Highlights: Solothurn, Altreu (storks), Büren, Biel
Route 5: Section 5 (Solothurn 428m–Ins 437m)
Stats from SwitzerlandMobility.ch (https://www.schweizmobil.ch/en/cycling-in-switzerland/routes/route/etappe-01049.html): 62km (about 1/3 unpaved), height difference Solothurn–Ins 280m (260m in opposite direction). Their site has the full profile.
YES! Snow is still thick on the Alps, but today was such a sunny and mild winter day that I dusted off my bike for the first ride of 2019! Well I had to wear 3 layers of clothes though ……
For ease of connections, I started off in Neuchatel instead of Ins, and continued towards Solothurn for a total of 77km. The entire ride was mostly on flat low traffic countryside roads or gravel paths, at the base of the Jura Mountains. Water was a constant companion, first with the Bielersee and then with the Aare river.
The first nice village that I passed was Erlach (https://www.schweizmobil.ch/en/ort-0141.html) with its small medieval center around a little castle on a hilltop. Erlach is at the southern end of Bielersee and, from the high viewpoint of the castle, one has a good view of the St. Petersinsel peninsula, which juts for several kilometers into the lake.
Then the path continues along the lake for about 17km on countryside roads until Biel, at the northern tip of Bielersee.
I arrived in Biel quite tired, this being my first ride after 3 months of rest and having biked for 40 km without power assistance. So I skipped touring the city, which I had already visited as part of Section 8:04.
As my legs started feeling weak, I put the engine on for the second part of the trip.
Arriving at the village of Büren a.A (schweizmobil.ch/en/services/places/ort-0478.html) I was greeted by the view of a charming 108m-long covered wooden bridge on the Aare. Its old center was also worth stopping by, with its lovely square and some nice cafes (where I had to stop to recharge my phone…..). Around the square are some lovely historic palaces and a row of arcades.
Then just a few kilometers before Solothurn I passed through the hamlet of Altreu, with storks flying above my head! Stork’s nests are all over the farmhouse’s rooftops, creating a true stork’s colony. Trees also harbors many nests. It was amazing to hear them communicating with each others via a loud clattering of their beak (tap-tap-tap).
At last I arrived in Solothurn (myswitzerland.com/en-ch/solothurn.html) (solothurn-city.ch/en/home.html). Since I had an hour to spare before my train, I visited the old part of the town. Churches, squares and decorated fountains are everywhere. One can admire many Baroque and Renaissance buildings. Indeed it is described as the most beautiful baroque town i. Switzerland. Worth seeing are the imposing white Baroque St.Urs Cathedral and the old clock tower with a huge astronomical clock (from 1545).
Many cafes are concentrated along the river, which can be crowded during the weekend.
The large stony round towers of the town walls are also worth seeing .
Here are the links to Introduction and other sections of Route 5: