June 20, 2013
Today I decided to go back to Touratech and pick up a couple of things. It was the first “reasonable weather” day we’ve had all week (in other words, NOT 100F), with heavy rains forecasted for the afternoon. I made sure to bundle up in my waterproof Klim gear, despite the lingering heat, in anticipation of the severe storms that the weather channels were warning me about.
It’s only 1.5 hours to Touratech and I left by 9:30, but I still managed to get there as they closed their doors for lunch. I took a little longer to get there because I found a couple of Switerland’s “non-existant” dirt roads.
Now I had an hour to kill before TT would open again. I decided to check out the castle I could see on the hill across the river:
Much to my surprise, I had to cross through the charming town of Stein am Rhein in order to get there. The narrow one lane passage into the town was a curiousity and I immediately got distracted in my castle quest and I had to park the bike to explore a little more on foot.
The market square was packed with people. I later found the 6+ tour buses hidden out back, but their contents were quite evident. Another surprise was the sheer number of bicyclists! These were serious touring bikes, packed with panniers and maps and ready for real travel. But surrounding all of this bustle were some of the most beautiful murals and frescos I’ve seen yet.
Artwork could also be found underfoot:
Ok, on to the castle! And sadly, that’s about as exciting as it got. The castle was also closed for lunch (unless you wanted to eat there) but it was still a nice ride to the top. And I got a lovely view of the town on my way back down the hill.
I had the parking lot to myself.
Back at TT business was taken care of and now I was free to roam for the rest of the day. I headed over to Lake Constance (Bodensee) just to see what was there. It was a pleasant ride, but the sun was hot and the clouds and haze obscured any mountains that might otherwise be visible. I saw a couple of nesting storks, at least.
Now it was time to at least point the bike in the right direction. I meandered along the Rhine, not ever really knowing where I was at any time. At one point I stopped for some cherries at a stand and realized that I didn’t know if I should pay with euros or francs, as I didn’t know if I was in Switzerland or Germany :o How’s that for an awkward question?
As I worked my way towards home, I found one of the most awesome border crossing yet: a one-lane bridge over the Rhine:
The GPS took me through some lovely villages and open countryside. The weather was still holding, although I was rather annoyed with that fact, as I could have very well worn my mesh jacket and at least been more comfortable all of this time.
As you can see in the last picture, I removed the “full diaper” belly pan and replaced it with a more robust and trimmer engine guard. There are also crash bars in place, “just in case”. The rest of the ride home was uneventful, if not painfully long. I missed a turn in Zurich and ended up in the city, during rush hour, with a less-than-helpful GPS. That missed turned added 35 minutes to my ride home, as well as a fair bit of frustration. On the plus side, I did see evidence that some Swiss motorcyclist do indeed split lanes and filter to the front. There is hope!