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Hills and Old Towns

In our house, filled with five lovely people, the Corona Pandemic has been a rather pleasant time. 

Being grateful for our circumstances, everyone here has been diving into projects and exploring things they had been wanting to explore. No one needs to leave the house for work anymore and it feels like we have an eternity of time on our hands. The garden is flourishing and I probably fixed – or at least pulled apart – more than ten bicycles. 

However, being in the same place for weeks on end does funny things to your mind, which makes occasional escapes imperative. Checking out the map we discovered that the Jura mountains (or hills if you like) can be reached by bicycle, including carrying two panniers full of climbing gear. Consequently, we have set out on two small cycling and climbing outings since the outbreak; here is the story of the second one:

We headed to the Jura, reached Biel and tackled the uphill from there, our goal was a small hut that our housemate and his girlfriend had once spent a stormy night in. According to them we could expect nothing more than some old mattresses, a roof over our heads and some broken windows – that easily beats bringing a tent if you ask me!

With our late start at 5:20 in the evening we just about made it to the end of the bikeable trail by 9 o’clock, 40 Minutes after sunset; both very grateful for the low gearing on our bikes (3×9 touring setup and a Rohloff). With over 40 kilometres and over 800 metres in elevation gain in our legs we were pretty toasted and dusk quickly turned to night. To our surprise it only took a few minutes to find the small hut, perched above some climbing routes, and to add to our surprise, there was solar power, a sound system that my phone eagerly connected with and tools to make a small fire. It was a pleasant evening.

The next morning, after a restless night due to all the strange sounds around the hut, we headed up to a small climbing sector where we each climbed four routes before lunch time. The sun was quickly heating the limestone and making it difficult to hold on, so we jumped back on the bikes and opted for a detour to make the way back more interesting. 200 more metres of elevation gain were rewarded with a road to bomb down towards the westerly end of the Lake of Biel, where we explored the old towns of La Neuveville, Le Landeron and Erlach. In combination with the beautiful villages of the Jura, the outing was packed with beautiful historical houses and architecture.

Before taking a dip in the lake of Biel after the sightseeing, we decided to do an impromptu statistic, as one does hear a lot about the Swiss obsession with e-bikes. I personally find myself wondering how many are out and about. Between Erlach and the Hagneck Kanal, a mere 7,5 kilometres with close to no elevation gain we counted 68 (!) people on bicycles in total, 26 were on e-bikes. More e-bikes would not have surprised me, but I was mostly happy to see as many people riding their bikes (although I have noticed a rise in leisurely bike riders since Corona).

The last kilometres flew by with a few guessing games and riddles and we rolled into our garden 25 hours after leaving the house.


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