Words and graphics by Kona Ambassador Sebastian de Meris
Here in Switzerland if you’re a bit lucky you can ski a lot during the winter. For a few years now, I’ve been commuting by bike and doing a few downhill races on snow, which can be really fun if the snow is hardpack and not “sandy,” but those rides are short because of the cold or the bad weather.
I had something on my mind that I wanted to do for a while. When I was a kid, we often went to a lake that sometimes got totally frozen in the winter. This time I wanted to go see it with my bike, especially since the “Jake the Snake“ seems perfect for what is going to be a long journey.
It has snowed all day, even in plain, and the weather should be good for the next day so it’s time the prepare the bike and other things to take with me. I’ll go dressed as when I work as a messenger but will also add a jacket, pants, a fleece, another base layer, a pair of socks and an extra pair of gloves in my bag in case the weather is worse than expected. For fuel, bars, bananas, water and a big thermos of coffee should be enough.
When I get off the train in the mountains to start the ride, all the roads are white and people look a bit surprised to see someone with a bike. I first go have a look at a road that goes to the lake through the forest but 40km in deep snow would take way to much time and effort.
I choose to go on the main road which is more or less clean of the snow to start climbing. The sun makes appearances through the clouds. It’s perfect. I reach the first pass and it’s time to ride down to the valley where the lake stands. There are more clouds on that side and it starts snowing as I ride down the road. Arriving in the small village of la Cure, I’ve got ice on me from head to toes and so decide the put on the pants and drink some coffee.
There is now 30km to ride in a straight line to arrive at the “Lac de Joux.” There is snow on the road and a headwind but the landscape is great, so it could be worse.
An hour later, the shores of the lake are reached. It’s so quiet – no sounds. It gives the impression of being alone in a large space, lost somewhere in the north even if civilization isn’t very far away.
Finally, I get to the area that made me go for a ride. I’m not disappointed, the space between ice and water creates beautiful shapes and reflections but the cliffs are much less imposing than I remember. Maybe if the lake had been completely frozen, I could have gotten closer. Too bad I have to come back another time!
Small “souvenir“ photo by the lake, while the bike was not yet frozen. Looking to the other end of the lake.
45km after the start, I reached the end of the lake. It is 12h and therefore the perfect time for a snack and a coffee – still warm from the thermos. It will be a while before we see any pedal boats. Biking is the best option.
Now that my body is warmed up, it’s time to think about going back and the 80 km that await me. The sun is coming out at the bottom of the valley, which makes me happy because I won’t lie, the negative temperatures are not the most pleasant thing for riding. Good surprise back down to the plain, the roads I wanted to ride on are covered of hard pack snow (eventually ice), which is way more fun to ride than the snow soup I had on the road all the way down the mountain.
Around 100km legs start feeling tired and the wind doesn’t help but roads look familiar and there is a nice light. In less than one hour I should be home. I just have to stop at a shop and choose a bag of chips- a reward for a long day outside. After a total of 123 km, it’s so good when you arrive home with the feeling of having accomplished something, even if it’s not extraordinary. I think back to the different times of the day and tell myself that I wouldn’t change much. Perhaps I’ll ride from home when the weather is more pleasant, just to do a full tour.