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A Cow’s Demise

Bovine Swiss Adventures

Words by Joe Schwartz.
February 22nd, 2011

“Ding, ding, ding”, the omnipresent sound of cowbells waft through the Swiss air. If there is one thing I relate directly to my travels in Switzerland, it is the sound of these large bells, attached to even larger bovines. Seriously, these cows make our North American hormone-infused versions look pretty puny. Must be something in the alpine grasses these happy-go lucky ungulates ingest by the kilos. The Swiss cow’s life is not always an easy one, however. Let me digress with a story for you, my readers.

joeschwartz.ca, joe schwartz, mountain biking swiss, switzerland, big mountain
  Big transport for big bikes.

Scene: a small bike park in the Alps, the sun is shining and we are soaking up the rays, having dealt with the past two days of torrential downpour, making the trails a sloppy mess.  Ascending up the chairlift, the mechanical hum of the double chair is accompanied by the pleasant dinging of a herd of cows munching away on the wet grass at the top of the steep face the lift is taking us up.

joeschwartz.ca, joe schwartz, mountain biking swiss, switzerland, big mountain
  If this isn’t your idea of singletrack do not join Joe on one of his Big Mountain Swiss Adventures.

All of a sudden, breaking the tranquility of this lovely summer morning in zee Alps, is an abrupt “DINGDING, DINGDING!” I look up the slope, and horrified, witness a cow tumbling down the mountainside, legs straight as arrows, cartwheeling towards a 200 foot cliff. Every time the unfortunate bovine bounces off terra firma, “DINGDING” echoes through the valley. Right in front of our unbelieving eyes the cow ragdolls off the cliff and out of sight below. As the rest of the herd continues to chow down, we disembark from the lift and speculate on the wet grass and a disastrous misstep resulting in the demise of the animal. Slightly unnerved, the day goes on. At the end of the day we are grimly reminded of the accident as we ride back towards home under the cliff and see the cow still lying there. Naturally tenderized Swiss beef.

joeschwartz.ca, joe schwartz, mountain biking swiss, switzerland, big mountain
  Watch out for that glacier.

Since witnessing this surreal accident, I have taken on a new respect for the Swiss cows, and the dangers they risk daily to provide the people of Switzerland with tasty dairy products. That DINGDING is seared in my memory forever.

joeschwartz.ca, joe schwartz, mountain biking swiss, switzerland, big mountain
  Two of the lucky ones.

For more stories and antics and videos check out Joe’s new blog.


Ever been cow tipping? Seen an animal make a very human mistake? Ring the bell here…