Leg 3: Ilanz – Chur (35km)
Early in the morning we were back at the station in Ilanz were we parked our bicycles the previous night. Scotty and Cally were waiting patiently; be warned at this point, in our family all possible vehicles get names.
It was definitely warmer than at the start of our last leg at Oberalppass and we planned to cycle to Chur, which is only 35 kilometers further down the Rhine; we planned a short leg as we had to travel back to the Oberalppass to get our car, which we left there the previous day.
We got on our bikes expecting an easy ride as we thought the trail would take us along the Rhine. We know that route as we hiked along it a couple of times. It didn’t take us long to realize that this was not the case. Shortly after we left Ilanz the road ascended….steeply. After a few drops of sweat we reached Carrera a really cute village.
On the following stretch we got rewarded with stunning views into the Ruinaulta, the canyon created by the Anterior Rhine in the debris of the Flims rockslide, which occurred about 10’000 years ago.
Protected by white chalk cliffs several hundred meters high, the area is forested and a haven for wildlife; you find rare species of birds brooding, countless mountain flowers and if you are lucky you can even spot orchids. The Ruinaulta, which is up to 400 meters high and 13 kilometers long, is sometimes known as the Rhine Canyon or Swiss Grand Canyon (more for its size than any resemblance to the Grand Canyon). You find people hiking, cycling or mountain biking, river rafting or taking the scenic train ride with the Rhaetian Railways.
For us, it is a special place; we never get tired of spending time here, the imposing landscape touches us, the rough beauty of the canyon with its soft decorations in the form of for example a tender yet robust orchid is difficult to describe in words – it is the perfect spot to “just be” and recharge our batteries – a little paradise!
As much as we love being here we also have an insatiable curiosity, which drives us to experience new things and unknown – or at least less known – territories. So we continued, reached Versam from where we enjoyed a downhill ride, which brought us closer to the Rhine again. In Reichenau we crossed the river and witnessed how the Anterior Rhine confluences with the Posterior Rhine.
After Reichenau the terrain got flat but thanks to some very strong head winds it felt like we were standing still despite pedaling like pros 😉 In the distance we got a glimpse of Chur, our destination for the day and the capital of the canton Graubünden, which is also known as the oldest town in Switzerland.
From here we will continue our adventure in mid-September – stay tuned!