Under a pleasant and strong summer sun we cycled about 30 kilometres from our camping place alongside the Rhine river to Freiburg based in the south-west corner of Germany. We found drivers to be much less polite than in French Vogese and Elsass Regions, people passed grumpily with less safety distance despite empty roads, looking out much less for cyclists (and pedestrians) and beeping their horns at actions that resembled little more than people safely enjoying a cycle ride. *and one driver freaked out when one Ecotopist crossed a red traffic light, that was to manage car traffic and not applicable to cyclists. Why should cyclists be faster in traffic sometimes than he is with his car, he might have thought.* In eastern France none of the kind happened to us and we wondered about the sudden shift in mentality.
Nevertheless we quickly found a well kept cycling path infrastructure and took our refuge there, chanting and chatting while cycling across plenty of fruit trees; and a huge black berry bush which invited us for a spontaneous sweet break. At a lily field we bought three flowers to bring as a present to Susi Cafe collective, the destination for meeting and greeting the new city.
Some of us arrived early in Freiburg, and enjoyed the vegan lunch at Susi in the Vauban eco-modell quarter. After lunch they met the vegetable co-operative to assist with the delivery of veggies to several points in the city. We learned how the delivery with two cargo bikes and trailers works out to then do it ourselves. One of their cycles had power assist which meant that the cyclist could deliver the equivalent of a small van! While packing we interacted with some playing children that happened to inhabit a refugee´s home next by. Distinctly Syrian in features it turned out that these were refugee families from Syria, recently resettling. Despite a language barrier – most of us don´t speak German or Arabic – they were hypnotised by our efforts and the ripe produce of many colours.
After finishing the vegetable deliveries the whole group reconvened at Johannes church for a Critical Mass across the city. Returning to our base, Susi, some then had a Samba workshop, others played the Piano, listened or chilled. From the heat and hard work of the day the comfy sofas were a welcoming treat for a snooze. In the evening we cycled to the garden co-operative at Krotzingen, some 20 kilometres away, the very coop that supplies the city delivery system. We arrived mostly late and had a good night rest under cherry trees.
The next day some of us helped out in the co-op on their fields and in the green houses. The days were hot and dry, though in the afternoon a thunderstorm came by and some tents wanted to fly away but we held them back!
The second day we returned to Freiburg to visit the local bike kitchen, that kindly opened its doors to us to let us repair and improve our bikes. One of the youngest of our group finally got breaks, skinned knees were not a good look.
Later most of us met at the organic agricultural fair to support the stand of our host coop. A couple of our group took up the offer to camp out over night as security watch for the festival earning our communal pot 100 euros. Later in the afternoon we were interviewed by a self organised non for profit Radio, sitting in a small circle the interviewer asked us questions and those who felt moved answered. What became clear was that everyone valued the trip. A powerful point was that we were a group, a tribe that turned heads, travelling publicly along with our trailers, panniers, tents, dress up and of course the Bure protest flag that we endeavour to plant at our last destination in October. To be seen as we are in itself is a powerful action.
In the evening the fair ended with a party and concerts which we enjoyed and the next day we began our travels to Switzerland.
— Text: Conrad, Olli, Candid, Photography: Hedwig —