Patrick Strahm, Biel, Bern, Switzerland

Chasseral Before Sunrise

today’s adventure was something i had in mind for a while. when i told my wife that i wanted to take off for a ride at 4am, she wasn’t overly excited. mountain biking alone in the pitch black night at such an hour didn’t seem safe to her. the primary goal of the ride wasn’t to ride gnarly trails in the dark, but to reach the chasseral before sunrise.

i got all the gear ready the night before and installed a single front light and battery on the stem. a second battery and a small flashlight went into the backpack. i had my new #44flowteam vest ready as well, but the night was warm and windless so i didn’t even end up bringing it along.

wakeup time was 3.30am, a quick breakfast and departure a few minutes shy of 4.00am. i travelled on gravel to orvin, where my legs told me to take the paved climb up. all the single-speeding this week were painfully felt each time the bike had to be mashed up an incline. today wasn’t about climbing trails, but to enjoy standing on our highest peak while the sun was rising.

i took it easy in the climb staying at a pace i was able to maintain all the way up. after the place centrale a long stretch of gravel followed where the legs had some time to spin easily. two more climbs followed, first over the petit chasseral and then the last sucker up to the antenna.

at the top of the petit chasseral i noticed what a starry night it was. the stars were sparkling in the sky and everywhere around towns large and small were glittering in the distance. there was no sign of the sun rising yet, so i decided that the last climb would be walked. when i battle this climb meter for meter on my singlespeed, the only thing i see is the pavement ahead of my front wheel. on any regular ride it’s the last hard battle to fight. today, there was still lots of time before sunrise and there was a beautiful night sky to look at. walking gave me several minutes to stare at the sky and the sleeping surroundings.

at the chasseral antenna i wasn’t alone. an older couple had walked up from the parking lot and two hikers were also already waiting for the sun to rise. we all were there a little early for the spectacle. i rode a bit away from the antenna and sat down on a comfortable rock. i ate a cereal bar and started taking photos. three cows were close-by, awake but still on their bellies they were munching grass their bells softly but constantly ringing. as the first light of day gained strength, i hopped on the bike and hit the crest trail. nighttime moisture turned the challenging trail into treacherous. i wasn’t there to shred it, i was there to enjoy it while the sun was rising. speaking of treacherous, as i rode through a herd of cattle a single cow ran away, slipped on the wet grass and slammed to the ground. if a four-hoofed animal so easily slips, how easily will a two-wheeled bike take a tumble?

i stopped frequently to snap pictures of the sunrise and continued eastwards. after the place centrale i usually drop to the right and head downwards. today, i decided to remain on the crest. as i approached the trail above the roches of orvin, a half dozen chamois bolted across the trail before me and a half mile later another herd got surprised by my presence and shot across the trail and down the mountain. how animals like them can run through such steep terrain at such speeds is beyond belief. when i got to the geissrücken i spontaneously decided to ride it. it’s not really the trail a rigid single-speed without dropper nor its rider feel at home, but occasionally i give it a go. there are some steep stepped sections and many tight switchbacks (especially farther down the trail) that i honestly don’t even try to ride. alone it’s just not worth the unnecessary risk. i made it home in time for breakfast with my wife.

a reblog from chasseral before sunrise.

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Chasseral Before Sunrise
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Chasseral Before Sunrise
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Been wanting to get up to the Chasseral to see the sunrise. Today being the last day of my summer vacation, I left at 4AM to be up there early. With only a few hours of sleep and legs tired from riding all week, I took the easy way with lots of pavement. The night was warm and windless, just perfect for such a nighttime adventure. Realizing that I had only spent little time enjoying the starry night, I walked the last bit to the antenna to take in the beauty of this clear night. I wasn't alone waiting for the sunrise. An older couple and two hikers were at the antenna as well.
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Patrick Strahm, Biel, Bern, Switzerland