With just 80k to ride that day I anticipated being in Zurich by late afternoon and was looking forward to a couple of days rest.
The cold weather continued and the occasional bout of drizzle ensured i didn't linger. Before long I had passed through Bruggen and Gossau. The spray from cars as I followed the main road was becoming a little tiresome and so it was with some relief that I followed a bike route sign which would take me through back streets into Uzwil.
The little village of Bürewald exited into a wonderfully long descent along a quite roads towards the town of Oberbüren. Exalting in the perfect cycling conditions as the sun peeped out for the first time that day I was relishing the feeling of air rushing past me. Going at nearly top speed, perhaps 25-30 mph, when in a split second a moped pulled out in front of me.
I can't recall much apart from thinking "oh shii" and then finding myself on the floor; knee uncomfortably positioned under the bike; adrenaline pumping.
A few moments later a concerned faced popped into view above me talking quickly. It didnt take me long to start insiting that i was ok and fine to move. The helmet had done its job and as I tested out arms and legs all waa in good working order minus some minor bumps and scratches.
Slowly standing I got my first good look at the scene and found myself surrounded by leters and parcels. The moped i had hit (a big solid functional thing) was in fact a postwoman's. In typically overly polite style I busied myself picking up her post and asking her if she was ok while she did the same with my strewn panniers.
Both of us were a little shook up but fundamentally fine and pleased to see that neither was hurt. the loud crash which we had evidentally made soon saw much of the village out on the streets seeing what had happened.
Me and Agnes the postwoman. If you are going to crash into anyone i can heartily reccommend her.
Assesing the damage to the bike i was initially optimistic, sure the light was smashed and the front wheel no longer turned as the front forks had been bent meaning it scraped against the mudguard and frame but the tyre hadnt even burst and the rims seemed ok.
Nevertheless it was clear i wouldnt be able to ride to Zurich and so while Agnes dropped off her moped at the post office I spent an hour being fed coffee and sandwhiches and chain smoking ciggarettes in the freindly company of Carrolina, one of the onlookers.
As time went by we were joind by various members of the familly keen to see what this odd english boy was doing in their back garden.
Soon Agnes returned accompanied by her daughter and, with the post crash stress departed, we re-introduced ourselves and shared a laugh at how fortunate we had been.
After a fruitless search for a local bike shop open on a Monday Agnes insisted on driving me to the Bahnhoff and paying for my train ticket to Zurich - for which I was very grateful.
After pushing my bike to meet my friend Angie in central Zurich and reaching her apartment I got on the phone to my bike shop in the UK and swapped inconclusive guesses as to the damage based on the grainy pictures I had taken.
I spent the next day wandering Zurich from bike shop to bike shop looking for a sufficiently skilled mechanic. I found a very good frame builder after a tip off and a 6k push who immedietly confirmed the suspicions the other shops and my UK bike builders had offered: Not only was the forks bent but the steel frame itself had buckled.
I can't even really see it in this picture but its clear in person that the top bar has curved and the front bar has split :(
Physics can be remarkable - because I had crashed dead-on straight (no time to swerve) the wheel itself had been hit at its strongest point. The tyre, rims and spokes weathered forces which were strong enough to buckle the reinforced steel of the frame. All while throwing me safely clear. Amazing!
the result is I needed a whole new frame, a new front forks and various other smaller components. Not cheap at the best of times and certainly not cheap in Switzerland. Once again Agnes, who had acted with incredible integrity from the outset, came to my rescue by insisting on paying her share of the damages.
Now all that remains is to wait for the components to be shipped from the UK to Zurich and the builders to do there thing. Which means kicking my heels and spending money in Zurich for a week. I feel lucky and frustrated all at the same time.