Sun 14th July.
A day off in Rikon.
We were all slightly fragile from the previous night. Eventually we got up and had breakfast with coffee, eggs, bread and other pleasantries. They had an unusual type of bread I hadn’t seen before which looked like a plat of three doughs, which had been baked. It was called ‘Zopf’ and was the start of my love of Swiss bread. It was a traditional bread to have on Sundays, my guess being that it came from leftover doughs form the week combined. It was basted with egg yolk and then baked, making it firm and glazed on the outside and soft on the inside.
Judith planned totake me for a bike ride around the area to show me more of where they lived while Simon did coursework.
Simon fixed me up with one of his many bikes from a lifelong love of bikes and racing. The bike was extremely light and fast compared to my tourer and the pedals, rather than having the SPD on the shoe, were on the pedal and the shoe slotted onto it. It used the normal slide to unclip technique with SPDs. Simon mentioned the were quite rare and the point of the design being to make walking easier when off the bike.
Simon told me about a monastery nearby, that had been built to house monks from Tibet years ago, offering the refugees a peaceful place to live from the violence and destruction of communist China, that destroyed their homes.
The route we had planned meant I should see the monastery. It’s inhabitants were still all Tibetan, growing over the years, having taken in more refugees and having had families of their own. They integrated well into the community and were well respected.
We headed along a river by their house, onto a cycle path, then off the path and up into the hills. The climbs weren’t too intense, but didn’t make the cycle as easy as I was hoping for a Sunday.
The ride took us further into woods with spectacular views all around the region. It was a very beautiful area to cycle and I thought about how nice it would be to have this on your doorstep. A life in Switzerland.
The views were wonderful and got me thinking about living city-life in the future for something like this.
It was a 60km round trip and on the way back we stopped at the monastery. I stopped and took a few photos to marvel in this collaboration of cultures and how one country had gone to some length in time of need, to help another and its people.
Judith and I stopped off at an ice cream van before getting back and I told her about my love of Maxibons. She was familiar with them, but had never tried one. I gave her a brief history of the cult behind them in England (among my friends at least) that we used to have them nut don’t anymore and the general rule is to get them when you can. We had ours by the van in the sun. The perfect treat for a days riding. Judith enjoyed it, but didn’t seem to understand its cult following.
We got back and prepared the meats for the barbecue. Simon was looking forward to it after a days studying.
They had a spot by the river in mind, where there was a pit and a grill installed free to use to the general public.
We made a fire from bits of wood and matches and after about half an hour we began cooking. Judith made a salad and brought a few beers for us all that went down well with the sausages. Simon made a declaration of his passion for this kind of outdoor living and said it was never the same in the city. They both seemed very happy here and I was glad for them.
As we packed up an old man on an electric bike past us. Simon called out and he stopped. Turned out he was the father of one of Simon’s childhood friends and a master puppet-maker, that he hadn’t seen in years. They caught up, Simon explained my existence and told him I was English and visiting them. The old man mustered up some phrases in broken English, then apologised in Swiss-German saying he never had any need for the language.
I asked to have a go on his electric bike. I’d seen a them about and, but had a go. He explained how it worked, basically the bike was power assisted, like a big heavy door that opens easily. You could control the amount of assistance you could which in turn made the bike faster. There was a setting from low to high and an indicator of the battery life.
I was sceptical of these machines as they eliminate everything pure about cycling. But it was fun and felt amazing to ride. At first it felt normal, then the power assistance would kick in and you would feel a boost. The harder you pedalled, the bigger boost you got, gaining speed very quickly. The downside was that it was quite heavy and the battery life was fairly limited to about four hours.
The bike had all the necessary racks for touring. I thought about what a gift it’d be to have this tool on parts of the trip, but at the same time it would defeat the purpose of it being a human effort
I understood why an old chap would have one as it was the perfect mix of exercise and getting around, but I certainly would be buying one for a few years.