Day 23: Ligerz to Neunkirch, Switzerland

A combine harvesting wheat on the radweg next to B 34 in southern Germany

I had another 90+ miles with half a mile of vertical day which took less than seven hours of riding. The main reason was a good tailwind most of the day and the fact that much of my route followed the Aare river valley. I'm making up for my splurging of last night by staying at a Gasthous in a small town in Switzerland. My total cost for the day will be about half the cost of yesterday. My meal tonight at the Gasthous was excellent, as good as many of the meals I at in France.

You might wonder why I am still in Switzerland. I blame it on the German Radwegs. I missed a turn because I, behaving like a good German, was on a radweg rather than the road. Actually, riding on the radweg was MUCH nicer than riding on the road. However, if I had stayed on the road, I'd be be in Germany rather than in Switzerland tonight and I'd have six less miles to ride tomorrow. Also, I got on the radweg because a German driver pulled up beside me as I was riding and told me I should be on the radweg! More good German behavior < grin >, and no big deal.

After a fairly arduous ride - not because of the distance or the climbing, so much as because the damn road, 5 , became an autoroute and then I had to compass navigate my way, on secondary roads without a map or a decent markings on the roads so I could figure out where I was, around the autoroute section. It was fun sometimes, just being lost in a beautiful river valley, and frustrating other times as I'd have to backtrack. Amazingly it worked out pretty well - I only added a few miles to the direct route - but it was stressful. Oh yes, and on one of those excursions, I came within an inch of colliding with a young teenaged boy who was part of large group (school trip?) of kids on a dirt bike path. Three kids filled the path, and the one that almost hit me was talking to his friends rather than looking where he was going. I yelled at him at the last second and he looked up and swerved to just miss me. I had no way to get out of his way and it was a VERY close miss.

Bike paths today were great most of the time. Unfortunately the worst part of 5, the last 20 km to Germany, has neither a bike path, nor shoulders, and had very heavy traffic including lot of big trucks. That was stressful too. And then there was the fact that a section of 5 was closed to traffic going north. I was supposed to use the autoroute (!!!) to get around it! My only legal option was to ride up out of this valley, down into another valley, and then, somehow, get back to this valley. These valleys are flat, but their walls are steep and high! I said 'stuff that' and rode, illegally, into and through the construction mess that was blocking my route. It was only a few blocks long!

Starting out this morning - Twan, the next town on the lake

Nearing the end of my ride along the lake, approaching Biel

Today was culturally interesting. I notice this morning that my breakfast companions seemed equally divided between French and German speakers. The part of Switzerland I had been riding through yesterday was French speaking, but, around Biel, things switched over to German. Up here in the north, it feels, and sounds, very much like a part of Germany. Another weird thing: the power plugs in my room tonight are the German ones, not the Italian ones I had last night.

The Aare river, whose valley I followed most of the day, from an unknown town < grin >

A neat building in that same town

My first directional confusion - darn these uninformative road signs - came in Biel. I stopped, took out my computer and ran autoroute 2002 to confirm that the direction on the signs for A 5, the autoroute, was also valid for 5. The signs didn't bother with 5. Last year's computer was faster to use because I could suspend it running Autoroute 2002. I wore that computer out and replaced it with another, identical, used computer which, I assume because of some hardware problem, won't suspend. It takes several minutes more to 'look at my map' than it did last year, and I am less likely to do so as a result. Besides, navigating by compass is more interesting than actually knowing where you are going < grin >. Note: in Switzerland, even with a map, you won't have a clue where you are because of the way the roads are marked, or not marked...

Riding up the Aare river valley from Biel was great. Pretty, flat, good bikepath, and a good tailwind. Actually it got a little boring after a few hours, but it was good 'getting on down the road' riding. I was averaging over 14 mph and it was easy to maintain that pace.

Trouble in Paradise

You can't get there from here

10 minutes later on 5 heading for Olten

Trouble came when the road wouldn't 'let' me go to Olten, but I just ignored the law and did it anyway. Bike are nice for that. Then, to really be a non-conformist, I stopped at McDs for lunch. Prices were at least 20% higher than any other McDs I've been in.

Cruising on 5 after lunch

When I got into Olten, I decided I'd rather be on a more interesting road, and have less traffic, so when 5 crossed the Aare, I turned north instead of south. I never figured out the road numbers - if they had 'em - and I just kept heading north and east, though a number of towns and, as luck would have it, came back to 5 just after some messy construction near Arau. It is really hard to get totally lost in a river valley with a compass!

There was a lot of construction on 5 and it often eliminated the bike path. In one section, bikes were banned because of the construction. I rode into it, then, when I had a chance, got over to a bike path on the other side of the road, and rode that till after the construction. I think they should have just routed bikes to the other side, but maybe they were afraid some bicyclist would get run over crossing the highway.

On 5 coming into Aarau - note the construction warning

In Arau trying to figure out where to go next
I went to Rohr

I got to 5 near the border, but note the lack of shoulders!
This part of 5 was hilly, and there were lots of big trucks on it - not fun.

Crossing into Germany

I stopped before I got the Germany to buy some expensive Coke with my Swiss Francs and to cool down and relax from the stressful riding. After I crossed into Germany I took another break to decide where to go next. That led me to B 34 which had a good bike path and ran to Tiengen. The bike path ran out before I reached Tiengen, but I got back on a better one - the one the driver told me to get on - after leaving Tiengen. Life was good, riding was easy, and peaceful. When B 34 came to an intersection with an overpass, the radweg went under the overpass. I didn't get to see what the other road was, but I think that was where I was planning to leave B 34. I continued on down the wonderful Radweg till it ended at a village. Right on the other side of that village was the Swiss border! So it goes. I was going in the right direction - I love my compass - but on a road parallel to the one I should have been on. Tomorrow I get to climb over the ridge between this road and that one and then head for the Black Forest.

The town where I am staying tonight

Breakfast was good, although sleeping was not. We are still having an unusually hot summer and, because my room was too noisy with the window open, it was warm and stuffy in here. The same was true last night at the fancy hotel, but it was cooler on the lake and that bed was more comfortable.
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