Switzerland

One of the best things about cycle-touring is meeting other people, especially cyclists. It’s a very social affair and some counties are home to very popular routes, like the west coast run from Alaska to South America, while others are seemingly cycle-barren places where it can take weeks before you meet another cyclist.

Our ride through Oregon and California was anything but barren. We met so many cyclists and it seemed at times like every country was represented – Canada, Australia, Japan, France, America, Germany and Switzerland. I’m glad we were there in shoulder season as I can’t imagine what it must be like in summer. We were informed that it gets pretty hectic with people racing to get a spot at one of many overflowing ‘Hiker-Biker’ campgrounds. We all seemed to be going in the same direction too (only the foolhardy braved the headwinds and travelled north), us and about a billion others, all migrating south for the warmer weather of San Diego or Mexico.

We’d first met Sandra, Adeline, Matthias and Andrea in Oregon, or was it Washington State? It’s all a bit of a blur really. Looking back, the days seem to blend into one big memory, places and faces muddled up in time and location. In any case we had a great time cycling with them and we were excited to finally be on their doorstep in Switzerland. They had finished up their respective cycle tours many months earlier and were now settling back into “normal” life.

We rode across the Swiss border and camped in a little town called Fleurier. A wet, cloudy morning tried it’s best to dampen out spirits but we knew the guys would be arriving to escort us into Biel, a leisurely 80km ride to the east. And what a ride it was! We thought France was breathtaking but Switzerland’s beauty surpassed anything we had experienced so far. The bike trail took us through valleys of lush, green fields with bright flowers and short forest passes with little houses and villages dotting the landscape on either side. The rain and clouds seemed to like the rocky peaks of Fleurier and we left them behind, riding through the afternoon in warm sunshine.

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It was fun exploring with Adeline and Sandra as acting tour guides. Biel is a beautiful city with it’s small historic centre, 15th century gothic church and sculptured fountains. We laughed a lot, got invited to numerous birthday parties and a city festival and ate more delicious food than we thought possible. And if that wasn’t enough, the guys treated us to the most amazing fondue and raclette. Mmmmm, cheesy goodness!

The four of us travelled to Zermatt to spend a couple of days wandering the ski slopes. Yodlee hee hoo! Then we headed to Zurich to spend some time with Matthias and Andrea. It was great to see them again and enjoy some of Matthias’ home cooking.

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It’s funny what life throws at you when you open yourself up to spontaneity. We never planned to cycle through Switzerland and we never thought we would meet such amazing people on our journey. We can’t thank them enough for their wonderful hospitality and generosity.

By Dave

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