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Friends in need

How do you get out on the wrong side of a bivouac sack, one of those weather-proof wrappers for a sleeping bag? Not sure but I must have done it this morning.

First my main camera/phone died. Then I soaked my shoes crossing a stream (never mind the nettles that stung my legs). Then I got on the bike and the tire was flat. Pumped it up and got 200 meters when the bike seized up and I flew forward into a field head first. The derailleur had broken off, the chain bent and broken.

My guess is that in all that bikewhacking yesterday some vines surely grabbed and bent the derailleur. Somehow it held together for 20 more kilometers of mostly downhill biking. But with hard pressure in the farmer's field this morning, the bent bracket went kaput.

I called my pal Konrad and he found me with the car. As it turns out, I have next year's bike needing a chain size that nobody has. So we brought the bike to Zurich where the shop gave me a replacement bike until the parts come in for mine. Then Konrad and another pal Jean-Pierre (Paul just left) brought me back to the border. I was back in the saddle by 2:30 pm, thanks to the aid of really good friends.

Finally, a few words about these border loops. Where a modern mind would think that the border should follow a logical line, like the Rhine, these borders were not drawn in a cartographer's office. They were drawn back in the days before modern nation states as we know them. In medieval times and indeed into the 1800s and in a few places later, territories were a complex mixture of city-states and more rural territory belonging to every sort of government, dukedom, papal ownership, and so on. Each in turn was pledged to various layers of higher ownership. In this area the highest was generally the Austrian emperor or the Holy Roman emperor (usually one and the same).

As the Swiss league formed, promising freedom from higher powers, more and more territories petitioned to join (though a few were actually conquered by the Swiss). Sometimes the Swiss accepted. Sometimes not. Sometimes the other higher power didn't. The tiny territory around the town of Büsingen that I biked around first thing yesterday voted to join Switzerland, but Germany said nein, and so it is now a little piece of Germany entirely surrounded by Switzerland.

Anyway, I’ve seen a lot Schaffhausen and was reminded about how it was repeatedly bombed by the Americans during WWII. That story will have to wait.