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Geneva to Milan: prologue

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Geneva to Milan: prologue

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Prologue feat

July 8th, 2015

I’ve just returned from leg 3 of Ride25, which is among the best cycling I’ve ever done: 4 rewarding and picturesque days winding around lakes, through valleys and over mountains, toward cool pints, great meals and comfy beds. 

The trip began in the lakeside city of Geneva and ended outside the Italian Gothic splendour of Milan cathedral – one of the grandest buildings I’ve ever seen. 

Here is what happened.


The start was a bit rocky.

My taxi arrived fifteen minutes early while I was still frantically dismantling and packing my bike, causing me to leave this vital piece behind:

Stem attacher

The bit that keeps the handlebars attached to the stem

Currency confusion at the other end meant I couldn’t rent a trolley from the airport to get the 25 kilo box and all my other luggage to the train (who knew Switzerland wasn’t in the Eurozone? (Everybody except me, apparently!)).

Tram route confusion meant I overshot my stop and had to walk the bike box approximately 2 miles through an area of Geneva built to the brief ‘Themes on Concrete’, before arriving at the hotel where the crew were staying to load it into the support vehicle ahead of the ride.

Not the smoothest journey!

As soon as I was rid of the bike box though (and after treating myself to a cathartic Camembert-stuffed-croissant), everything looked up. I met the crew; all were lovely. A temporary replacement for my stem was available, meaning I’d have handlebars for the ride after all. Geneva was a beautiful and rewarding city to explore and, best of all, there were four days of awesome cycling ahead of me.

Random wandering led me to a square with a theatre, a music conservatory, a fountain, and some sort of festivities taking place nearby. I climbed a hill to watch from a lovely terrace above, which was lined on one side by a 300 metre bench. All sorts of characters were enjoying the sunshine: an industrious girl had set up a makeshift table-top créperie, a group of punks were sketching each other, parents were chatting while their kids played on the swings and sandpits. At the end of the terrace, just before the hill back down, a lady was letting her child sh*t on a tree. Shattered the illusion somewhat.

The hill led down into the old town. There was a quaint chocolatière, a violin repair shop with a master and an apprentice at work, and fountains with eau potable (drinking water). I realised I’d had no water in 20 hours, and stocked up. The fountains alluded to a common theme on the ride of stopping and cooling off in their troughs.

Geneva lamp

Geneva fountain

On the way to my accommodation, there were fragments of the earlier festivities. A group of miliatry cadets chilling on a bench, men carrying their ceremonial garb and tricolour hats, and, best of all, and old man still wearing his full livery with a trumpet holstered across his back, cycling home.

All the while the sky was completely clear and the temperature was floating around in the low 30s (another common theme on the ride ahead, thankfully!).

Check back tomorrow for day 1: Geneva to Sierre!

2 Responses to “Geneva to Milan: prologue”

  1. Subhash Says:

    Hi Chris, Thanks for publishing a detailed account of Geneva to Milan ride. We are planning to undertake a similar ride and trying to work out logistics. What type of bike box did you invest in (or did you rent the bike box) and what was your experience of getting airlines to accept the bike box as checkin luggage?
    Regards, Subhash

  2. Chris Lee Says:

    Hi Subhash, thanks for your question. I wrote a separate post just for you which will hopefully answer all your points! See it here:

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