Last Saturday, we prized ourselves away from our nice warm bed to face the 45km cycle to Schönbühl. It wasn’t a long trip, but the first stop in our journey to Austria. Technically, we were going the wrong way, but we wanted to visit Adi’s Dad and Käti, his partner, and then cycle to Bern for a psytrance party before really heading to Austria.
It was a pleasant ride, sunny and past lots of farms and places where Adi grew up. We enjoyed being on the road again, but I was not used to it and after three hours, as the air was growing considerably colder, I was glad to sit down in the warm with a cup of tea, some züpfe and lots of biscuits.
As it got darker, we left for Bern and met with Adi’s friends (Timon and Rene) who were doing a psytrance live-act at six in the morning. We put on lots of layers, as it was going to be a long, cold night.
We drove to the forest in Biel where we were met with music, ultraviolet banners, a fire and lots of dancing. Naturally, we joined them. Despite wearing every item of clothing I owned, creating an interesting stylistic medley, we had to dance to keep warm. It was then I realised that these were the conditions we would be camping in from now on, and there would be no frantic boogying to generate heat. I hoped our sleeping bags would be up to the job.
We got back to Rene’s at 10 in the morning and spent the whole day in bed, telling ourselves that we would leave tomorrow, after sufficient recuperation.
The next day, we had a drink with Adi’s friend Salome in Bern and then saw this funky light show projected onto the government building.
By night, we cycled out of the city in the right direction. It was cold and raining lightly when I caught sight of a patch of green out of the corner of my eye. We sped towards it. It was huge, unspoiled, with beautifully trimmed grass; a perfect place for camping and, we very much suspected, a golf course.
Our suspicions were confirmed the next morning when we were awoken by the sound of a lawnmower and a man shouting in Swiss- German. We quickly got dressed and stuffed things hectically into our panniers, before Adi went out to face them. He told me afterwards that one guy just had a smile on his face and the other was a bit more serious, saying something along the lines of what were you thinking?
We got on our bikes and giggled along the road. It rained in patches, but after a while the sun came out and stayed all day. I quite liked the change in weather from France where it was too hot, to here where the sun was out but it was colder and better suited to cycling.
We found a place to sleep just up from the cycle path where there was a fireplace, so we set up camp and made a huge fire. Many forests in Switzerland have these areas with a fireplace and some benches. Some even have huts that you can rent, or else use as a shelter in our case, so we’ve been searching in forests for places like these to camp when we finish our cycling for the day. Every night we’ve found a fireplace, but no luck yet with a shelter.
We took leisurely breaks and went shopping, so by night we were still pedalling, having not covered much ground. We turned off a main road and went up into some fields where we could see forest ahead. We thought we might find one of these huts and then we wouldn’t need to pitch the tent, just put the mats and sleeping bags under the roof. But after much hopeful searching in the forest, we surrendered. We pitched the outer tent over dry leaves next to a field and dotted tealights around it like a humble grotto in the cold.
We had only done 35 miles but were very tired.