the morning of  the next day. My body does not even admit water, and we still have two mountain passes ahead,1,500 meters each, to cross into Switzerland.

At noon I drag the bike as best I can to the next town and try to hitchhike. Half an hour later without anybody having taken pity on us, we decide to go a little more and try our luck at the edge of town, but just move a few meters when the occupants of a van shout at us from a gas station. They're half crazy Poles who have seen us down below asking for help, and now they offer to take us to Poland itself. For a moment we think about accepting the offer, but we agree to let them leave us in Switzerland. They tell us that they are going to stop in Lausanne, which is since we are expected in Vevey, a few kilometers from the city. We pass it, but we think the Poles are looking for a motorway exit. They find it, but continue on, so we start to see  signs to Freiburg, where they would supposedly stop also, we tell them to leave us off anywhere, we are already 40 kilometers from where we should be.

At last we agree and retrace our steps by bike what we had done by van. But it´s worth it as Luc and Val´s family await us, having just returned just three weeks ago from their own world tour and they are still “landing”. I dare to have some food for dinner for the first time all day, and the liquers that they take out for dessert kill any foreign body that was left on my  insides.

The next day we top the foolishness of the week and return almost to the same point where we left the Poles to meet some other friends of Sylvain´s (yes, again Sylvain) in Romont. We decide not to take the same road where we have been and follow the cycle route number 9, which crosses Switzerland through the lake area from west to east. We fear the worst when Luke tells us, very seriously: "I have followed cycling routes in more than thirty countries and I can assure you that in Switzerland it is impossible to get lost." 10 miles from his house, again a sign that says: "Route barrée". We take a detour, where we get excited with a long descent and then we to realize we we've lost sight of Route 9. guess it has merit. Anyway, we continue along the road, which in this country is a delight: the people are extremely polite and drivers are extremely respectful. And the happier I am, when most I'm enjoying the health of my knees, the beauty of the landscape and my recovered stomach...  a bee stings me on a finger of my right hand, so I write this post with nine fingers and a sausage. I hope our luck gets better!

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