2009/11/02: Frauenfeld, Switzerland 56 km
Looking at the wet weather, we dressed for battle and pedalled off. After crossing Bodensee to Konstanz, we crossed to Switzerland. The rain got heavier as the wind picked up, till Chris was ready to get on a train. The thing is that when one of us starts to flag, the other often pushes forward. This time I pushed on, though it’s usually the reverse dynamic. We also usually manage to keep each other from doing anything foolhardy, so it’s become a set of checks and balances.
Completely soggy by early afternoon, we found a hotel in Frauenfeld. Chris’s rain pants had badly failed the test they were put to, because – when he undressed – he poured about half a cup of water out of each of his Goretex socks. We languished in hot showers and caught up with email for the first time in ages.
2009/11/03: Meierskappel 98 km
The weather was much better. We made a leisurely departure for Meierskappel, having estimated the distance as an “easy day.” The day started badly; we exchanged a few words with a driver in response to his aggressive honking as he passed us, driving poorly with his cell phone to his ear, and feeling the need to chastise me for riding 20 cm further out than I should have been on a minor road with next to no traffic. Continuing into Zürich, our map showed that the bicycle paths would lead us efficiently through the centre, but there was so much road construction that they became difficult to follow.
We were keeping eyes open for a bike shop, to try and address a few bike issues. “That looks like a REAL bike shop,” said Chris as we passed Velogarage, so we stopped. Not only did the excellent mechanic correctly diagnose Chris’s supposed pedal problem as a loose crank and tighten it, but he also did a sturdy mend to one of the mounts for Chris’s front rack, which had broken a few days earlier. There was no charge for these repairs.
We took some time to find our way out of Zurich. Realizing we had further to go than we’d thought, we knew that dark would be upon us before reaching Meierskappel. We pedalled the final hour with lights on, and on the last hill Heinz was waiting for us beside the road. It was a relief to see him! When we arrived at the house, it was wonderful to see Margareta again, to catch up with both of them, and to really relax.
We had three easy sociable days with Margareta and Heinz. Since leaving the Greek Islands about six weeks ago, we haven’t had more than single days off, so the old bodies really appreciated not having to pedal. I don’t think we’d had enough of what the exercise experts call “recovery time,” so cumulative fatigue had crept up. We washed our rain jackets so they were bright yellow once more, rather than dark grey. (I have only a distant memory of washing them once in the early stages of our journey.) We Skyped our kids; Heinz and Margareta Skyped theirs. We pored over maps. We walked into Luzern with Margareta on a postcard-perfect day with blue skies, but we’d forgotten the camera. We went to the Veloplus shop to buy Chris new rain pants, and to the swimming pool with Margareta so as to gently use a few different muscles. We slept late, and we didn’t need to pack in the mornings.
2009/11/07: Langnau 80 km
Margareta had kindly suggested that we break the intended ride to Neuchatel by spending the night at her father’s house in Langnau. Otto is an active and independent 92 year-old, and we felt privileged to meet him. Margareta had gone to Langnau by train to see her father and help prepare supper. We had a relaxed evening chatting in several languages. Otto speaks French as a second language, as do most older Swiss Germans. After Margareta departed for home, Otto showed us photo albums which gave us a glimpse into his life from his childhood as one of 10 children to his active senior years. He had a set of photos which had been prepared for his 90th birthday celebration, and these included recent images of him hiking and cross-country skiing, both activities he still does.
Margareta and Heinz have an annual pass that gives them access to public transportation: train, tram, and post bus – in the whole country. There are various options for passes, and the system has done wonders to reduce the use of cars. We are in a very well-organized country.