Day 3: Bregenz and Hochst - Grampies Track the Tortes (2019) - CycleBlaze

March 21, 2019

Day 3: Bregenz and Hochst

In the border lands

Bregenz and Hochst are in a unique position, perched on the edge of several kinds of borders.  Firstly, they sit on the Bodensee, so to their north is this large and wonderful lake, with all its communities and history. But behind them are the Alps and beyond that, Italy. So they are both lakeside and alpine communities.  Next, they are on the most extreme western side of Austria. That puts them right on the Swiss border. The Rhine river enters the Bodensee at this point (making up part of the border), so they are also river communities, and part of the huge Rhine sphere.  And finally, if you stand at the Rhine and look south, you are looking at some mountains of Lichtenstein. In fact, from that view, Switzerland is to the right, Lichtenstein straight, and Austria left. In one glance you are seeing three countries.

Our friend Bernie picked us up at the Bregenz hotel, which we booked in some effort to keep his house infection free. Bernie lives in Hochst, which is a short hop, over toward the river.  Actually it's across the river, though still in Austria. The reason is that the Rhine in this area is split in two. A broad branch, called the new Rhine, is canalized. And a smaller branch, the old Rhine, is the original water course. The old Rhine forms the border, so if you are between the old and the new, you are still in Austria. Too much information?

See Hochst between the two Rhines?
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Bernie stopped the car at the new Rhine, to give us a look at the mountains and the three countries. Two dog walkers passed by and greeted us. Bernie could tell they were from the Swiss side, though they said but one word. "grüßdi", I think it was. Had they been from Austria, they surely would have said "grüß gott".  Both are a form of blessing, one that can be misunderstood to  mean "greet God" but which is really more like "god bless". All of it, I think, underlines the Catholic nature of southern Germany and Austria, something we will appreciate as we go along looking at the interesting churches.

Bernie explains the geography to us. He was born in Lustenau, which a keen observer can spot on the map above. Naturally, his knowledge of this area is extensive.
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Mountains of three countries. The arch is over the "new Rhine".
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These walkers are "clearly" from Switzerland.
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Seeing Bernie and his wife Delia again was a very real pleasure. We have managed to make a few dear friends in Europe and with the distance and our crazy itineraries, some years can go by until we see them again. With Bernie, it started as we were stopped at a red light in Bregenz, five or six years ago. We were, as usual, lost, or  as even more usual, looking lost. A man on a bike asked if he could direct us, and when we gave our destination - up on the Swiss side of the lake, he just said follow me.

The man, of course, was Bernie. Although he did not mislead us - for Hochst is toward the Swiss side of the lake - he lead us instead to his home in Hochst, where he plied us with coffee and treats. In subsequent years we not only returned to see Bernie and Delia, but lured them and their daughter Kathi to our place in British Columbia. The three are among the finest people we have ever met. How can this happen at a random red light? It just did, that's all.

We had another special reason for visiting Bernie this time, because our bikes had been stashed at his place by some others in that special finest people category, the Paxman's. They had taken over the bikes as we left from Amsterdam in 2018, and pedalled all the way down to Austria.

Bernie and Dodie pore over a regional map - the Bregenzer Wald.
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Delia had breakfast waiting for us, and needless to say it had all the elements one looks for. Delia's English is a little weaker than Bernie's, it being her third language. So she wanted to know if we would like "Spiegeleier", which means "mirror eggs".  This was not actually a total mystery to us, because someone recently told us that "sunny side up" is called "mirroir" in Quebec. Anyway my Spiegeleier came out "easy overed", with bacon mixed in, which is just super.

After our emotional reunion with the people, it was time to greet our bikes. Actually Dodie went to do this, and to generally organize the equipment, while I had to be put to bed - still weak, but at least not generally sneezing or coughing.

One equipment bit that turned into a not yet resolved adventure in repair was the Ortlieb handlebar mount on my bike. The system by which Ortlieb affixes the mount to the handlebar usually works, but it is not simple. It uses a plastic coated steel cable that knits back and forth from the mount to the bar, in a very specific way.  The way is easy, particularly because Ortlieb has an online video illustrating the cable snaking this way and that. The problem is that once you have fixed everything in place, there is no second chance. The cable can not survive being loosened and repositioned. Even if you decide you want the mount just a little higher or lower, you are mostly out of luck. You can still achieve it, provided you have a new cable kit. Good luck finding that!

In this case, in a way still unknown, the mount was way too high, while parts of the cable were paradoxically way too loose. Our efforts to readjust predictably ended in disaster, and in fact even with Bernie's big wire cutter to help, it was not easy to even hack the cable away from the mount. Calls to local bike shops generally had them noting that the weather had just turned fine and that they were swamped. With the help of cutters, pliers, and even a drill, we did manage to free the mount from the cable. Now all we need is a replacement cable kit. Best would be someone, not us, to do the install - because one false move and it's tears.  

The mount and the dead cable (still hanging on).
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The cable ate up Bernie and Delia's plan to take us to a high point for views of the lake and mountains. But we did get to chat in between asking for this tool or that. 

To spare Bernie and Delia from ferrying us back and forth to Bregenz, we cycled back, though the falling dark. This was really wonderful, because it was our actual first pedal of the trip. Though we took a more direct main road instead of the bikeway, there was a bike lane, and more views of mountains and river. A bonus was one beautiful Austrian style church.

First cycling, past our first unique church.
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Back over the Rhine, into Bregenz. This is a really cheesy way to rack up crossings of the Rhine!
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Tomorrow we will cycle again - from bike shop to bike shop looking for a cable and install, before being taken for a traditional Austrian lunch at a guest house.


Remember the desolée experience about the SNCF tickets, and how we bought 200 euros of new tickets to fix it, because the mailed tickets had not arrived at Bernie's.  Well today they arrived. SNCF had faithfully adopted my address change, but with one exception- they sent the tickets addressed to Hochst, Australia. ("Australie")! When we were last in Vienna we saw tee shirts for sale making fun of this error. But who could be that dumb? SNCF!

Not sure if the tickets actually went down under or not (but the envelope was in transit 19 days)!
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Today's ride: 12 km (7 miles)
Total: 12 km (7 miles)

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Comment on this entry Comment 4
Jonathan HechtHey that handlebar pack mount. Your Ortlieb pack should also work with a Klickfix mount. You might check the Ortlieb website to make sure, but it’s what I use after switching from a Vaude pack a couple of years ago. The Klickfix can also be a bit temperamental, but it usually can be re-adjusted a few times without issue. I’ve actually found the screw that goes from front to back to be the bigger problem - metal screwing into plastic. Good luck.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonLook at that snow in those mountains! What a great time to be there. Hope you both recover from your colds quickly.
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3 months ago
Jacquie GaudetI agree with Jonathan. I use a Klickfix mount on my touring bike and keep the Ortlieb one that came with my handlebar bag on my old "around town" bike. It's easy to take off when I unbolt the stem from the handlebar and reattach when I reassemble the bike. No cables!

I have the first Ortlieb model with magnetic closure, Ultimate 6, I think.
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3 months ago
Mike AylingAnother happy Klikfix customer here.
There are four mounting screws on both of mine (I transfer the bag from single to tandem) and although they provide a cable as additional security I don't use it.

Dodie looked cold in one of those pics!
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3 months ago