To Switzerland and Back in an Invalid Chair By O. A.

Denly When in the Royal Navy it was my ambition to spend my first Foreign Service leave in Switzerland, and although I had to leave the Navy due to Infantile Paralysis I decided that it would not stop my visiting Switzerland. So on the evening of the 27th June I left the Albert Dock Hospital in my Argson Invalid Tricycle powered by a 147cc VILLIERS Two-Stroke Engine, with two forward speeds and a top speed of 30m.p.h. The vehicle weighs 250 lbs, with sprung front forks and frame, though there is no springing on the back axle. I cut the load as much as possible, but as I cannot walk at all I had to carry a small collapsible self-propelling wheel chair on the side, for use in buildings, my own bed in case there was no one to carry me upstairs and with food, baggage and myself the load was approximately 260 lbs. To pack it all in was an art in itself, but I found a place for everything. Could I make it? Many people doubted it, but nothing venture, nothing gained. The First Hours Abroad I spent the night at my home in Shoreham, and caught the boat from Newhaven to Dieppe the next morning. At Dieppe my first problem arose when I was presented with 10 litre (2.2 gallons) petrol coupons with my tank holding less than 2 gallons. But I borrowed a 5 litre can for the trip, and managed to find somewhere to put it. As I set off along the French National Route No. 15 for Paris, on my first visit to the continent, I felt that the adventure had really begun. About eight I ran into a thunderstorm so spent the first night at Gisor, 60 miles on my way. I received a royal reception a t a little hotel even though I could not speak a word of French. During the whole trip I had no trouble finding accomodation, and I always met extreme kindness from the smallest hotel to the luxury hotel with my own bathroom and telephone. French Hospitality By ten the next morning I was on my way, and had my picnic lunch at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. But although Paris enchanted me, I spent only three hours there deciding to spend a day or two looking around on the way back. I spent the night in Provins, and I was entertained so kindly by a French family that it was four p.m. the next day before I drove on. Duuring my stay I was stopped by a Gendarme when carrying the daughter standing on the back. He explained that my vehicle was not made for two, but as I couldn’t understand him we drove on. On the whole the main French roads were good, but as I rattled and jolted over the cobblestones of the towns and villages I wondered if anything would break. Last Lap to Swiss Frontier I spent the third night in Chaumont, and covered the last 150 miles to the frontier the next day, arriving in Basle at nine-thirty, having covered the 460 miles from London in four days. It was so wonderful to see all the lighted shop

windows and activity of the city that I drove round for an hour before looking for a hotel for the night. When I did stop I was told to drive straight up the front step of the hotel, and parked my vehicle in the foyer for the night. Then, during an excellent dinner with a juicy tender steak and wine. I watched dancing until midnight, and went to bed tired but happy.

Excellent Swiss Roads In France I had seen several motor invalid tricycles all with a rear seat, and also many hand propelled tricycles but in Switzerland my vehicle was a novelty, and crowds gathered everywhere to gaze at it. In Switzerland the roads are excellent, and after a day at Basle I set off towards Berne. The following morning I spent three very profitable hours at a garage in Solothurn. There they straightened my front forks which had been battered on the French cobblestones, adjusted the frame for the camber on the right of the road, as my tricycle had been tuned for driving in England and I found on the continent it was constantly pulling to the right, which was a big strain on my right wrist. The mechanic also made me a long tiller bar for attaching to the steering column, and the work was first class. Thereafter I found I could drive with great ease. Towards High Mountains I was now truly on holiday, I never hurried, did just as I please and stayed the night where the mood took me. I only averaged 50 miles a day during my nine days in Switzerland. By the Thunersee and Brienzersee and around Interlaken the scenery was magnificent. One evening my tricycle made its first climb up to the mountain resort of Grindelwald, 3,400 ft. high. There was little power to spare but already I was beginning to wonder if I could achieve the impossible and cross the Susten and Furka passes in order to drive down the Rhone Valley to Geneva. Nobody I met thought I could make it, and I was quite prepared to resort to thumbing a lift with the tow rope I was carrying. This first climb had considerably stretched my chain, but a garage set it as tight as possible. Across the Susten Pass From Grindelwald I passed through Interlaken and Meiringen, and from Inmertkirchen I started the climb along the new Susten Strasse. The road was only completed in 1945 and it is a real feat of road-building and is tarmac the whole way. I had to stop frequently to allow the engine to cool, and also I had to stop on a level spot or return to a levelspot, else I found it impossible to start up again. As I saw the road high above me on the face of a mountain I thought I would never make it, but my tricycle continued to take me higher and higher and I never ceased to wonder. Finally I reached the tunnel at the top, and although I had driven into a cloud and cold see little, I felt at 7,300 ft. really on top of the world in more sense than one. My little engine had driven its full load up over 5,000 ft. in the last 17 miles, and as I free-wheeled down into the small village of

Wassen for the night I was very proud of my vehicle and was also glad that it had good brakes. Across the Furka Pass The Furka Pass I knew was a tougher proposition, and a young English couple kindly offered to take my load in their car while I drove over the pass. Once again I started climbing the next day, and after shopping in Andermatt I reached the top of the Furka in glorious weather, though covered from top to bottom in the white dust of the road. I am sure the American High Octane Fuel sold from the Swiss pumps was a considerable factor towards the success of my climbing. I also found I had to allow for more air in the mixture at such high altitudes. All the people I passed were amazed to see me and my arm grew quite tired as I answered their cheery waves. At 7,976 ft. my exaltation over the recent climb was soon forgotten in the magnificence of the view. Ahead could be seen the start of the Rhone Valley, with the Bernese Alps on the right and the Valais Alps to the left, with Gletsch lying far below, and the Grimsel road winding up to 7,100 ft. with a corner of the Grimsel See glistening in the sun. Yes, I had to add one more pass to the credit of my tricycle and after driving down past the Rhone Glacier and through Gletsch my tricycle was leaping and jerking up the rough Grimsel Pass, alas, only to arrive in cloud and cold at the top. Still, she had made her second climb that day, and after saying good-bye to my English friends, I turned about and started the easy run down the Rhone Valley. Down to Lake Geneva The climax of the journey was over, but many more happy days lay ahead. The lower Rhone valley I found very hot and a little uninteresting, but the climb to Montana, a summer holiday resort, was well worth while for the view across to the Valais Alps, with Weisshorn predominating. By lake Geneva my front wheel punctured in the tramlines of Vevey. But I was near a garage and it was soon repaired, though I was prepared if need be to do my own running repairs sitting on the ground. After a very pleasant stay in Ouchy on Lake Geneva, and exploring Lausanne and Geneva I left Switzerland on the evening of the 10th July, with five days in which to reach Dieppe and to explore Paris. I crossed the Col de la Faucille, 4,300 ft., with ease, through softer though picturesque mountain scenery. The following day it never stopped raining but I pressed on regardless and in two days covered 250 miles to Provins, there I stayed again with the French family, and stayed up until the early hours of the morning listening to tales of the German occupation, the resistance movement, and present day conditions in France. Paris on Bastille Day The next morning, Sunday the 13th, the weather was once again glorious, as it had been on most days of the trip. Near Paris my chain started knocking badly, and when I saw how loose it was I realised it had broken, though it was still

possible to drive. Unfortunately I was not carrying a spare so I drove on hoping for the best. I arrived in Paris on the eve of Bastille Day, and I was able to round off my holiday with two most exhilirating days. I never knew a city could be so gay. On the morning of Bastille Day the chain was knocking more than ever, and although it was a National Holiday I found a mechanic to attend to it. Two links were broken and the chain had been so stretched it was practically unrepairable, but as my luck would have it, the chains on the French Autocycles are exactly the same length and pitch, and I was able to drive off with a brand new one. Reflections on the Trip Back again at Dieppe the A. A. man who had wished me luck on the way out could not fail to express his amazement at my safe return still under my own power. After spending a day at my home I arrived back in London in a thunderstorm on the night of Thursday the 17th, and as I left my tricycle in the garage for the night and looked at her little engine, I, too, could not fail to wonder that she had carried me so successfully and so far, over many diferent roads. Altogether I had covered 1,520 miles in twenty days. I had used 18 gallons of petrol, at a cost of £3 15s. 0d., another £1 11s. 0d. on repairs and a total expenditure on the tripof £31 0s. 0d. Also realising the great strain that had been placed on the chain it was pleasant to reflect that I had had no clutch trouble at all. My chair had more than justified her name of “Iron Lung”. When I get into her she keeps me going, and I had completed my itinerary exactly as planned. I hope it will not be long before I am on my travels again, and I also hope that all users of Invalid tricycles and small engines will realise that they too can travel on the continent and in high places.