Wet Lettuce Preview: How to Get Over a Mountain

…with a too-heavy bicycle, a tent, and two stuffed panniers.

Okay, I confess: I used to smoke. It was a horrible habit I picked up in my teens, dropped for the better part of eleven years, took up again for a few months, dropped, then fell into again before kicking it for good. My hyperactive lifestyle just couldn’t accommodate cigarettes any more. I was still a candidate for the odd transgression now and then, until a good friend, who’d been a lifelong smoker, died of lung cancer.

Andy was a fantastic guy with an awesome sense of humour, so I think he would have laughed himself senseless if he knew that about two months after his death, I received an email from him. When I recovered from the shock, I read it: “Hello, how are you? I am feeling very good, and more energetic than ever before.” I nearly wet myself laughing as I read that due to some or other product Andy had recently discovered, his health had never been better. If only the stupid spammer who’d weaselled into his email account knew what he’d done.

I would therefore not recommend you smoke while you’re cycling. The trip I want to tell you about, was one of the major factors which made me realise the bad habit had to go.

If you want to get over a mountain, you first have to find one. While there are gorgeous mountains just twenty minutes or so’s pedalling from where I live, they are not very big. No, I wanted to get over a HUGE mountain. I knew from the piles of climbing books I read, that the mountains in Switzerland would qualify.

There are loads of cycling routes in Switzerland. The Swiss seem to be almost as fond of cycling as the Dutch. I picked a route that looked like an awesome challenge, had my bike packed into a box and got on a plane to Basel.

Once there, I discovered when I started putting my bike back together that I’d managed to leave the saddle at home. This was a tad problematic. I re-packed the bike, and got on a bus to Basel SBB, the train station.

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This is an extract from my book, How to Live in a Wet Lettuce. Email me if you want a copy.

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