There are certain routines in life that occur fairly frequently, which you really look forward to, that don’t last long, and which you always look back on with fond memories, and I’m not talking about having sex here. I’m talking about bread. ‘Hmm’, I hear you say, what’s so special about bread? Well, here is the routine. Firstly, the ingredients for this routine are: motorcycle or scooter, a weekend, good weather, a patisserie or bread shop, and time.
In parts of Europe, bread is king, and a key part of people’s diet and culture. Another part of the culture is who actually goes to get the bread. In the area where we live in Switzerland, it is the man who goes for the bread in the morning, and when I say morning, the bread shops open at 06:15, every day of the week. Actually, some close on a Monday for a short break. The varieties of bread on offer vary in size, colour, texture, ingredients and of course, taste. For sale alongside the bread are always cakes and gateaux and attached to the bread shop, is nearly always, a cafe. The ‘bread-run’ routines take place slightly differently. Some men will go for the bread, meet their friends doing exactly the same thing and stop in the cafe to talk ‘whatever’. This gossip shop stuff takes place everywhere, the only difference might be that in another country for example, it’s in a pub, and at a different time of the day, and doesn’t involve bread. The other routine is that ‘man goes for bread’ and returns home immediately for breakfast with partner, wife, ‘special guest’ or family.
Here’s my routine and an introduction to the ‘bread-run bikes’. Our bread shop is about 4 kilometres away and in the village below ours. It is called Tea Room Glacier. I’m not sure how it got its name, because it looks out over the lake and not onto a glacier. Also, like a lot of the local bread shops in the area, its painted a brown colour, which isn’t as vibrant or inviting as what is on the shelves inside. Anyway, the bread is made on the day, very early in the morning and ready for my purchase and pick at about 07:30. I have used two bikes for the ‘bread-run’. The first was a white Vespa, which I loved, and have sadly since sold (read as: only bike I’ve ever regretted selling). The Vespa was a ‘jump on and go’ bike and crucially, it had a hook on the inside of the leg shields for the bread bag. Riding down through the narrow lanes on a summers morning with an open face helmet and just in a t-shirt was great, even if it was only a 4 kilometre ride. The small 125cc engine would just be warm when I got to the bread shop. I would buy about 5 loaves of bread for the week, and of different types, (we have our favourites), and included in the purchase would be some croissants and invariably, cakes. Cash would be swapped for bread and then the bread bag goes on the hook on the Vespa, and its another 4 kilometre ride back up the hill to home and importantly, breakfast. Some of the bread would still be warm and the smell of bread would rise up and out of the bag to greet my nostrils as I rode back to the house. On reaching home, the bread would be laid out on the table to either cool before freezing for the week, or eaten for breakfast. Purchased cakes would always be put into little boxes and I would always put the box in between the bread to prevent any damage to the cakes. The bread and cake bag would gently swing on its Vespa hook, but never got damaged.
When the Vespa went to live with a new owner :-(, I started using my BMW GS12ooR :-). Riding this bike down the hill for 4 kilometres didn’t really get the engine warmed and most of the journey was in second gear due to the narrowness of the roads and the steepness of the hill. However, the routine post-Vespa has been just as good on the BMW, just a bit different. The BMW does not have a bread bag hook on it, but it does have panniers, which are just as useful for hauling bread back up the hill to home. The panniers (to date) have also managed to keep the cakes in the same condition as when I loaded them into the panniers. Even though the panniers are plastic, the right side one, which is the one that always has the bread inside (don’t ask why it is the right side. It just is), does now always smell of fresh bread. The BMW is obviously not only used for the bread-run, otherwise it would be like using a ‘sledge hammer to crack a nut’ for this routine. A bit over-fit for purpose. More recently, I’ve been grateful for the BMW, because sadly, our local bread shop has closed. The baker has left and the building is now empty and being renovated. This has meant that I now got to the next village that has, as it turns out, an equally good, brown coloured bread shop, and it is 8 kilometres from the house, so double the distance. The BMW engine gets warm on this new bread run, and the road is wider and more twisty, so it is a pleasurable weekly routine. Breakfast obviously involves stuff like bread, croissant, cake and a cappuccino. This is the final part of the routine. The warm BMW engine gently cools down whilst the rest of the ingredients to this routine all fall into pleasurable place.
Incidentally, in winter, I go in the car, but the routine is still nearly as pleasurable, which means that this routine is all about the bread, and the bikes are just a small part of the enjoyable routine.
All photos by the author