Death by a million drips!


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Drip drip drip goes the rain in Switzerlands Rhine Valley

Hey there with a little bit of help from JAVA I give you a drippy account of one of my many days of cycling in Switzerland. The Rhine valley begins here--in fact, four of Europe's great rivers...the Rhine, The Rhone, the Inn, and the Po-- begin in these lofty peaks at the heart of the continent. Even the fifth river, the Danube, begins not far off in the southern highlands of Germany's Black Forest. But I digress...the Rhine begins its journey to the sea here and already has carved a broad valley between the Churfirsten highlands to the west and the mountain walls of Austria and Lichtenstein to the east. On this day the overcast was bright enough to be warm but thick enough to drop rain, which often can be very annoying. Should you wear raingear and be a bit stuffy underneath it? Should you not wear a waterproof shell and endure the rain, which still can be chilly and soggy riding for many miles? I decided on the latter here, and while I was riding along singing in the rain, I noticed this rather spectactular reflection of the tree-lined corridor in the newly oiled asphalt. I stopped and took several photos of which this one was the best.

Pictures of cloudy and drippy conditions aren't popular with tourist brochures. Even cycling websites like this one tend to be a bit biased in favor of blue sky and sunshine. But as I say elsewhere on this site, most of the rainy days are actually very enjoyable, if ya take the right attitude. The green of the fields and forests takes on an entirely different hue and mood on these days. In fact you realize that without this rain, it wouldn't be green, after all! The world doesn't need any more tawny, semi-arid desert regions...god knows I saw enough in Peru and the middle east. Give me some rain and a song to sing, and i'll show you how to make cycling a joy which is in spite of the elements--resplendent in its defiance-- rather than passively dependent upon them. There is a smell to the air, of damp earth and decaying vegetation, of green leaves and pine pitch, that you do not get when the air is dry and fair. To boot, many photographers swear by cloudy (if not exactly rainy) days, for then the light is softer and sweet on their film, and they are not torn between contrasts of glaring sun and deep shadows. While the clouds will often obscure the high peaks you have traveled so long to see, you are treated to a remarkable show as the storms pass and the mountains emerge from the breaking clouds, often freshly dusted with snow. On a long tour you will have your fair share of mountain scenery and will not grudge the loss of some peaks to fog and rain. On my world tour, I did not get to see the peaks of the Peruvian Andes due to a prolonged rainy stretch; but I did get my due in the Karakorams and Himalayas of India and Pakistan.

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