At the beginning of September, Silvin set off in the footsteps of the HOPE 1000.

He looks back on this trip with words and photographs. Enjoy your reading!

“Monday evening – Preparations

The format (type and duration) of this trip is fairly standard for me, and the route I’m taking – a stretch of the Hope 1000, between Lucerne and Lausanne – looks easy from a logistical point of view (food, water, etc.). However, the adrenalin of departure always prevents me from being completely relaxed when packing, and my main tendency is to eat too many meals in advance. No powder or gel, real stuff, and it weighs. My justification to myself: I’d rather get through the first day and a half without having to stop at a Swiss supermarket. The idea is to keep the budget in check, and have a clear head to get into the swing of things. Gourmet cravings for local specialities along the way are still on the cards.

Apart from that, the equipment put into the bags is pretty standard, as the weather is going to be temperamental for the first few days, and I’m not skimping on change. I’m also setting off with a film camera – Minolta riva zoom for the curious – not with the digital fujifilm I usually take.

My train leaves at dawn tomorrow but I’m having trouble wrapping up these preparations and am going to bed later than planned. Also a classic. Physical preparation? Pretty weak on the bike, I’ve ridden only a couple of days since the the Hamster Classic. But I’m still in good shape, excited to start the adventure.


I don’t have to do much before locking the apartment door. The satisfying side of perfectionist preparation. The first laden laps to the station, with the bad habit of never planning more than 5 minutes in advance of the train’s departure, no doubt a syndrome of people who have lived near a station for a long time. It’s 6 a.m., the city’s already a bit up, I like the freshness and the lights. I’m writing these first words as I sit on the train (the old TER is definitely not made for a bike like the CDM21’s Manivelle and its extended wheelbase, but it does make for good chatter). It remains to be seen whether I’ll keep the urge to write during the trip. In the meantime, I continue my sleep lulled by the fluid movement of the oar.

A few hours later, in a comfortable Swiss “bike” train. The train arrives at Lucerne station, and the adventure can begin. The weather forecast stuck to the scenario, with heavy rain all morning and lighter rain in the afternoon. Morale follows this two-stage trend, and is quite low in the early afternoon. The mountains on today’s menu are shrouded in clouds, and I don’t see the point of a 1500m ascent to do little more than wipe your glasses once you reach the top. I short-circuit certain sectors, not unhappy to lighten the rest of the program. It’s one thing to plan a trace from the comfort of your living room, but today I was able to assess what the fatigue accumulated prior to departure had to say to me. I get to the Lungern lake area earlier than planned, and it’s here, at around 4pm, that I take off my rain pants for the first time. The ambient 12 degrees don’t dry me out, but that’s something bicycle travelers know all too well: a small gain in comfort soon seems a lot.

I continue on my way and the gradients are salty, but I feel more at ease with the journey and my legs are more compliant. I follow the trail to the foot of the big climb up to the grosse Scheiddeg, and head off to a surprisingly inexpensive campsite for Switzerland (I had no idea, but I wouldn’t have bet on 6 euros a night). I rarely go camping when I travel, preferring to concoct my own little place. But two things to note here, this is a Swiss campsite with a lovely wooden building and large steel joinery, and it’s my first day on vacation, so anything goes.

I’ll start my night in the tent with the splash of rain that’s just started up again.


I imagine I’ll save the writing for the evening, when I’m ready to fall asleep. Review the day to memorize it and fuel dreams. Except that while setting up the makeshift bivouac for the night (no camping this time), my mattress explodes without me really understanding why, probably a tired glue. So I’ve just found out that I’m going to sleep without cushioning, and that’s not far from putting me off this little writing game.

It’s a day worth talking about. I like to compare the difficulty I imagine when I look at the route over breakfast, and the actual – let’s say felt – difficulty at the end of the day. I was expecting to climb quite a bit today, and from Maxime Barrat’s own words, I knew that most of the climbs were vertical.

Wednesday, then. As I set off from the campsite, I’m feeling up to the challenge. A short flat section before the first climb gives me time to warm up my legs, then I come to a sign announcing the color: red tending towards burgundy, 1700m d+ for just under 20km. This is the ascent to the “Grosse Scheidegg”, which I’m looking forward to discovering. The climb is long, with only a few moments of respite and a slight false flat at the halfway point to breathe in. The sky is still overcast, and I know I won’t be able to see the high, snow-covered peaks that hug the summit from all sides. The lively wind makes the clouds dance, creating atmospheres full of mystery and the games of net/blur that I love, even if it’s very wet when the cloud stays a little at your level. I only come across a few bikes on the way up, 2 empty roads, one backpacked gravel. At the top, I dare to combine an espresso with the speciality of the auberge du col, cheese on baked bread. It feels good, and I set off again along the aptly named Panorama Weg, with its exciting horizon. My descent is slightly disrupted by an attraction called “mountain go-karting”, with a few tourists stranded here and there at the side of the road. The descent of the grosse Scheidegg takes me to Grindelwald, a spot particularly well-stocked with souvenir stalls and luxury stores, from which I quickly excenter, to eat, dry the tent and take a nap in the meantime. Next, I have to tackle the ascent of Kleine Scheidegg, which is just as high as Grosse Scheidegg. It’s a lovely climb, and I can see my morning high point as I turn around. The bike is a great tool. This climb follows a mountain bike route all the way up, whereas in the morning there was more asphalt, so I appreciate the change. I’m feeling even better in the saddle, although the gradients mean I have to do the last part alongside the bike. At the summit, there are a lot more people than on the ascent trails. The train arrives up there. Subject to debate, access for all, but what about the relationship with place, the summit that becomes mainly photographable material for the networks, consumed quickly. The descent is a real pleasure, all in curves. The end of the day is magnificent, as we skirt the shores of Lake Spiez. I hesitate to stop at a small overhang, as several vans are already nicely set up, and continue on to a spot I’ve spotted, a little further away from the lake and houses. A demanding but almost trouble-free day, and then that mattress bursts as the day’s final gestures are made. I’m hoping to get some sleep, so I’ll look for a store tomorrow.


I set the alarm early, to avoid the early walkers who might remind me of the ban on wild camping. The first vttiste passes by as the tent has just been returned to its bag. My face must not hide much of the difficult awakening, the down jacket under my body and the spare clean shorts under my head were not an incredible substitute for the mattress.

I didn’t eat much last night with these last-minute adventures. I get up with a stiff back and a rather hollow stomach, and breakfast is a guilty pleasure to balance the mood (I won’t say anything about the sweet and salty concoction). I set off in the direction of Lenk, some forty kilometers further on. The difference in altitude is not significant, but the jagged topography puts a strain on my energy reserves, which I feel are quite low at this time of dawn. The route is pretty, the bike links between villages are incredibly well done and signposted, and the signs are even transparent about the percentages cyclists can expect between two points. There must have been complaints. I’m impressed by the lively industrial fabric, particularly in woodworking, with countless signs with Swiss logos and gleaming buildings. Speaking of wood, there are some magnificent chalets on my route, with large glass roofs overlooking pretty gardens. There’s a slight downside to this tradition of producing a large drawing on wood, often of animals, for each new birth – some of which date from before 2000, so I’m thinking of parents having trouble seeing their children grow up.

Arriving in Lenk, I have several tasks: drying the tent, eating something before the big climb of the day, and trying to repair the mattress. For the meal, I use fresh produce that has been labeled “aktion” (i.e. discounted) to keep the prices more or less in the french range. For the repair, I buy superglue to reinforce the patch on the hole I’ve identified. When this one is blocked, the next one appears. I start looking for duck tape, but the village store that sells it is closed. I decide not to bother and start climbing.

I’m aiming for the summit of Leiterlie at 2109m, Lenk is at 1000m. I know that up there, a nice, hard mountain bike section awaits me. That I’ll probably push on the way up, that the descent will be demanding and perhaps beyond my technical level (so I’ll push too). I’m feeling good, climbing quite fast, until the percentages get really angry. I’m encouraged by the gradually unfolding panorama and the sound of cowbells (again, no humans around). It’s splendid once up there, the singles are sometimes on a vertiginous ridge wire, so I push, sometimes made for marmots, so I push. I stay on top for a while despite the wind. The view is incredible and the chest vibrates. Now, 1000 of downhill gifts, a cheesy break with your feet in the water. Then an arrival in Gstaad, the town where the chalets don’t have little drawings of animals on them like earlier, but rather a Vuitton or Prada sign. I head for the Lanbi store, which may have my coveted duck tape. I chat with the salesman, showing him the mattress, and he pulls a roll out of a drawer, offering it to me kindly. I head outside to test the repair, which isn’t great but works. The pleasure of knowing I won’t fall back to sleep on the ground. I get back in the saddle and ride for another hour and a half until I find a perfect spot by a stream, which I’m going to use for my evening bath. A surprise rainfall complicates the logistics of the camp just as I’m getting everything out to organize my belongings. I’m starting to get the hang of it, and in a flash I’m in the tent, in the dry, writing a bit on a mattress that’s holding up well for the moment.



This repair is no miracle either. The mattress empties in a cycle of about 3 hours, modulo by the time I realize it. It punctuates the night, and it’s true that the moment the ground’s touch wakes me up, I feel a bit wobbly and dreamy from my bed at home.

I wake up in a damp atmosphere, it rained during the night and my tent isn’t very good at keeping me dry. It’s minimalist, and as is often the case when this argument is written on the pack, that’s its only advantage. The night spot is still very pretty and I’m enjoying rediscovering it in the morning light. Another sweet and salty mix later, I’m off again. These gorges near Château d’Oex are superb, and the suspension bridge after 500m warms me up a little, despite the heavy morning dew. I even find a café open a little further on, with a delicious almond croissant. I’m now ready to tackle the Col du Jaman, which will take me to the Lac de Lausanne. The climb is gentler (I’m no longer on the Hope 1000), but gets tougher when a herd of cows sits on the path and I have to go around it on a steep hiking trail. I pass two hikers who ask me about my bike, so I take the opportunity to stop for a peanut-based snack.

Once at the pass, I buy some cheese from the dairy up there, nibble on it and plan a downhill mountain bike ride to the edge of the lake. After a lunch break with my feet in the water, I think of a shop we work with a few kilometers away in Vevey. They open soon, I dip a head in the lake and dry the tent while I wait.

I’m off to meet Jonas and Matthieu from the shop
RandoBike shop.
I tell myself that cycling often brings good people together. After lots of chatting, a coffee and a few photos, I’m off in the direction of Lac de Joux, my destination for the evening. Time flies and I push on the pedals to get back to Lac de Joux in time for the orange lights of early evening. It’s sublime. Wild camping is forbidden (and strictly controlled) around the lake, and I’ve spotted a “camping à la ferme”. Unluckily, it turns out to be the day after their annual closure. I’m playing tourist a little too late. Another camping/water sports area is signposted 1 km away, so I head there. It’s very pretty, with other humans sharing a campfire. The sky is clear and I forget myself in the stars for a while. Solo travel, when it goes well, has the power to give a lot of flavor to moments spent with oneself. After a small meal, I treat myself to a delicious midnight swim, the moon’s reflections dancing on the surface of the lake, and a paddle to deploy my toilet bag. For tomorrow morning, I’ve spotted a café next door for breakfast. I’m in no hurry, as there are only a few kilometers left before the French border, and my reunion with my girlfriend, to spend a few days in the Jura. I can feel the benefits of these last few days of cycling in my body and in my head, ready to spend a nice night and continue my adventure.”


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