Biel/Bienne, Switzerland: Sufficiently jazzed in Montreux, today I pedaled through the Swiss heartland to the centre of Swiss watchmaking, Bienne. Or if you specht Deutsch, Biel. I am on another invisible border, this time a linguistic border. The Swiss call is Rostigraben. Biel/Bienne is the only city in Switzerland where French and German are equally spoken. Today I left the Francophone world. Tomorrow I am decidedly in German territory. There have been some subtle hints – the bread is progressively getting darker, for example – but again I am fascinated by the many arbitrary and abrupt linguistic, religious, and political divisions around the world. Two kilometers in one direction thety speak French; two kilometers in another direction and it’s German.
This afternoon I met a group of kids (pictured, with Fluffy) who were out hiking. The kids are from an orphanage/boarding school called Heimschuk Schlossli Ins. This school supports 100 kids, and from what I understand it is structured similarly to Yaowawit, the Thai children’s charity I am supporting in this ride.
The cycling in Switerland continues to be nearly stress free, mostly today along the turquoise-tinted glacial lakes of Neuchatel and Biel. I spoke with one Swiss couple who live near Lake Biel and asked about the winter weather. They report the weather has changed a lot; rarely does it snow now at the lakes.
Last summer I cycled across America with two Swiss guys and they recommended to me the Mitteland Route, one of the national Swiss cycling routes, across the country. I am following this well-marked route, mostly on bicycle paths through farmland. After having now cycled past thousands of miles of farmland in the US and in Europe, the Swiss are remarkably efficient with their land use. Every arable piece of land is used for some productive use. Many of the homes along the lakes have vineyards instead of yards. Some have large practical gardens (why grow flowers or grass when you can grow corn?).
Daily and Trip summaries:
Day 32 (Wednesday, July 6): Lausanne – Biel, Switzerland
Distance: 122.93 km
Ascent: 606 meters
Weather: Overcast. Fine cycling weather,
Terrain: mildly hilly
Distance: 2,491.41 km
Climbing: 18,170.28 meters
Rest days: 5
Police interactions: 1